ROME – Groundbreaking Abu Dhabi-set legal drama “Justice,” inspired by “L.A. Law” and written by Emmy Award-winning U.S. producer and writer William Finkelstein in collaboration with a local team, is set for a shot at global exposure.
IM Global Television has taken worldwide distribution rights to the Arabic TV series which is the first legal procedural out of the Middle East and the biggest TV show out of the United Arab Emirates.
“Justice” is financed by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, which is run by U.S. exec Michael Garin. It’s produced in tandem with Walter Parkes, whose L.A.-based Parkes/MacDonald Productions has a partnership with Image Nation. Another American, former HBO Europe drama chief Marc Lorber, served as showrunner. Dubai-based Beeline Media was the on-the-ground producer.
The show revolves around a strong female character named Farah, a Western-educated lawyer, played by Emirati actress Fatima Al Taei (pictured). Upon returning home to Abu Dhabi, Farah goes against her family’s expectations that she will join her father’s law firm and instead strikes out on her own as a defense attorney. The storylines are based on real Sharia, or Quranic law, cases from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, which partnered on the production for authenticity.
The 20 one-hour episodes are directed by young Egyptian helmer Ahmed Khaled, who made a splash with “Doors of Fear,” considered the first TV horror series in the Arab world. Writer Finkelstein’s credits include “L.A. Law.”
“Justice” was not conceived solely as a so-called “Ramadan drama,” the popular Arab TV dramas and soaps aired during Ramadan, a period when local TV consumption soars. It has broader ambitions on a similar scale to the Turkish TV shows that have become a global force. It could become the Arab world’s first international TV export and is the first international skein being sold by IM Global’s TV unit.
“As the first of many international scripted co-productions for IM Global Television Distribution, we are honored to work with Image Nation and Beelink Media in delivering ‘Justice’ to the global market,” said Eli Shibley, IM Global Television President of International Distribution and Co-Productions, in a statement. He went on to praise “the unparalleled production value and contemporary storytelling of the series,” calling them “a true testament to the seamless creative collaboration between top level local talent and talented U.S. creatives.”
According to the statement, talks are already underway “with multiple regional and international channels and platforms interested in securing the rights.” They are looking to close international deals on “Justice” at the NATPE Miami confab, which is currently underway.
IM Global Television, which was set up in 2015, is a division of Tang Media Partners-owned IM Global and a joint venture between IM Global, TMP, and Asian internet giant Tencent.
Image Nation Abu Dhabi has a slate that combines Emirati feature films and Hollywood movies through its partnerships with Parkes/Macdonald Productions, among other companies. Their previous collaborations with IM Global as an international distributor include upcoming Tom Hanks-starrer “The Circle,” directed by James Ponsoldt, and Emirati director Ali Mostafa’s dystopian thriller “The Worthy.”