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Condé Nast Entertainment Shifting to Publication-Based Studio Structure for TV, Film Projects

Condé Nast Entertainment is upping its TV and film ambitions, announcing the formation of multiple “studios” dedicated to its major publishing brands.

The New York-based media and publishing company is launching studios initially for five magazine titles: The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Wired and GQ. With the move, CNE plans to hire a studio head at each title who will work alongside the editorial teams — with the goal of better identifying and developing projects for film, TV and podcasts.

Condé Nast Entertainment president Oren Katzeff will collaborate with the editors-in-chief of the respective mags to recruit studio heads, who will in turn work with CNE’s existing L.A.-based film and TV team including SVP of motion pictures Geneva Wasserman and SVP of scripted programming Jon Koa.

Whalerock and WME advised CNE on the framework for the brand studios and both “will continue to work collaboratively with the brands on the execution,” Condé Nast said.

Along with the new studios structure, CNE announced new projects and updates for its TV and film slate, including the theatrical release date of the renamed film “City of a Million Soldiers” (formerly called “Mosul”) based on a New Yorker piece; a film based on a Wired article being developed with Sam Esmail’s Esmail Corp.; and “The Chairmen,” a film based on a Vanity Fair article about the true story of rival antique dealers in Paris.

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Here are projects in various stages of development at Condé Nast Entertainment’s studios:

The New Yorker Studio

  • “City of a Million Soldiers” (pictured above) will have its theatrical premiere on June 12, 2020. The film is based on the 2017 New Yorker article by Luke Mogelson about the Nineveh SWAT team, an elite police squad of Iraqi soldiers fighting ISIS. After premiering at the Venice International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival under its previous title “Mosul,” the film was acquired by 101 Studios. After inexperienced Iraqi cop Kawa (Adam Bessa) is rescued from a harrowing firefight by the Ninevah SWAT team, he’s inducted into the rogue squadron, a band of 10 brothers-in-arms led by Major Jasem (Suhail Dabbach). The film is written and directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan and produced by Anthony and Joe Russo, Mike Larocca and Mohammed Al-Daradji.
  • “Spiderhead,” which was picked up by Netflix, is based on George Saunders’ 2010 fictional story set in the near future, when convicts are offered the chance to volunteer as medical subjects in the hopes of shortening their sentences. Director Joseph Kosinski and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are attached to the project.

Vogue Studio
“Untitled Fashion Project” is a series of documentaries in development that will feature “iconic designers, their tumultuous rise and the everlasting impact they’ve made on the fashion industry.”

Vanity Fair Studio

  • “Gilded Rage,” a film based on the 2015 Vanity Fair article by Benjamin Wallace about the murder of Manhattan hedge fund magnate Thomas Gilbert Sr. by his son Tommy. Produced by Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker under their banner Nine Stories, “Gilded Rage” will begin production in 2020 with actors Christoph Waltz, Lily Collins and Bill Skarsgard attached.
  • “The Chairmen,” a film based on the 2018 Vanity Fair article by Eric Konigsberg about the true story of rival antique dealers in Paris, where mentee Charles Hooreman blows the whistle on his mentor, Bill G. B. Pallot, when he discovers Pallot is manufacturing fake antique furniture. The story has been optioned and is in development.

Wired Studio

  • “Tell Tale Heart,” a film based on the 2019 Wired article by Lauren Smiley about Karen Navarra’s brutal murder and the unlikely role her Fibit played in solving the crime. The film is being developed with Sam Esmail’s Esmail Corp (“Mr. Robot”). Smiley will be a producer on the project.
  • “King of the Jungle,” a dark comedy based on the 2012 Wired article by Joshua Davis about tech magnate John McAfee, creator of the McAfee antivirus software, who cashed in his fortune and moved to the jungles of Belize. Produced with MadRiver Pictures, the film will head into production in 2020 with Zac Efron tapped to play the Wired journalist.
  • “The Untitled Backpage.com Project,” a scripted series based on the 2019 Wired article by Christine Biederman about Backpage.com’s battle with the U.S. government and how its fate could shape the future of Silicon Valley. Anthony Ragnone is adapting the script and Lady Moon Entertainment’s Bryan O’Connell is attached as an executive producer.

GQ Studio

  • “American Alien” (working title; formerly known as “The Great High School Imposter”) is inspired by the 2018 GQ article by Daniel Riley about the true story of a bright Ukrainian kid who peeled five years off his age so he could be adopted by a childless couple in a small Pennsylvania town, all to stay in the country after a short stint in a work exchange program. Writer Mike Makowsky has been tapped for the adaptation. The film project is in development in partnership with producer Jonathan King and Participant Media, with Riley serving as a consultant. (Ansel Elgort had been attached to star in the movie, but his involvement “is not confirmed at this time,” a Participant rep said.)
  • “Murder Creek” is a film based on a 2019 GQ article by Zach Baron about the true story of a man who was killed in Malibu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains while camping with his daughters. As the tragedy played out in public, a family picked up the pieces after a seemingly random act of violence. The story has been optioned and is in development.

CNE currently has more than 65 active projects in film and TV as well as some 175 digital pilots and two OTT channels (for Bon Appétit and Wired).

Past Condé Nast Entertainment productions include “The Old Man & The Gun,” for which Robert Redford earned a Golden Globe nomination; “Only the Brave,” about a crew of firefighters battling Arizona’s Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013; and for Netflix, unscripted series “Fastest Car” and Emmy-nominated “Last Chance U,” about the junior college football program at Kansas’ Independence Community College.

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