Grammy-winning songstress Alicia Keys and producing partner-manager Jeff Robinson have signed a multiyear first-look film production deal at Disney.
Their first project is a remake of the 1958 film “Bell Book and Candle,” with Keys to play the witch role originated by Kim Novak. She’ll produce with Robinson.
Keys and Robinson said they will develop live-action and animated projects at their company, Big Pita, Little Pita, with Keys participating as producer and thesp and the banner spearheading soundtrack and music supervision. The duo’s TV production company is called Big Pita.
The company name, Robinson said, is an acronym for the way he and Keys refer to each other. “It’s big pain in the ass, little pain in the ass, and on any given day, I could be the Big Pita, or vice versa,” Robinson said.
They will open an office on the Disney lot but base their operations in New York, where Susan Lewis has been hired to run the company.
They chose “Bell Book and Candle” as a starting vehicle after Robinson watched the original and saw potential for Keys.
Keys said a goal is to create vehicles that will prevent her from falling into predictable roles.
“I never wanted to play myself, not in the first role or even the second. I want to do the unexpected,” Keys said.
In her debut role, in Joe Carnahan-directed “Smokin’ Aces,” she plays an assassin. She followed that up with “The Nanny Diaries” for the Weinstein Co.
Dick Cook and Nina Jacobson made the Disney deal. “We found her to be smart and entrepreneurial, and feel she will have a lot to offer in a lot of different areas,” Jacobson said. “It seemed an opportunity to start a relationship in the feature world before it was obvious, instead of after.”