EXCLUSIVE: In his first foray into television, Baz Luhrmann, writer-director-producer of such movies as Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!, has signed a rich two-year deal with Sony Pictures TV. Under the pact, he will develop broadcast and cable projects through his company Bazmark Films. The company has offices in New York, Luhrmann’s native Australia and Los Angeles, with New York expected to be the main hub for TV operations. Luhrmann will work with Buzmark co-founder Catherine Martin, his creative and producing partner, long-time production/costume designer and wife; as well as Anton Monsted, general manager of Bazmark and a producer on Luhrmann’s projects. Luhrmann sees his role as “the creative director, encouraging others” to think outside the box and bring in fresh ideas. He also has a few TV ideas of his own, which he is ready to tackle right away.
Luhrmann’s formal entry into television comes after “years of exploration” what kind of TV presence would make sense for him. “I make films very infrequently and yet I have so many ideas and stories to explore,” he said. Television always had made a lot of sense as a venue for those stories. “The idea that I can be creative in between films is energizing and exiting,” Luhrmann said. Having just turned 50 last week, he decided to go for it, and believes this is the perfect time to be in TV. “Television at the moment has such great freedom, giving writers the ability to explore any idea and to have maximum amount of freedom to do that,” he said.
Luhrmann already has a relationship with Sony on the film side but decided to pact with Sony TV after meeting programming presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg. Luhrmann said he liked the fact that Sony TV is open to any form of television — series, long-form, broadcast, cable, scripted and unscripted — and that, as an independent, it can cell to any network. He also was attracted to Sony’s “out of the box” thinking that has resulted in such distinct series as AMC’s Breaking Bad.
This marks a second medium transition for Luhrmann, who started off as a playwright before segueing into movies with a feature version of his play Strictly Ballroom. It put into motion the beginning of the successful Red Curtain Trilogy, which includes Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!
WME-repped Luhrmann is now editing his latest film The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which opens in May. Luhrmann works painstakingly on each of his movies, spending years to develop a script, then workshopping it with actors until he finds the rights cast. He also is heavily involved in the soundtrack of his films.