Ethereal enters indie pic prod’n

Ethereal Entertainment is a new upstart indie production company with an initial $ 10 million infusion from private investors and a mandate to produce action-thrillers in the $ 3 million to $ 5 million range, according to president/CEO Jupi Zaraphet.

The $ 3.5 million “Hell to Pay” and $ 3 million “Backlash” will both go before cameras this year, said Zaraphet, who produces both.

Zaraphet has worked in various capacities in film and TV production, including production coordinator (“The Bill Cosby Show”) and line producer (James Spader-starrer “Greasy Lake”). He was a veepee of Stevie Wonder’s Nu-Art Films before launching Ethereal.

In the works since ’84

“I’ve been nurturing this since 1984,” Zaraphet explained. “It’s all finally coming together with the right people, sufficient money and good projects.”

Zaraphet has teamed up with attorney Harry S. Vested as exec VP/chief operating officer and Richard Cornfield as exec VP of production. The new exec VP/chief financial officer Abe Glazer has also had a diverse career that included film buying for 32 Spanish-language cinemas and producing six Spanish-lingo films.

“It’s top-heavy but designed as such so we can get these films going effectively,” Zaraphet said, noting the company has eight pix in development and plans to spin off the movies’ soundtracks.

Soundtracks spinning

Soundtracks from the first two features will kick off the music arm, headed by Phillip Sigal, who exec produces both films. First track up will be by Euro singer Sabrina, whose “Too Much” will be the title track for “Hell to Pay.”

“The music division is to produce high-profile soundtracks for our films,” Sigal explained. “We want to create albums that will be distributed worldwide. We will produce some musicvideos, which will be used to promote the films and the records.”

“Hell to Pay” is about a battle between the cohesive power of a loving family and the manipulative force of evil incarnate. Penned by Thomas Muldoon, no director is attached.

Vision Intl., which has a deal with Sony, has bid to distribute the pic worldwide.

Second pic up, “Backlash,” is an action-thriller about an L.A. cop who has a penchant for bending the rules. This leads him into the arms of a beautiful and mysterious French woman who takes him for the ride of his life into a moral no-man’s-land.

Penned by Linda J. Cogwill and David S. DeCrane, pic will be directed by Thomas Fucci, whose “Don’t Call Me Frankie” was well received at the Critic’s Week in Cannes this year.

Negotiations are under way with French thesp Emmanuelle Seigner, who played the bombshell in Roman Polanski’s “Frantic” and also starred in “Bitter Moon.”

“The plan is to make movies that are commercially viable but with an artistic quirk that separates them from the other product out there,” Zaraphet said. “It doesn’t have to be a contradiction. It all just depends on how you handle it. The endeavor is to create a new benchmark.”

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