Wolper org passes torch

In what amounts to a passing of the torch, David L. Wolper has become chairman of the Wolper Organization, shifting the title of president of his production company to his son, Mark, who’s been a senior VP there since 1987.

Mark Wolper, 32, said his father will continue to be actively involved in all aspects of the company but will “take it a little easier” while the younger Wolper expands his role in selling and developing shows in addition to supervising production.

The Wolper Organization has re-established its credentials as one of the premier producers of longform programming on TV with the recent CBS miniseries “Queen” and pending six-hour ABC sequels to “The Thorn Birds” and “North & South”– all in association with Warner Bros. TV, where Wolper has been based for 16 years under an exclusive TV, first-look feature pact.

Royal roster

Wolper’s miniseries roster also includes the previously announced “King Arthur,” being developed as either a four- or six-hour miniseries for CBS. David Stevens, who wrote “Queen” and is writing “Thorn Birds, the Missing Years,” will script that project as well (Daily Variety, March 16).

According to Mark Wolper, multi-parters should be large, costumed period pieces that have a true event feel. “The only reason to do miniseries is to do stories audiences can’t get anywhere else,” he said.

Wolper is currently producing a movie for NBC in Australia, “The Flood,” about a group of youths caught in a flood, while another telefilm that had been at NBC, “Timebomb,” has now shifted to Time Warner unit HBO. The sci-fi thriller was originally developed as a feature by HBO Pictures senior VP Robert Cooper when he was an independent producer.

Series in the works include “Write and Wrong,” about a police handwriting expert, to be done with producer Gale Anne Hurd. Sam Egan is writing the show, currently at CBS.

Wolper is also developing a reality show, “Whatever Happened to …?,” looking at people and things that have dropped from the public consciousness; “Blue Angels,” about the famed flying unit; and “Princess Detective,” a drama about a European princess who doubles as an agent for Interpol.

Wolper recently hired Marci Pool and Nancy McCabe as co-vice presidents of development under an arrangement structured to allow both women more time with their families. The company now wants to put more emphasis on features in addition to longform TV programming and series.

While with the Wolper Organization, Mark Wolper has been a producer on such projects as “The Betty Ford Story,””Murder in Mississippi” and the reality series “Best of the Worst.”

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