Tollin, Robbins going solo
Current projects will be last togetherProducer-directors Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins said Monday that they are dissolving their nearly 15-year partnership to pursue separate projects.
The duo, whose collaboration has spawned such recent boxoffice hits as "Norbit" and "Wild Hogs," will continue to work together on Tollin/Robbins Prods.' film and TV fare currently in development and production, including about a dozen movies.
Both cited a desire to downsize what had become a monstrous operation, which most recently included a film deal at Walt Disney Pictures and a TV deal at NBC Universal TV Studio.
In the wake of the split, Robbins has inked a first-look, two-year deal at DreamWorks Studios to direct and produce films.
"It was a no-brainer. My experience (directing) 'Norbit' was such a dream," Robbins said regarding his DreamWorks deal. "It's such a filmmaker-friendly place. Look, it's run by a filmmaker."
TRP executive Charla Sumpter will join Robbins, who next will direct Eddie Murphy in 20th Century Fox's "Starship Dave," as his producing partner. The new company, which also will employ a junior executive, has several projects in production at the studio, including "The Art of Making Money," which is based on a Rolling Stone article, and "Traded," which is being rewritten by Mike Rich. Robbins has not decided yet if he will relocate to the DreamWorks lot.
Tollin, who recently produced Walt Disney Pictures' "Wild Hogs" with Robbins, next will produce Lionsgate's Halle Berry starrer "Tulia" and is prepping the indie "Counting Down," which he will direct. He will continue to work from TRP's Studio City offices and will not work exclusively with any one producer.
"Our interests were not always overlapping. My interests are eclectic," said Tollin, who most recently directed the Cuba Gooding Jr. starrer "Radio." "I keep coming back to nonfiction films. I have a documentary in the works about a social issue that is near and dear to me."
In fact, Tollin and Robbins first teamed on the 1993 basketball-themed docu "Hardwood Dreams."
"What started out as one documentary has turned into a minimajor business," Robbins added. "For me, it became not wanting to manage a business. I'm much more interested in working on projects that I feel passionate about. I think Mike feels the same way."
On the TV front, TRP's NBC Universal deal expired in June. Before that, they had been based at Touchstone Television — now ABC Television Studio — for two years and Warner Bros. Television for four, where they saw success with such series as the WB Network dramas "Smallville" and "One Tree Hill" (both of which now air on the CW) and the comedy "What I Like About You," which ended its four-year run on the WB last year.
Their upcoming TV credits include the ESPN miniseries "The Bronx Is Burning," set to debut in July.
Robbins, Tollin and TRP continue to be repped by UTA.
Kimberly Nordyke contributed to this report.