In the Lion’s den

Wiatt steps in to lock distrib pact

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… Jim Wiatt?

After helping to pluck the heated negotiations between Bob and Harvey Weinstein and the Walt Disney Co. out of the fire last year, it seems the WMA CEO has repeated the feat, moonlighting as a high-powered Hollywood mediator in last week’s distribution deal between the brothers and MGM.

The Weinsteins’exit agreement from Disney was crafted by legal eagles David Boies, Bert Fields, David Weil and Skip Brittenham. But when the sticking points got too siticky, Wiatt came in and got the wheels back in motion.

Later, when MGM began reanimating itself under new Lion head Harry Sloan, a key part of the deal was bringing in product from the Weinsteins. Talks began late last year, but as time passed, rumors circulated that the deal was souring.

Then Wiatt once again quietly stepped in as an advisor to the brothers.

“Jim was incredibly helpful in finishing our Disney deal and doing the MGM deal,” says Harvey Weinstein. “He’s running a great talent agency, but he also has the finesse as one of the great Hollywood insiders to (craft a deal) that is fair to everyone, and where everyone walks out happy.”

The newly revived Lion last week unveiled a slate for 2006 and part of 2007. The slate is comprised of pics produced by indie companies, including Lakeshore, Bauer Martinez and the Weinstein Co.

In an unlikely twist, the brothers will be counting on MGM COO Rick Sands, who worked for them for 14 years before ankling for DreamWorks, to handle some of their pics.

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