EXCLUSIVE: In its first original scripted series, Cinedigm is embracing its close ties with China by telling the story of Emily “Mickey” Hahn. The noted feminist and adventurer helped introduce Shanghai and greater China to U.S. readers in the 1930s through her articles in the New Yorker magazine.
The project is the first about Hahn’s life and the first major green-light for Cinedigm since it was recapitalized by Hong Kong investment firm Bison Capital Holdings in mid-2017. Mark Yellen Productions and Rosenbloom Entertainment are teaming with Cinedigm on the series. The exact distribution road map has yet to be fully drawn, but the companies see the series as a prestige property suitable for streaming, broadcast and cable networks around the world.
Production on location in Shanghai and Hong Kong is expected to start in 2019. The shoot will make use of Shanghai’s picturesque waterfront district, The Bund, which is full of colonial-era and Art Deco architecture suited to Hahn’s heyday.
“Emily Hahn was a charismatic, unconventional free spirit who wrote about her experiences with courage and compassion. We’re honored to bring Emily’s incredible story of love and adventure, discovery and intrigue to audiences worldwide,” said Chris McGurk, Chairman and CEO of Cinedigm. “Now is the perfect time to re-introduce audiences to the vibrant, complex, and intriguing world of 1930s Shanghai from a uniquely female perspective.”
Rosenbloom and Yellen acquired exclusive life story rights and then partnered with Cinedigm for production and distribution. Included in the rights are Hahn’s autobiographies, China to Me and No Hurry to Get Home, a biography by Ken Cuthbertson, and archival material from the estates of Hahn and her husband, Charles Boxer. The deal was made with the Hahn estate’s literary agents, Richard Curtis Associates. Many of Hahn’s books have been reissued by Open Road Media.
Hahn, known as “Mickey” to her friends, traveled the world and wrote hundreds of articles and short stories for The New Yorker from 1925 to 1995, as well as 52 books in multiple genres. She bonded with an eclectic assortment of people along the way, including Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Dorothy Parker, James Thurber, Noel Coward, Sir Victor Sassoon, Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen and Chiang Kai-shek. Hahn died in 1977 at age 92.
“This will be an epic series about a courageous and compassionate woman, with a vibrant ensemble of diverse characters, set amidst the cinematically rich visual landscape of 1930s Shanghai, pre-war turmoil in China, and the sunset of the British Empire in Asia,” said Chip Rosenbloom, president of Rosenbloom Entertainment. “Emily was able to champion female empowerment and embrace cultural diversity at a time when those concepts were completely alien to most, making it very relevant in today’s climate of change.”
Hahn’s story “is an adventure of discovery, intrigue, and courage; where the avant-garde collides with ancient cultural traditions in a thriving and eclectic city on the cusp of dramatic social and political change,” added Mark Yellen, president of Mark Yellen Productions.