Producer-financier Starlings Entertainment and UK-based StoryFirst have formed a joint development fund covering premium drama and family entertainment.
Storyfirst is managed by Lord Michael Grade, Ivan Dunleavy and Peter Gerwe.
The fund will launch with The Manager, a semi-fictional account of life in the 1970’s and ’80’s music business, inspired by the lives – and featuring the music – of Eric Clapton and other great artists, and Sherlock’s Daughter, a murder mystery which tracks the daughter of the world’s greatest detective in her search for her father and what she discovers along the way.
The new joint venture provides Starlings Entertainment with a financial stake in StoryFirst, which acquired Pinewood Television in 2017. The fund will focus on mutually selected dramas, family entertainment fare and, potentially, non-scripted projects in development at both companies.
Starlings Entertainment CEO-Executive Producer Karine Martin and StoryFirst Founder Peter Gerwe will oversee the decision-making process for the venture. They will work in tandem with newly promoted Starlings Entertainment Executive Vice President Patricia Brown and Starlings Television President-Executive Producer Chris Philip, along with Gerwe’s fellow StoryFirst managers, former BBC Chairman Lord Michael Grade and former Pinewood Group CEO Ivan Dunleavy. The London-based Brown and veteran financier Premila Hoon, representing StoryFirst, will serve as the companies’ development fund liaisons.
“This will allow us to tap into an additional pipeline of great projects on top of the tremendous success we have had to date with Starlings Television, further grow our ability to finance development and expand our respective networks,” Martin said. “StoryFirst is well established in the UK and Europe, which provides us with access to Peter, Michael and Ivan’s market insights, experience and extraordinary talent, partner and financing relationships.”
Gerwe commented, “Our joint venture allows StoryFirst to expand our global reach with Starlings, which is very well positioned in the U.S. and Canada. Karine and Chris bring us a depth of experience and contacts, and it has been a pleasure to work with them and their entire team on several projects. We believe this partnership will greatly benefit each company’s development potential and resources, and see it as a great fit.”
Each of the companies will provide projects to the joint development fund, with Gerwe saying of StoryFirst’s The Manager, this semi-fictional account of life in the music business during the crazy ‘70’s & ‘80’s will benefit from the life experiences of music icons and their brilliant music.”
James Duff (The Closer, Major Crimes) will executive produce Starling Television’s Sherlock’s Daughter alongside Starlings’ Philip, Martin and StoryFirst’s Grade. The murder mystery follows a young American woman who, after the mysterious murder of her mother, travels to London to track down her biological father – the legendary Sherlock Holmes. But Holmes is not the mythical figure Amelia has come to expect.
The global production and development slate at 3-year-old Starlings Television, a division of Starlings Entertainment, also includes second season renewal orders for Peacock’s Departure and The CW’s Pandora; The Club, a premium, serialised drama based on a hit South Korean format headlined by global Korean action superstar Don Lee (Marvel’s Eternals, Train to Busan) and written by showrunner Jack LoGiudice (Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Narcos) from Starlings TV, Lee and his producing partner, Chris S. Lee, through their Gorilla 8 Productions; Sherlock’s Daughter with StoryFirst and a roster of TV movies starting with the thriller The Admirer, starring Roxanne McKee (Game of Thrones, Strike Back), distributed by Paris-based Mediawan.
Additionally, the slate includes the futuristic, female-driven drama series Veil with partners Nordic Entertainment (NENT) Group, Herbert Kloiber’s Night Train Media and Canada’s Mediabiz International; Alexander the Great, a collaboration with Ben Silverman/ Propagate, IP-owner G5 Fiction – led by multi-award-winning producer Uwe Kersken – ZDF Enterprises and Antenna, with a pilot and bible from writer/showrunner Michael Hirst, the creator of Vikings and The Tudors; and Romanovs’ spy thriller Red Winter, written by Stephen Kronish (24, The Kennedys) with Russia’s top broadcaster, Russia 1, G5 Fiction and ZDF Enterprises.
StoryFirst is a co-producing partner for producers of internationally successful drama around the world with past projects including Max Anger: With One Eye Open, The Child in Time, Jordskott (S2) and Conspiracy of Silence.
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