19 December 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Luther creator Neil Cross has struck an exclusive overall deal with FremantleMedia. I hear that Cross, who has just finished the first season of BBC One and Hulu “pre-apocalyptic” crime drama Hard Sun with FremantleMedia-owned Euston Films, will be focused on producing series for U.S. and UK broadcasters.

The multi-year deal will see Cross work with Euston Films, established by former BBC drama exec Kate Harwood, and FremantleMedia North America, overseen by scripted chief Dante Di Loreto. FremantleMedia International will distribute Cross-penned titles to the global market.
It is the latest high-profile drama deal signed by the RTL-owned producer and distributor following a deal with American Gods creator Neil Gaiman (I understand it was signed before the Starz series lost showrunners Michael Green and Bryan Fuller).

Cross’ Hard Sun is set to launch in the new year. The series stars Agyness Deyn as Detective Inspector Elaine Renko and Jim Sturgess Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Hicks. The show follows the pair as they investigate the death of a hacker in London before stumbling on proof that the world is ending in five years. He told Deadline that the deal came off the back of the big-budget series. “FremantleMedia trusted me to go ahead and make this strange thing,” he said.
Cross previously created NBC’s John Malkovich-fronted drama Crossbones and had a two-year deal with Universal Pictures from 2012.

Euston Films Managing Director Harwood called Cross “one of the greatest storytellers in the industry” and was looking forward to creating more “distinctive” dramas. “He has an extraordinary ability in creating engaging and ambitious ideas with complex characters that audiences around the world have come to love.”
Di Loreto, President of Scripted Entertainment at FMNA, told Deadline that Cross was “one of the most articulate and passionate creators I’ve met.”

“It’s incredibly challenging to make a TV show and if you do it right it can be a long relationship so you want to make sure you’re doing it with someone who is passionate. You want to be selective about those people you’re choosing to work with and lead them get on with their creative vision,” he said.
Di Loreto said that the pair were already working on a couple of shows that it expects to reveal in early 2018. “Some projects are original works and some are adaptations but they all feature complex characters,” he added.
The former Chernin Entertainment President of Television, who worked on series including Glee and American Horror Story, also opened up about FMNA’s drama drive. He added that it is adapting more Gaiman-penned works for the U.S. markets, while the English author and comic book writer is also understood to be adapting other people’s works for the small screen.

Di Loreto is also responsible for History’s forthcoming drama The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, from The War Room creator RJ Cutler. He said that scripts for the the “spellbinding” show were coming in and that the political drama is likely to be released around the 20th anniversary of Clinton’s impeachment, which occurred in December 1998.


4 October 2017

Continuing to grow its global high-end drama offering, FremantleMedia has struck a deal with the best-selling author, Robert Harris, to produce the TV adaptation of his latest novel, Munich. The international co-production between FremantleMedia’s Euston Films and UFA Fiction will be shot in the UK and Germany.

A breathtaking spy-thriller from the unsurpassable Robert Harris, Munich is about treason and conscience, loyalty and betrayal, filled with real-life characters – Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini, Daladier – and events that changed history.

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Führer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?

Released by Hutchinson, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on 21st September, 2017 and sold in 20 languages so far, Munich debuted in the original fiction book sales chart at no. 2 after the first week of sales and received considerable praise from the critics, with the Guardian calling Munich ‘a tantalising addition to the inexhaustible game of “what if?’ and the Daily Telegraph hailing it as ‘a superb, compelling novel.’

Robert Harris said: “From my point of view, this is the perfect combination — an Anglo-German co-production of a story set in England and Germany, telling the story of an Englishman and a German struggling against the Nazis. From the moment I heard that Euston Films and UFA wanted to make it together, I knew my novel could not be in better hands.”

Kate Harwood, Managing Director, Euston Films added:  “As a long-time fan of Robert Harris’s epic and dramatic novels I am so proud that we have been entrusted with the rights to this superb book. I think Munich, with its thrilling yet forensic look at four days when the world held its breath, is destined to be a future classic. With our partners and sister company UFA, we are planning an international co-production of scale and ambition as a dual language drama which will shoot in the UK and Germany. A really exciting venture for us all.”

