TWC launches international TV unit

Studio adds to slate with 'Order' adaptation

The Weinstein Co. is launching an international TV distribution division, with an adaptation of W.E.B Griffin’s bestselling, post-9/11 espionage thriller “By Order of the President” atop its slate.

The Weinsteins are in negotiations to cast the lead roles of the U.S. prez and Army major Carlos Castillo, who becomes the president’s intelligence special agent.

“By Order of the President” likely will be made up of three or four 90-minute episodes, following the same format as the critically lauded Brit police procedural “Prime Suspect.” Budget will be in the region of $10 million for each episode, with lensing expected to begin by this fall.

The Weinstein Co.’s new TV unit makes its debut appearance at this week’s MipTV confab in Cannes, where it will handle worldwide sales outside the U.S. and U.K. for its forthcoming BBC-HBO skein “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.”

Harvey Weinstein will attend the TV market for the first time, following the London memorial for Anthony Minghella.

Minghella helmed the feature-length pilot episode of “Ladies Detective Agency,” which drew 6.3 million viewers during its Easter Sunday preem in the U.K. He and co-scribe Richard Curtis were the key drivers of the project.

“Anthony was a good friend and it’s been a very difficult time,” Harvey Weinstein told Variety. “What’s going to happen next is that Richard Curtis will now be supervising the show. It’s important for us to look after Anthony’s family so his piece of the show will remain intact for them.”

Lensing on the 13-episode skein is likely to start in the summer, with a number of helmers each tackling a couple of episodes.

Other TV projects TWC will bring to market are three animated titles from Jim Henson’s “Unstable Fables,” 3-D animated feature-length special “The Blue Elephant,” about a Thai elephant who is groomed to be a warrior but wants to be a peaceful creature, and “Wanted and Desired,” the documentary about Roman Polanski.

Company also will be selling TV rights on titles from its film catalog, including Jet Li starrer “The Enforcer” and Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader,” starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.

While Fremantle handles international sales for The Weinstein Co.-produced reality skein “Project Runway,” the deal between TWC and Fremantle runs out next year, and the new Weinstein unit may handle future worldwide sales on the show.

“We want to do in the TV business what we’ve done in the movie business,” Weinstein said. “We’re going to work on projects that are economically profitable but also let us do what we want to do.”

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