Hughes And Mestres Team In Disney-based Great Oaks Ent.

Filmmaker John Hughes and former Hollywood Pictures president-turned-producer Ricardo Mestres have joined together in a new company, Great Oaks Entertainment, which has plans for films, television, publishing and interactive projects.

Hughes is dissolving his Hughes Entertainment banner and Mestres is shedding his Mestres Prods., and the two are folding all films – which include Hughes’ “The Bee” and “Home Alone 3” at Fox and Mestres’ high-profile Francis Ford Coppola/Robin Williams comedy “Jack” – into Great Oaks.

Asked how they named their company, Hughes laughed and said, “Great oaks from small acorns grow.”

The deal was ironed out last week after Mestres and Walt Disney Studio motion picture chairman Joe Roth both flew to the Windy City.

The agreement comes only one month after Hughes signed a production deal with Disney and extended his deal with Fox. Mestres moved into his producing gig with Disney in May of last year. Great Oaks will be based at Disney.

Bill Ryan will remain with Hughes in Chicago and Danny Davis, a former Rogers & Cowan executive, will be based in London. Davis will be looking for new comedy talent (i.e., writers, actors) in the U.K. and throughout Europe.

The duo also announced that the new company has secured a 13-episode, on-air commitment for an untitled sitcom from NBC. The project is currently in development.

Under Hughes’ deals, the filmmaker has a total of six pictures set to go through Disney (including “The Bee”) and four pictures at 20th Century Fox (including “Home Alone 3”). Mestres also has “Fire and Rain” set up at New Line Cinema. Together they now have 12 projects at three studios; that includes possible “Dennis the Menace” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation” sequels at Warner Bros.

At the time Hughes signed with Disney, he said that he would be looking for someone to hire on the West Coast. “I wasn’t looking for a partner,” said Hughes. “I decided to find someone who could maximize all my creative abilities. It’s difficult for me to manage a creative career and a business career. I think that I could do more than I had in the past if I had a partner who is pulling the same sort of weight that I can pull. I didn’t want to team myself with some dry businessman.”

For Mestres, the partnership expands his reach into other areas besides film. It also increases the amount of product for him to handle. While at Hollywood, Mestres oversaw the production of several films. The hits included Academy Award best picture nominee “Quiz Show” and “The Santa Clause.”

Mestres and Hughes worked together in 1981 when Mestres was an executive at Paramount and Hughes a struggling writer.

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