EXCLUSIVE: Heyday Television — Harry Potter and Gravity producer David Heyman’s joint venture with NBCUniversal International Studios — has acquired the rights to Karen Blixen’s classic memoir, Out of Africa, to develop as a drama TV series.

David Heyman
Heyday Films

Emmy-winning The Night Manager director/executive producer Susanne Bier set to direct and executive produce the series, which is based on Blixen’s book and expands upon the world created in Sydney Pollack’s 1985 epic romantic drama feature adaptation for Universal Pictures, which starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and won seven Academy Awards, including best picture.

Out of Africa recounts the seventeen years that Blixen spent in the Ngong Hills of Kenya during the last decades of the British Empire as she searched to find her role and voice in a changing world.

“‘I had a farm in Africa’ is Blixen’s most famous line: she was a survivor, unpredictable and nonconformist, and a determined explorer,” said Heyman. “The long-form series offers us the chance to explore not only Karen’s world, but also the perspective of the Kenyans she encounters.”

This has been a passion project for Bier who said that Blixen “has always fascinated me.”

Susanne Bier

“Karen Blixen defied the male-dominated world at every turn,” Bier said. “Despite heavy resistance, she single-handedly ran her farm in Africa. She felt a greater kinship with the indigenous Kenyan population than any of her class peers. She both found and lost the love for which she had always longed. This opportunity to engage with her enduring legacy is a great challenge and even greater privilege.”

Said Michael Edelstein, President, NBCUniversal International Studios, of Heyman and Bier teeming for the Out of Africa retelling, “We know they will bring tremendous passion and humanity to this iconic story and look forward to seeing how they expand the narrative into a long running dramatic series.”

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Heyman and Nancy Cotton will serve as executive producers under Heyday Television, which was launched in 2015. In addition to the blockbuster Harry Potter franchise and Gravity, under his Heyday Films banner, Heyman also has produced such movies as the Paddington franchise, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Heyday TV is repped by UTA, Bloom Hergott, and Wiggin.

Bier recently directed and executive produced the praised miniseries The Night Manager, which earned her a directing Emmy Award and best limited series Emmy nomination. She is repped by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols.

Based in London, NBCUniversal International Studios recently partnered with RTL and TF1 for procedural drama series Gone starring Chris Noth. The company’s labels include Carnival Films (Downton Abbey), Monkey (Bravo’s Newlyweds), Chocolate Media (Resorting Britain’s Landmarks), Lucky Giant (BBC Two’s Quacks), and Australian-based Matchbox Pictures (The Nowhere Boys).