SANTA MONICA, Calif. and VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lions Gate Films, the motion picture acquisition, production and distribution arm of Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) Toronto, and LSL Productions have begun pre-production on the documentary THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON, it was announced today by Kevin Beggs, President of Lions Gate Television Programming and Production and head of Lions Gate's documentary feature development and production arm, and Tom Ortenberg, President of Lions Gate Films Releasing.
The film, which has the support and cooperation of Yoko Ono, covers the period 1966-1976 and tells the story of John Lennon's transformation from beloved musical artist to anti-war activist to iconic inspiration for peace, and recounts the story of the U.S. Government's efforts to silence him. THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON will also show that this was not just an isolated episode in American history, but that the issues and struggles of that era remain relevant today.
THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON will be co-written, directed and produced by LSL Productions' David Leaf and John Scheinfeld. Steve Ligerman will produce for LSL. Sandra Stern, Executive Vice President of Lions Gate Television, Beggs, Ortenberg, and Nick Meyer, President of Lions Gate International, will serve as executive producers.
"Lions Gate is thrilled to be instrumental in bringing this momentous story to light," said Beggs. "We could not have envisioned a more dynamic nor enthusiastic team than we have found in David and John for this project. This is the kind of film that exemplifies the daring, high quality entertainment produced by Lions Gate throughout its divisions."
"This is an important story that we've wanted to tell for a long time," Leaf and Scheinfeld explain, "and we couldn't have asked for a better partner than Lions Gate, who shares our determination to make a film that will resonate strongly with audiences around the world."
Lions Gate Films will retain worldwide distribution rights to the project and plans to release the film theatrically in 2006, timed to the 30th anniversary of John Lennon being granted "Permanent Residency" in the U.S. Stern represented Lion's Gate in the deal while LSL was represented by Jon Flom of Character Arts and Bruce Kaufman of Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann.
About LSL Productions -- Privately held LSL Productions is one of the most respected companies in television and documentary production. Over the past decade, company partners David Leaf, John Scheinfeld and Steve Ligerman have produced critically-acclaimed music, comedy and documentary programming for broadcast, cable and theatrical exhibition. Most recently, Leaf wrote and directed "Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE" which had its world premiere last fall on Showtime. With Scheinfeld writing and directing, production has just been completed on the feature-length documentary "Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?" LSL is represented for theatrical production by Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann.
Lions Gate Entertainment's (NYSE:LGF) Toronto, documentary unit was established to identify and develop feature-length single-subject documentary projects suitable for television, theatrical and home entertainment distribution that reinforce the cutting edge Lions Gate brand. Kevin Beggs, President of Programming & Production for Lions Gate Television, presides over the unit, with Erik Nelson spearheading development as Vice President, Documentaries. Reporting directly to Beggs at Lions Gate, Nelson simultaneously maintains his role as Founder and CEO of Creative Differences (formerly Termite Art Productions).
The documentary unit's first release, Werner Herzog's critically-acclaimed Sundance award-winning GRIZZLY MAN, an exploration of the life and death of amateur grizzly bear expert and wildlife preservationist Timothy Treadwell, is currently successfully expanding its domestic theatrical run.
The unit's second production, world premiering at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, is LEONARD COHEN I'M YOUR MAN, an intimate look at the songs, poetry and life of one of music's most celebrated and influential troubadours. Sure to please both diehard Cohen fans and the newly initiated, director Lian Lunson's film is a beautiful record of captivating music, and an intimate portrait of a truly singular artist. LEONARD COHEN I'M YOUR MAN is executive produced by Mel Gibson, Erik Nelson, Kevin Beggs and Sandra Stern.
Lions Gate is the premier independent producer and distributor of motion pictures, television programming, home entertainment, family entertainment and video-on-demand content. Its prestigious and prolific library is a valuable source of stable and recurring revenue, and it serves as a foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lions Gate brand name is synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
Source: Lions Gate Films