A Deal for "Hebrew Hammer"; Microfilms Gets "Horns & Halos" & More From Toronto and Beyond
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Darryl MacDonald has been named executive director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. He will still remain with the Seattle International Film Festival which he co-founded in 1976. He was the founding artistic director in Palm Springs from 1989-1993.
Managing director Helen Loveridge will take over as festival director at the Seattle International Film Festival. Prior to joining Seattle she worked in sales with World Sales and Fortissimo.
Carl Spence has been named director of programming for both the Seattle and Palm Springs festivals. He had been the director of programming for the San Francisco International Film Festival and also previously worked as director of programming for MacDonald in Seattle.
Robert C. Yu and Jacob Leonti have joined Tulchin Entertainment as co-directors of acquisitions and sales. Yu is a veteran of Paramount Classics and Alliance Atlantis; Leonti had been with Benderspink Inc.
Beth Harris has been named to the newly created position of director of marketing at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Harris has worked for five California shopping centers, including L.A.'s The Promenade.
HAMMERING A DEAL: As Adam Goldberg's latest offering, the ensemble comedy "I Love Your Work" played to good response in Toronto earlier this week, ContentFilm announced a TV and theatrical deal for Jonathan Kesselman's comedy "The Hebrew Hammer," which also stars Goldberg. In the unique deal, Comedy Central has acquired North American broadcast rights to "Hammer," and will premiere the film on December 8 as part of a special two-week window, while, in a related deal, Cowboy Pictures will release the film theatrically in New York, Los Angeles, and other select cities beginning in mid-December, to coincide with Hanukkah. Comedy Central also acquired rights to air the film for four years starting in December 2004.
"The Hebrew Hammer" is described as a "'Jewxploitation' picture in the vein of 'Shaft,'" starring Goldberg as an Orthodox Jewish man who tries to save Hanukkah from Santa's evil son (Andy Dick). The cast also includes Judy Greer, Peter Coyote, Mario Van Peebles, and Melvin Van Peebles. In a press release, Content's Ed Pressman and John Schmidt said, "When we greenlit 'The Hebrew Hammer' we felt we had a chance to make a Mel Brooks movie for the new millennium, and we are gratified that it will reach a huge mainstream audience with Comedy Central. The film has already drawn enthusiastic crowds at festivals from Sundance to Berlin to Montreal, and Cowboy Pictures will do a great job bringing the film to moviegoers with an appetite for laughter. With Comedy Central branding we see 'The Hebrew Hammer' as a potential franchise property a la 'South Park.'"
GOTHAM GREATS: Michael Ian Black, from TV's "Ed" and films including "Wet Hot American Summer," has signed on to host the 13th Annual IFP Gotham Awards. Alec Baldwin, Taye Diggs, Jim Jarmusch, and Naomi Watts have been added as presenters for the gala, which will honor actors Glenn Close and Steve Buscemi and film execs David Linde and Ed Pressman. The gala will be held September 22 at New York's Chelsea Piers, and it will be aired on IFC on September 23 and on Bravo on September 28.
DVD DEALINGS: During this week's Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto-based Microfilms announced its launch as a DVD company devoted to indie films. The company will focus on classic and contemporary documentary films with its Document Collection series, starting with the December DVD release of the lauded doc "Horns and Halos" by Michael Galinksy and Suki Hawley. The film follows an underground publisher's fight to re-publish a controversial George W. Bush biography; special DVD features will include commentary, deleted scenes, a new transfer, a full interview with the author, the publisher's diary, and much more. Microfilms has also signed a deal for the DVD release of Werner Herzog's latest, "Wheel of Time." In addition to the doc slate, Microfilms will be the exclusive Canadian distributor for films released by Film Threat DVD. The company's VP and managing director, Glen Wood, previously worked at Lions Gate Home Entertainment and at Seville Pictures. For more information on the company, visit www.microfilmsinc.com.
WARMING UP IN WOODSTOCK: The Woodstock Film Festival has announced that Billy Ray's "Shattered Glass" will be the closing night film at the fest, which runs September 17-21. "Shattered Glass" stars Hayden Christensen as disgraced journalist Stephen Glass. Also shown on the final day of the event will be Jonathan Demme's "The Agronomist," which will play in Rhinebeck. The film, shown as a work in progress at Woodstock last year, looks at the life of Haitian human rights activist and journalist Jean Dominique.