EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is partnering with Munich-based producer and distributor of event series Tandem Communications, a Studiocanal company, with a co-venture agreement to develop and produce one-hour drama series. The first series in development under the pact is crime drama Sex, Lies And Handwriting. The project, which Lionsgate and Tandem will co-produce with Lionsgate’s Canadian joint venture partner Sea To Sky Entertainment, is intended to follow the straight-to-series model Tandem employed for its first drama series, Crossing Lines. While pursuing straight-to-series projects as international co-productions would be an important part of the new co-venture’s business, the partners also are expected to tweak some aspects of Tandem’s existing approach. For instance, Tandem, producer of The Pillars Of The Earth and its follow-up World Without End, finances its drama and event series (mostly though international pre-sales) and completes the projects before taking the finished product to the U.S., most recently selling Crossing Lines to NBC. Drawing on Lionsgate’s strengths and U.S. relationships, the co-venture is expected to bring in an American network earlier in the process for more simultaneous sales in the U.S., Europe and possibly Canada as is the plan for Sex, Lies And Handwriting because of Sea To Sky’s involvement. Lionsgate and Tandem also may explore doing projects through the traditional U.S. development process that goes through a pilot stage.
Inspired by Michelle Dresbold’s book of the same title, Sex, Lies And Handwriting is a witty take on the crime series that follows the exploits of Leslie Bold, an accomplished artist and handwriting expert — with her own newspaper column on the subject — who is unexpectedly drawn into the world of crime-solving because of her extraordinary skills. Annie Brunner (Saving Grace) will write the script and co-executive produce the series, with fellow Saving Grace alum Nancy Miller onboard as executive producer and showrunner. Jeff Sagansky, Sunta Izaccupa and Chris Barrett also executive produce. “Tandem has had great success with international co-productions and we’re delighted to be in business with them, our partners at Sea to Sky and the exceptional creative and producing team assembled for Sex, Lies And Handwriting, a series we believe has the potential to attract a broad audience around the world,” said Lionsgate TV Group president Kevin Beggs. Added Rola Bauer, president/partner Tandem Communications, “Sex, Lies And Handwriting, with its irresistible lead character, is the perfect series to start this collaboration with Lionsgate. Both companies stand for quality television productions, so we are excited to combine strengths.” This marks one of the first major partnerships for Tandem since Studiocanal acquired a majority stake in the company last year. Parent companies Lionsgate and Studiocanal already have a business relationship through a library distribution deal for their titles.