Things better for 'Butter'

Screen Media to distribute racial drama

Screen Media Films has picked up Sarah Jessica Parker's racially charged drama "Spinning Like Butter" for North American distribution.

Parker produced and stars in director Mark Brokaw's adaptation of the Rebecca Gilman play. She portrays a liberal New England college dean forced to confront hidden prejudices and political correctness when one of her few black students (Paul James) receives anonymous racist letters. Mykelti Williamson, Beau Bridges and Miranda Richardson also star.

"Butter" ran into financial problems during its late-2005 shoot, leaving cast and crew members temporarily unpaid. Screen Media president Robert Baruc said producers and the film's ICM sales reps helped resolve the issues before he and his executive vp David Fannon sealed the high-six-figure deal.

Baruc will launch the "Butter" with a first-quarter 2009 theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles and five other U.S. cities, then decide on a platform strategy.

The film's delay in reaching screens might have helped its chances at the boxoffice, since it will now be the first feature to arrive on the high heels of Parker's $153 million "Sex and the City" success. "She's in every frame of the film, but it shows her in a real and very different light," Baruc said. "The story forces viewers to truly examine their own opinions and feelings about race."

Baruc said Parker will help with publicity for the film and has tentative plans to launch it with a Washington premiere. As part of Screen Media's Spotlight Initiative partnership with the Creative Coalition group, he hopes to set up panels with politicians discussing issues raised in the film. (partialdiff)