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Sarkissian stays in Lion’s den

Producer renews his deal with MGM

Arthur Sarkissian, producer of the “Rush Hour” franchise (including the forthcoming third installment), has renewed his first-look production deal at MGM, where he’s been based since 2002.

Previously, the producer was based at New Line.

At MGM, Sarkissian is in development on “Split” (aka “The Defiant Ones”), a remake of Stanley Kramer’s 1958 thriller starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier as escaped convicts bound at the wrist. Pic’s original draft was written by Peter Iliff, with a rewrite by Jay Scherick and David Ronn.

He’s also producing “Street” with Alex Gartner. Michael Shapiro is directing the film, which follows a group of street basketball players recruited to play for a pro team whose owner has slashed player salaries. Matt O’Neil and Chris Parker penned the script.

“It’s a good group and I feel very comfortable, because it feels you don’t have to wait for answers for long. Stuff moves quickly,” Sarkissian said of working at MGM.

“We’ve had a great relationship so far and I look forward to working with them for as long as possible.”

Sarkissian, along with a dozen other MGM-based producers, is unclear what will happen to his deal when Sony’s purchase of the studio is finalized by regulating authorities next year. “We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

Others projects in development at Arthur Sarkissian Prods. are “Back to School,” a remake of the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield comedy film; “El Cid,” Anthony Mann’s 1961 epic, with Martin Campbell attached to direct; and “Between the Covers,” a romantic comedy written by Robin Schiff and Ken Levine.

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