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Published in Variety, March 7, 2003

State Street duo imagine string of hits


Since they met 14 years ago in a film class at Chicago's Columbia College, George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel have delivered Image outstanding motion picture noms "Soul Food," "Men of Honor," and last year's sleeper hit "Barbershop." The latter has been nominated for a total of five Image Awards.

"I'm just glad something's going on because the Oscars ain't going to look at us," laughs Teitel.

Their Fox-based shingle, State Street Pictures, is gearing up for "Barbershop 2," which like its predecessor is set up at MGM, and slated for a late-2003 release.

Tillman usually helms the team's projects, but on both "Barbershops" gave the directing reins to Tim Story, who made his feature debut with the first pic.

"I felt that 'Barbershop' was the perfect film to start bringing in a young filmmaker and expand our company," says Tillman. "We kind of model ourselves after Imagine's Ron Howard and Brian Grazer."

"Producing [other directors] was always what we wanted to do, from the get-go," agrees Teitel.

"I am a temendous fan of Bob and George's talents," says Tracey Edmonds, president of, and partnered with her husband, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, in Edmonds Entertainment. Production company made its first film 'Soul Food' back in 1997. "We started together and we've all grown up in this business together. I'd love to work with them again."

The Showtime series "Soul Food," based on the pic, is now entering its fifth season, making it the longest-running African-American drama in the history of televison. "It's difficult on the financial side of things to keep it going," says Edmonds. "We have a very limited budget. We shoot up in Toronto and money is really, really tight. Because this is really the first of its kind, it's kind of questionable in terms of what the syndication value's going to be."

"Hopefully it will open up the door for more TV shows like that," says Tillman. "(By now, our involvement) is really just monitoring the scripts and making sure we're happy with what's being shot every week."

Tillman is eyeing three projects for his next directorial effort: a Scott Smith script called 'Criminal Mind' in at Fox 2000, a film based on John Ridley's book, 'Conversation With the Mann,' and a Fox Searchlight script called 'Frontin'.'

2003 Reed Business Information 2003 Variety, Inc.