Firm on global hunt for production coin

Gordon's WIN partnering up for co-prod'ns

MELBOURNE — Co-productions often are a tricky business, creatively and financially, but Crawfords Australia is using that mechanism to underpin a raft of television series and miniseries.

The production unit of former Paramount Intl. TV topper Bruce Gordon’s WIN Television empire is co-producing two skeins with Canadian partners and prepping two minis, one with a U.K. producer, the other with France’s Canal Plus.

“No broadcaster in the world can afford to give you a check to cover the entire budget, so as an Australian producer you go either to (government funder) Film Finance Corp. or you do co-productions. We chose the latter,” says Crawfords CEO Tom Parkinson.

The exec doesn’t rule out seeking FFC coin in future but says the budgets of his four-hour mini based on the legendary desert fighter Lawrence of Arabia (pegged at $10 million) and a remake of the 1946 classic pic “The Overlanders” would be too pricey for the agency.

David Williamson is penning the script for “Lawrence,” which Parkinson promises will be more a psychological study of a complex man than the heroic character played by Peter O’Toole in David Lean’s 1962 epic.

Independent Prods. of London, headed by Ann Wingate, is aboard as the co-producer, Simon Wincer (“Lonesome Dove”) is keen to direct, and an Aussie TV deal is being negotiated with the Seven Network, according to Parkinson. The plan is to shoot in Morocco and Oz, starting next February.

Parkinson is working to redo “The Overlanders” as a four-hour mini with Canal Plus’ production arm Le Sabre.

The French company owns the rights to the Ealing production, which starred Chips Rafferty as a drover who took thousands of cattle on a grueling 2,000 mile journey through the Outback, defying orders to shoot them before a feared Japanese invasion during World War II. Parkinson is closing a deal with an Aussie writer and with Oz’s Nine Network.

Currently in Melbourne, Crawfords is shooting children’s series “Guinevere Jones,” 26 half-hours with a budget of A$9.5 million ($4.9 million). It’s a co-production with Canada’s Original Prods for Canuck broadcaster YTV and locally Network Ten.

Cranking up March 25 is the second series of “The Saddle Club,” a kidvid that is a co-production between Crawfords and Canada’s Protocol Entertainment. The first skein was sold to Discovery Kids in the U.S. and Crawfords’ sales chief Nick McMahon is confident the cabler will pick up the second and it’ll become part of Discovery’s deal to lease NBC’s Saturday ayem block.

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