Skoll toasts new shingle

Participant plans to produce four to six pix per year

Former eBay president Jeff Skoll has founded Participant Prods., a privately financed production shingle based in Los Angeles that plans to focus on projects that are both commercially viable and socially relevant.

Former Columbia Pictures president Peter Schlessel will serve on Participant’s board of directors.

Company has also made a housekeeping deal with “Adaptation” producer Ed Saxon. Participant plans to produce four to six films per year, with budgets of up to $40 million.

First project is an IFC Prods. co-production with the working title “American Gun.” Aric Avelino makes his writing and directing debut on the project, in which interwoven storylines focus on how American lives are affected by guns. IFC Films will distribute.

“The team,” Skoll said, “will lead Participant in finding socially relevant projects with broad commercial appeal — stories like ‘Erin Brockovich,’ ‘Gandhi’ or ‘Schindler’s List,’ which highlight these battles against injustices and bridge the gulf between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ ”

Jeff Ivers, who has held posts at MGM, Orion and Motion Picture Corp. of America, is Participant’s chief financial officer. Michael Roban, formerly of ContentFilm, will serve as exec VP of business affairs and operations.

Chris Salvaterra, formerly of Casey Silver Prods., is exec VP of creative affairs and production. Chris Adams, formerly of Lycos and Amazon.com, serves as senior VP of business development.

Nate Moore, formerly of Columbia Pictures, joins as a creative executive.

Skoll oversaw the creation of the eBay Foundation and founded the Skoll Foundation, which invests in social entrepreneurs.