Tandem in prime position

Teuton banner leaps into drama with Studiocanal as partner

Munich-based Tandem Communications has been bridging both sides of the Pond with a mix of European sensibility and Hollywood-style storytelling savvy for more than a decade. Now it’s taking a leap into new territory — primetime series — with a deep-pocketed partner.

After a number of high-profile miniseries and event movies, including the “The Pillars of the Earth,” and this year’s follow-up “World Without End,” the company is embarking on an English-language, one-hour primetime crime series with former “Criminal Minds” showrunner Ed Bernero as part of its new identity within entertainment giant Studiocanal, which acquired a majority stake in the company in January.

“The one-hour drama series is the next logical step after our years of experience in producing limited series,” says company president Rola Bauer.

Tandem, established by Bauer, an Ottawa native and one-time prexy of Alliance Intl. in Paris, and Tim Halkin, a New Yorker and former marketing exec at Disney, has become one of Europe’s leading producers and distributors of international event TV shows, focusing on slickly produced adaptations of English-language bestsellers. The team also includes Tandem’s exec VP Jonas Bauer, no relation to Rola, a vet producer who cut his teeth in international co-production.

Rola Bauer says a key to Tandem’s success has been the company’s strategy of having stories with a European sensibility and an American style of pacing and editing. Tandem regularly works with writers who have experience working on U.S. productions.

Bernero cites Tandem’s knack for creating content with diverse stories, locales and internationally known casts that appeal to auds worldwide — a strategy that attracted the eye of Studiocanal, which sees Tandem as a way to rev up TV production and distribution.

“As all studios have done, the next logical move is to diversify into TV minis and series,” says Studiocanal topper Olivier Courson. “We searched for the best partner in Europe, and found Tandem as the ideal one. Their television strategy is in sync with our objectives.”

The strategic partnership with Studiocanal has allowed Tandem “to move faster and expedite the greenlighting process,” adds Rola Bauer.

Tandem’s production partners include Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free. The two companies have worked on titles that include CIA miniseries “The Company,” “Pillars of the Earth” and the upcoming “World Without End,” a $46 million mini directed by Michael Caton-Jones. Also with Scott Free, Tandem is in post-production on “Labyrinth,” a $20 million adaptation of Kate Mosse’s bestseller. The duo are also partnering with Sony Pictures Television on “Pompeii,” a four-hour mini that adapts Robert Harris’ bestseller.

Other titles on the company’s lineup include the De Angelis Group’s $30 million miniseries “Titanic: Blood and Steel,” starring Chris Noth, Kevin Zegers and Neve Campbell, and “Ken Follett’s Journey Into the Dark Ages,” a two-part documentary.

While Studiocanal is not involved in any of Tandem’s current projects, most of which were set up before the acquisition, cooperation between the two companies on future productions is a possibility.

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