×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mip TV: Tandem, BBC, Cochran Team for Crusade Epic ‘Lionhearts’ (EXCLUSIVE)

TV drama portrays Richard the Lionheart’s legendary crusade confrontation with Muslim warlord Saladin

CANNES – Shaping up as one of the big event TV series to come out of Europe as it ramps up ever more ambitious TV fiction, Rola Bauer’s Germany-based Tandem Productions (“Pillars of the Earth”), a Studiocanal company, is said to be developing epic TV drama “Lionshearts: The Crusade,” linking with the BBC and “24’s” Robert Cochran.

Helmer of the 2008’s first “Taken,” which gave Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp its biggest movie franchise ever, France’s Pierre Morel (“Taken”) is believed to have committed to direct the first two episodes.

Producer and co-creator of Fox’s “24,” Cochran is attached to “Lionshearts,” which turns on the most famous crusade of all, the Third Crusade of 1191-92. English-language and almost certainly a big epic BBC primetime series,

“Lionhearts: The Crusade” looks a firm candidate for a U.S. deal of some sorts. As Tandem prexy Bauer pointed out last month, made over the last 15 years, all Tandem series have clinched U.S. sales. “Lionhearts: The Crusade” comes with the marketing punch, moreover, of a BBC broadcast.

Set in plural, buzz at Mip TV suggests drama’s title refers not only to the most celebrated crusader of all, English King Richard the Lionheart but also Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria. A great military leader, like Richard, it was Saladin defeated the Crusaders four year’s before Richard I’s arrival in the Holy Land. It was Saladin who stood between Richard and his life ambition of leading the conquest of Jerusalem.

Though most likely targeting far broader demos, “Lionhearts” plays to BBC’s brand reputation and audience for historical fiction, seen in its “The Hollow Crown” series of TV films featuring Shakespeare’s history plays, and “Wolf Hall,” which punched record ratings on BBC 2.

A Tandem spokesperson declined to comment on the series. Given its subject, however, Lionhearts” is in line with the kind of historical high-end dramas that have served Tandem so well, such as 2010’s “The Pillars of the Earth,” which ends in historical terms about 25 years before the Third Crusade, and the two-centuries later “World Without End,” the 2012 eight-part limited series. Both were Ken Follet adaptations co-produced with Scott Free TV.

Consolidating Tandem’s standing as one of continental Europe’s premier English-language TV drama producers, the historical series coincided with Studiocanal’s purchase of a majority stake in Tandem in 2012.

Reflecting Bauer’s custom of tying in key broadcast networks partners for co-development on dramas, “Lionhearts: The Crusade” is the first Tandem project to come to light after Studiocanal and Tandem announced in early March that Studiocanal would be launching a TV sales operation, headed by former Shine Intl. sales SVP Katrina Nylon. Move relieves Bauer of international distribution duties at Tandem, freeing her up to focus on development and production.

“We would like Tandem to produce even more and reinforce its development capacity on international TV series, Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson said in March, underscoring Studiocanal and Tandem’s aim of ramping up their “number of really international TV productions.”

With Studiocanal, Tandem has moved into producing recurring one-hour dramas, such as Euro crime series “Crossing Lines,” now in its third season, which is exec produced by Bauer and “The X Filmes” scribe Frank Spotnitz, plus English-language crime drama “Spotless,” co-created for France’s feevee giant Canal Plus by Ed McCardie (the U.K. version of “Shameless”) and Corinne Marrinan (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”).

Actors Elisabeth Mitchell and Goran Visjnic, the new co-leads of “Crossing Lines,” will be at Mip TV Monday to present the series’ third season. This went into production late Feb. in Prague and will be ready for delivery last quarter 2015. The first Canal Plus Original Programming series to be produced by Tandem – and indeed Studiocanal – “Spotless” has bowed to critical praise on giant French paybox Canal Plus, Le Figaro calling it “a perfect blend of family drama and black comedy.”

More TV

  • Khloe KardashianKhloe Kardashian, Emma Grede and

    Khloé Kardashian Could Be Next 'Bachelorette,' Says Show Creator Mike Fleiss

    The time has come to choose a new Bachelorette, and “The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss has hinted that Khloe Kardashian may be in the mix. “I have already been in contact with my dear friend @KrisJenner about @khloekardashian as #TheBachelorette,” he tweeted Friday, after tweeting Thursday that “any decision regarding @khloekardashian as the new #TheBachelorette [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Whiskey Tango Cavalier

    TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier'

    The crux of “Whiskey Cavalier” can be found right in its protagonist’s name. “Will Chase” is a purposefully ridiculous wink of a name that tries to be both debonair and very silly all at once, just like the FBI agent (played by Scott Foley) to which it belongs. This isn’t a regular spy drama, “Whiskey [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content