EXCLUSIVE: Give me time to photoshop an Indian turban on David Linde’s head (like I previously did for Dreamworks’ Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider). Because I’ve just pieced together that Linde’s newly formed film entertainment company, Lava Bear Films, is in negotiations with Reliance ADA. What’s happening is that India’s giant entertainment conglomerate intends to join Lava Bear as an equity partner. Here’s why: Reliance wants immediate access to films with global appeal, and Linde as the former co-chairman of Universal Pictures and before that Focus Features has a great track record as a top executive able to shepherd the production and distribution of films at both the studio and independent levels. Reliance also believes that Lava Bear’s production and operating strategy will be complimentary to the other investments Reliance has made in companies like DreamWorks and IM Global. At the same time this deal is underway, Linde is finalizing a first-look arrangement with his old employer Universal Pictures for all domestic, and certain international distribution, rights to Lava Bear films. The Reliance and Universal partnerships will be combined with output agreements with key independent distributors internationally. So Linde is creating global film production, financing, and distribution. Good for him. Everyone in Hollywood knows he’s a great piece of manpower and was unnecessary collateral damage (because of strong loyalty and bad luck) when Universal targeted his then Uni co-chair Marc Shmuger for firing.
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