New York-basedpower producer Scott Rudin is close to signing a five-year, first look dealwith Walt Disney Studios that would see him make features for the Buena Vista,Touchstone and Miramax labels.

Whilecontractual terms and start date remain unclear - Rudin's deal with Paramountexpires in 18 months and he owes that studio two pictures - a Disneyspokesperson confirmed the deal, while also rubbishing reports yesterdayclaiming that Rudin will run the Miramax division.

However it seemslikely that Rudin's experience will play a part in building up the new Miramaxafter the specialty division's founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein leave to startup an autonomous entertainment outfit.

An announcementon who will head up the new Miramax division is expected from Disney in July,with BVI UK chief Daniel Battsek and Sony-based producer Michael De Luca amongthe frontrunners.

What happens toRudin's titles in development, like literary adaptations The Corrections (by Jonathan Franzen), The AmazingAdventures Of Kavalier & Clay (by Michael Chabon), Specimen Days (by Michael Cunningham) and Saturday (by Ian McEwan) and horror remake TheBlob, remains to beseen. Calls to Paramount were not returned at time of writing.

Over the courseof the past few decades Rudin has built an impressive roster of credits atParamount, including The Addams Family, The First Wives Club, Clueless,Sleepy Hollow, South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut, School Of Rock, The Hours, and last year's remake of TheManchurian Candidate.

A versatileproducer of mainstream and highbrow fare, he enjoyed considerable power atParamount and forged strong relations with former chairwoman Sherry Lansing andformer Viacom chief Jonathan Dolgen.

However therewere growing battles over costs and Rudin was known to be annoyed followingremarks last autumn by Viacom co-president Tom Freston criticising the decisionto spend $120m on the remake of The Stepford Wives, which grossed less than$60m at the North American box office last year.

Rudin's tieswith the Walt Disney Company, meanwhile, have been solid. In recent yearsproducer and studio collaborated on The Village and smaller projects like The LifeAquatic With Steve Zissouand The Royal Tenenbaums. Less happy was the collaboration between Rudin and theWeinsteins on The Hours,which Miramax co-financed with Paramount.

"It was a very difficult andcomplicated decision to leave [Paramount]," Rudin was quoted as saying inyesterday's Los Angeles Times. "Despite the bumps, it was a fantasticmarriage."