In an exclusive interview with Variety, our Global COO Andrea Scrosati, spoke about our scripted slate and the high-profile projects we’re working on around the world.
With a newly rejigged global drama unit, Fremantle COO Andrea Scrosati is nurturing a pipeline that features several high-profile projects in advanced stages, such as Wild Rabbit, which has attached U.S. director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men).
Marcus Green debuted with Sundance 2018 Special Jury Prize winner Monsters and Men and more recently directed anti-LGBTQ bullying drama Good Joe Bell, which played at the Toronto Film Festival. Having secured a hot director in Marcus Green, the previously announced series produced with Richard Brown’s Passenger shingle and set in the Miami underworld of performance-enhancing drugs in college sports, “is now in a very good place,” says Scrosati. He expects to soon announce the show’s broadcaster.
Meanwhile, shooting is set to start in two weeks in Naples on the third season of Fremantle’s My Brilliant Friend, based on Elena Ferrante’s third book in the four-part series, titled Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. This time around, Italian director Daniele Luchetti, recently at Venice with fest opener Lacci (The Ties), is taking the helm from Saverio Costanzo.
Fremantle’s drama division was recently restructured following the departure of long-time executive Sarah Doole, who recently joined Studiocanal-backed production outfit Red. Christian Vesper was 1, reporting into Scrosati, who holds the drama reins.
The production powerhouse now has 49 dramas in production around the world. Of these, 31 are Fremantle shows that are either shooting or in post production. All told, in 2020, Fremantle will deliver 42 shows from 16 territories, up from 36 shows delivered from 11 territories in 2019.
Considering the global pandemic, “it’s a pretty incredible number” to have more hours in production this year than in 2019, says Scrosati. He points out that scripted is a business with a substantial lead time, so “the fact that development at Fremantle increased so much had an impact on production.” The ramped-up development time also bodes well for the 2021 slate.
Scrosati underlines that the main reason for the company’s strong output in these challenging times is that Fremantle is now “a truly global drama producer” that executes a vast amount of drama outside the U.S. and U.K. — three times more scripted series outside the two countries “than any major U.S. studio,” Scrosati notes.
“Producing in so many territories means that, basically, we never stopped producing,” he says. Countries like the Nordics and Israel have remained largely open to production during the coronavirus crisis. “That is one of the company’s strongest assets,” says Scrosati.
–More from Passenger: Wild Rabbbit stems from Fremantle’s exclusive deal with True Detective producer Richard Brown’s New York and London based production label, Passenger. Another Passenger project now “in the final stages of writing” is the still-untitled TV series about the U.K.’s muddled response to the coronavirus crisis, under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, directed and written by Michael Winterbottom.
– In Spain, where Fremantle was not producing scripted content until a year ago, three projects are in development with three major commissioners. “All three are global brands,” says Scrosati, who kept details under wraps. One of these is the announced project based on the book by David Jimenez called El Director, about his experience becoming editor in chief of Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo. The story he details how he fought to defend the newspaper from political and business interests.
– In Israel, Fremantle’s local production company, Abot Hameiri, the shingle that made hit drama Shtisel, has a “very very strong” development slate that includes their announced show on the life of Benjamin Netanyahu.
– In Latin America, where Fremantle weren’t in scripted production until a year ago, the team led by Coty Cagliolo is “now developing a lot,” Scrosati said.
Fremantle also recently invested in The Immigrant, the company co-founded by Camila Jimenez and Silvana Aguirre that produces premium drama focused on Hispanic and Latinx content in the U.S. and abroad. “They have now signed two development projects with two global platforms,” said Scrosati, who declined to provide more details.
– In the Nordics Fremantle just launched The Investigation, made by Scandinavian drama producers Miso Film. The show, which was selected as one of Variety’s Mipcom Buzz titles, delves into the murder of of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, and has delivered stellar ratings in Denmark ahead of its international rollout.