MGM Television has struck a first-look deal with British management and production company 42, the business behind the latest adaptation of Watership Down and Channel 4 and Netflix drama Traitors.
The two companies have inked the multi-year production deal to identify and co-develop scripted series for the U.S. market. They will partner to create original scripted projects and also draw from MGM's library.
42 has offices in London and LA and was set up in 2013. Run by five partners, Rory Aitken, Ben Pugh, Kate Buckley, Cathy King and Josh Varney, the company produced Watership Down, starring James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Sir Ben Kingsley, Daniel Kaluuya, Gemma Arterton and Olivia Colman, for the BBC and Netflix, C4/Netflix's Traitors starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Emma Appleton, Keeley Hawes and Luke Treadaway and Rob Lowe-fronted ITV drama Wild Bill. It is currently in production on Netflix's The English Game from Julian Fellowes.
The company previously had a first-look deal in the U.S. with ITV Studios.
The announcement was made by MGM's President of Television Production and Development, Steve Stark and 42 and the deal was negotiated by MGM's President of Television Operations, Brian Edwards. The company's television slate includes Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, FX's Fargo and Hulu's Mindy Kaling-exec produced Four Weddings and A Funeral.
“This year, MGM celebrates the 100th Anniversary of United Artists and in today's crowded television landscape, UA's and MGM's legacy of putting the creative first is more critical than ever,” said Stark. “Our partnership with the dynamic team of managers and producers who form 42 will allow us to collaborate with global top-tier talent who can continue our long legacy of creating distinctive, quality series across the globe.”
“MGM has quickly become a formidable producer of high-quality, creatively-fulfilling television content and we're thrilled to partner with them on this new venture,” added Josh Varney and Ben Pugh. “As we continue to expand our footprint and infrastructure in the U.S, we remain committed to working with the best talent and telling the best stories. Steve and his world class team, and MGM's vast library, affords us endless opportunities to do just that.”
The move is the latest from newly installed chairman Michael De Luca as he reshapes the storied studio.
Longtime producer and film executive Pam Abdy has been named as motion picture group president at MGM.
Abdy will oversee development, production and postproduction for all MGM and Orion films, reporting to Michael De Luca, who was appointed chairman of MGM's film group in January.
The move is the latest from De Luca as he puts his stamp on the storied company with a series of high-profile acquisitions and as he brings in new executives into the fold.
"I have long admired Pam for her exceptional abilities as both a studio executive and producer, both critical jobs in our industry and ones that she has handled with the utmost skill, taste and talent," said De Luca in a statement. "She is among the very best and we are all beyond thrilled that she will be joining the MGM team as we steer the studio into the future.”
Known for her filmmaker relationships, Abdy is coming from Makeready, the production company run by Brad Weston and where she acted as partner and head of film as well as produced 2019's acclaimed drama Queen & Slim and the Sam Taylor-Johnson-directed adaptation of A Million Little Pieces.
Before that she acted as president of production of New Regency where she spearheaded video game adaptation Assassin's Creed and The Revenant, the period drama that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and was nominated for 12 Oscars. During her tenure, New Regency made Alejandro González Iñárritu's Academy Award-winning Birdman, David Fincher's Gone Girl, Darren Aronofsky's Noah, Adam McKay's Academy Award-winning The Big Short and Gore Verbinski's Cure for Wellness.
Other stints include running at Bluegrass Films, the banner created by now Netflix head Scott Stuber, and a top position at Paramount where he oversaw films ranging from Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island to Oliver Stone's World Trade Center to Mark Waters' Mean Girls. She was also president of Jersey Films when the company produced Zach Braff's directorial debut, Garden State.
"I am honored to join Mike and the team at MGM/Orion," said Abdy. "As a colleague and friend for over 20 years, I have long admired his bold choices and passionate support of filmmakers. I look forward to helping him build on the legacy of MGM as a home for great artists.”