Cafe’s open for biz in prod’n, distribbing

Fox-headed shingle sights indies, preps 'Wasabi' bow

Cafe Entertainment Studios has launched as a production and distribution entity with the aim of creating low-to-moderately priced features, television and music projects.

The shingle, headed by Celia A. Fox, has brought in veteran showbiz execs Robert L. Friedman, who’s president and a producer. He’s former prexy of AMC Entertainment Motion Picture Group and AMC Intl., president of Columbia Pictures Distribution and exec VP of United Artists.

“We feel that there’s a lot of room for indies right now to succeed with crossover product if they bring in a strong sensibility of what works in the marketplace,” Friedman said. “That’s why we want to handle the distribution ourselves.”

Cafe is also using Media Consulting Associates, headed by Jerry Katzman and Herman Rush. Katzman is former president of William Morris, and Rush is former chairman of Columbia Pictures Television.

“I know I have a long way to go, but with the help of sophisticated investors and very experienced advisers I believe we have a good shot at building something of value,” Fox said.

Cafe is handling the releasing of its first feature, comedy caper “Wasabi Tuna,” May 7 in Los Angeles, then plans to take the pic into Gotham, San Francisco and Boston. Fox wrote and produced, obtaining financing from Horizon Investment Group.

“Wasabi Tuna,” centered on a group of friends prepping for the annual West Hollywood Halloween Parade, stars Antonio Sabato Jr., Jason London, Tim Meadows, Alexis Arquette and Anna Nicole Smith.

Fox said she’s going the mini-studio route because of what she sees as unexploited opportunities for developing indie films and TV skeins that carry mass appeal. “We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we feel we can be competitive with projects in the $3 million to $10 million range,” she added.

Fox said Cafe, which will be based in the Burbank/Glendale area, will seek financing on a per-project basis. It’s developing another feature, “Coochie Power,” focused on sexual orientation, as well as a trio of TV skeins — “A Labor of Love;” “Funny Gyrrls,” set in the world of female standup comics; and “Club Fed,” a dramedy dealing with white-collar crime.

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