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LaBute firms for trio of pix

Fox 2000, Clinica Estetico, Baltimore in mix

NEW YORK — Raising their Hollywood profile, writer/director Neil LaBute and producing partner Stephen Pevner have set up three new pictures at separate companies, in addition to their two-picture deal with Polygram Films.

LaBute (scripter-helmer of “In the Company of Men”) will write and direct a contempo version of the Cornel Wilde-Gene Tierney 1945 starrer “Leave Her to Heaven.” Pevner will produce in association with Laura Ziskin’s Fox 2000. Film is based on the novel by Ben Ames Williams.

For Jonathan Demme and Ed Saxon’s production company, Clinica Estetico, LaBute will rewrite and direct the original screenplay “Bleeder,” by Richard Price (“Freedomland”).

Estetico has deals with Universal Pictures and its majority-owned specialized film company October Films. Pevner will serve as exec producer on “Bleeder,” which tells the story of a murder within a tightly knit group of police officers.

For Paula Weinstein and Barry Levinson, LaBute is set to helm a screen adaptation of A.S. Byatt’s novel “Possession,” which chronicles a budding romance between two modern scholars on the trail of a clandestine love affair between two Victorian-era poets. Pevner will take exec producing chores on the pic, which Laura Jones is scripting for Weinstein and Levinson’s Baltimore Spring Creek Prods.

LaBute also also has a two-picture non-exclusive deal with Polygram Films, to which Pevner is attached as producer.

That deal came about when when Polygram Filmed Entertainment unit Propaganda Films agreed to finance and co-produce “Your Friends and Neighbors,” which LaBute again wrote and directed. The film, which stars Ben Stiller, Jason Patric, Nastassja Kinski and Aaron Eckhart, was produced by Pevner.

LaBute and Pevner created a stir at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival with their first bigscreen collaboration, “In the Company of Men.” The tale of two alienated male middle managers who deceive a vulnerable secretary was distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

Pevner and LaBute met 10 years ago while the latter was earning his master’s of fine arts degree from NYU’s dramatic writing program. LaBute, a recipient of a literary fellowship at London’s Royal Court Theatre, has written several plays, including “Filthy Talk for Troubled Times,” “Lepers” and “Ravages.”

Pevner established his literary management company in New York in 1991 to help indie filmmakers such as Richard Linklater, Tom DiCillo, Gregg Araki, Guinevere Turner and Todd Solondz get book deals. In addition to acting as LaBute’s producing partner, Pevner produced the Obie-Award winning show “The Vagina Monologues.”

LaBute is represented by his agent, Brad Gross of Sanford Gross, and his attorney, Donna Bascom. Pevner is repped by attorney Stephen Dembitzer of Goldstein & Dembitzer.

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