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Leguizamo bows first slate

Sked to kick off with 'Pinero'

CANNES — John Leguizamo’s Lower East Side Films has unveiled its first production slate, featuring an array of talent including Mike Nichols, Leon Ichaso, Forest Whitaker, David Chappelle and Eric Clapton.

Actor-producer Leguizamo, in Cannes for the Directors Fortnight screening of the Spike Lee film “Summer of Sam,” has pacted to star in and produce “Dumbstruck” for Universal Pictures. Pic, a comedy-drama about a mute performance artist, has Nichols attached to direct from a screenplay by John Weidner and Stephen Susco.

First movie to unspool from Lower East Side will be “Pinero.” The biopic about the late Puerto Rican poet and playwright Miguel Pinero is to be written and directed by Ichaso. Leguizamo will star in the pic, which is skedded to shoot this summer in New York in the digital format. New York-based Greenestreet/SKE Films will provide the financing and co-produce with East Side topper Kathy DeMarco.

Meanwhile, Leguizamo is attached to produce and star in “Esquivel” for Fox Searchlight Pictures, an account of the life and career of Mexican composer and bandleader Juan Garcia Esquivel.

Four East Side projects are now in development at Miramax, where in February the company signed a first-look film and television deal: an animated pic, “Shorties,” set in the world of graffiti, with artist Crash and Clapton attached; “Sins of the Father,” a drama that Whitaker will star in and produce with Leguizamo; a boxing project, “Infamous,” written by Frank Pugliese; and an untitled comedy written by Steve Chbosky.

East Side also is working with actor-writer Chappelle (“You’ve Got Mail”) on an untitled satire with rapper Q-Tip attached.

The versatile Leguizamo is about to start shooting “R’Xmas” for Franchise Pictures under Abel Ferrara’s helm. Later this year, he will star opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Paramount Pictures’ remake of “Shaft,” directed by John Singleton.

William Morris Agency, manager 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney Jason Sloane concluded Leguizamo’s deals. Weidner and Susco were repped by APA’s David Saunders.