Jones Entertainment Group, the production arm of cable operator Jones Intercable Inc., is increasing its production activities with a push into modestly budgeted features in addition to movies for cable and the networks.
The company will begin production in the fall on a new Disney Channel project, a medieval variation on “The Prince and the Pauper” called “The Whipping Boy,” in association with Germany’s Gemini Film Prods.
Next month, Showtime will premiere Jones’ production of “Curacao,” a mystery thriller starring George C. Scott and William Petersen.
On the feature front, Fine Line Features will release the company’s first theatrical effort, “Household Saints,” sometime this fall, and other projects are in development. “Saints,” starring Tracey Ullman, Vincent D’Onofrio and Lili Taylor, was directed by Nancy Savoca (“True Love”) and exec produced by Jonathan Demme.
The brainchild of Jones Intl. chairman Glenn R. Jones, Jones Entertainment Group was formed in 1989 to create a programming library as well as enhance the value of Jones’ cable assets through the creation of original programming for basic and pay services.
The company has produced one network movie, the NBC holiday-themed telefilm “The Story Lady,” but has for the most part emphasized family-oriented programming with international appeal.
Jones Entertainment prez Carl Vogel and exec VP Philip Fehrle said the company looks for projects with a long shelf-life that will travel well internationally, as opposed to many fact-based network telefilms where, Fehrle noted, “the value falls off sharply in the second run.”
Cable is more willing to generate projects that will throw off revenue over a long period of time, producing period pieces “to build a library of negatives,” Vogel said.
Other Jones productions include “The Little Kidnappers” for the Disney Channel and “Charlton Heston Presents the Bible.”