Sabin joins indie TV studio
Edward Sabin is ankling as senior VP of business development and operations at Fox Television Studios to join Alchemy TV as president and chief operating officer.Appointment is effective March 1. He’ll report to the company’s CEO Carrie Stein, the ex-ICM agent who helped launch Alchemy about a year ago. Sabin will oversee worldwide operations, new business development and corporate expansion. Alchemy is involved in setting up and financing as well as producing and distributing high-end minis and movies for the international market. Big projects in the works include the $35 million Ridley Scott/John Calley mini “The Company,” which Sony is co-producing for TNT. Stein described Sabin as “a creative and strategic thinker with an unmatched set of skills in the domestic and international markets.” “I’m more involved in setting up the creative business opportunities, and he’s more involved in the operational and deal side of the business,” she added. Stein also expects Sabin to help Alchemy expand into new media platforms, as well as help launch new divisions devoted to reality, kidvid and factual entertainment programming. “We’ll be looking for good projects from wherever they materialize,” Sabin told Daily Variety. Stein and Sabin are to be based in Los Angeles, with sales, marketing and production remaining in London. A year ago, Stein, who headed the longform TV department at ICM, became CEO and a partner in the company. She joined co-founders Nick Witkowski, Simon Vaughan and David Wyler, each of whom brought his own particular experience to the venture. Financing for the company is coming from private equity. With the TV movie biz in the States practically moribund, Stein’s talents in this field were a complement to those of the founding partners. Launched at the Mip TV trade show last April, Alchemy is involved in several high-profile long-form projects. In addition to “The Company,” Alchemy has also joined Italy’s Lux Vide as one of the producers and distributors of an eight-hour remake of “War and Peace,” starring Brenda Blethyn and Malcolm McDowell. “Our business model is unique. All of our dramas have multiple producers and multiple broadcasters before we begin photography,” Stein pointed out. “We have another four or five big events — more than $150 million worth of production — to announce shortly for 2007.” While international coin ensures profitability for projects from the start, Stein said she’ll be working to get more Alchemy projects set up at U.S. cablers and broadcasters, either as co-prods or acquisitions. HBO has already done well with this model, joining with BBC on projects such as “Elizabeth I” and “Tsunami.” “Rather than spend $10 million to $20 million on an original production, (a network) can get this programming for $3 million or $4 million,” Stein said. “I’d like the U.S. to become more of an acquisitions market. It’s a great business model.” Peter Sussman, a former top exec at Allaince Atlantis now involved in TV financing, told Daily Variety that doing business with Alchemy was “a no-brainer.” There are not, he said, “that many players outside the majors who can easily, quickly get meetings with the top buyers in the key foreign territories. These folks can.” Sussman recently joined the Alchemy board as non-executive chairman. Before joining Alchemy, Sabin served as senior VP, business development and operations at Fox Television Studios, where he was instrumental in launching locally-oriented production studios abroad, including in the U.K., France and India. At FTVS, Sabin worked on co-production and co-financing deals on behalf of the studio, acquiring formats for distribution, and establishing deal templates for Fox formats. Domestically, Sabin oversaw the business and legal affairs execs in Fox TV Studio’s scripted and alternative departments. Sabin joined Fox Television Studios in 2000 as VP, business and legal affairs. Prior to that he was a litigation partner at the law firm Greenberg, Glusker.