Sanders set for film, theater

'Purple' producer inks deal with Disney

Sanders

By Michael Fleming
Variety
March 21, 2007

Scott Sanders, producer of stage musical "The Color Purple," has formed a company to hatch legit productions and features.

On the film side, Scott Sanders Prods. will be staked to a first-look deal at Walt Disney Studios. For stage projects, Sanders will be backed by a private equity investment group that includes New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, David Kraft and investment bankers Roy Furman and Jim Fantaci.

Sanders has hired theater veteran Carol Fineman as VP of the theater division, and he will begin staffing the film side shortly.

Along with Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Harvey Weinstein and others, Furman was a producer and investor in "The Color Purple," the musical adaptation of the Alice Walker novel. Show, which cost $11 million and opened in late 2005, has grossed over $60 million.

Sanders will be supervising the kickoff of a three-year North American tour that begins in Chicago in April, the same month that "American Idol" star Fantasia Barrino takes over the lead role on Broadway.

While Sanders has no feature trackrecord, he has a working relationship with Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group production prexy Oren Aviv that goes back two decades.They met while Sanders was exec veep and executive director of Radio City Music Hall, and Aviv worked at Grey Advertising and wrote ad copy for the performance roster that Sanders assembled. They kept in touch as Aviv went to work at ABC and Sanders, with no TV experience, ran Mandalay Television for Peter Guber. Sanders has since managed music acts, produced records and staged the Super Bowl halftime show with Michael Jackson in the early '90s.

Sanders will run both his movie and theater operations from New York and will soon take space in the Chelsea gallery district.

"I feel very fortunate in the relationship with the studio and with the private equity investors that there is no pressure to be in the volume business," Sanders said. "I've been most successful when I've gravitated toward things I am passionate about, and that is the approach here, whether it's making movies
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