Phoenix inks ‘Placid’ pact

Mike Medavoy’s Phoenix Pictures has picked up “Lake Placid” — a comedy actioner by David E. Kelley — after it was put into turnaround by Fox 2000.

Steve Miner (“Big Bully,” “My Father the Hero”) will direct the film, which will be produced by Kelley and Michael Pressman for the Sony Pictures Entertainment-based indie.

Sleuthing in Maine

Pic is about a New York paleontologist who travels to Maine to investigate the mysterious death of a man near a remote lake. With the help of the sheriff, an eccentric billionaire and an introverted fish and game warden, she discovers that a 35-foot crocodile is responsible for the death.

Rick Hess, senior exec VP of production, and Christy Prunier, VP of production, will oversee the project for Phoenix, which is expected to begin casting the pic soon in order to make a start date in early 1998.

Miner, who was attached to the project at Fox, brought the pic to Phoenix’s attention as it was being put into turnaround. Miner also is attached to Phoenix’s “Blood Relative,” written by David and Peter Griffiths.

After succeeding as one of the select cadre of TV exec-producers who actually write and produce their shows (“Picket Fences,” “Chicago Hope”), Kelley is doing same in feature films. Last year he wrote and produced the Michelle Pfeiffer starrer “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday” for Sony.

Since opening its doors in 1995, Phoenix has produced such features as Barbra Streisand’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” Milos Forman’s “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and the upcoming Bryan Singer pic “Apt Pupil.”

Earlier this year, Phoenix sent a project Fox’s way in the form of Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line.” Phoenix and Fox 2000 teamed — after talks with Sony halted — on a deal in which Fox would finance most of the budget and would distribute the film, which is currently lensing in Australia.

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