Nico Hofmann, CEO, UFA said: “Robert Harris is revered in Germany, and rightly so. No author in recent years is better than Robert at portraying German history as world history and attaining unprecedented levels of quality, suspense and drama in the process. Munich is an outstanding example of the kind of German-British coproduction that only Fremantle can deliver. I am confident that it will set new standards in narrative television and prove a fantastic production opportunity for both UFA and Euston Films.”

Robert Harris is the author of eleven bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy – Imperium, Lustrum and DictatorFatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, and An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and Conclave. Several of his books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Munich is the latest title to join FremantleMedia’s roster of large scale, high-end drama series. In recent weeks, the global production and distribution powerhouse has secured a commission from BBC One for Euston Film’s The Dublin Murders which is drawn from Tana French’s first two novels In the Woods and the Likeness, and a six-episode series order from HISTORY for The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, based on the New York Times bestselling book from Peter Baker.

Published by Penguin Random House, the partnership for Munich marks the first deal between the Bertelsmann-owned publishers and FremantleMedia, itself part of the RTL Group, a division of Bertelsmann.


26 September 2017

BBC ONE announces that Sarah Phelps, who has most recently reimagined the Agatha Christie novels, is next turning her attention to the writing of Dublin’s leading crime novelist, Tana French, penning The Dublin Murders.

Commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC Content for BBC ONE, The Dublin Murders is drawn from Tana French’s first two novels In the Woods and The Likeness. The eight-part series will be produced by Euston Films, Veritas Entertainment Group and Element Pictures.

Sarah Phelps said: “Tana’s compelling novels are both nail-biting thrillers, enquiries into the nature of evil and heartbreaking stories of human frailty, love and loss. I couldn’t be more excited to be bringing The Dublin Murders to audiences.”

The Dublin Murder Squad novels have won major awards and topped bestseller lists across the world. Each novel is led by a different detective from the same Dublin squad and their signature is an intense emotional connection between cop and crime, underpinned by a disturbing tremor from another darker influence.

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, said: “Sarah has brought Tana’s haunting stories to life with depth, flair and a deft touch of the modern gothic. More psychological thriller than police procedural, expect them to become a huge talking point on BBC One.”

Kate Harwood, Euston Films Executive Producer said: “I’ve loved Tana’s books since I first read the very first one and bringing the passionate, vivid writing skills of Sarah Phelps to bear on the work of this new mistress of crime should deliver tense and authored psychological drama”.

Alan Gasmer and Peter Jaysen, Veritas Entertainment Group (Fahrenheit 451, Crash &Burn) Executive Producers said: “We are thrilled to have brought Veritas, Euston Films and Element Pictures together in the long quest for the television rights for Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels.”

Ed Guiney of Element Pictures said: “We are delighted to be working with Euston and Veritas and the brilliant Sarah Phelps to bring these iconic Dublin set books to the screen.”

Brilliantly blending the two first books in the Dublin Murder Squad series Sarah Phelps reacts to the dark drama of the novels and delivers a contemporary world of psychological mystery and darkness with a tap root that is sunk deep in Ireland’s past.

The Dublin Murders (8×60’) has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and will be produced by Euston Films, Element Pictures and Veritas. The executive producers are Kate Harwood and Sarah Phelps for Euston Films, Alan Gasmer and Peter Jaysen for Veritas Entertainment Group, Ed Guiney for Element Pictures, and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for the BBC. Filming will start next year in Belfast and Dublin.

Casting will be announced in due course and FremantleMedia International will handle the international distribution of The Dublin Murders.

Euston Films Appoints Gordon Ronald As Head Of Production

1 August 2017

Tuesday 1st August 2017:  Kate Harwood, Managing Director of Euston Films (part of FremantleMedia UK) has announced the appointment of Gordon Ronald to the role of Head of Production for Euston Films.

