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Col taps two for N.Y. home

Schindler, Mitchell in prod'n office

Columbia Pictures has tapped producer and former Red Om partner Deborah Schindler and former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell to oversee the studio’s newly established New York development and production office as exec production consultants.

The two have been in talks for the job since last spring (Daily Variety, May 19).

Schindler stressed that the New York office would be more than just a “book satellite” — i.e. mainly intended to acquire material from New York publishers and book agents.

“The mandate that Amy (Pascal) has given us is to make New York this viable, active place for filmmakers — writers, directors, talent. To not only find material, but to develop it and make it into movies.”

Schindler and Mitchell will be looking for material for Columbia as well as Sony’s other labels Screen Gems and TriStar.

The pair come to the job with different strengths and backgrounds and each will have a unique focus at the company.

Schindler will be Col’s principal liaison in New York, and will be a fully integrated member of the L.A. production and development team. Having most recently served as head of the New York-based Red Om Films (“Maid in Manhattan,” “Mona Lisa Smile”) and as Julia Roberts’ producing partner, Schindler will draw upon her longstanding relationships with talent, filmmakers, writers, managers and agents as she oversees the development of projects and supervises the studio’s East Coast-based productions.

Earlier this month, Schindler was pivotal in securing motion picture remake rights to Dan Klores’ documentary “Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story.” Pic will be a Sony-Paramount co-production.

As for Mitchell, Col will tap into his unique perspective and experiences as a former film critic and creative exec. He’ll canvass the film festival circuit and evaluate the Col library for potential remakes. Mitchell will also draw on his extensive network of contacts as he serves as a consultant to the studio’s acquisitions team. He will also operate as an exec supervising projects.

Previously, Schindler produced “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “Waiting to Exhale.” Before Red Om Films, Schindler had a 10-year relationship with 20th Century Fox.

Mitchell was a film critic for the New York Times for four years, starting in January 2000. Before that, he was film critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for two years. He’s also a visiting lecturer on African and African-American studies and on visual and environmental studies at Harvard.

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