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The Weinstein Company, Seeking Hits, Shifts to TV


Watch out Emmys ... the master of movie awards Harvey Weinstein is heading to TV. Harvey, 61, and his brother Bob are launching a series of shows - and aim to make their TV arm just as powerful as their theatrical division.

The Weinstein Company, the firm the brothers set up eight years ago, is planning a 10-episode detective drama set in ancient Egypt called Book of the Dead, alongside 10 Commandments. The Weinsteins are already planning to hire A-list directors as far ranging as Lee Daniels, who recently helmed The Butler for The Weinstein Company, Madonna, Wes Craven and Ryan Cooglar, to direct episodes.

'Harvey is looking more and more at TV as a significant part of the future of the company and is hoping to replicate his film success in the TV world.' Last week, Harvey spoke out about his plans, and told the New York Times: 'The way to add stability to the company is to be in the television business,' adding his goal was to create a television operation “as powerful as the theatrical division.”

Asked whether some of his past and present Oscar contenders might lead to future television shows, Harvey said he saw potential, for instance, in “Silver Linings Playbook,” a comedy-drama which received eight Oscar nominations - and a best actress Oscar for Jennifer Lawrence.

Meanwhile, Bob Weinstein said he was developing projects in tune with Dimension brand, alongside shows based on movies he has overseen. He's now developing a pilot based on the 'Scream' series for MTV and proposed a series based on Stephen King's The Mist.

Mr. Weinstein said he was also hoping to quickly follow the August release of the film “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, with a “Sin City” television series from the same directors.

Other planned shows from The Weinstein Company are “Marco Polo,” a martial arts-filled adventure series from the executive producer John Fusco for Netflix; “War and Peace,” a 14-episode retelling of Tolstoy’s Napoleonic war novel in association with the BBC; “Stan and Ollie,” about the later days of the Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy comedy team, also for the BBC, and possible for sale in the States and an “Entourage”-like comic series, based loosely on the adventures of the celebrity chef Michael Chiarello.

The company has also acquired rights to “Peaky Blinders,” a British crime series, and “Gomorrah,” an Italian mob drama, both of which are being offered for sale in the United States, the New York Times reported.

Those scripted shows join reality shows including “Concrete Kings,” about the construction business, and “Rodeo Girls,” about female rodeo competitors, both for A&E; and “Under the Gunn” a spinoff of the company’s continuing “Project Runway” series on Lifetime

With Harvey's flare for showmanship and promotion, TV chiefs think the Weinstein Company's projects could be a success. Richard Plepler, chief executive of HBO, told the New York Times: 'Would I be surprised in the coming years if Harvey brought something to us that makes sense for HBO? Not in the least.'

The TV push is backed by money from a freshly negotiated $370 million in available lending from an arrangement with Union Bank. About $150 million of that is earmarked for television, The Weinstein Company's President David Glasser said.

Meanwhile, 10 Commandments, a co-production between The Weinstein Company and WGN is slated to start shooting in March. It's the most high profile production about Moses since the famous 1956 Cecil B.DeMille movie The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston.

That film remains one of the most popular ever made. Adjusted for inflation, it is the seventh highest grossing film of all time - the 1939 epic Gone With The Wind still tops the charts.

The series follows a recent trend in faith based television shows and films. The History Channel's mini series The Bible was a blockbuster hit earlier this year, with the first episode attracting 13.1 million viewers in March - the highest television cable audience in 2013 so far. A sequel is reportedly in production at NBC, according to Deadline.

Other faith-based projects currently in production include Exodus, the Ridley Scott movie which will see Christian Bale play Moses alongside Aaron Paul and Sigourney Weaver. Darren Aronofsky's epic film Noah, starring Russell Crowe in the title role, will also hit theaters next year.


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