A&E backs Christie in 8-pic, 2-year deal

Granada nabs exclusive worldwide TV, video rights

LONDON — A&E will co-produce eight Agatha Christie crime stories with Granada and Agatha Christie Ltd., a division of U.K. rights holder Chorion.

Caroline Torrance, Granada Intl. head of international drama programming, and Michele Buck, drama controller of London Weekend Television, ITV’s weekend TV franchise in the capital, brokered the deal.

First four stories will star David Suchet as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot; they include “Death on the Nile” plus previously announced Christie murder mysteries “Five Little Pigs,” “The Hollow” and “Sad Cypress.” Four more Christie stories will be produced in the second year of the deal.

Lensing will start in July on “Five Little Pigs,” with casting details to be announced shortly.

Granada Intl. will hold worldwide distribution rights excluding the U.S. to the television adaptations produced by LWT’s drama department, part of Granada, over the next four years. Granada Intl. will be sole distrib until 2010.

Deal gives Granada exclusive worldwide TV and video rights to at least 17 Christie TV movies to be produced in the U.K. over the next four years. It also includes a contemporary version of “Sparkling Cyanide,” produced by Company Pictures, skedded to air later this year on commercial web ITV1.

Granada has a longstanding relationship with A&E, having co-produced highly acclaimed dramas such as “Longitude,” starring Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon; “Dash & Lilly,” with Judy Davis and Sam Shepard; and “The Cash Carter Murder Mysteries,” starring Gene Wilder.