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FremantleMedia Buys ‘Young Pope’ Producer Wildside

'The Young Pope' stars Jude Law, above, and Diane Keaton

LONDON — Global production and distribution giant FremantleMedia has acquired Wildside, a leading Italian television and film production company. Wildside is producing Paolo Sorrentino’s TV drama “The Young Pope,” which stars Jude Law and Diane Keaton.

Under the deal, FremantleMedia will have a 62.5% holding with the opportunity to acquire the remaining shareholding in the future.

Based in Rome, the company was founded in 2009 by producers Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani, and script writers and directors Marco Martani, Fausto Brizzi and Saverio Costanzo, following the merger of Wilder and Offside production companies.

Recent TV productions include the Italian version of “In Treatment” and “1992,” both commissioned by pay TV operator Sky. Movies include “Hungry Hearts,” directed by Saverio Costanzo and starring up-and-coming talent Adam Driver, who was recently cast in “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens,” the 2014 European Film Award best comedy winner “The Mafia Kills Only in Summer,” directed by Pif, “Me and You,” directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, and “The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” which competed for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2010.

FremantleMedia Intl., FremantleMedia’s sales arm, is distributing “The Young Pope,” which has been commissioned by Sky, HBO and Canal Plus, in the non-partner territories, which include the U.K., Germany, Italy, France and the U.S.

Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of FremantleMedia, commented: “This is a key strategic acquisition for FremantleMedia as we continue to strengthen our primetime scripted presence. Wildside is fast becoming one of Europe’s most sought after drama producers and will complement our existing primetime drama businesses in the U.S., Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Australia and the U.K. The team have an impressive track record of attracting world-class creative talent and delivering award-winning drama, so I’m really excited that they are joining our family of production companies.”

FremantleMedia is part of RTL Group, Europe’s top television network, which is in turn 75.1% owned by the international media company Bertelsmann. FremantleMedia has traditionally been strongest in game-shows and talent shows, such as “Idols,” “Got Talent” and “The X Factor,” but in recent years it has invested heavily in scripted content. Frot-Coutaz would like to increase the share of revenue coming from scripted shows from 30% to 50%.

Its drama production subsidiaries include Germany’s UFA, which produced “Deutschland 83,” and Denmark’s Miso Film, which produced “1864.” Its U.S. production arm, FremantleMedia North America, is producing zombie thriller “The Returned” for A&E, and the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s urban fantasy novel “American Gods.”

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