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Clooney tunes prod’n pipeline

George Clooney, the dashing pediatrician of NBC’s hit hospital series “ER,” and his film production partner Robert Lawrence, are going forward with 12 feature pics — seven of which they announced Monday.

The slate is a mixed bag of genres and concepts, with roughly half intended as acting vehicles for the “Batman and Robin” star. Clooney and Lawrence are just eight months into their three-year, first-look deal at Warner Bros.

For those films that Clooney might perform in, the company is primarily interested in actioners, such as the actor’s upcoming “The Peacemaker” for DreamWorks.

“We’re looking for thinking-man’s, character-driven action-thrillers,” Lawrence said.

Clooney and Lawrence also announced they have renamed their company Maysville Pictures, casting off their original nom de screen, Left Bank Prods., because of a conflict with a similarly named music management firm. Maysville is a small town in northeastern Kentucky from which much of the Clooney clan hails.

“The company is eclectic in terms of its sensibility,” Lawrence said. “Many of the projects are reality-based.”

The first of the Maysville films could go into production by fall 1998, he said.

One of Maysville’s new projects, “Metal God,” which Warners optioned last week for the company in a preemptive bid, is based on a real story that appeared in the New York Times about a low-paid, 29-year-old traveling salesman in Akron, Ohio, who moonlighted as a singer in a “tribute band” that mimics the heavy metal group Judas Priest.

Another reality-based Maysville project currently in development through Warners is “The Academy Group,” about the exploits of an elite investigative organization made up of former members of military, government and law-enforcement specialists.

“Move!,” recently sold to Universal, is the true story of dance teacher and choreographer Kim G., who built a dance troupe out of a class of violent offenders in L.A. County’s Juvenile Hall.

The Clooney-Lawrence team has also acquired the rights to the historical novel “The Blood Countess,” written by literary editor and commentator Andre Codrescu.

Hot stuff

“Heat Score” is a political thriller about DEA agents who discover a CIA conspiracy while investigating Panamanian drug cartels. Pic is being written for Maysville by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, from a manuscript by Robbie Gordon.

Low-budget comedy “Zig Zag” is a grunge-generation story of snowboard-bums living in a fictional Colorado ski town, and is being penned by Damon Santastefano, who’ll also direct.

“How to Start Your Own Country” — described as a “do-it-yourself guide to statehood” being adapted by Robert and Michelle King — is a sort of political comedy about a misfit family that tries to start their own nation after being persecuted by a local neighborhood association.

Previously announced projects Maysville has in development at Warner Bros. include “Good Dog, Carl,” “Becky Downtown,” “Five Past Midnight,” the animated comic adventure “Nanobots” and romantic comedy “A Thousand Kisses.”

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