The recent merger of London’s Artists Independent Network with New York’s Widescreen has created the first management and production company with a significant presence on both sides of the Atlantic.

Their combined client roster reads like a who’s who of A-list indie players. AIN brings John Malkovich, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Gerard Depardieu, Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci; Widescreen touts Frances McDormand, Parker Posey and Lili Taylor, among others.

The deal also reunited several alumni of the William Morris Agency. It’s been two years since Charles Finch, Luc Roeg, Vanessa Pereira and Sophie Simpson exited WMA’s London office to launch AIN. Frank Frattaroli, the former co-head of WMA’s Gotham talent division, founded Widescreen six months later.

Meanwhile, their former WMA boss Arnold Rifkin sits on AIN’s creative board along with his business partner Bruce Willis, and several of the company’s highest-profile clients.

AIN has certainly defied the skeptics in its first two years. It secured a first-look deal with StudioCanal and a development re-

lationship with USA Films, which has been folded into the newly minted Focus. Andy Mayson, ex-chief operating officer of Intermedis, joined last October as managing director. It has added new clients, including, most recently, Samantha Morton and Emilia Fox, and has accumulated some impressive production credits.

The company has exec produced two films: “Mike Bassett, England Manager,” directed by client Steve Barron, which was a solid hit on its U.K. release last fall; and David Cronenberg’s “Spider,” selected for competition at Cannes 2002. Its first TV series, catwalk doc “Model Behavior,” aired on Channel 4.

While taking exec producer credits was an important step in establishing the company’s creative credentials, the focus is now on producing films from its own development slate.

This year should see the cameras roll on “Romford Matador,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Pez Vega; the WW2 drama “Who Goes There?” starring client Jamie Bell; and “Fat Slags,” a ladette comedy based on a Viz comic strip, which is being developed with FilmFour.

However, the company has decided against setting up its own film sales arm. Management remains its core business, but it is also looking to diversify into PR and luxury brands.