Lorber to fly Phoenix into TV biz

Mike Medavoy’s Phoenix Pictures has hired Hallmark Entertainment’s Marc Lorber to lead the company’s first foray into the TV business.

Phoenix, the company behind such features as “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” has formed a new TV division to focus mainly on telefilms and miniseries for network and cable. Eventually, Phoenix could enter the one-hour series business, too, according to company chairman and CEO Medavoy.

“There are lots of synergies between movies and TV,” Medavoy said. “We’re going to give it a try.”

Lorber, who was most recently vice president of development, West Coast, for Hallmark Entertainment, has been named vice president of Phoenix. He’ll head all development and sales of Phoenix TV projects.

Prior to joining Hallmark, Lorber was vice president of development for Mesmerize Studios. Lorber has also worked for Spelling TV and Goldwyn, and he spent a couple of years as an independent producer, working on such projects as “To Brave Alaska” for ABC and “Cradle of Conspiracy” for NBC.

Already, Phoenix has sold two projects to HBO NYC, and the company is working on a deal with Showtime, which is an equity partner in the company. The two new projects in development for HBO are called “Veil” and “Rx.”

“Veil” is a dramatization of Bob Woodward’s book exposing the secret wars of the CIA from 1981 to 1987. “Rx,” written by Charles Mann, is a story of industrial espionage in the pharmaceutical industry. Those deals were cut before Lorber was hired by Diane Sokolow, senior vice president of Phoenix.

Although the company has not ventured into TV in the past, Phoenix President Arnold Messer worked in TV when he was at Columbia Pictures Entertainment. Mike Medavoy Prods. also produced the HBO movie “Soul of the Game.”

Now might seem like an odd time for Phoenix to venture into the made-for arena, since CBS and NBC have both cut back on a movie night for the upcoming season. But Lorber said that given numerous cable and international outlets, the format is still a healthy business. He also pointed out that netlet UPN is adding a movie night, and he predicted movies on NBC and ABC will return after some series fail.

“The networks are looking for event pictures with feature talent,” Lorber said. “Who better to do that than a feature company?”

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