Company producing series version of 'Freakonomics'
Branded content production shingle Radical Media (“Iconoclasts”) is ramping up its TV development, starting with a series version of the bestselling book “Freakonomics.”
Bob Friedman, Radical’s president of media and entertainment, said the company is working with author/journo Stephen Dubner (who partnered with economist Steven Levitt to produce the book and its sequels) to develop several variations on the title.
Levitt will appear on the show, which is being shopped to nets.
“We think of this as a new kind of TV franchise,” he said. “There are a few different ways we can tackle this, depending on the network. We’re pitching this with a variety of formats in mind.”
Friedman and Justin Wilkes (who serves as an exec producer and VP at Radical) said the show would investigate a wide range of topics: from the inner workings of a crack gang to whether walking drunk is more dangerous than driving drunk.
Company is also behind the Planet Green series “The Kamen Code,” centering on inventor Dean Kamen. Kamen came up with the Segway and the first insulin pump, among other creations.
Project reunites Radical with Planet Green topper Laura Michalchyshyn, who formerly ran Sundance Channel (where “Iconoclasts” runs).
For new cabler Centric, Radical is working on a new docu-style, celeb-driven series from Lauren Lazin (“Tupac: Resurrection”).
Other projects being developed at Radical include a docusoap set inside the Miami City Ballet.
“It’s an international mix of young and beautiful dancers,” Friedman said. “The show looks at how this context of ballet meshes with the lack of structure in South Beach.”
Production shingle is also developing a show based on Randy Jones’ business tome “The Richest Man in Town,” documenting the rags-to-riches stories of the self-made wealthy.
As previously announced, Radical is producing one of the new Oprah Winfrey Network’s signature shows, “Masterclass” — hosted by Winfrey herself. “Masterclass” follows high-profile leaders as they tell their personal stories.
“Clearly it will reflect the personality and the pedigree of the network,” Friedman said.
And Radical is still developing “Pigs and Panthers,” based on the life of undercover LAPD detective Ronald Farwell, at Showtime.
At MTV, Radical is behind the longform doc “Summit on the Summit,” which runs next week. Project follows stars, such as Jessica Biel and Emile Hirsch, who climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for charity.
Radical produced “Summit” with Procter and Gamble, which is integrating messages for its new Pure water purification system.
“We’ve found, even when the marketplace was tight, interesting and smart ways (for advertisers) to get their messaging across,” Friedman said.
The exec said about half of the company’s development is generated internally, while the other half comes from marketers “coming to us with an idea or a challenge for which they’re looking for a solution.”
Radical Media was also behind AMC’s “Storymakers,” the doc “The Fog of War” and the pilot to “Mad Men.”
Among returning shows, “Iconoclasts” received a six-episode order for its fifth season.