Lionsgate has approached Starz about initiating acquisition talks. In the regulatory filing Starz said they, “intend to explore whether there is a potential mutually beneficial combination of the two companies.” Speculation about a merger began last year, when investor John Malone acquired a minority stake in Lionsgate via a stock swap with Starz, of which he is the largest shareholder.
Tina Fey and her production banner Little Stranger have signed a two-year, first-look deal with Universal. Under the new deal, Eric Gurian will be the EVP of Little Stranger, with experience including SNL and 30 Rock. Gurian co-produced Fey’s most recent film, Sisters and is currently serving as a co-executive producer on Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Little Stranger’s upcoming projects include Do Nothing Bitches and a film based on the Good Housekeeping article You Bet! by Ruth Palmer.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed in New Zealand. The Partnership covers an estimated 40 percent of the world’s economy. The countries involved include: U.S., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan, but not China. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said TPP’s goal is to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.” If ratified, the deal would set new international rules for sectors beyond trade.
USA, Syfy, Chiller and Cloo will be brought together to form Entertainment Networks. USA President Chris McCumber will become President of the new group. NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer said of the change, “The goal is to make the structure more nimble and to make decisions faster.” She also said they might divide scripted development by genre instead of by network brand. More details of the staffing reorganization to follow in Exec Shuffle.
Stephen Garrett is launching Character Seven, a new production company. The first deal for the company is with Lionsgate and Stephenie Meyer’s Fickle Fish company for The Rook, a London-set supernatural series for Hulu. Garrett co-founded Kudos in 1992 and oversaw hits including Spooks, Hustle and Life on Mars. On the film side, his producing credits include Eastern Promises, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
The Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition has launched an initiative to diversify the film and TV industry. Joining forces are the NAACP, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, American Indians in Film & Television and National Hispanic Media Coalition. They intend to meet with the major studios to discuss this new initiative. On the TV side, the coalition already meets with network executives, collects data and issues annual report cards on minority hiring in the TV industry.
Film4 has signed a two-year, four picture deal with the UK’s Entertainment Film Distributors and FP Films to co-develop, finance and produce a slate of four new comedy features. FP Films is the film and TV production company founded last year by Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, who were behind Channel 4’s hit The Inbetweeners TV series and movie franchise. Under the deal, Film4 and Entertainment will co-finance the films 50-50. The three companies will work with home grown comedy talent. An international sales agent will be assigned to handle rights.