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MipTV: Disney Media Distribution Talks Up Marvel, Shonda Rhimes, Marc Cherry Shows

DMD’s Mark Endemaño also screens scenes from as ‘killer mermaids’ thriller, and a refugee themed mystery thriller

CANNES —  More than anything else, the Disney Media Distribution showcase at the first MipTV Pre-L.A Screenings gave a tantalizing glimpse of mouth-watering series, though often no more, while suggested some bases of Hollywood’s studios’ continuing dominance of international TV markets, at least in the pay-TV and often SVOD arena.

Those factors cut various ways: Behemoth IPs, talent relations, and an increasing willingness to ring distribution options.

All were on display on Tuesday morning at MipTV, where Mark Endemaño, Disney Media Distribution SVP & general manager, EMEA – speaking with the ease of a man who knew he had something good on offer – unveiled current state of play on six shows Disney will be talking up with further details at the L.A. Screenings.

The six series form part of 20 comedies and drama pilots, including Disney’s Freeform shows with ABC, which Disney has at various stages of production, Endemaño said. The shows talked up by Endemaño were all drama pilots. Together they show Disney tapping into some of its success locomotives but bringing a larger edginess to other shows.

Here a rundown on the highlights:

An epic adventure series from Marvel, greenlit as an eight-episode order. “I promise you this is unlike anything before you’ve seen on TV,” Endemaño said. It turns on Black Bolt and the Royal Family, a race of superhuman with singular powers, first seen in Marvel comics in 1965 which seeded the Agents of Shield series. Co-produced by Marvel TV, Imax and ABC Studios and filmed on location in Hawaii, its first two episodes will premiere exclusively in the U.S, in IMAX theaters prior to its launch on ABC this September, when ABC will show additional content exclusive to ABC. DMD is looking to replicate that idea in international, premiering with IMAX and local broadcast partners, Endemaño said.

A co-production between Marvel Television and ABC Signature Studios made for Disney-ABC Television Group’s Freeform U.S. cable channel U.S., “Cloak & Dagger” weighs in as coming of age across-the-tracks romantic drama about two super-powered teenagers played by former Disney Channel star Olivia Holt (“Kickin’ It”) as Tandy Bowen (a.k.a. Dagger) and Aubrey Joseph (HBO’s “The Night Of”) as Tyrone Johnson (a.k.a. Cloak). “Cloak & Dagger” is about character and emotion, above all, a perfect show for our younger-skewing Freeform audience.

Disney’s series show it “working with proven show runners, excellent writers and great, great talent in front of and behind the camera,” Endemaño said. Few are more proven or Disney approved than Shonda Rhimes, whose “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How To Get Away with Murder” have all been renewed.  ABC has now a pilot for an one-hour legal drama from Shondaland, with Rhimes exec producing partnering with Betsy Beers and Paul Davies the lead writer.

A legal drama featuring six rookie lawyers in New York, both dense attorneys and prosecutors tackling one case each week, and handling the most high-profile. high stakes cases in the U.S.  “This show is exactly what ShondaLand does best: Taking really smart and of course sexy characters and putting them together in situations that will test them both personally and professionally,” Endemaño said. Tom Verica, “the go-to director on Shonda’s shows,” as Endemaño described him, will again direct.

Somewhat edgier, the ABC drama pilot, starring Sandrine Holt and from writers Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie (“Criminal Minds”) and producer Jason Reed, “The Crossing” has echoes of French series “The Returned” as hundreds of bodies of refugees are swept up on a beach outside a local village. But the war-torn country they’re fleeing from, or so they claim, is America 100 years in the future. A conspiracy-based mystery thriller. “We believe the show may just fill the gap left for ‘Lost,” enthusiasts, Endemaño said, showing storyboards from the opening sequences of the pilot. Steve Zahn plays the local sheriff, Rob Bowman (“The X Files”) directs. “It’s a character-driven piece in a world we know and these are characters we can connect with. This is a show we are convinced international audiences will love,” Endemaño said.

Kentucky Noir, and catnip for international audiences now as keen tho watch Scandinavian as U.S. crime thrillers in some cases. The “Desperate Housewives” creator leaves Wisteria Lane for the fictional town of Oxford in Kentucky where a violent incident at the top of the show changes life there forever. Directed by Mike Loffer who directed the pilot for How to Get Away With Murder. Reba McEntire play the town’s sheriff, who is forced to team with FBI agent ‘Tag’ (Saamer Usmani). “The sheriff introduces Tag to an arrangement of assorted character, each with a secret of their own as the greater mystery unfolds,” said Endemaño, adding that the show “bares all the hallmarks of Mark’s work. Great characters, dark humor, and intense mystery.”

“Don’t mess with mermaids,” Endemaño advised an MipTV audience. Shooting in Vancouver, and screwed in a short scene assembly at MipTV, “Into the Deep” suggests why. A one-hour set at a coastal town known for its legends of of mermaids, it kicks off with the arrival of a mysterious girl, sparks a battle to the death between man and mermaid, as the latter fight to reclaim the ocean. “Into the Deep” is again for younger audiences at Freeform which, since rebranding from ABC Family, is taking Disney-ABC into more adventurous slightly older teen fare.

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