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DAILY NEWS: Offline Troubles; Itemus' Difficulties; Lynch At Universal; SAG Settlement

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire July 9, 2001 at 2:0AM

DAILY NEWS: Offline Troubles; Itemus' Difficulties; Lynch At Universal; SAG Settlementby Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
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DAILY NEWS: Offline Troubles; Itemus' Difficulties; Lynch At Universal; SAG Settlement



by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE


>> Offline Loses "Intimacy" Amidst Word of Financial Difficulties


(indieWIRE/07.09.01) -- Offline Releasing, the mini-distributor that
released "The Taste of Others" in cooperation with Miramax, has lost the
U.S. domestic rights to Patrice Chereau's Berlin Golden Bear winner,
"Intimacy." The news comes amidst word of financial difficulties at Offline.


In late February, Philippe Angers, then Offline's President of Distribution
and Marketing, confirmed the company's acquisition of the English-language
drama. Angers has since left the company and so has "Intimacy" -- the film
will now be distributed by Empire Pictures, a small U.S. distributor whose
recent releases include "Cartoon Noir" and Nick Broomfield's "Fetishes."


According to Empire representatives, French company StudioCanal, which owned
the rights to "Intimacy," contacted Empire soon after the Cannes Film
Festival
and a deal for the film closed late last month.


A source close to Offline confirmed for indieWIRE that the company is facing
a precarious financial situation -- Offline's president Alexis Quinlan did
not return repeated phone calls seeking comment. A Variety story last month
indicated that the fledgling distributor was in debt, owing money to several
of its vendors. News of the money problems are raising questions about
Offline's ability to release Benoit Jacquot's "Sade," which it also
announced as an acquisition.


"Intimacy" is currently slated for an October release through Empire. Based
on Hanif Kureishi's novel, the film stars Mark Rylance and Kerry Fox, who won a Silver Bear in Berlin for Best Actress, as two lovers who meet weekly
for anonymous sex until their urges for something closer take over. Writing
from Sundance, indieWIRE's Park City critic Patrick McGavin wrote, "Serious, probing, and at times uncomfortably graphic, Chereau's 'Intimacy,'
expresses...a raw, unvarnished sexual and emotional intensity." [Anthony
Kaufman]



>> Itemus Facing Challenges; Company Being Sued by Shooting Gallery Investors


(indieWIRE/07.09.01) -- Concurrent with announcing its intentions to sell
stock to the public as a way of retiring its company debt, Itemus also
indicated in a prepared statement that the financial situation surrounding
its acquisition of Shooting Gallery has "intensified."


The reason for the heightened difficulties is a lawsuit that has been filed
against Itemus related to its ownership of Shooting Gallery. While Itemus
termed the claim as coming from "a party to one of Itemus' agreements
entered into in connection with the acquisition of Shooting Gallery," a
report in today's Hollywood Reporter indicates that the suit has been filed
by investors in Shooting Gallery. Among them are former board member Peter
J. DaPuzzo
, his son and former Shooting Gallery executive Peter T. DaPuzzo
and others, according to the report. The Hollywood trade publication
reports that the suit, is seeking compensation and also charges Shooting
Gallery with "widespread financial mismanagement."


While Itemus offered no details regarding the claim, it did indicate in the
statement that it would fight the suit and any others that arise. But it
added, "If Itemus is unable to successfully defend against such claims,
absent the receipt of additional financing, it will be unable to satisfy its
obligations."


The company went on to reiterate a point it has made clear since before all
Shooting Gallery employees were recently dismissed. It said, "Itemus is
actively considering all options in regard to its Shooting Gallery
investment, and is attempting to complete a transaction involving the
disposition of certain assets in the face of strong creditor pressures."
[Eugene Hernandez]


>> Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" Stays in the Family at Universal


(indieWIRE/07.09.01) -- Universal Focus will release David Lynch's Cannes 2001 entry, "Mulholland Drive" later this year, the company confirmed last week. The pact comes alongside the news that StudioCanal and Universal are joining forces.


StudioCanal financed the film's leap from a two-hour ABC TV pilot to a
feature. The film debuted in competition at Cannes where Lynch shared the
best director award with Joel Coen ("The Man Who Wasn't There"). [Eugene Hernandez]


>> SAG Avoids Strike, Loses CEO and National Executive Director


(indieWIRE/07.09.01) -- Hollywood producers and a leading labor guild have
averted another strike. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)
reached an agreement with
the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) last week --
agreeing to a three year pact that will now need approval from the two
unions. While separately, John F. Cooke, who was set to join SAG as its CEO
and National Executive Director, confirmed that he is withdrawing from the
new post.


Nine members of the SAG board sent a letter indicating that Cooke was named
to the position in violation of the SAG constitution and stating that the
role of the new post would need to be dealt with by the complete SAG Board.
The letter was sent after the Board had unanimously voted on the matter and
publicly announced Cooke's appointment.


"It would be inappropriate for me to accept the Screen Actors Guild position
without clear authority to act on all the issues that are before the SAG
management and organization," Cooke said in a prepared statement sent to
indieWIRE. "It seems to me that SAG should attempt to implement the
recommendations made in the Towers Perrin report, particularly a Board
restructuring and a governance overhaul, before it seeks a leader." Cooke
will still leave the J. Paul Getty Trust later this year and pursue other
opportunities, according to the announcement. [Eugene Hernandez]