Television Business International

Fremantle buys Essential drama division

Scripted-logo-460_2Ian CollieFremantleMedia has acquired a majority stake in the drama wing of Australian producer Essential Media, and is relaunching it as Easy Tiger Productions.

Essential co-founder Ian Collie is to become managing director of Easy Tiger, alongside fellow Essential alumni Rachael Turk and Tanya Phegan.

Essential’s current drama projects are transferring over to Easy Tiger, along with past series such as Rake, Doctor Doctor and Jack Irish, plus upcoming SBS miniseries The Sunshine Kings.

A number of key Fremantle execs will join the Easy Tiger board, namely group COO and CEO of emerging markets Sangeeta Desai, director of global drama Sarah Doole, and regional CEO for Australia and Asia Pacific Ian Hogg.

Fremantle was already distributing Nine Network drama Doctor Doctor (aka The Heart Guy) on the international market, with crime series The Sunshine Kings launching to the global market at MIPCOM.

“Joining the vastly experienced FremantleMedia group provides Easy Tiger with the opportunity to build on its reputation as a boutique yet high-end production company, from the development phase right through to distribution,” said Collie.

“This means we can continue to do what we love: fresh stories done well and for an increasingly global market.”

RTL Group-owned Fremantle has been more active in taking minority stakes in start-up producers in recent years, but already has an extensive drama production business that includes Deutschland 83 producer UFA Fiction, Wentworth prodco FremantleMedia Australia, Italy’s Wildside and Euston Films in the UK.

“Our ambition is to work with the best scripted talent in the world to tell bold and impactful stories, and Easy Tiger ticks all of those boxes,” said Fremantle drama chief Doole.

“Ian and his team have been responsible for a number of ambitious titles with global success, and their upcoming slate includes a range of storylines on the forefront of originality that will perfectly complement the series coming from FremantleMedia’s growing family of prime-time drama producers.”

Chris Hilton will continue to lead Essential as CEO and executive producer. Last week, he licensed 55 hours of non-scripted programming to UK-based distributor TCB Media Rights.