EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that so far Double Feature Films, Scott Aversano and Kevin Misher won’t have their production deals renewed at Paramount because of the draconian cost-cutting there. “The studio will no longer be providing overhead on a continuing basis on these,” an insider tells me. Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher started Double Feature when they left DeVito’s Jersey Films at Universal. So these were the people that made Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty. For Paramount, they did Freedom Writers and World Trade Center. (“They have amazing taste. They deserve protection,” one of my sources noted.) Double Feature had been exploring equity financing for movies that the studios don’t want to make or fund fully, yet Shamberg recently acknowledged that “a strong studio relationship just makes life easier for movies we like to do. [But] nobody can survive just using a studio deal these days.”
Scott Aversano made an overall producing deal with Paramount after exiting as president of the Nickelodeon and MTV Films labels. (Where he decided not to purchase Twilight when no studio picked it up after Brad Weston put it in turnaround in January 2006. Aversano was Paramount’s one last shot at it in mid-2007 when the rights were going to expire… But I think both guys weren’t wrong: this was a 1 1/2 quadrant pic about a tired subject based on a popular book series that’s still no guarantee of a hit movie. Whereas a start-up mini-major would roll the dice.) Aversano has had a long relationship with Paramount since before that he worked for Scott Rudin on the lot for seven years including as president of production at Scott Rudin Prods.
Kevin Misher made his 3-year, first-look producing deal in 2005 just four months after Brad Grey took over as Paramount’s chairman so it was about to expire. “I am tremendously excited about working with Paramount’s dynamic new management team during this important evolution in the studio’s history,” Misher said at the time.
True, it may only seem as if Paramount’s production deals will soon consist of only Brad Pitt’s Plan B and J.J. Abrams/Bryan Burk’s Bad Robot. But still being carried, for now, are Blue Shirt (Karey Kirkpatrick), Di Bonaventura (Lorenzo di Bonaventura), Dickhouse (Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine), Evans (Robert Evans, only because he’s a longtime pal of Sumner Redstone’s), Gary Sanchez (Will Ferrell, Adam McKay), Important (Matt Stone, Trey Parker), Michaels/Goldwyn (Lorne Michaels, John Goldwyn), Christine Peters (a longtime galpal of Redstone’s), Rat (Brett Ratner), Ripcord (Mike White), and Sikelia (Marty Scorsese).