Mike Fleiss' Next step is filmmaking

TV producer segues into movie production full-time

After dabbling in features with "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Hostel" franchises and "Poseidon," top reality TV producer Mike Fleiss is making producing movies a full-time job with the launch of Next Films.

Fleiss has formed the film-production company with producing partner Chris Briggs. The two have tapped former William Morris Independent staffer Emily Hirsch as vp production and development.

"The timing seemed right," Fleiss said of the decision to expand into movies during what is shaping up to be his busiest television summer with three new series launching, including two in the next couple of weeks: "More to Love" on Fox and "There Goes the Neighborhood" on CBS.

Next will have at its disposal a sizable development fund put together by Graham Taylor, head of global finance and distribution at WME, where Fleiss became a client this week. (Iommi has sole ownership of the Black Sabbath name, but that is being challenged by former frontman Ozzy Osbourne, who filed a suit in May seeking a 50% stake in the trademark.)

The outfit already is developing several projects, including "Black Sabbath," a horror movie franchise.

Next has signed a deal with guitarist-songwriter Tony Iommi -- a founding member of the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath -- for the films, which won't be about the group but will use the title as a jumping-off point. Iommi also will score the movies.

(Iommi has sole ownership of the Black Sabbath name, but that is being challenged by former frontman Ozzy Osbourne, who filed a suit in May seeking a 50% stake in the Black Sabbath trademark.)

Fleiss has found success with genre movies and plans to continue in the arena with new projects like "Sabbath," but the new company plans to expand into other genres including comedy, music and documentaries.

"We're also interested in remakes of international (properties)," Hirsch said.

The international aspect will be important for Next, which is looking to bring in foreign filmmakers and develop franchises that, like "Hostel," have an international element and can be filmed abroad.

What about Fleiss' decision to leave longtime reality agent Michael Camacho at UTA to join WME? "I was looking for a full-service representation," Fleiss said. "I consider myself an entrepreneur and like to have access to different elements of the media."

His TV production company, Warner Horizon-based Next Entertainment, has eight shows on the air, including hit ABC franchise "The Bachelor."
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