At age 88, Robert Halmi Sr is starting anew. The Emmy-winning producer of TV movies and mini-series is leaving RHI Entertainment, Inc., the company he founded 33 years ago with his son Robert Halmi Jr as Robert Halmi Inc. Since then, the company’s productions have won more than 100 Emmys and built a library of more than 1,000 titles. But it’s been a bumpy road for the last few years. The Halmis sold their company to Hallmark in 1994 and bought it back in 2006, but took on too much debt and eventually declared bankruptcy. Additionally, the broad, big-event movies and miniseries that were at the core of Halmis’ business went out of fashion at the major networks. Eventually, after emerging from court protection in March 2011, Halmi Jr left and Halmi Sr inked a long-term deal. Now, Halmi Sr is leaving too. The Hungarian immigrant plans to launching a NY-based production venture to continue “to do what I always loved the most.” Meanwhile, RHI chairmain Gabriel de Alba indicates that the company is exploring a move into new formats. Here is the release:
NEW YORK, February 3, 2012– Robert Halmi, Sr., one of television’s great global impresarios, is leaving RHI Entertainment, Inc., the company he founded. The announcement was made by Gabriel de Alba, Chairman of the Board of Directors, RHI Entertainment, Inc.
Halmi, who has produced more than 200 television movies and miniseries, and won over 100 Emmy Awards, will launch a new, independent production company based in New York. RHI and Halmi will collaborate on a number of development projects Halmi initiated while at RHI.
“As our new management team re-focuses our production strategy, we intend to broaden our portfolio to include television series and other formats that have not traditionally been central to RHI’s business model,” said de Alba. “This new agreement is ideal for both parties. It ensures that our working relationship with Robert continues and that we can benefit from his singular creative vision, even as the company grows into new areas.”
“I am extremely excited about what the future has in store, having just celebrated my 88th birthday,” commented Halmi. “I became a producer so that I could follow my passion and create great programming that captivates and enchants audiences. This arrangement allows me the creative freedom to focus exclusively on what has inspired me from the beginning. I am thrilled to be able to continue to do what I have always loved the most.”
Halmi’s award-winning credits include The Josephine Baker Story, Gypsy, Arabian Nights, Cleopatra, Dinotopia, Dreamkeeper, Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment, Don Quixote, In Cold Blood, Merlin, Moby Dick, Noah’s Ark, The Odyssey, Gulliver’s Travels, Alice in Wonderland, Animal Farm, The Lion in Winter, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The 10 Commandments and Human Trafficking.
Most recent projects include the four-hour mini-series Neverland, a prequel to Peter Pan starring Rhys Ifans, Anna Friel, Charlie Rowe, Bob Hoskins and the voice of Keira Knightley, for Sky Movies HD and SyFy. Recent successes include Tin Man, a six-hour miniseries for SCI FI Channel. Tin Man garnered nine Emmy® nominations, was the most watched program in the history of that network and the highest-rated miniseries on all of television for 2007. Alice, a modern day spin on the classic stories by Lewis Carroll, starring Kathy Bates and Tim Curry, aired on SyFy in 2009. The Last Templar, a four-hour event miniseries for NBC Television starring Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, Victor Garber, Scott Foley and Omar Sharif debuted on NBC in January, 2009. Upcoming projects include the miniseries Treasure Island, starring Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland, for Sky One and Syfy.
The Hungarian-born Halmi was active in the anti-Nazi underground in World War II, and later was arrested by the Communists when they took over the country. He came to the U.S. in 1950 and worked for many years as an award-winning photographer for Life Magazine before moving into film and television production. In 1994, Halmi sold his company, RHI Entertainment, Inc., to Hallmark Cards and, in January 2006, Halmi, Sr., together with his son, Robert Halmi, Jr., acquired Hallmark Entertainment from Hallmark Cards and re-launched the company as RHI Entertainment, LLC., Inc.