Co-op IDP taps Silberman to distrib, market pics

Firestone, Goldwyn, Icahn form partnership

HOLLYWOOD — Modeled after the international partnership UIP, CanWest Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn Films and Stratosphere Releasing have formed IDP Distribution.

Michael Silberman, a 20-year veteran of the independent film scene and currently senior VP distribution for USA Films label October Films, has been named IDP’s chief operating officer and president of distribution and marketing. He assumes his new post May 1 and will be based in Gotham.

IDP will market and distribute feature films in North America, consolidating those activities for the three companies. The company will release an estimated 20 pics per year.

Under the new arrangement, the individual partners — CanWest’s Jay Firestone, Goldwyn’s Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and Stratosphere’s Carl Icahn — will be personally involved with the producers of films acquired by their companies and released through IDP.

Each company will continue to pursue its own acquisition and production program.

“Filmmakers will have the benefit of a larger organization to handle their pictures, but will still get the personal attention required and deserved for their films,” Goldwyn said of the new venture.

Icahn added: “We welcome Michael to IDP and look forward to a strong and lasting relationship with Samuel Goldwyn Films and CanWest.”

Said Firestone: “Michael Silberman’s experience, personal relationships, street savvy and sheer love of the movie business will all be valued assets as we aggressively stake out our position in the marketplace.”

Counting releases

Silberman was already looking forward to the new job.

“We will endeavor to create a filmmaker-friendly organization, with the ability to release films with 10 prints or 1,000, committed to new visions and exciting stories,” he said.

Silberman, former senior vice president of distribution for October Films, was responsible for the theatrical releases of such pics as “The Apostle,” “Secrets and Lies,” “Breaking the Waves,” “Autumn Tale” and the re-issue of “Touch of Evil.”

Pix on tap

Pictures scheduled for release this year through IDP for Goldwyn and CanWest are: Liv Ullmann’s “Faithless,” based on Ingmar Bergman’s script and in competition in Cannes; and Benito Zambrano’s “Solas.”

Stratosphere’s slate include Stephen Metcalfe’s “Beautiful Joe,” starring Sharon Stone and Billy Connolly; and Kevin Jordan’s “Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish,” the Discovery winner at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.

Silberman worked for Goldwyn during the releases of such films as “Much Ado About Nothing.” “The Madness of King George,” and “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.” He held similar positions at Vestron and Aries Film Releasing, among others.

Silberman will be based in New York and reports to the three partners.

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