Mediawan & Leonine Studios has hired Fremantle International’s former EVP of co-production & distribution to oversee a similar role at the fast-growing European group.
Caroline Kusser becomes EVP of international co-production, in addition to taking on the additional role of EVP of world sales at Leonine Studios.
She is responsible for all TV co-production activities on an international and European level within Mediawan & Leonine Studios and will manage fiction co-productions across the 60 production companies belonging to the group.
She will also oversee Leonine’s global distribution operation and is based in the newly opened US-office in LA.
Context & background
Kusser worked on shows with Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, Starz and Nat Geo during her stint at Fremantle, and before that spent more than a decade at Red Arrow International in the US.
Prior to that, she established her own distribution business named Carokusser, and also had stints at Bavaria Media Television and Beta Film in Germany.
Eden Rock Media’s Thomas Augsberger, who had been Leonine’s overall US consultant, will continue to advise the company on its international feature film business.
Mediawan & Leonine Studios co-CEO’s, Pierre-Antoine Capton and Fred Kogel, said: “Caroline is an expert with an excellent network and the ideal person for our planned internationalisation and growth strategy in the TV co-production segment.”
Kogel added: “Together with her, we will continue to develop our LEONINE Studios brand into a synonym for premium content in international distribution. Our high-end fiction productions for TV are in the very best hands with her.”
Kusser said: “I’m looking forward to working in collaboration with the European teams to ensure we fully maximise the potential of content, alongside expanding the activity and presence of the company as a whole across this diverse and vibrant market. At the same time, I am really excited to expand Leonine Studios premium brand into the world sales business.”
Mediawan & Leonine’s link-up
The addition of Kusser is the latest major hire for Mediawan & Leonine Studios, which joined forces in 2020 via the Mediawan Alliance before being formally branded to its current name.
Last year, the group took a majority stake in Drama Republic, the UK prodco behind Pure, Doctor Foster and The Honourable Woman, with the 51% stake in the Greg Brenman and Roanna Benn-led production firm marking the group’s first major move into English-language production.
The company acquired Lagardere Studios in 2020 and also own firms such as Storia Television, the company created to sell EuropaCorp’s TV business. It took majority stakes in Makever and Mon Voisin Productions in 2018 and struck a deal to buy AB Groupe a year earlier, the first acquisition from the group.
In June 2020, the Mediawan Alliance took a minority stake in Leonine, which is the fast-growing German media group backed by US-based private equity firm KKR. Its interests include Tele München Group, Universum Film, Universum, i&u TV and Dark producer Wiedemann & Berg TV, which is now led by former Bavaria Fiction chief creative officer Oliver Vogel.
Leonine’s senior execs include former Red Arrow Studios’ creative director Nina Etspueler, who heads its entertainment interests, and ex-Sky Vision and Sonar exec Patrick Phelan, who is director of global distribution. TBI understands he will now report into Kusser.