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Abrams & Alward team up

Gerald Abrams, co-chairman of Hearst Entertainment Prods., and Jennifer Alward, president of Morgan Hill Films, are teaming up to create their own independent production company.

Abrams and Alward began working together in 1982, when she joined Abrams at Cyprus Point Prods. The latter eventually merged with Jerry Isenberg’s Jozak and became the Phoenix Entertainment Group, which Hearst bought in 1989.

The new company will focus on longform movies, miniseries and reality shows. Over the last year at Hearst, Abrams oversaw the reality division, which produced 60 hours of primetime fare for the networks as well as several cable webs.

Foreign deal in place

Already the new entity has inked a distribution deal with Hamdon Entertainment to distribute product abroad. Hamdon Entertainment is a joint venture between the U.K.’s Carlton Communications and Germany’s NDR.

The departure from Hearst for Abrams is amicable. Glenda Grant, president of Hearst Entertainment, is now the senior executive for the company in Los Angeles, reporting back to Hearst’s corporate headquarters in New York. Besides the networks, Hearst also produces heavily for Lifetime Television, which it co-owns with ABC parent Walt Disney.

Currently, Morgan Hill Films is producing the telefilm “Daughters” for USA Network and an adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo” for Showtime, as well as “Violent Spring” for HBO, directed by Thomas Carter and starring Lawrence Fishburne, and “Goodbye Lou” for CBS.

Abrams is in development on “Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial,” a four-hour miniseries for TNT with Atlantic Films, British American and Cypress Films.

Productions Morgan Hill Films has been involved with include the acclaimed CBS telefilm “David’s Mother,” which won three Emmy awards.

Abrams and Alward have collaborated on productions including the telefilms “Family of Spies” and “Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris.” They also worked together at CBS TV.

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