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September 15, 1998

'Cole' cash from new Par Classics

Thom Geier
The Hollywood Reporter

DATELINE: TORONTO

Awakening from its sales-free slumber, the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday recorded its first six-figure acquisition _ and the first pickup for 7-month-old Paramount Classics. The nascent indie division grabbed rights in English-language territories to first-time writer-director Tod Williams' offbeat comedy "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole."

The film stars Adrian Grenier, a newcomer who appears in Woody Allen's "Celebrity" and will co-star opposite Melissa Joan Hart in 20th Century Fox's "Next to You," and Clark Gregg, a founding member and former artistic director of David Mamet's Atlantic Theater in New York. Karen Barber and Jasmine Kosovic produced.

Set in upstate New York in the mid-'80s, the film follows a budding writer (Grenier) who yearns to leave home to seek out real-life adventures _ only to find that his seemingly conventional family has shifted toward the unconventional.

As he prepares to graduate from high school, his mother flees to England, his affluent father abandons the family to pursue a career as a contractor, his sister runs off to California with her macho boyfriend and his stepfather decides to become a woman.

"Tod Williams has crafted an extremely funny and poignant film," Paramount Classics co-presidents David Dinerstein and Ruth Vitale said. "He is a unique talent with a distinctive voice, and we are thrilled to have his film as our first acquisition."

"Paramount Classics' passion and enthusiasm for our film is overwhelming," Williams and Barber said in a statement. "We are excited that we have found the right home for our picture."

The deal was brokered by Dinerstein and Cassian Elwes and Rena Ronson of WMA Independent.

Under Dinerstein and Vitale, the new indie division of Paramount is also preparing production of Alain Berliner's drama "Passion of Mind" starring Demi Moore, Stellan Skarsgard and William Fichtner. The story of a woman with separate but parallel lives is scheduled to begin shooting this month. H

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