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Gerber, ITC team for teleprod’n

Former MGM TV chairman David Gerber and ITC Entertainment Group have formed a joint production venture, Gerber/ITC Prods., to generate TV programs for ITC’s domestic and international distribution apparatus.

Gerber, who’s been operating as the Gerber Co. since leaving MGM last November after its TV wing was stripped down, brings several projects to the new entity, which will seek to capitalize on ITC’s presence overseas. The focus will be on movies, miniseries and hour series.

Renewed interest

The deal follows the appointment three months ago of Jules Haimovitz as ITC president-CEO, replacing Chris Gorog — a move expected to spur renewed interest in television at the company. Haimovitz, a former Viacom exec, was prexy of Spelling Entertainment until December 1991, resigning after financier Carl Lindner named his son, S. Craig Lindner, as Spelling’s chairman-CEO.

The first project coming under the Gerber/ITC banner is “Royce,” a two-hour movie that will air on Showtime and subsequently ABC. The concept — a secret agent assigned to track down a group of ex-CIA agents out to rekindle the Cold War — is designed to spawn either a series or series of movies, with the first to lense throughout Europe.

Gerber is also working on a TNT movie, “Lords of the Land,” that shifts under the Gerber/ITC label. Some other projects the exec’s been developing continue separately — including a CBS pilot and holdover Wes Craven project at NBC — with MGM retaining an interest in certain properties.

Although he was reluctant to seek an umbrella studio deal after leaving MGM, Gerber said he felt there was room to fortify his indie status through the ITC alliance. “I think the networks would like to see some stronger independents,” he said.

Hour power

He added that opportunities still exist for indies in hour series and movies, particularly in the action-adventure genre. Syndicated series like “Baywatch, “”Highlander” and “Renegade” all come from independent companies, capitalizing on interest abroad.

ITC is owned by Montagu Private Equity, a subsidiary of Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. Focusing on low-budget feature production and TV and video distribution, the company has been minimally involved in network TV production since 1990, when then-chairman Jerry Leider left and was replaced by Gorog. Shortly thereafter the company announced plans to shed its TV production arm under the company’s old name, Marble Arch Prods.

Efforts sustained

ITC still has a large library, relationships in Europe and the financial wherewithal to sustain its efforts, Gerber noted. The library includes the features “On Golden Pond” and “Sophie’s Choice,””The Stepfather” series and TV productions such as the miniseries “Billionaire Boys Club.”

Gerber said he’ll exec-produce certain shows and work with outside producers on others. The industry veteran produced such series as “Police Story” and “Police Woman” before heading Columbia Pictures TV and, later, MGM, where he oversaw “thirtysomething” and “In the Heat of the Night.”

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