Alli-sponsored film gets "Rain Man" director

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A GlaxoSmithKline-funded documentary on America's obesity epidemic will be directed by Barry Levinson, of Wag the Dog and Rain Man fame.

The Academy-Award winning director and the non-profit Creative Coalition will have complete editorial control over the film, GSK and the Creative Coalition reiterated in announcing Levinson's role at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. GSK is sponsoring the film on behalf of its OTC weight loss brand Alli.

In a statement, Levinson said: "The evolution of the obesity crisis in America is a fascinating and compelling human story. It's the hidden enemy within our borders that no one talks about."

Earlier this month GSK launched new ads for Alli emphasizing unhealthy eating habits and bearing the tagline "Eat healthier, live happier." The new ads coincide with the release of a survey exploring “America's unhealthy relationship with food.” The survey found a disconnect between Americans' perceptions of their eating habits – 74% said they have a healthy relationship with food – and the fact that, by some estimates, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

Alli launched in 2007 with a $150 million ad campaign and took lumps from analysts as sales slumped in 2008. At launch, GSK projected the brand could reach $1.5 billion in sales. Third-quarter global sales were around $80 million.
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