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Granger ankles Par for Mutual

'Continuation of a great partnership,' he sez

Paramount Pictures exec VP of production Don Granger will exit the studio Friday to partner with Mutual Film’s Gary Levinsohn. Par has also extended its first-look deal with Mutual for another four years.

What isn’t clear is under which name Mutual will continue to conduct business at the studio. Moniker’s ownership is under discussion between Levinsohn and his soon-to-be-former partner, Mark Gordon.

Granger’s move to partner with Levinsohn has been mooted since Gordon and Levinsohn announced their intent to part company last September after five years (Daily Variety, Sept. 7). He will begin work at Mutual on March 26.

Gordon is understood to be in conversations with several studios about his own financing and production deal.

Levinsohn and Granger’s new relationship extends the affinity developed as the execs worked on such projects as “Tomb Raider” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

Granger, who joined Par in 1990, has served as exec VP of production since 1996. He has overseen the production and development of such pics as “Sum of All Fears,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Mission: Impossible 2,” “Patriot Games,” “Clear & Present Danger” and “Kiss the Girls.”

“In my role at Paramount, I have worked closely with Gary and Mutual Films for over six years, so this feels less like a new job and more like the continuation of a great partnership,” said Granger, who thanked Par execs Sherry Lansing and John Goldwyn.

Mutual is backed by overseas distribs Tele Munchen (Germany), the BBC and Toho-Towa/Marubeni (Japan). Last May, Mutual signed a $200 million revolving credit line with Union Bank of California to produce and acquire an unspecified number of films during the next three years. A recently announced output deal with Italy’s Eagle Pictures has since fallen by the wayside, however.

Mutual originally signed on with Par in early 1996. Deal, renegotiated and extended for another three years in 1998, runs until June.

“Don Granger is a great person who brings in-depth knowledge of film production and development that is combined with a rare insider’s perspective on how the major studios operate,” Levinsohn said.

Mutual has produced and co-financed such features as the Mel Gibson starrer “The Patriot,” with Columbia Pictures; “Man on the Moon,” starring Jim Carrey, for Universal; and Paramount’s “Wonder Boys,” starring Michael Douglas for producer Scott Rudin.

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