Frakes takes Par first-look deal

Jonathan Frakes’ Goepp Circle Prods. has inked a two-year, first-look arrangement with Paramount Pictures, under which the actor-helmer will develop and direct an unspecified number of feature films.

Working with Frakes is Lisa J. Olin, president of production for Goepp Circle, which is housed at the studio’s Melrose Avenue lot.

The company, which takes its name from the Bethlehem, Pa., street where Frakes grew up, already has a half-dozen feature projects in various stages of development at studios around town.

While Frakes wouldn’t discuss specific projects, he said he’s working on a feature with Paramount that is “as far away from ‘Star Trek’ as we can get.”

Frakes made his feature directorial debut on last year’s “Star Trek: First Contact,” which grossed $91 million domestically and $54 million overseas. He also starred in the film as William Riker, commander of the USS Enterprise, a role he originated on the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series.

Frakes also has directed episodes of “Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” “University Hospital” and “Diagnosis Murder.”

Asked if he would consider directing another “Star Trek” feature, Frakes told Daily Variety, “If the script is as good as the last one, I’d be a fool not to.”

Veteran “Star Trek” series scribe Michael Piller and producer Rick Berman are developing a screenplay for the next feature installment of the sci-fi adventure, which will once again revolve around the “Next Generation” crew (Daily Variety, April 16, 1997).

“Jonathan is an extremely talented director and we’ve obviously enjoyed tremendous success with ‘First Contact,’ ” said Sherry Lansing, Paramount motion picture group chairman. “I hope we’ll do a lot of pictures with him, not just limited to ‘Star Trek.’ ”

Frakes is also developing a number of TV projects, including a sitcom and telefilms, which Paramount will also get first crack at. “It’s the least I can do after the decade they’ve given me,” Frakes said.

Before “Next Generation,” Frakes had recurring roles in a number of TV series including “Falcon Crest” and “Paper Dolls.” He also starred in the miniseries “Dream West” and “North and South.”

Before joining Goepp Circle, Olin was a production associate with the Koch Co.

Frakes was represented in the deal by Paradigm president Sam Gores.

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