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Topic Studios Inks First-Look Deal With Mermade, Digital Arm of Sharon Horgan’s Merman

First Look Media’s Topic Studios and Mermade, the new digital-focused division of Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford’s Merman production company, announced a first-look pact to develop and produce premium short-form content.

Topic Studios and Mermade plan to collaborate on scripted and non-scripted series, working with both established and emerging filmmakers and talent. It’s the first content partnership for the Mermade. Lisa Leingang, Topic Studios senior VP of programming and content, will oversee the project for Topic.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with such a well-respected brand in the industry in their new venture,” said Michael Bloom, CEO of First Look Media, in announcing the pact. “Mermade is a perfect partner to help enhance our studio’s commitment to short-form content, an area we continue to be extremely bullish about.”

Kira Carstensen, global managing partner of Mermade, commented, “There isn’t a better production partner for Mermade than Topic Studios. They share our company’s values and the dedication to producing smart, conversation-starting content that is reflective of our times.”

Topic is the entertainment studio and storytelling brand from First Look Media, which produces scripted and unscripted films (including Oscar-winner “Spotlight”), TV, digital and audio.

Last year, Topic Studios commissioned short-form comedy series “aka Wyatt Cenac,” written by and starring the comedian. It debuted on First Look Media’s Topic.com and was nominated for a 2018 Emmy Award for in the short-form comedy/drama series category.

Topic Studios’ current TV projects in development include: “States of America” from writer Tom King and producer Playground Entertainment; dramatic series “Atomic Bazaar,” about the underground world of nuclear trafficking with Pulse Films and written by Greg Burke; “Hunger,” a thriller written about the dangerous business of the global food industry written by Alex Garcia Lopez; “Gold Fame Citrus,” a dystopian thriller written by Jack Paglen; and “The Apothecary,” based on the bestselling YA trilogy by Maile Meloy, written by Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett. Topic Studios also co-financed Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace” and political documentary “Dark Money” from director Kimberly Reed, both currently in theaters.

Merman produces comedy for networks in the U.K. and U.S., including four seasons of “Catastrophe” for Channel 4 and Amazon, “Motherland” for BBC, and “Divorce” for HBO. Upcoming series from the company include “Women on the Verge” for UKTV and “There She Goes” for BBC. Merman announced a first-look deal with Amazon Studios earlier this year and is in development on a new half-hour comedy series for Amazon created by Sharon Horgan, John Hamburg and Ian Helfer, set to star Horgan and Billy Magnussen.

The new Mermade arm, announced last week, is led by global managing partners Jeremy Rainbird and Kira Carstensen, who are joined by Rene Rechtman and Dan’l Hewitt — who recently exited Disney’s exit at Maker Studios — as non-executive directors. Mermade U.K. managing director Joshua Buckingham joined the company from his commissioning role at Channel 4 and All 4. The L.A. office will be run by Carstensen and Melanie Donkers, recently appointed development director USA, who joined the Mermade USA team from Pulse Films and Fullscreen.

Pictured above (l. to r.): Mermade’s Jeremy Rainbird, Kira Carstensen, Sharon Horgan, Clelia Mountford

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