SANTA MONICA – Lionsgate, a leading global entertainment company, together with Tyler Perry, today announced the commencement of production of MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION.  The film marks the prolific filmmaker and multi-media tycoon’s 14th feature film production with Lionsgate in seven years.  The announcement was made by Perry with Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger,

Comic legend Eugene Levy (the AMERICAN PIE franchise, BEST IN SHOW) stars in the film as George, a high level CFO at the center of a Ponzi scheme in New York City who is enrolled in the Witness Protection program along with his family in the one place that absolutely no one will think to look for them: Madea’s house down South.  Perry wrote the script, is directing and producing the film, and will reprise three of his best loved roles – as tough talking grandma Madea, as Madea’s indelicate cousin Joe, and as plain-spoken attorney Brian, who places the family with Madea, resulting in the hilarious scenario that unfolds under her roof.

Rounding out the cast are Emmy®-winning actress Doris Roberts as George’s mother, Tom Arnold as his business associate Walter, Denise Richards as his younger wife Kate, and Danielle Campbell and Devan Leos as the family’s youngsters – for whom Madea has plenty of valuable lessons lined up.  Actor and rapper Romeo also has a role in the film, playing Jake, a friend of Brian who was affected by the scam.  John Amos plays Jake’s father in the film, and Marla Gibbs appears as Madea’s neighbor.

The film begins principal photography on Monday, January 30 th in Atlanta, Georgia, at the filmmaker’s own 200,000 square foot studio compound, Tyler Perry Studios.  Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate’s President of Motion Picture Development and Production, will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.  Ozzie Areu, President of Tyler Perry Studios, and Paul E. Hall are producing the film alongside Perry.

“This is the ultimate fish out of water story, and I believe the funniest Madea story yet,” said Paseornek. “We loved the witness protection concept from the second we heard it, but when Tyler cast comedy icon Eugene Levy and put him under the same roof with Madea and Uncle Joe, he took this movie to a whole new level.”

When asked for her feedback on the project, Madea herself added, “Auh hell, now they want me to work with these white folks. Next thing you know they will be asking me to go on Dancing With The Stars. I need to talk to my agent.”

The film is being produced under Perry’s ongoing first look partnership with Lionsgate.  Perry’s theatrical releases for Lionsgate have grossed more than $572 million at the North American box office alone, and his films, stage plays and DVDs are all distributed by the company.  GOOD DEEDS, starring Perry with Thandie Newton, will be released by Lionsgate this February 24 th, with THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR in theaters on July 27 th, 2012.

Perry also produces two hit television shows, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and its spinoff, “Meet The Browns,” which are distributed by Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury and continue to establish new standards of distribution and syndication success.  His third television show, “For Better or Worse” debuted on TBS in November.

Perry is represented by WME and attorney Matt Johnson from Ziffren Brittenham.  Levy is represented by Anonymous Content and ICM.  Talent deals for the film were negotiated on behalf of Lionsgate by Robert Melnik, EVP of Business and Legal Affairs.