Chasen's Alive at Northern Arts; Filmmakers Announce Esquivel Film as Part of Multi- Picture Fox Searchlight Deal

by Eugene Hernandez

Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini told indieWIRE yesterday that
their 1997 documentary, "Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's," has been
acquired for domestic distribution by Northern Arts. The film, which
chronicles the end of the landmark Hollywood restaurant, debuted at the
LAIFF and went on to win top prizes at the Locarno International Film
and the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Times are good for the directing duo, they also just signed a three picture
deal with Fox Searchlight. The filmmakers told indieWIRE yesterday that the
first film in the deal will be a movie based on Esquivel, originator of the
popular "space age bachelor pad music." Actor John Leguizamo, on Broadway
next month in his one-man show "Freak," will star in the film and serve as
one of the film's producers. Juan Garcia Esquivel came to the U.S. in 1957
to pursue a music career. His popularity was reborn in 1994 when Bar None
records released, "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music," to great success.

After successful screenings domestically and abroad, "Chasen's" gained more
attention following a showing at the IDFA in Amsterdam last month. Handling
foreign territories, Jane Balfour sold the film to Arte in France;
meanwhile Springer Berman and Pulcini are in the process of securing a
domestic television deal. While the two received a concrete distribution
bid for "Chasen's" after the LAIFF screening last spring, they decided to
hold out for a better offer, with the goal of making a few individual deals
for the movie. "It's taken us a long time to find the right home," Pulcini
explained, "we really waited and didn't want to cut it up or compromise."
The filmmakers also said that they plan to finish
writing the Esquivel script this Spring and hope to begin production on the
new film this summer.