Clearasil crowd makes room for another Vice

New Line goes nuclear, pacts with mag on 'Dirty Bombs'

If there is one constructive thing to come out of “Jackass: The Movie” it’s how lucrative a youth-stamped brand can be. This hopeful promise has prompted New Line and Warner Bros. to align with Vice, a Brooklyn-based underground music magazine that also has a path to the Clearasil crowd.

New Line’s Lynn Harris and Toby Emmerich have bought “Dirty Bombs,” a project that will be produced by Vice from a script by mag co-founder Shane Smith and managing editor Eddy Moretti. Smith and cofounders Gavin McInnes and Suroosh Alvi are separately negotiating a two-year first-look deal at Warner Bros. for Vice-branded films.

“Dirty Bombs” is about a man who heads to Eastern Europe hoping to find and photograph a black market nuke. It’s New Line’s second recent mag maneuver after a deal to stamp the mens mag moniker Maxim on certain films; Vice’s appeal comes because its tiny 135,000 circulation goes to retail outlets where the cool congregate.

Street credibility was cemented when it was identified by the Madison Ave. touchstone Cassandra Report as the top-ranked mag for trendsetting girls 19-25 and guys 25-30. It’s landed Vice an overall deal with Warner Records, with a TV show also in the works.

“FOLK” HEROES GET HIKE: The group negotiating tactic hatched by “Friends” is catching on. Managers and agents of the “Queer As Folk” cast empowered lawyers Peter Nelson and Bruce Gellman to negotiate for all six. Nelson did that successfully for the supporting cast of “The West Wing,” and Showtime’s Jerry Offsay OK’d four-fold raises. Gale Harold, Peter Paige, Thea Gill, Scott Lowell, Randy Harrison and Michelle Clunie will now pull down mid-five-figures per episode for the drama’s third season.

BEDEVILED BY FEDS: Just when the demons seemed exorcised from “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” the FBI’s gotten involved.

A man was charged with fraud for penning a letter on Bank of New York stationery apparently to help the film get its completion bond. Jay Berkman’s name was on a missive to Worldwide Film Completion Co., promising an imminent $5.59 million wire transfer to be made by producer Jed Baron’s JAG Productions. Berkman claimed to be a BondNet veep, but was merely a marketing consultant, according to the complaint.

Money trouble on indie pics is hardly uncommon, but this remake has been bedeviled more than most. It stars Alec Baldwin, Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Baldwin directed the pic but removed his name after clashes with producer David Glasser over postproduction funds. Berkman’s letter was discovered during an FBI investigation of possible fraud in garnering loans for the “Devil” budget, and his exact role in the drama won’t come clear until Berkman finds out if he’ll be indicted, said his attorney, Maurice Sercarz. “My client asserts his innocence and did not intend to defraud anyone,” said Sercarz, who said Berkman’s not in the film biz. “He looks forward to the day that all the facts surrounding the drafting of this letter to come to light.”

News of the arrest drew expressions of surprise at Mifed from Glasser and Lewis Horwitz, the banker who made the loan. “I did get a copy of this letter, after we’d agreed to finance the film,” said Horwitz. “It made no difference to me because we saw everything we needed to satisfy the conditions for making the loan.” Glasser said he was peripherally aware of Berkman, but never met or spoke to him. Glasser said Baron was just one of several potential investors who dropped out and made his life hellish the past two years trying to cover budgetary shortfalls on “Devil” and “Narc,” the latter of which has been garnering sleeper hype. Baron didn’t return calls, but JAG’s website lists “Devil” and “Narc” among its credits.

Why would the FBI exert manpower on a small pic? Since the investigation originated on Long Island, it could relate to Nassau County getting stiffed on rental fees for an abandoned warehouse leased for filming. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Schoeman wouldn’t elaborate on what prompted the investigation or how far it will go. Glasser and Horwitz said Berkman’s trouble has no effect on the finished print of “Devil” finally due Dec. 3. “Glasser has been outstanding in putting up the funds to complete the picture,” Horwitz said. “Frankly, it is one of the best loans we have on the books.”