Burg breaks from Blackwell’s Palm

Island prexy to hang a shingle of his own

Less than two months after reports surfaced that former Island Pictures president Mark Burg would join Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures, the deal has fallen apart.

Burg had reportedly been in negotiations to head film production for Palm Pictures, a new entertainment production and distribution unit of Blackwell’s Islandlife umbrella group.

But in a terse statement released Tuesday, Blackwell said Burg would set up his own company, which will produce film projects for — and share office space with — Palm.

Blackwell and Burg both declined to comment on why the deal to head Palm had soured. However, it’s believed that in recent months a rift had developed between the two over the direction of the company.

Blackwell was also upset, sources said, because he believed Burg prematurely leaked information about the creation of the company — and his position in it — to the press in May.

Producer and one-time Paramount exec Oren Koules, whom Burg had tapped for a production exec position at Palm, is now expected to join Burg at his new shingle.

Longtime Island Pictures veteran Dan Genetti will serve as a production exec at Palm. He will be based at the company’s Los Angeles office, which is set to open in a few weeks.

Palm is the latest entertainment venture from Blackwell, the idiosyncratic entertainment and resort hotel tycoon who founded the hugely successful Island Records label which he later sold to Polygram.

Blackwell, who is extremely bullish about the prospects for DVD, is steering Palm toward a more acquisition-oriented operation.

On the other hand, Burg, who has produced such pictures as “B.A.P.S,” “Def Jam’s How to Be a Player” and “Eddie,” wanted to produce more commercial fare.

“It has been a terrific 10 years working for Chris Blackwell,” Burg said in the statement. “Now it’s time to work for myself, and, fortunately, Chris has made it possible.”

Blackwell added, “I have worked with Mark Burg for a long time, and am happy to work with his new company in the future.

“In the past, Mark has been a professional and valued member of the Island family, and we welcome his association with Palm Pictures going forward.”