×
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

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Agencies' Antitrust Suit Against Writers Guild Set for January Hearing

    The antitrust suit filed by Hollywood’s major agencies against the Writers Guild of America has been set for a Jan. 17 hearing. U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte issued the calendar update this week on the litigation, filed on Sept. 27 by CAA, UTA and WME after the agencies consolidated their individual agency suits. The [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG Awards

    Gabrielle Carteris Preps for 26th Annual SAG Awards

    SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is already looking forward to the 26th SAG Awards on Jan. 19, held in its usual location at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. “One of the best things about the SAG Awards is that it’s a peer-to-peer recognition,” she says. “It’s the highest honor for performers to be recognized by [...]

  • GoliathSeason 3CR: Greg Lewis/Amazon Studios

    'Goliath’ Renewed for Fourth and Final Season at Amazon

    Amazon has renewed gritty legal drama “Goliath” for a fourth and final season. The series centers on washed-up lawyer Billy McBride, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who seeks redemption after a client he successfully defended from a murder charge went on to slaughter a family. Thornton won a Golden Globe for his performance in 2017. [...]

  • Jon Favreau'The Mandalorian' TV show premiere,

    Jon Favreau Already Has a Star Picked for His 'Star Wars' Holiday Special

    The “Star Wars” franchise is no stranger to the strange and odd. But the wildest of all the offerings from the galaxy far, far away is the bizarre (but beautiful) “Star Wars Holiday Special.” And Jon Favreau is ready to resurrect it. The TV special celebrating the Wookiee holiday “Light Day” aired on CBS in [...]

  • Justin Marks FX

    'The Jungle Book' Writer Justin Marks Inks Overall Deal With FX Productions

    “Counterpart” creator and showrunner and “The Jungle Book” scribe Justin Marks has signed an overall deal to create new content for FX Productions. “Justin is a true creative talent and we feel fortunate to be his partners in supporting his vision of bold and ambitious storytelling,” said FX Entertainment original programming president Gina Balian. Marks, [...]

  • Tye Sheridan

    Tye Sheridan Starring in Survival Thriller 'Wireless' From Steven Soderbergh for Quibi

    Quibi has ordered another show with notable Hollywood talent attached: scripted series “Wireless” starring Tye Sheridan with Steven Soderbergh on board as executive producer. In the made-for-mobile-screens thriller, a smartphone has a central role. Sheridan (“Ready Player One,” “X-Men: Apocalypse”) plays a self-obsessed college student who is stranded in the Colorado mountains after he crashes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content