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Fremantlemedia Joins Forces with Pukeko Pictures

Fremantlemedia Joins Forces with New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures And Award-Winning Feature Writer Craig Pearce to Develop Joan of Arc Bestseller into TV Drama Series

18 December 2012 – FremantleMedia has finalised a deal with Australia’s award-winning writer Craig Pearce to develop the New York Times bestseller The Maid into a television drama series for international audiences. The as yet untitled series will be executive produced by New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures, the television company co-founded by Richard Taylor, head of Weta Workshop; and written by Craig Pearce, whose credits include co-writing with Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet, the Oscar-winning Moulin Rouge, and the highly anticipated The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. This is the first project to come out of the Pukeko Pictures / FremantleMedia partnership announced earlier this year.

The Maid is the bestselling novel by Kimberley Cutter and tells the intriguing tale of a peasant girl who believes she is sent by God to save France. The saint and warrior Joan of Arc has captivated imaginations for centuries, but this story of Joan, the girl, is a new and gripping take on how a farmer’s daughter sought escape from her own personal oppression to lead thousands of French fighters against a brutal and prolonged English invasion. The series will breathe life into the thrilling, action-packed final years of the Hundred Years War by chronicling them from not only Joan’s perspective but also those of the international noble houses that battled for control of the French throne and ultimately, the birth of a nation.

“The opportunity to work with one of the most talented screenwriters in Hollywood was something we could not pass up as we seek to drive FremantleMedia’s creation of high end scripted dramas into new and exciting territory,” said Jeff Tahler, SVP Acquisitions and Development, Global Content, FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) and Tony Optican, SVP Scripted Programming, FremantleMedia North America (FMNA). “Craig Pearce is sure to captivate our imaginations as he tells the intriguing stories surrounding one of history’s most controversial heroines.”

Adam Fratto and Martin Baynton, who will serve as Executive Producers, have made this project a priority as Pukeko Pictures first major drama series. “Kimberly's book pulls the veil of mythology aside and shows the real girl at the heart of this extraordinary story,” said Fratto. “We are thrilled that Craig -- a master at making history accessible, visceral, and entertaining -- shares our passion for this story.”

Richard Taylor, added, “This project is the perfect fit for everything New Zealand has to offer. From our spectacular landscapes to the award-winning team here at Weta Workshop - an epic drama that can showcase everything from conceptual design through to manufacturing; utilizing all the skills we have honed on our feature work.”

In addition to teaming up with Craig Pearce and Pukeko Pictures, FremantleMedia recently announced a partnership with award-winner Marshall Herskovitz to develop a TV drama series inspired by the popular non-fiction book Hitlerland, by Andrew Nagorski. These newly formed relationships with top Hollywood talent demonstrate FremantleMedia’s continued commitment to develop and distribute large scale dramas for worldwide audiences.

David Ellender, Global CEO, FME said, “Our global drama strategy is delivering exciting film scale projects with the best writers, producers, creators and directors in the business. These are epic dramas and through our well-established internal and external global networks, we look forward to delivering them to viewers worldwide.”

FME’s global drama strategy has already resulted in a number of projects with high end partners including Wedding Band for TBS, with Mike Tollin (Smallville, One Tree Hill) and Hit & Miss for Sky Atlantic with creator Paul Abbot (Shameless, State of Play).

- ENDS -

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