Wind takes a whirl

Private equity funding pumps shingle

Film shingle Wind Dancer Prods. is expanding, securing a private-equity fund and broadening its development ambitions.

L.A.-based company, which most notably produced Mel Gibson starrer “What Women Want,” has landed a $3 million equity fund and hired theater pro Susann Brinkley to head development.

Coin will allow Wind Dancer not only to develop its own ideas but also to acquire outside projects, which it has recently shied away from doing.

Company and principal Matt Williams, to whom the fund is attached, hope to focus on comedies and character-driven thrillers in the $15 million-$30 million range. Merrill Lynch helped set up the fund.

Rather than use the coin for a relatively small slate, shingle will look to put more than a dozen projects into development.

“When you get a new fund, there’s a temptation to put it all in one place, but then you risk a lot on that one project, and we don’t want to do that,” said Wind Dancer exec veep Dete Meserve, who will oversee the fund.

Wind Dancer has previously had financing deals with other entities, including a three-year pact with Winchester Films that ended in 2004. But execs touted this deal as more flexible, because it provides straight equity and doesn’t come attached to a foreign-sales component, which they said could sometimes limit producers.

Williams made his name in television as the creator of “Roseanne” and a producer on “The Cosby Show.” On the film side, he is a producer-director who helmed the Natalie Portman-Ashley Judd vehicle “Where the Heart Is.”

Brinkley was an original producer on the stage version of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and has also worked on theater productions involving Lewis Black; she also served as co-artistic director at Gotham’s Cherry Lane Theater.

Despite a number of hits over the last decade, including “Women” and “Heart,” the shingle has been relatively quiet lately. Among projects in development are “Three Sheets” and “Daughter of the Queen of Sheba,” to which Lasse Hallstrom is attached to direct.

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