News round-up: Blast! Films restructures; Eccho signs Born Wild deal; ZDFE’s ‘Great Inventions’ sells; IMDb extends SPT’s ‘Alex Rider’

LR: Graeme McAulay, Tanya Winston, Jago Lee

Blast! Films rejigs as creative chiefs depart

Sky Studios-backed producer Blast! Films has rejigged its senior team, with creative directors James O’Reilly and David Hodgkinson stepping down.

Tanya Winston is moving from executive producer to become creative director alongside Graeme McAulay, currently creative executive at The Garden.

Elsewhere, Jago Lee is leaving fellow UK outfit Blakeway to take the new role of director of factual at Blast! Films. He will join the company later this year with a remit to spearhead new US and UK factual programmes.

O’Reilly and Hodgkinson, meanwhile, will be stepping down to pursue new projects and opportunities, Blast! said. Hodgkinson will remain with the company until the end of March to deliver the current series he has in production, while O’Reilly will depart at the end of the year.

Ed Coulthard, founder & CEO of Blast! Films, said: “This is an exciting chance for us to refresh and reinvent the company as we continue to expand and work with the best creative talent in the business. Tanya and Graeme are amongst the most respected premium documentary execs in British television and Jago is a creative force of nature with an amazing track record in developing brilliant series for the US and the UK.

“As the TV landscape evolves, this is a team that will make sure Blast! continues to be a watchword for programme making of the highest quality on both sides of the Atlantic. And I’m looking forward to celebrating Jim and David’s amazing contribution to Blast! over the past decade – which I couldn’t overestimate.”

Anthony Alleyne

Eccho strikes output deal with Born Wild

CJENM-owned distributor Eccho Rights has signed an output deal with UK-based production company Born Wild, which will see the two companies work together on developing drama series.

Born Wild is headed by producer Anthony Alleyne, whose debut movie Sunburn, was released earlier this year on VOD in North America and Canada, and who is repped by The Gersh Agency.

Eccho Rights and Born Wild are working on a number of titles which already have international co-production partners in place. Among them are The Crystal Isle – a drug smuggling dark black comedy, based on a true story, and backed by national broadcaster RTP in Portugal; One Euro Village, a mockumentary focused on an Italian village selling dilapidated homes for €1 to stay alive, and Ezequiel Himes, a post-apocalyptic spaghetti western featuring telepathic undead, based on a graphic novel by Victor Santos and Alberto Hernandez.

Also in development is Red Swamp, a thriller set in the Finnish Swamps, where a group of French explorers investigating a new world unveiled by melting arctic glaciers, discover that they have become prey.

Great Inventions

ZDFE’s ‘Great Inventions’ sells

Factual series Great Inventions has been sold to broadcasters across Europe, following a slew of deals with distributor ZDF Enterprises.

Produced by Off The Fence, Doc Station, World Media Rights and K22 for ZDF Enterprises, the 35 x 50-minutes series looks behind the scenes at everyday objects and major innovations we use daily and discovers their sometimes bizarre, mysterious or even accidental origins.

It has been picked by SVT in Sweden, TV Kultura in Russia, AMC Chello for Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Telefonica Audiovisual Digital in Spain, Servus TV in Austria and in Germany.

Ralf Rueckauer, VP of ZDFE.unscripted at ZDF Enterprises, said  The series, a salute to mankind’s ingenuity, has a wide appeal because it covers the ordinary, the familiar, then takes you on an entertaining and informative journey into how these things came to be.”

Alex Rider

‘Alex Rider’ returns for second mission

Amazon Prime Video and Amazon-owned free streamer IMDb TV have renewed spy thriller series Alex Rider for a second season.

The new run season will be based on the novel Eagle Strike and stream exclusively on IMDb TV in the US, and Prime Video in the UK, Australia, Canada, Italy, Germany, Latin America and New Zealand.

The first season of Alex Rider is set to land on Prime Video in Italy tomorrow, followed by its launch on IMDb TV in the US and on Prime Video in Canada and Latin America, on Friday. The series has already aired on Prime Video in the UK, Australia and Germany this summer.

Produced by Eleventh Hour Films and Sony Pictures Television, the series stars Otto Farrant as Alex Rider, a British  teenager who has unknowingly been trained since childhood for the dangerous world of espionage.

Executive producer and franchise author Anthony Horowitz, said “I couldn’t be happier with the response to season one of Alex Rider and I’m thrilled that the adventure is going to continue with Eagle Strike, one of my favourite stories.”

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