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MMA star Urijah Faber adds film ventures to fight game

Urijah Faber trains with Sacramento Kings point guard David Stockton at his Ultimate Fitness center.
Urijah Faber trains with Sacramento Kings point guard David Stockton at his Ultimate Fitness center. aseng@sacbee.com

Sacramento mixed martial arts standout Urijah Faber is adding to his increasingly diverse résumé: He’s becoming an actor and a producer of TV shows and films.

The “California Kid” already has branched well beyond his roots as a champion fighter, developing a clothing line, partnering in a dental clinic and dabbling in real estate. Now the photogenic 36-year-old is building on assorted TV appearances – including a role in the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter” – to get into the production side of the entertainment business.

Among the new ventures is a film in which Faber is an actor but not an investor. That’s for a comedy, “Beach Pizza,” that is being produced by 3 Arts Entertainment and starts filming in Savannah, Ga., in the next few months.

“It’s not a big budget but it’s a first project for me to get my feet wet,” said Faber, who will co-star with Craig Robinson, best known for playing Darryl Philbin in “The Office.”

What has Faber more excited is “Point Arena,” a film he developed from the ground up, devising the plot, hiring a screenwriter and producing a five-minute “sizzle reel” that serves as a trailer and recruiting vehicle for actors and financial backers.

“It’s kind of an old story,” Faber said of the plot, centered in a Mendocino County beach community. “A loner guy returns to his hometown to settle some debts and (finds that) some bad guys are bullying and tormenting the town,” he said. Ultimately the loner – played by Faber, of course – gets involved “and it escalates into Rambo 1.”

On top of that, Faber has just signed a contract to develop a reality TV show focusing on the men and women who train at Ultimate Fitness, his midtown Sacramento gym. He has an agreement in place with an “established producer,” whom he is not yet identifying, and has begun looking for a network to air the show.

The idea is to highlight the tightknit community that has developed around Faber’s Team Alpha Male, and showcase some of its stars, including world champ T.J. Dillashaw, title contender Chad Mendes and top women’s fighter Paige VanZant.

“This is a culture that’s fun, which is ironic since it’s such a brutal sport,” Faber said. Besides tracking the fighters’ wins and losses in the octagon, the show looks at their outside ventures, including business startups in various fields. One team member has started a pilates studio, another is launching a hunting service and a third is working on opening a wood mill.

For Faber, the move into film production is just an extension of the entrepreneurial approach that he brought to mixed martial arts, forming his own team and then generating extra income by launching related business opportunities.

“I’ve created my own breaks in the fight game,” he said, adding that by taking control of the production side of film and TV ventures, “I’m doing the same thing.”

Going for the platinum

A downtown Sacramento building has achieved the elite distinction of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification.

The 18-story Emerald Tower at 300 Capitol Mall received the designation, the highest available in a rating scheme that measures energy efficiency and other sustainability features.

“It’s a real feather in our cap,” said Lisa Fitzgerald, a senior property manager with Hines, which owns the 31-year-old building.

Hines oversaw a rehab effort in 2010 that led to a LEED gold designation, the second-highest available. Various improvements since then netted the platinum award on Sept. 18, Fitzgerald said, making 300 Capitol just the fifth local building to secure that honor.

The award serves as something of a trophy for the owner and the building’s mostly state agency tenants, she said. But it also reflects tangible cost savings the tenants are reaping in the form of lower operational expenses, she added.

As Fitzgerald noted, “I haven’t met a tenant yet who doesn’t like to save money.”

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