With DTV unit, Par eyes Famous fortune

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More than a year after its formation, Paramount Home Entertainment's ambitious direct-to- video initiative has a branded name, concrete production and release plans and a series of senior management appointments.

The unit, under the direction of former Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Louis Feola, will operate as Paramount Famous Prods., a nod to its intent to exploit its library of theatrical features with direct-to-video sequels, prequels and spinoffs.

Principal photography recently wrapped on "Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling," a sequel to the 2004 theatrical comedy about three men on a camping expedition to find the lost D.B. Cooper bounty. It grossed $58.2 million domestically.

The DVD is scheduled for release in early 2009. Meanwhile, Par Famous is developing more than a half-dozen other projects based on such hit movies as "Road Trip," "The Bad News Bears," "The Naked Gun," "Mean Girls" and "Grease."

Ultimate plans call for the division to release five to six films a year, beginning in 2010, most of them based on theatricals in the libraries of Paramount, Paramount Vantage, DreamWorks, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. Par Famous also will develop filmed entertainment content with such Viacom-owned cable networks as BET, Comedy Central and Spike TV.

"The name Paramount Famous Prods. speaks to the studio's rich history and reputation for delivering world-class, memorable entertainment to diverse audiences," Feola said. "We plan to continue building on Paramount's legacy and the strength of Viacom's brands by developing tailor-made entertainment to moviegoers who choose to view our films on today's expanding, nontheatrical distribution platforms such as Blu-ray and VOD."

Kelley Avery, president of worldwide home entertainment at Paramount, said she expects
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