Fremantle’s Original Productions (OP) has entered into a first-look deal with Hudlin Entertainment, helmed by Academy Award-nominated producer/director, Reginald Hudlin (Marshall, Django Unchained, The Black Godfather, House Party) and producer Byron Phillips (Primetime Emmy Awards, Oscars, NAACP Image Awards, The Black Godfather).
Under the terms of the agreement, Hudlin and Phillips will executive produce non-scripted projects resulting from this new partnership.
Previously, Original Productions achieved success when partnering with Hudlin and Phillips on Phat Tuesdays: The Era of Hip-Hop Comedy, a documentary series which celebrated the untold story of Black comedians at The Comedy Store in ‘90s Los Angeles. The docuseries featured many of today’s most famous comedians and personalities, including Anthony Anderson, Dave Chappelle, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Steve Harvey, and Regina King in an unbelievable story of how Guy Torry moved mountains to launch an all-Black comedy night at The Comedy Store.
Continuing the relationship formed through this project, the new pact will serve to further proliferate OP’s focus, bringing the company to the forefront of current cultural conversations.
“When we began our collaboration on Phat Tuesdays, it was exciting to see that Reggie and Byron shared a sensibility for the kind of big, bold storytelling that has been the hallmark of our evolution at OP,” said Jeff Hasler, President of Original Productions. “The deeper we got into our collaboration and discussing new ideas, the more motivated we all became about finding a way to let our partnership flourish. Continuing to support Reggie and Byron’s unique voice and perspective on the kind of stories we all want to tell is a dream come true for us at OP.”
“We had a great experience making Phat Tuesdays with Fremantle and it felt like a no brainer to expand our relationship,” said producer/director Reggie Hudlin. “While we were finishing that project, we kept coming up with new ideas that we were excited to collaborate on. I’m looking forward to what’s next.”
“We are thrilled to enter into a partnership with Fremantle/OP. Jennifer Mullin and Jeff Hasler have been so supportive of our creative vision and the range of content we look forward to producing. It is rare to find executives that do everything in their power to clear the obstacles that get in the way of the creative process. Jen and Jeff are both unique executives and extraordinary human beings,” said producer Byron Phillips.
Building on their strong storytelling reputation and character depictions, OP has in recent years been expanding into more premium spaces. Initially known for capturing the world’s most rugged and adventurous people and landscapes in their award-winning series such as Deadliest Catch and Bering Sea Gold, the OP team has grown its portfolio to now also include the upcoming Dan Rather documentary, the upcoming docu-series Waco: American Apocalypse (Netflix) and A Radical Life, which took an unfiltered look at the former First Lady of ISIS, Tania Joya, in addition to Race to Survive (USA Network) and Five Guys A Week (Lifetime).
OP is part of Fremantle’s network of independent production companies in the premium documentary space, which also includes the recently-acquired 72 Films (All or Nothing: Arsenal, 9/11: One Day in America), Silvio Productions (Buried, The Baby Daddy, Shadow of Truth) and Wildstar Films (America the Beautiful, Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory, and America’s National Parks). Fremantle is behind feature documentaries Mrs. America (Fremantle, Anonymous Content, Spinning Nancy) and Kim’s Video (Fremantle, Carnivalesque Films) which had its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January. Fremantle’s documentary series include Planet Sex with Cara Delevingne (Naked, a Fremantle label, Milkshake Productions) and Kingdom of Dreams (Misfits).
Hudlin is well known for directing culture-bending films such as House Party and Boomerang at the start of his career. He has gone on to direct many hit films and is currently in production on Candy Cane Lane, an Amazon original Christmas movie starring Eddie Murphy slated for Christmas 2023. Last year, Hudlin directed his first film for Disney, a family sports feature which premiered for Christmas 2022 on Disney+. As a producer, Hudlin has brought audiences multiple hits, including the recent Honoring Our Kings, which he produced along with Phillips and Oprah Winfrey as a Father’s Day special, and Bear Witness, Take Action, a YouTube series which was a direct response to the racial unrest experienced during the pandemic. As a producer, he has also brought audiences the animated series The Boondocks on Comedy Central and the Black Panther animated series on BET, among others. His latest film, Sidney, which chronicles the life of legendary actor Sidney Poitier, just won a coveted 2022 Critics Choice Award for Best Biographical Documentary. He is also directing the upcoming docuseries Number One on The Call Sheet: Black Leading Men in Hollywood.
Phillips’ numerous producing credits include both the 73rd and 74th Primetime Emmy Awards and the Oscars for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has been a producer on the NAACP Image Awards since 2013, having served as the executive producer for the ceremony the past five years. Phillips also produced the feature length documentary, The Black Godfather, which followed the life of Clarence Avant and his behind-the-scenes impact on music, film, TV and politics. Phillips has developed and produced content across all major media platforms, including television, film, music, digital, and gaming. During the pandemic, Phillips produced Honoring Our Kings, a Father’s Day special, along with Oprah Winfrey, and Bear Witness, Take Action.
Additionally, Phillips previously served as Executive Vice President of Entertainment for BET Networks (a Viacom company). In that capacity, he oversaw development and production of all BET network content. Prior to BET, Phillips served as Senior Vice President and General Manager for Hollywood Records (a Disney company), where he oversaw development, recording, marketing, and promotion of all recording artists.