Scott Free, Tandem re-team on ‘Pillars’ sequel

Ben Silverman gives keynote speech at Mip TV mart

CANNES — After a frantic Monday at the Mip TV mart, news slowed sharply Tuesday, with the big announcement coming from Scott Free Television and Germany’s Tandem Communications, which are re-teaming for a miniseries of author Ken Follett’s “World Without End,” the sequel to “The Pillars of the Earth.”

Meanwhile, Ben Silverman, who heads multimedia company Electus in partnership with Barry Diller’s interactive firm IAC, proposed the convergence of “Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Madison Avenue” in his Media Mastermind keynote speech.

“Pillars” writer John Pielmeier is returning to adapt the bestseller for a possible eight-hour series. Starz, which will air “Pillars” in July, will co-finance development with Tandem and has an option for U.S. rights.

“Broadcasters worldwide understand that once you captivate an audience, you must reward their loyalty by building on the franchise,” said Tandem topper Rola Bauer.

Set in the same fictional British medieval town of Kingsbridge as “Pillars” but taking place 200 years later, “World Without End” unfolds against the backdrop of scourge and pestilence as Europe is plunged into the Hundred Years’ War and hit by the Black Death. Story features descendants of the original characters.

“We were impressed by the quality and ambitions Tandem and Scott Free brought to ‘The Pillars of the Earth,’?” said Starz prexy-CEO Chris Albrecht. “We expect the same, if not more, with the ‘World Without End’ adaptation.”

Scott Free TV prexy David W. Zucker said, “The production values on ‘Pillars’ are comparable to what we’d expect in a feature.”

“World Without End” is the latest joint project from Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods. and Tandem. The companies are also producing an adaptation of Robert Harris’ historical novel “Pompeii” with Sony Pictures Television.

For Starz, “World Without End” is yet another historical property; Albrecht announced Monday at Mip TV that the pay cabler was developing medieval drama “William the Conqueror” with Silverman’s Electus.

Silverman took the main stage of Cannes’ Palais des Festivals to deliver his keynote about the future of TV, speaking for 20 minutes without notes.

Backing his theme of TV-Internet-advertising convergence, he cited Electus’ bilingual, interactive telenovela “Pedro and Maria,” announced on Sunday, which has Procter and Gamble Prods. as producer and integrated marketing partner.

The TV biz faced “hyperglobalization, but clearly adapted in localization,” Silverman said. He defined his new shingle as “a nontraditional studio built up in a digital age.”

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