Reliance Backs Howard/Grazer Writers' Lab

11:59 PM PST 12/14/2010 by Nyay Bhushan

Imagine co-chair Karen Kehela Sherwood will oversee projects for the 10-person creative group.

NEW DELHI -- Reliance Big Entertainment has inked a partnership with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment to set up a writers' lab that will employ 10 screenwriters per year to develop both film and TV projects.

The partnership -- called Imagine Reliance Writers Lab -- extends last November's first-look deal between Imagine and Reliance, which also has similar silo funding deals with banners toplined by A-listers like George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt.

Reliance will fund an undisclosed amount for the program, which will be run by Imagine co-chairperson Karen Kehela Sherwood. Sherwood will oversee both the film development department at Imagine and also assign projects for the writers group. Reliance will have the rights to co-finance any project Imagine sets up at Universal Pictures or at other studios. Imagine has an existing first-look deal with Universal Pictures, which will have first rights on completed screenplays from the writers lab.

The lab will consist of 10 experienced scribes who will be paid to work exclusively as creative consultants, evaluating one another's story pitches and also penning original screenplays. For any script selected for production, all 10 lab participants will get an unspecified fee, with the main writer getting a major share.

Scribes set to take part in the lab are Margaret Nagle, Michael Fitzpatrick, Lee Patterson, Glen Lakin, Michael Perry, Stacey Harman, Jason Mantzoukas, Scott Aukerman and Daniel Casey, while a tenth writer is still to be named.

“This is an approach to screenplay development that I have believed in and wanted to experiment with for years,” Howard said in a statement. “The creative energy and support system the lab should stimulate is something I am incredibly eager to be a part of.”

Expanding on the lab's collaborative nature, Howard said, “Basically at its core, the idea of this is meant to take away the loneliness from the creative process that writers face. We are adding a collegial environment to authorship -- a support system and guidance -- and we will help get their work made into movies. With TV shows, one person writes a scene, somebody else does another, and then you run them through and figure out who gets credit. There are better examples of creative groups working together in architectural and advertising firms, or even magazines, where ideas are bounced around. I see this as closer to a magazine situation than a TV show.”

“When Ron and Brian brought this unique concept to Reliance, we immediately recognized its tremendous value and potential. We are delighted to expand our existing relationship with Imagine and look forward to working with them on this new venture," RBE parent Reliance ADA group MD Amitabh Jhunjhunwala added.

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