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Dave Matthews Turns Movie Producer

ALEX VEIGA | 09/26/08 11:04 PM | AP

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LOS ANGELES — Dave Matthews has acted in a few films, but the Grammy-winning musician has been playing a behind-the-scenes role in Hollywood of late _ that of film producer.

The singer of his namesake band co-founded ATO Pictures and has served mostly as a silent partner. But in the company's latest film, "Choke," the musician was adamant that ATO do more than help finance the film.

"I felt very strongly about us being connected to the project. ... I loved the script," Matthews told The Associated Press during a phone interview Friday before performing with his band in the Brazilian city of Manaus.

"Choke," which was released Friday by Fox Searchlight Pictures, is an adaptation of a novel from "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk.

The film, which stars Sam Rockwell, is about a sex addict named Victor Mancini who likes to pretend he's choking in restaurants to garner strangers' sympathy and then fleece them. When Mancini isn't doing that, hooking up with fellow sex addicts or working at a historical theme park, he's trying to cajole the truth of his paternity from his mentally ill mother.

Matthews doesn't appear in the film, but he championed it once he read the script and the book.

"What Chuck manages to do is make an unusual story not unusual, and I think the film makes that (as well)," Matthews said. "There's a very sweet story at the core of it: This young man's struggle to find out who he is."

Last year, ATO produced "Joshua," a film about a musical child whose family life dramatically alters once his baby sister is born.

Matthews wrote the song that the child character croons as the film draws to a close.

For "Choke," Matthews worked on planning and supporting the movie.

"My involvement was much more in discussing how to get the film done ... (being) really more of a cheerleader," he said.

The opening of "Choke" comes as Matthews and his bandmates work to wrap a tour only weeks after the untimely death of LeRoi Moore, the band's saxophonist and arranger, and one of its founding members.

Moore died Aug. 19 in Los Angeles of complications stemming from a June 30 accident near Charlottesville involving an all-terrain vehicle. He was 46.

"I think it will be a long time before we'll go through a night without him being very present on stage with us when we're performing, in both happy and sad ways, I suppose," Matthews said.

The band is scheduled to perform a few more dates in South America before returning home to continue work on a new album Matthews hopes will be ready for release early next year.

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On the Net:

"Choke": http://www.foxsearchlight.com/choke/