Hurd eyes Eureka prod’n deal

Producer in talks about co-financing projects

PARIS — Eureka, the entertainment alliance between Germany’s Kirch Group and Italy’s Mediaset that has been busy cementing Continental European film rights to a string of American projects, has held talks with producer Gale Anne Hurd about co-financing her future projects.

Eureka sources confirmed that “initial discussions have taken place,” but stressed that no commitment has been made by either side.

Hurd, whose Pacific Western Prods. is leaving the Paramount lot where she has been since 1993, is known to be looking for several financial backers. For its part, Eureka is keen to establish relationships with Hollywood directing and producing talent to feed its European distribution ambitions.

The European company, headed by Jan Mojto of the Kirch group, intends to invest $150 million-$200 million in U.S. production this year, and up to $500 million in future years.

Mojto said at the Cannes Film Festival this year that Eureka would typically invest a minimum of 20% of a film’s budget for German, Italian and Spanish rights, rising to 55% for all international rights.

Star stakes

Eureka already has a three-year development deal with Robert Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises and is co-financing “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

In addition, Eureka has a five-year distribution agreement with L.A.-based Hyde Park Entertainment to take all Continental European rights on Hyde Park’s future pics and a long-term relationship with Gary Baker and Roger Birnbaum’s Spyglass Entertainment, which involved Eureka co-financing “The Sixth Sense.”

Hurd’s production credits include “Dead Man on Campus,” “Dick,” “Virus” and “Dante’s Peak.”

Meanwhile, Eureka’s attempts to bring a French partner into its fold appear to be going nowhere fast. The Kirch and Mediaset venture has television outlets in Germany, Italy and Spain and has ambitions to sell pan-European advertising across its channels.

But a Eureka source admitted to Daily Variety that “it is proving remarkably difficult to persuade the main French television players to come on board,” adding that pay television Canal Plus and private webs TF1 and M6 had been approached.