The man who rose to the head of Universal at the age of 26 (in the 70's), and is rumored to be the inspiration for The Player, Thom Mount, is getting back into the production business. He had disappeared from the scene after 1997's Night Falls on Manhattan, but has been sliding back into the role as producer on Are We Done Yet? and the upcoming Bathory and A West Texas Children's Story. Now he's borrowed a nice $75 million chunk from a bank in Ireland to start a new production company -- Reliant Pictures. (I assume that the Irish weren't as concerned about his fraud and hoodwinking reputation.)

With a plan to produce six $10 - $15 million features over the next three years, he's gearing up for the shingle's first film, an action/thriller called Penitentiary, which MGM has already signed on to distribute. The script, which has been penned by Carl Lund, will begin production this summer in New Mexico, so maybe at some point we'll get word on what the film is actually about. Tony Kaye, not the Yes pianist but the director of American History X, is in talks to direct it. It seems suitable that the guy who has his own hamper of dirty laundry would look to the man who hasn't had a smooth go of things. With X, he wanted his name off the script after Edward Norton re-edited the film, and a few other features also fell to his...differences. Now, however, things are gearing up for him, as he has three films on the pike, and I imagine that his involvement with Mount will depend on how it fits into his rapidly-filling schedule. Is this a marriage made in heaven, or one hell of a mess waiting to happen? I'm sure that we'll find out either way. Nothing is free from the internet these days.