FOX 2000 LANDS LINSON

Producer Art Linson — whose eclectic producing credits include such hits as “The Untouchables” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” — has signed a new three-year, exclusive production pact with Fox 2000, the Laura Ziskin-helmed 20th Century Fox film division.

Although Linson has been a producer on the Fox lot since January 1995, under this new deal he moves his Knickerbocker Films banner from 20th Century Fox to Fox 2000, which will fund the producer’s overhead in return for a first look at all his incoming projects. Linson will continue to develop projects for 20th Century Fox as well.

This fall, Fox will release two films Linson developed under his previous deal. “Great Expectations” is helmer Alfonso Cuaron’s update of the Dickens tale and stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, Anne Bancroft and Robert DeNiro. Pic was scripted by Mitch Glazer.

Fox will also release “The Edge” (formerly known as “Bookworm”), which toplines Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and Elle McPherson in an adventure thriller set in the hinterlands of Alaska. Lee Tamahori (“Once Were Warriors”) helms “The Edge,” based on David Mamet’s original screenplay.

“As we have tried to make Fox a more interesting place creatively over the past couple of years, Art has played a key role as a producer,” said Bill Mechanic, chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

At Fox 2000, Linson has three films he is developing, including “Pushing Tin,” on which Mike Newell is attached to direct from Glen and Les Charles’ screenplay, based on a New York Times magazine article about a frazzled crew of air traffic controllers; “The Fight Club,” co-produced with Ross Bell, and based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, which David Fincher is set to helm; and “Killer Spy,” the story of CIA traitor Aldrich Ames.

“He is a real producer who brings his creativity and producing acumen to everything he does,” said Laura Ziskin, prexy of Fox 2000.

At Tom Rothman’s 20th Century Fox division, Linson is developing “Burnout,” a CIA thriller, written by Dan Gilroy and Tony Peckham; and “Primal,” the story of a woman whose ideals and values are put to a supreme test, now being penned by National Book Award nominee Thom Jones.

With the re-signing of Linson, Fox retains one of its high-profile, full-service producers, who can develop, package and produce films without a lot of hand-holding.

While the specific financial arrangements of the deal were not discussed, Linson said, “It’s certainly less than Arnold Kopelson,” another high-profile producer on the Fox lot.

“Peter (Chernin) and Bill (Mechanic) have created an environment where writers, directors and producers can flourish creatively, so I’m more than happy to stay,” he said.

Linson, a former record company entrepreneur — at one time he owned his own label, Spin Dizzy Records — was well-suited to produce such films as “Car Wash,” “American Hot Wax” and “The Wild Life,” and to exec-produce “Singles.”

His other producing credits include “Heat,” “Melvin and Howard,” “Scrooged” and “Dick Tracy,” which he exec produced. During breaks while producing “This Boy’s Life,” Linson wrote his first book, “A Pound of Flesh: Perilous Tales of How to Produce Movies in Hollywood,” a biting guidebook for aspiring producers.

Knickerbocker execs Linson’s son John Linson — who serves as a co-producer on “Great Expectations” and producer on “Primal” — and Jodie Burke will continue to develop projects with Linson.

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