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Fremantle, David Leaf sign deal

Hyphenate best known for documentary work

CANNES — FremantleMedia Enterprises has signed an exclusive first-look deal with writer, director and producer David Leaf. It’s the first such development deal the company has made, with more apparently set to follow.

Pact with Leaf, who’s best known for his work on feature docs, music-variety, event specials and pop culture retrospectives, grants FME a first look on all TV, DVD and ancillary rights worldwide (excluding North America) on his company’s nonfiction production.

Agreement follows the appointment of ex-Miramax exec Jeff Tahler as VP for acquisitions North America. His mandate includes boosting relations with topnotch talent in various programming genres.

“The pop culture genre is really taking the world by storm and continues to be a key staple in our portfolio. David Leaf is one of the most preeminent writer-director-producers of his time in the music world and very much has his finger on the pulse. We’re certain that his unique storytelling style will prove to be a hit with audiences the world over,” said FME chief exec David Ellender.

Under his newly formed David Leaf Prods. banner, L.A.-based Leaf will work with FME to focus on bringing the stories of iconic figures and events to the screen. Last year, Leaf co-wrote, directed and produced feature doc “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” which premiered at the 2006 Venice Film Festival.

Leaf’s credits include writing and directing the Grammy-nominated feature-length docu “Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile.”

Joining Leaf at his company are principals Arlene Wszalek, Jonathan Flom and Harold Brook. Wszalek, Leaf’s producing partner, was most recently coordinating producer of Lionsgate’s “The U.S. vs. John Lennon” and has an extensive management background in marketing. Flom, the founder of Character Arts, is a sea-soned exec and producer whose career includes positions at CBS, HBO and Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video. Brook is a business affairs veteran who, in addition to founding the Point Media, was formerly with Fox, Paramount and NBC.

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