Overture preps for launch with Fursts, Kessel

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Overture Films, the newly formed production company backed by John Malone's Starz pay TV empire, has named indie film veterans Sean Furst and Robert Kessel executive vps productions and acquisitions.

Bryan Furst, Sean's brother, also is joining Overture as senior vp productions and acquisitions.

Overture CEO Chris McGurk and chief operating officer Danny Rosett announced the appointments Monday. The Furst brothers will be based in Los Angeles, while Kessel will be headquartered in New York; all three execs will report to Rosett.

They will be charged with building Overture's first slate of films, expected to include eight to 12 productions a year encompassing various genres.

Sean and Bryan Furst have been owners of the film and TV production company Furst Films, which has produced such features as "The Matador" and "The Cooler." Because their new posts are full-time positions, the Fursts will no longer be heading a production company, though some of the projects they have been developing could move with them to Overture.

Other films they have had a hand in producing are "Owning Mahoney" as well as the upcoming "The Girl in the Park," starring Sigourney Weaver and Kate Bosworth, and "First Snow," starring Guy Pearce. Furst Films' television division has sold the series "Tough Trade" to HBO and has programs in active development at the CW and Comedy Central.

As a partner and head of production at indie film company Hart Sharp Entertainment, Kessel has produced such films as "Proof" and "The Night Listener." He also was a producer on such films as "A Home at the End of the World" and "Nicholas Nickleby." Before joining Hart Sharp, Kessel spent five years as an acquisitions exec at Miramax Films.

"These key hires will form the foundation of our creative team and strategy for Overture," McGurk said. "We very specifically looked for individuals with significant experience and quality track records in the independent film community and who also have extensive production experience. We were not looking to hire executives schooled in the traditional big studio system of making movies."

Added Rosett, "All three of these executives bring with them a unique and powerful point of view about material and filmmakers, and they have complementary skills that will result in a diverse slate of films and relationships with top filmmaking talent."

Overture is looking to send out its first theatrical release in the second half of the year.
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