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Inside Move: VH1 producer pops up pic

Leo jumps ship to write original telepic

“Pop Up Video” producer Paul Leo has jumped ship — only to land VH1’s first “Pop Up Movie.”

Leo, a member of VH1’s “Pop Up Video” creative team from its inception, will leave the production next week as it concludes its 12th cycle since September 1996, in order to pen a script that VH1 has commissioned as an original telepic.

The movie, which Leo has begun working on, follows the life of a man who wakes up one day with the ability to see “Pop Ups” that are invisible to everyone else. The info in the balloons guides the man through daily life.

While Leo said the cabler had intended from the beginning of “Pop Up Video” to do a “Pop Up” treatment of existing films, such as “Grease” or “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the production continually ran into problems with rights and legalities.

“So I went to VH1 and pitched an idea for an original done specifically for Pop Ups, where Pop Ups are part of the story,” Leo said. “They’ll function differently than in ‘Pop Up Video.’ It’s kind of like the ‘Harvey’ situation, where he’s the only one who sees the (rabbit).”

VH1 Originals generally have been budgeted in the $3 million neighborhood, and this pic’s budget is likely to fall in line with that.

The VH1 Pop Up Movie will be Leo’s first feature script. He also will be a production consultant on laying in the Pop Ups.

“The tricky thing about the script is that it’s two movies in one, the main movie and the Pop Up script,” Leo said. Although it’s twice the work, he added, he’s not getting double the fee.

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