New Line Exile Eyes Dream Job - Variety

by Michael Fleming

NEW YORK (Variety) - Michael De Luca, the ousted production chief at struggling New Line Cinema, is talking to DreamWorks about taking a top executive post at the studio.

If the talks pan out, De Luca will walk away from a New Line production deal worth $105 million over three years. He lost his New Line job in January amid a string of flops culminating in the Adam Sandler bomb ``Little Nicky.''

DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg is taking the lead in the current talks, which began last Thursday.

Hiring De Luca -- whose strength lies in talent relations -- could be a smart move by DreamWorks, a product-hungry studio now riding high at the box office with the cartoon ``Shrek.''

During De Luca's eight-year tenure as New Line production president, that company grew from a B-picture outfit into a studio that drew directors like Paul Thomas Anderson (''Boogie Nights''), Brett Ratner (''Rush Hour''), David Fincher (''Seven'') and Andrew Niccol (the upcoming ``Simone'') and stars like Sandler, Mike Myers, Chris Tucker and Jim Carrey.

De Luca would initially report to DreamWorks production heads Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, easing the executive burdens on the husband and wife team.

Despite his travails at New Line, De Luca's stock has remained high in Hollywood. He left behind several promising pictures that could right the New Line ship, including ``Rush Hour 2'' and the mega-budgeted ``Lord of the Rings'' trilogy.

De Luca had recently been flirting with several different job offers, including setting up a company with former Warner Bros. Pictures CEO Terry Semel, before the latter took the reins of troubled web portal Yahoo!


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