Novelist produces DVDs for retail chain

Jackie Collins is readying a new series of mysteries for her readers, only this time they’ll appear as direct-to-DVD movies in the supermarket aisle.

The bestselling novelist has inked a deal with British supermarket chain Tesco and Mark Ordesky’s Amber Entertainment to produce a series of films that will exclusively be sold at the retailer beginning in May.

The films will revolve around the adventures of Collins’ character Madison Castelli, a young journalist for a mag like Vanity Fair.

First title is “Paris Connections,” a romantic thriller that will lens in Paris. Production starts Feb. 1, with Harley Cokeless helming. Casting of the lead role is being finalized. Plots aren’t based on previous books.

Collins and Ordesky will produce with Ileen Maisel and Lawrence Elman, also of Amber Entertainment.

Ordesky, a former New Line and Fine Line exec, who produced the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and pics like “Shine,” formed Amber last year with Maisel and Jane Fleming, also former New Line staffers, as well as Lawrence Elman, a documentary and TV producer.

“We formed Amber last year to celebrate and expand the impact of authors and their stories across the ever-growing new media landscape,” said Maisel, who exec produced “The Golden Compass” and ran Paramount’s London office before moving to New Line.

In addition to three additional films planned for the “Connections” series, with another installment set to take place in Los Angeles, Amber is also negotiating to produce films and other offshoots based on books by Judy Blume, Dick Francis and Jacqueline Wilson.

Tesco, which can be compared to a Costco in terms of the variety of products that it sells, sees the Collins deal and others in the works as a way to bolster its entertainment offerings. It’s funding the “Connections” series, ponying up several million per pic.

“Through this partnership we will be able to offer our customers an exclusive window to own a first-run films from a range of well known authors,” said Rob Salter, Tesco’s entertainment director. “Home entertainment is a big opportunity for Tesco both instore and online.”

Collins, who has penned 27 bestsellers that have sold over 400 million copies worldwide, embraced the chance to connect with her readers through Tesco.

“Supermarkets are the new bookstores,” Collins told Daily Variety. “That’s where people buy their books these days.”

She said the deal will also give her more creative freedom and not have to “address any network concerns or limitations. Madison is one of my most popular characters and I get fan requests from readers who want to hear more about her.”

In addition to “Connections,” Collins is now looking to turn her book “Dead Drop Beautiful” into a feature with Amber Entertainment. Her next book, “Poor Little Bitch Girl,” bows Feb. 9.

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