Currently in production with Hard Sun for BBC One and in pre-production with Baghdad Central for Channel 4, Euston Films and Euston North (based in Manchester, headed up by Hilary Martin) have a number of high-profile projects in development.

Kate Harwood, Euston Films MD commented: “We’re delighted that Gordon will be joining the team.  He brings an incredible wealth of experience and knowledge that will be invaluable to our fast growing slate of programming.”

Gordon Ronald added: “I’m really looking forward to joining Euston Films at such a hugely exciting time and to be working with Kate and Hilary once again.”

Gordon joins Euston Films from BBC Studios where he was Head of Production for UK Drama Series and Serials. Credits include Luther, Silent Witness, The Musketeers, Three Girls, War and Peace and Doctor Who.  Gordon has wide ranging experience in drama production management both in the U.K and internationally.


6 July 2017

Baghdad, 2003. Saddam has fallen and Baghdad lies at the centre of the coalition’s efforts to secure the region. Political insurgents battle, while the occupying forces seek to make the impossible possible – with no plan of how to achieve it.  Baghdad Central is a brand new 6-part crime thriller from BAFTA nominated writer Stephen Butchard (The Last Kingdom, House of Saddam) based on the novel by Elliott Colla.

In the midst of the chaos, crime and paranoia, Muhsin al-Khafaji’s an Iraqi ex-policeman has lost his home, his wife and his career and is battling to keep himself and his ailing daughter safe.  When his desperate brother in-law asks him to help find his missing niece, Khafaji’s sense of love and duty force him to accept the task. But it quickly becomes clear that his enquiries are not welcome at the university where she studied, or in the occupying force’s Green Zone where she claimed to work as a translator. Khafaji and his daughter, Mrouj, are soon convinced there is more to discover than just a missing person.

Stephen Butchard, writer, says: For me, this is a story of the strength of ordinary men and women who, in the face of incredible trauma and hardship, keep taking on life one step at a time.  Fuelled by love for friends and family the unbearable is not only made bearable, but conquered. It is a story of survival and the quest for hope… told through the universal prism of a fathers’ love for his daughter.”

When Khafaji is arrested and tortured by US forces in a case of mistaken identity, he meets British ex-police officer Frank Citrone who makes an offer he can’t refuse – medical supplies and safety for his daughter – in return for his skills as a police officer in the Green Zone.

In Baghdad Central, Stephen Butchard has created a powerfully authentic and gripping thriller, shot through with warmth and humanity, which not only brings vividly to life the tumult of wartime Iraq but is also an edge-of-the-seat tale of suspense involving murder, deceit, intrigue and political treachery.

Beth Willis, Channel 4 Head of Drama, says: “We are thrilled to be working with Euston Films and Stephen Butchard in this powerful, pertinent and poetic drama – a gripping thriller with contemporary resonance at every turn. Stephen has created the perfect modern reluctant hero in Inspector Khafaji – a stubborn, wry and brilliant policeman whose love of his daughter and sense of humanity knows no bounds.”

Kate Harwood, Managing Director Euston Films and Executive Producer, says: ‘We were pleased to find in Elliott Colla’s mesmerising novel a truly original source for the inspirational Stephen Butchard to build a drama set in Baghdad, when it was the pivot of world history. Khafaji, the wry, pragmatic cop who is forced to collaborate with the Coalition forces to save his daughter’s life, becomes a hero for the modern age in a fresh take on this post conflict world.”

Baghdad Central, 6×60, was commissioned for Channel 4 by Beth Willis, Head of Drama. Manpreet Dosanjh and Matthew Wilson are Commissioning Executives for Channel 4. Filming will commence early 2018 to air on Channel 4 later in the year.   The series is produced by Euston Films (part of FremantleMedia UK). Kate Harwood is executive producer, Jonathan Curling (The Secret) producer, with director and full cast to be announced at a later date.

FremantleMedia International will act as the global distributor for the series.