Heather Rabbatts, left, and James Baker, managing director of Red Arrow UK and global scripted strategy
BERLIN — Smuggler Inc. co-founders Patrick Milling-Smith and Brian Carmody have teamed with Germany’s Red Arrow Entertainment to launch Cove Pictures, a major new international TV production company headed by Heather Rabbatts that will focus on high-end drama, comedy and factual programs for the global market.
Cove has already landed its first major coup by forming a creative alliance with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson’s Eon Productions, the company behind the James Bond franchise, to develop a number of internationally targeted TV programs.
Red Arrow, a subsidiary of German broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1, holds a minority stake in the company and will distribute its projects internationally. Like Smuggler, Cove is based in London, New York and Los Angeles.
“We’re always very focused on really strong creative-led partnerships,” James Baker, managing director of Red Arrow UK & Global Scripted Strategy, told Variety.
Praising Rabbatts’ “fantastic reputation here in the U.K. and a really strong profile in the business,” Baker said the producer “came with some wonderful ideas and great stories, and for us that was very much an attractive opportunity to chat to her about what her ambitions were.”
Rabbatts, who had previously worked with Smuggler, said the idea for Cove Pictures developed from her partnership with Milling-Smith and Carmody and their interest in broadening out into drama and television with the talent they were associated with.
“Having formed a partnership with them, we wanted to ensure that we partnered with a really strong company in terms of international distribution,” she said. “What really struck me about Red Arrow, unlike some other companies in this field, is how they support the talent and how they let the companies within their remit breathe and ensure that they achieve their artistic and creative potential.”
Baker added that the companies were looking to engage “talent that all of the different partners in the group and all of the people involved come across. We’re aiming for Cove to become a fantastic place for talent to come — writing talent that isn’t necessarily the usual very small number of TV writers who you come across, but a broad and more eclectic mix of writers and directing talent, of artistic talent from other media other than television.”
Milling-Smith echoed the sentiment: “Cove Pictures is bringing together like-minded and creatively driven people who I have long wanted to collaborate with. This is a new and vibrant time in television and I feel bullish and excited by our partners and the prospects ahead.”
Among the major talents the company will work with are Broccoli and Wilson. Rabbatts has known Broccoli for a number of years, having served with her on the U.K. Film Council. Broccoli also co-produced Smuggler’s musical stage production of John Carney’s Oscar-winning romantic drama “Once.”
“Michael and I are thrilled to be developing an exciting slate of television programs with Cove Pictures,” Broccoli said.
Jan Frouman, chairman and CEO of Red Arrow Entertainment Group, added, “Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have been at the forefront of creating not just extraordinary movies, but also nurturing young talent in both film and theatre. Smuggler is also a hugely dynamic, creative and talent-driven company, and Cove Pictures will be a great opportunity to champion talent through a wealth of new TV projects.”