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Behind The Scenes
Secret societies are one of the most exalted tradition-bound Ivy League College organizations. These covert fraternal organizations have existed for almost 200 years and have been the breeding ground for future presidents, senators and captains of industry. Every year only the top one percent of every class is "tapped" to become a member of one of these exclusive societies. Admission is a virtual guarantee of future success and the attachments between members is strong and enduring. Once you're a member, you're a member for life.

The Skulls is an original thriller that is rooted in undisputable facts that are more frightening than any film. Writer John Pogue, who previously penned the Tommy Lee Jones/Wesley Snipes-starrer U.S. Marshals, experienced secret societies firsthand when he attended Yale University. Once, during his freshman year, when John was speaking to a senior counselor, he asked him about a mysterious pin he was wearing on the inside of his jacket.

"I asked him if he was a member of a secret society," Pogue recalls. "Without a word he just turned on his heel and walked away. It was obvious to me that he took this organization very seriously and was willing to put its interests ahead of his responsibilities as a counselor."

From that moment on Pogue was fascinated by the system that perpetuates such elitist secret societies. In his senior year, he was "tapped," and couldn't resist the opportunity to penetrate the inner sanctum of a secret society.

However, the experience left him with mixed feelings. "Having gone through the process, I can honestly say that there are good things about secret societies," Pogue recalls. "I believe, however, that it is an anachronistic system which is more appropriate for the Robber Barons of the 19th century then for today's world."

After developing several other projects with producer Neal H. Moritz, Pogue approached him about a thriller with a secret society as its center. He called the script The Skulls.

Moritz was immediately intrigued. "I loved the idea and really loved the script," he comments. "I was attracted to the milieu, and the characters were so compelling that I knew it would attract top young talent."

Having just completed a fruitful collaboration with director Rob Cohen on the critically-acclaimed, award-winning HBO movie The Rat Pack, Moritz showed him the script for The Skulls, and Cohen too was hooked.

Beyond the obvious thriller elements, for Cohen The Skulls asked some very tough questions about American society: Do we really live in a democracy or is there an elite, ruling class that runs everything? And if they do, what price would someone pay to become a member of the elite?

"Pogue's script was an exciting read," says Cohen. "I knew this Ivy League world first-hand, and thought I could weave these wonderful characters into an exciting, non-stop thriller that actually has something on its mind. My only question to Neal (Moritz) was, 'When do we start?'"

The answer was right away, since Moritz had recently put the finishing touches on a new financial partnership with Newmarket Capital Group. The project was immediately green-lit and pre-production commenced.

Both Moritz and Cohen believed The Skulls was a

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