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Film News Roundup: MLB Doping Scandal Documentary ‘Screwball’ Set for Spring Release

In today’s film news roundup, “Screwball” is getting a domestic release in the spring, Brian Goldsmith re-ups at Lionsgate, horror novel “Snowblind” is in the works as a film, and “Room 13” has been cast.

ACQUISITION

Greenwich Entertainment has acquired U.S. rights to baseball doping documentary “Screwball” and plans a theatrical release to coincide with the start of the Major League Baseball season in April.

The film, directed by Billy Corben (“Cocaine Cowboys”), centers on the Alex Rodriguez/Biogenesis doping scandal, which broke in 2013 when several MLB players were accused of obtaining performance-enhancing drugs such as human growth hormone from the now-defunct rejuvenation clinic Biogenesis of America.

“Screwball” premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and recently played at DocNYC. Corben and Alfred Spellman produced under their Rakontur banner.

“Billy Corben’s wildly entertaining doc is his latest look at a perverse pursuit of the American Dream,” said Greenwich’s Andy Bohn. “As Variety noted [in its review], ‘Screwball’ ‘suggests what might result if the Monty Python troupe were given carte blanche to produce an investigative report for “60 Minutes.”’”

MLB sued six people connected to Biogenesis, accusing them of damaging the sport by providing banned substances to its players. It also suspended 13 players for at least 50 games, including a 211-game suspension for Rodriguez.

Joe Leydon praised the film in his review for Variety: “‘Screwball’ doesn’t let anyone off easy, least of all then-commissioner Bud Selig and other MLB officials who turned a blind eye during the years when most other reasonably sentient observers suspected crowd-pleasing (and TV ratings-boosting) sluggers like Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco were relying on ’roids to bulk up.”

30West negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers with Greenwich Entertainment.

EXECUTIVE DEAL

Brian Goldsmith, a 15-year veteran of Lionsgate and its predecessor companies, has signed a new long-term agreement to continue as chief operating officer.

Goldsmith is a member of Lionsgate’s senior decision-making team and executive management committee. He’s responsible for a range of corporate management issues, M&A activities, strategic partnerships and investments, and initiatives designed to strengthen the capital structure. Goldsmith helped shepherd Lionsgate’s 2016 acquisition of Starz for $4.4 billion and played an integral role in last year’s purchase of the Good Universe production and distribution company.

He’s led business development efforts in China and India and helped orchestrate Lionsgate’s acquisition of Summit Entertainment, its partnership with CBS in the Pop network, the launch of Celestial Tiger Entertainment in Asia, and the sale of Lionsgate’s stake in the Epix channel.

“Brian is a key member of the team that has built our Company into a diversified global content supplier through a combination of organic growth, strategic acquisitions and incubation of new businesses,” said Lionsgate chief executive officer Jon Feltheimer. “He will continue to play a leadership role in deciding how we allocate our resources and deploy our content in today’s dynamic operating environment in order to remain a unique and valuable part of our media ecosystem.”

PROJECT LAUNCH

Zoic Studios has optioned Christopher Golden’s horror novel “Snowblind” to adapt for a feature film.

Amber Alexander is attached to pen the screenplay, with Golden and Pete Donaldson attached to produce alongside Zoic Studios. The deal marks Zoic Studios’ first foray into content development, with founding partners Chris Jones and Loni Peristere spearheading the creative development of “Snowblind.” Peristere has served as a co-executive producer and director on the Cinemax series “Banshee” and has directed episodes of “American Horror Story,” Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and the upcoming Cinemax series “Warrior.”

“Snowblind” is set in the small New England town of Coventry as it weathers a blizzard unlike the many thousands they’ve seen before. Families are torn apart, and the town will never be the same. Stephen King said, “’Snowblind’ is instantly involving and deeply scary. It will bring a blizzard to your bones (and your heart), even in the middle of July.”

Golden’s credits include “Ararat,” “Dead Ringers,” and the upcoming “The Pandora Room. He has co-created Dark Horse comic book series “Baltimore” and “Joe Golem: Occult Detective.” Alexander is represented by manager Jeff Portnoy at Bellevue Productions and attorney Paul Miloknay at Miloknay-Weiner.

Zoic has previously created VFX for TV series “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead,” “Maniac,” and “Firefly” and feature films “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “The Grey,” and “Big Eyes.”

CASTINGS

Courtney Gains, Brooke Anne Smith, Weetus Cren, and Chris Santos are star in the independent noir thriller “Room 13,” which begins filming this month in Los Angeles, Variety has learned exclusively.
Jaime Gallagher is producing and directing in her feature debut from a script by Scott Christian Spencer. The story is set in 1994 and follows Smith’s character deciding to try something new one misty October night, only to find herself the latest victim of Room 13.
Ava Locklear, Natalie Makenna, Robert H. Lambert, Matt O’Neill, Nathan Kehn, Clayton Hoff, and Daniel Ramirez have been cast in supporting roles. Besides Gallagher, other producers are Amy Williams, Chad Schultz and Spencer. Traci Turner Spencer and Jennifer Phillips are co-producing. Lambert and Jeffrey Magnussen are executive producing. “Room 13” is produced in association with The Malt Shop
Gains has credits in dozens of films, dating back to his portrayal of “Malachai” in the 1984 horror movie “Children of the Corn,” based on the short story by Stephen King.  Gallagher is repped by WME. Gains is repped by Stewart Talent and Chris Roe Management. Smith is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and MGMT Entertainment. Cren is repped by Kathleen Schults Associates Talent Agency. Santos is repped by AGI Entertainment Media & Management.

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