Some Washington investors are going to the movies, putting up nearly $2 million for a steamy psychological thriller starring Morgan Fairchild, the blond bombshell whose frequent bedroom scenes on NBC's "Flamingo Road" must delight the negligee industry.
The film, "Seduction," is the second major project to be backed by a group of wealthy Washingtonians formed by radio personality and bar promoter (Annie Oakley's) Tommy Curtis. Last year Curtis -- nephew of a cofounder of Columbia Pictures, the late Harry Cohn -- helped raise about $1 million from Washingtonians to finance "Hell-night," a new Linda Blair flick -- her first horror film since "The Exorcist" -- scheduled for release next month.
"That movie is already even or better through advances from foreign and cable sales," says Curtis of "Hellnight." "Seduction," Fairchild's movie debut, is costing about $4 million to produce. About half of the budget is coming from Washington sources, says Curtis, who along with his brother, Hollywood producer Bruce Cohn Curtis, formed a limited partnership called Filmco for raising money. The rest of the movie's budget is coming from the picture's distributor, Avco-Embassy.
The Curtis brothers are hoping for fat profits from relatively low-budget movies, and they have reason to be hopeful with "Seduction." Coproducing the movie is a successful merchant of menace, Irwin Yablans, who managed with modest budgets to produce two blockbusters, "Halloween" and "Fade to Black." In the late 1950s, Yablans earned about $50 a week as a booking agent in Washington for Warner Brothers.
"One catch to investing," says Tommy Curtis, "is that in order to become part of the film investment group, you must have a net worth of over $500,000, exclusive of your home, car and interest in the movie."
Among the Washingtonians Curtis says met those criteria are real estate mogul John Antonelli, McDonald's franchise holder Irwin Lubeznik, National Store Builders president Norman Gross, Personnel Pool of America president Al Sorensen and Judd Gould, partner in the New York and Washington law firm of Shea & Gould.
Footnote: It was co-producer Yablans who gave the boot to Hollywood hopeful Rita Jenrette this spring. Jenrette appeared on network television and told the press that "Seduction" was to be her first movie.In fact, she was considered for a minor role, says Yablans, but, "She was blowing this thing so far out of proportion; we weren't interested. We thought she'd be a liability.