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Paramount, producer in a family way

Kerner's pics include 'George,' 'Gadget,' 'Snow Dogs'

Producer Jordan Kerner, via his Kerner Entertainment Co. shingle, has struck a four-year, first-look pact with Paramount Pictures.

Deal, which comes a week after Kerner separated from longtime producing partner Jon Avnet (Daily Variety, April 8), calls for Kerner to make family pics for the studio as well as for Viacom properties MTV Films and Nickelodeon. Alliance with Kerner signals a bolder leap into the family-pics business for Paramount.

Kerner has had a first-look pact at Disney for 10 years, making such Mouse House pics as “George of the Jungle,” “Inspector Gadget” and, most recently, “Snow Dogs.” That deal expires at the end of May, though Kerner remains a producer of Disney’s sequel to “Snow Dogs” and direct-to-vid sequel to “George of the Jungle.”

“Jordan will fit right in at Paramount,” said Sherry Lansing, chair of Par’s Motion Picture Group. “He’s an intelligent producer whose filmmaking style is a perfect match for the many entities of the Viacom family. We couldn’t be happier about this agreement.”

Lansing also added that Kerner, whilst having a strong background in family pix is also appealing to Par for the wide range of movies he will produce.

“Jordan has demonstrated extraordinary ability in producing family movies with projects like ‘George of the Jungle’ and ‘Snow Dogs,’ but we do not want to limit him to any one genre because he is multitalented. Obviously, he is natural fit with Paramount because of Nickelodeon and MTV and our commitment to that market, but he has also produced such adult dramas like ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ and one of my favorite movies of all time, ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ ”

Kerner said: “I love family entertainment, and I also have a passion for dramas that can elevate and challenge the audience. I trust that this emphasis will make a significant contribution to Paramount, Nickelodeon and MTV Films in establishing an even greater diversity in their already wide-ranging slate of films. This is a phenomenal opportunity for me to be working with Sherry, (vice chairman) John (Goldwyn) and (chief operating officer and vice chairman) Rob (Friedman).”

Albie Hecht, Nickelodeon prexy of film and television, added: “We look forward to partnering with Jordan on movies. The opportunity of collaborating with someone as talented and connected to the family audience as he is exciting.”

Kerner is joined by Paul Neesan, Kerner Entertainment’s exec veep and head of production. Neesan was previously head of development at Mostow/Lieberman Prods. and served as veep of production at Universal.

Kerner formed the Avnet/Kerner Co. with Avnet in 1986. Company produced roughly 30 pics, about half for TV and half for the theatrical marketplace. His producing credits include “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Three Musketeers,” “Less Than Zero” and all three installments of “The Mighty Ducks.”

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