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Searchlight buys ‘Coffee’ with Pacino

Thesp set for both sides of camera in Lewis play adaptation

HOLLYWOOD — Fox Searchlight grabbed all rights to Al Pacino’s second directorial effort, “Chinese Coffee,” in which the thesp also stars, along with Jerry Orbach (TV’s “Law and Order”).

Pic’s a low-budget two-hander adapted from the play written by Ira Lewis. Pacino funded it himself and shot it over the course of three years, working it in between his roles in such recent pics as “Any Given Sunday” and “The Insider.” Studio said it expects to release “Coffee” sometime in 2001.

The film portrays a winter’s night conversation between a struggling Greenwich Village writer and his mentor, interspersed with flashbacks to the women and events that shaped the friends’ fates.

Searchlight’s deal for “Coffee” extends its relationship with Pacino. In 1996 the specialty division of Fox Filmed Entertainment also released the Oscar-winning thesp’s first pic, “Looking for Richard,” a docu about Shakespeare and his relevance today. “Chinese Coffee” also features Susan Floyd and Ellen McElduff. Producer is Michael Hadge, with Anne D’Amato exec producing.

Companies involved were New York-based Chal Prods., in association with the Shooting Gallery. Tony Safford, Fox’s senior VP of acquisitions, brought the project into the studio.