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Magnolia Goes Crazy for Crazy Love

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Sundance07logo_4 [Posted by Nicole Sperling, with reporting by Gregg Goldstein and Anne Thompson] Dan Klores, director of the engrossing documentary Crazy Love, confirmed late Friday night that Magnolia Pictures is in final negotiations for North American distribution rights on the film, although those close to the negotiations say that the producers are in final talks with two parties. UPDATE: Magnolia nailed the deal Saturday, seller Endeavor confirmed, with a few deal points outstanding.

Screened Friday night at the Holiday Cinema, the documentary, which tells the unconventional love story between Linda Riss and Burt Pugach, produced something of a bidding war, but one on the scale of the smaller indie players, including ThinkFilm, Netflix and an undisclosed partner, and Magnolia. It seems the company's theatrical head Eammon Bowles' passion for the project put the Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner-owned indie in the top spot. As of 1:30 AM Saturday morning, Bowles confirmed that he was negotiating to acquire the film, possibly with Netflix, but was still waiting to finalize deal points.

Klores and his producing partner Fisher Stevens took the chance of pre-screening the film in New York and Los Angeles before the festival, a risky decision that could backfire dependent on how the film plays. In fact, several of the studio subsidiaries, including Fox Searchlight, passed before the festival. Remakes rights are of more interest, sources said. But according to Fisher, the Crazy Love filmmakers thought they had the goods. “It was Dan’s idea to go early and I agreed. I hope it’s the right one,” said Stevens.

Klores, a native New Yorker, remembers reading about the seminal incident in Pugach and Riss’s lives, when Pugach had Riss blinded when he realized he was losing her to another man. But it wasn’t until Klores read a New York Times story about the couple—who after Pugach’s 16-year jail sentence were reconnected and wound up marrying each other—that he decided to pursue the
project.

Klores is particularly fond of Riss, whom he calls with no disrespect, “A dame.” He continued, “She’s tough, very smart. She put up with Burt for all these years, she has to be strong.”

The Pugachs attended the screening, the first time the couple had ever been to the Sundance Film Festival. They were candid in answering questions about their life.

Said Burt, “It was a story that had to be told. It’s about overcoming adversity, overcoming incredible selfishness. I didn’t want to be defined by an isolated act that occurred a half century ago.”

How could Linda have let Burt win? He changed the course of her life forever because she wasn’t willing to stay with him. And by blinding her and causing her to call off her engagement, Linda essentially let Burt win. “That’s a terrible way to look at it,” said Linda. “He didn’t win. Living with me is not the easiest thing that could have happened.”

These two characters are definitely big enough for a Hollywood remake.
[Photo by Getty Images]

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