“Our plan was very much to be methodical, and we’re well ahead of where I expected,” says Mark Stern, president of IM Global Television. Actually, Stern and his assistant comprise the entire television division, although he expects to add a development executive once they have a series or two in production.
Having next to no staff might seem daunting, but Stern enjoys the entrepreneurial vibe and the support he gets from the rest of the company’s infrastructure. He says IM Global founder-CEO Stuart Ford’s focus on pursuing new challenges, entertaining new business approaches and diving right into projects perfectly complements today’s rapidly changing TV landscape.
“It’s an exciting time for television, and there’s great opportunity if you can be flexible and look for chances to take advantage of some of the new opportunities out there,” says Stern, noting there are probably 40 different buyers of scripted television right now, and most are hungry for quality content to stand out from the pack.
“I’m particularly excited about over-the-top streaming opportunities,” he says. “It’s not just Hulu, Amazon and Netflix. It’s Crackle. It’s Sony PlayStation — new places are getting into that business every day. I’d love to be working with a new platform and be its marquee show. Who knows what the next big thing will be?”
While concentrating on high-concept, straight-to-series shows and miniseries in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genre, Stern wants projects with international appeal.
He’s already put two spec scripts into development, optioned books and solicited — and commissioned — projects from some of the genre’s star players.
Stern says he’s having fun meeting with people, especially when they start discussing an idea only to come up with two or three additional ones.
“Every project has different requirements, and that’s been a little daunting because as a new company we’re setting up precedents and figuring out how we’re going to work competitively with people and against the other studios,” he says. “There’s no set way of doing things, and that’s where being part of a company like IM Global benefits us, because you can be nimble in how you work.”
Stern’s priority is producing quality television, whether it’s a big-budget period piece or a smaller-budget co-production.
He cites “Orphan Black” as an example of the type of show he wants to produce. “That’s not a hugely expensive show, or a big, broad action-adventure show, but it’s so well executed, so thought-provoking, so well acted. I want to build a slate of things that span the gamut from shows like that — very contained and producible for a certain budget, giving you creative freedom to really push the envelope because you’re not asking a broadcaster to plonk down a lot of money — to big, expansive shows that have action, adventure and a bigger budget.”
As for the future, Stern says, “My aspiration is that in our second year we’ll have at least one, hopefully two, series set up at networks and in production. Then we just continue what we’re doing now — filling out our development slate, connecting with high-level talent, and finding new projects to do.”
Producers: IM Global Television, Playtone, director/exec producer Antoine Fuqua, above
Set in 1970s New York, the drama series based on Ido Mizrahy and Geoffrey Gray’s documentary of the same name focuses on a corrupt police detective-turned-informant and the dangers of unchecked power.
“Den of Thieves”
Producer: Trigger Street Prods.
Key cast: Carla Gugino
A witty-but-edgy story about a master thief (Gugino) whose efforts to retire wind up dragging her into a feud between two dangerous gangsters.
Network: in active negotiations
Producers: Brad Yonover, exec producer; Sandi Love, producer
A sci-fi series based on Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical 1963 novel of the same name.
Exec producers: Ilene Kahn Power, Elizabeth Stanley
Adaptation of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s acclaimed, and extensive, sci-fi/fantasy book series, set on the planet Darkover.
Producers: Mark R. Harris, Julie Ruthenbeck, Susan Lee Smith
Six-part miniseries follows San Franciscans from all walks of life as they experience the historic 8.3 earthquake and cope with the fallout that changed the city.
Producers: Guy Busick, R. Christopher Murphy
Homage to 1970s horror pics follows a psychopath’s rampage in an unsuspecting town.
Producers: Mark Ordesky, Jane Fleming, executive producers; Sgt. Kathy Lacey, consulting producer
Crime procedural series is based on Sgt. Lacey’s real-life experiences as a vice cop in Anchorage, Alaska.
Producers: (IM Global Television is distributing for Muse Entertainment); Adam Kane, Michael Prupas, executive producers; Ari Eisner, writer and co-executive producer
This sci-fi tinged, character-driven investigative procedural is about a forensic team that uses technology to capture a murder victim’s final thoughts to solve crimes.