By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

SCREEN MEDIA, FOCUS WORLD TEAM TO ACQUIRE U.S. RIGHTS TO THE LIFEGUARD, STARRING KRISTEN BELL

NEW YORK, March 22, 2013 – Focus World, the alternative distribution initiative owned and operated by Focus Features, and Screen Media Films have partnered on acquiring U.S. rights to The Lifeguard, starring Kristen Bell following its debut in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Screen Media and Focus World will release The Lifeguard in theaters and on digital platforms this summer.

The Lifeguard is written and directed by Liz W. Garcia, and marks her first feature after working as a writer and producer on such series as Cold Case and co-creating Memphis Beat with The Lifeguard producer Joshua Harto. Ms. Bell, who currently stars on the hit series House of Lies and who recently delighted fans of Veronica Marswith a very successful and record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, is joined in the cast by Mamie Gummer (Side Effects), Martin Starr (Knocked Up), and Academy Award nominee Amy Madigan. The film’s producers are Mike Landry and Carlos Velazquez of C Plus Pictures, Harto and Garcia of La Pistola, and Attic Light Films’ Milan Chakraborty,

Leigh (played by Ms. Bell), almost 30, is living a seemingly perfect life in New York. But when her career and love life both come crashing down, she flees to her suburban hometown and regresses right back into high school life. Picking up right where her teen halcyon days left off, she moves into her old room with her parents, hangs out with friends who never left town, and reclaims her high school job as a condo-complex lifeguard. But as Leigh enjoys shirking off adult life and responsibilities, and enters into an illicit affair, she begins a chain reaction that affects those closest to her.

The deal was closed for Screen Media by Suzanne Blech, President, and Seth Needle, Director of Marketing and Acquisitions; for Focus by Avy Eschenasy, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning, Business Affairs and Acquisitions, and Kent Sanderson, Director, Alternative Content & Distribution; and for the filmmakers by CAA. Joker Films is representing international rights to the feature.  Bell is represented by CAA, Brookside Artist Management, and attorneys James Adams and Ira Schreck. Garcia is represented by CAA, Madhouse Entertainment, and attorney Jeffrey Frankel.

Ms. Blech said, “We’re thrilled to team up with Focus World on Liz’s really special, unique film. I think the journey that Kristen’s character takes is one that so many can relate to, and both Focus and Screen cannot wait to share this with audiences around the country. Kristen’s fans, in particular, we believe are going to be thrilled to see her in new kind of role that’s at once fun, exciting, funny, and challenging.”

About Screen Media

Screen Media Ventures, LLC, a leading global independent motion picture distribution company with a broad distribution network that includes US and international theatrical, home video, television, cable and new media distribution, with one of the largest independently owned motion picture libraries in the world. In 2011, Screen Media launched its wholly-owned ad-supported streaming channel Popcornflix, which is now available in multiple international territories and soon to expand worldwide. The company was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in New York City. For more information, visit www.screenmedia.net.

About Focus World

Launched in 2011, Focus World (www.focusfeatures.com/focusworld) identifies and curates the most exciting voices in international and independent cinema. Part of Focus Features’ multi-platform strategy, Focus World presents titles of genuine vision and originality across platforms both new and traditional.

Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

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The Atlantic: You saw that the Academy Awards recently held up your 2001 acceptance speech as the Platonic ideal of an Oscar speech. Did you have a reaction?

Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
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Agnes Varda