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Savoy, Fried venture grows

Two weeks after inking a deal to bring Gomer Pyle to the big screen, Savoy Pictures and producer Rob Fried decided to build on their relationship.

The nascent indie and the producer behind “Rudy” and “So I Married an Axe Murderer” signed a multipic, multiyear deal. The number of pix Fried will make for Savoy is tied to theirsuccess — the better he does, the more films he gets to make. The deal could run for as few as two years or as many as five.

Fried said he is “thrilled” to work for Savoy, free from some of the constraints producers at large studios inevitably encounter.

“I’m very stoked about it,” Friedsaid. “It’s very loose. It’s very flexible. I have a lot of control over the process.”

One of his first projects will be “Gomer Pyle.” Fried bought the rights from creators and their descendants of the TV show, “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.,” then sold the idea for a movie to Savoy (Daily Variety, April 7).

“The arrangement with Fried is perfect for Savoy,” Alan Greisman, prexy of Savoy Pictures Inc., said in a statement. “Rob’s relationships, sensibilities and talent exactly mesh with our objectives.”

Fried Films will be an independent unit, led by Fried; Rich Zinman, senior veepee; Nicole Boxer, veepee; and Dan Fried, director of development. Fried said his offices will most likely remain on the Sony lot while he produces “Just in Time” with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr., and “Godzilla” for TriStar.

Before making the decision, Fried talked with Frank Price, a Savoy investor and its most prolific producer, and representatives for “House Party” and “New Jack City” producers George Jackson and Doug McHenry, who recently signed a six-pic deal with the indie.

“Their experience has been very positive,” Fried said. “That’s what I’m excited about.”

Fried’s first-look deal at TriStar Pictures runs out in June. As a free agent , there were rumors that Fried would follow his longtime mentor, Jonathan Dolgen , from the Sony lot to Viacom Inc. and Paramount Pictures. Instead, he opted to sign with former Dolgen associates at TriStar, Victor Kaufman and Lew Korman, who now run Savoy.

“It would have been nice to have continued working with him,” Fried said of Dolgen. “But I got the next best thing. I got to work with his best friends.”

Fried started in the industry in 1983, working as a financial analyst and later director of film finance for Columbia Pictures. In 1985, he joined 20th Century Fox as director of business development and a year later, he landed a job as veepee of production at Orion Pictures, where he oversaw “Hoosiers” and “Bull Durham,” among other projects.

In 1988, he went back to Columbia, taking the job of executive veepee of production, where he worked on several films, including “Casualties of War.” In 1990, he formed Fried Films and a year later, he teamed with one-time agent, Cary Woods, to create Fried/Woods Films. That partnership dissolved earlier this year.

Fried won an Academy Award for the 1992 film, “Session Man.”

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