Exec pacts with ZDF Enterprises, Studio Hamburg

BERLIN — ZDF Enterprises and Studio Hamburg are joining forces with former National Geographic Channels and Discovery Networks exec Steve Burns on a new international joint venture.

Based in Annapolis, Maryland, the new production company, which has yet to be named, will develop and produce non-fiction series and specials and fact-based dramas geared for the U.S. and international markets.

Burns will serve as CEO of the shingle, a joint venture between ZDF Enterprises and Studio Hamburg subsidiaries Gruppe 5 and Studio Hamburg DocLights.

The Emmy Award-winning Burns stepped down as exec VP of global programming at National Geographic Channels last year. Prior to joining NGC, he had spent 15 years at Discovery Networks in a variety of posts, including exec VP of production, exec VP and chief science editor, and general manager of Science Channel.

Gruppe 5 and Studio Hamburg DocLights have worked with Burns on a number of past projects, including “2057,” “Armageddon,” “Mission X,” “Terra X,” “Great Wall of China,” “America Before Columbus,” “America’s Great National Parks” and “Jaguar.”

“After Geographic, the first calls I got were from (Gruppe 5 CEO) Uwe Kersken and (Studio Hamburg DocLights CEO) Joern Roever, who were long-time partners on some great series at Discovery, Science and National Geographic,” said Burns. “We were looking for a way to continue to work together. So, with our combined knowledge of programming, the world markets, commissioners and distributors, it was a natural idea we form a company based in the U.S.”

Roever added, “With his creativity and his instinct for audience hits, Steve Burns is an ideal partner for our high-gloss productions and innovative formats. The direct access to the world’s largest TV market is an important and exciting step to even more internationality.”

Kersken said, “Steve has always looked all over the world for the best ideas and the best (program) makers, thus opening his broadcasters’ doors to them, no matter what nationality or origins they had.”

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