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R.I.P. Fine Line

R.I.P. Fine Line

The news that HBO and New Line will launch a new specialty film company marks the end for Fine Line Features, the specialty division launched by New Line Cinema in 1990. Back when Miramax was still a minor player, Fine Line was formed by Ira Deutchman, at the invitation of New Line chief Robert Shaye who took him to lunch in mid-1990 following NLC’s successful release of Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan”. Deutchman sketched out a blueprint for a specialty division that would focus on English language films and be run independently, modeled a bit on his old company, Cinecom.

Deutchman stayed with the outfit for about 5 years, then current Paramount Classics co-president Ruth Vitale stepped in to lead FLF, she left in 1998 and Mark Ordesky headed the division. And last year Ordesky retreated to New Line, after shepherding the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, giving control Fine Line (re-worked as a marketing company for select projects) to SVP’s Marian Koltai-Levine (marketing) and Guy Stodel (acquisitions and production).

At a party in New York last night, attended by a few former Fine Line staffers, insiders said that while the immediate integration with Newmarket will undoubtedly see some FLF staffers leave, there is relief that Fine Line folks finally face a clear fate after years of instability and questions about the future.

A former key Fine Line person told me yesterday, with mixed feelings about the news, “Rule number 1 if you’re going to have a company, is that you’ve got to have somebody running it.”

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