FremantleMedia is one of the leading creators and producers of television entertainment brands in the world. FremantleMedia is part of RTL Group, the leading European entertainment network, which is in turn 92 percent owned by the international media company Bertelsmann. FremantleMedia’s worldwide production arm is responsible for many of the world’s highest rated prime time entertainment, drama, serial drama and factual entertainment programmes. FremantleMedia Enterprises is the brand extension arm of FremantleMedia, offering a one-stop-shop for all Licensing, Distribution and Home Entertainment around the world. The FremantleMedia Group (which includes FremantleMedia North America, UFA, FremantleMedia UK, FremantleMedia Australia, Ludia, @radical.media and Original Productions, amongst others) has operations in 22 countries, one of the most comprehensive global networks, creating over 9,200 hours of programming a year, rolling out more than 60 formats and managing over 300 individual titles. FremantleMedia has some of the world’s most sought after and long running formats in its catalogue, and globally produces such programmes as: Idols (co-produced with 19 Productions in the US), Hole In The Wall, Got Talent (co-produced with Syco in the UK and the US), The X Factor (co-produced with Syco in the UK and the US), Take Me Out, Family Feud, The Price is Right, Farmer Wants A Wife, Gute Zeiten Schlechte Zeiten, and Neighbours.
Pukeko Pictures is an independent entertainment production company, focused on the development and production of excellent quality, multi-platform entertainment for a global audience. Pukeko Pictures was founded in 2008 by Sir Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Martin Baynton, and is located in Wellington, New Zealand. With a connection to the world-famous Weta Workshop (Avatar, King Kong, Lord of the Rings), Pukeko Pictures is uniquely positioned in the creation of world-leading entertainment, harnessing the best in global talent and world-class production processes.
Weta Workshop is not to be confused with Weta Digital, the VFX company owned by Peter Jackson.
18 December 2012 – FremantleMedia has finalised a deal with Australia’s award-winning writer Craig Pearce to develop the New York Times bestseller The Maid into a television drama series for international audiences. The as yet untitled series will be executive produced by New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures, the television company co-founded by Richard Taylor, head of Weta Workshop; and written by Craig Pearce, whose credits include co-writing with Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet, the Oscar-winning Moulin Rouge, and the highly anticipated The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. This is the first project to come out of the Pukeko Pictures / FremantleMedia partnership announced earlier this year.
The Maid is the bestselling novel by Kimberley Cutter and tells the intriguing tale of a peasant girl who believes she is sent by God to save France. The saint and warrior Joan of Arc has captivated imaginations for centuries, but this story of Joan, the girl, is a new and gripping take on how a farmer’s daughter sought escape from her own personal oppression to lead thousands of French fighters against a brutal and prolonged English invasion. The series will breathe life into the thrilling, action-packed final years of the Hundred Years War by chronicling them from not only Joan’s perspective but also those of the international noble houses that battled for control of the French throne and ultimately, the birth of a nation.
“The opportunity to work with one of the most talented screenwriters in Hollywood was something we could not pass up as we seek to drive FremantleMedia’s creation of high end scripted dramas into new and exciting territory,” said Jeff Tahler, SVP Acquisitions and Development, Global Content, FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) and Tony Optican, SVP Scripted Programming, FremantleMedia North America (FMNA). “Craig Pearce is sure to captivate our imaginations as he tells the intriguing stories surrounding one of history’s most controversial heroines.”
Adam Fratto and Martin Baynton, who will serve as Executive Producers, have made this project a priority as Pukeko Pictures first major drama series. “Kimberly's book pulls the veil of mythology aside and shows the real girl at the heart of this extraordinary story,” said Fratto. “We are thrilled that Craig -- a master at making history accessible, visceral, and entertaining -- shares our passion for this story.”
Richard Taylor, added, “This project is the perfect fit for everything New Zealand has to offer. From our spectacular landscapes to the award-winning team here at Weta Workshop - an epic drama that can showcase everything from conceptual design through to manufacturing; utilizing all the skills we have honed on our feature work.”
In addition to teaming up with Craig Pearce and Pukeko Pictures, FremantleMedia recently announced a partnership with award-winner Marshall Herskovitz to develop a TV drama series inspired by the popular non-fiction book Hitlerland, by Andrew Nagorski. These newly formed relationships with top Hollywood talent demonstrate FremantleMedia’s continued commitment to develop and distribute large scale dramas for worldwide audiences.
David Ellender, Global CEO, FME said, “Our global drama strategy is delivering exciting film scale projects with the best writers, producers, creators and directors in the business. These are epic dramas and through our well-established internal and external global networks, we look forward to delivering them to viewers worldwide.”
FME’s global drama strategy has already resulted in a number of projects with high end partners including Wedding Band for TBS, with Mike Tollin (Smallville, One Tree Hill) and Hit & Miss for Sky Atlantic with creator Paul Abbot (Shameless, State of Play).