George Clooney & Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Inks First-Look Deal With Sonar


George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s indie production company Smokehouse Pictures is continuing its push into television, inking a first-look deal with Sonar Entertainment. Their first project under the pact is America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker, based on the serialized Huffington Post article by journalist Steven Brill. Making A Murderer filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos will adapt with Nicki Paluga, with Ricciardi and Demos directing. The announcement was made today by Sonar CEO Thomas Lesinski and Smokehouse co-founder Heslov.

America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker is the true story of a venerable pharmaceutical company that created a powerful drug and marketed it aggressively to children and the elderly while allegedly manipulating and hiding data about its terrible side effects. The drug company was investigated and agreed to pay more than $2 billion in penalties and settlements, but made a reported $30 billion in sales of the drug worldwide.

Under the pact with Sonar, the company will produce drama and comedy series for cable and streaming outlets. Smokehouse already has Ms, a miniseries about Gloria Steinem and the founding of Ms Magazine, set up at HBO, and The Studio, an ongoing series about a movie studio in the 1990s, set up at Showtime.

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“We couldn’t be more excited to be in business with George and Grant and their talented team at Smokehouse,” said Lesinski. “Smokehouse has a stellar track record of delivering commercial and critically acclaimed content. Smokehouse will be a great partner for Sonar Entertainment, as the two companies align perfectly in our approaches to premium TV programming.”

Since launching Smokehouse in 2006, Clooney and Heslov have written, directed and produced films including Good Night And Good Luck, Leatherheads, The Men Who Stare At Goats, The Ides Of March, The Monuments Men, Argo, Money Monster and Our Brand Is Crisis.

The partnership with Smokehouse is the latest in a series of first-look deals announced by Sonar. Other partners include Ridley Scott’s Scott-Free UK and StoryBy Entertainment. Current Sonar series on air, in production or slated to begin production include Season 2 of The Shannara Chronicles, for MTV; Taboo, starring Tom Hardy, for FX and BBC One; The Son, for AMC; and Mr. Mercedes with AT&T’s Audience Network for DirecTV and AT&T U-verse.

Smokehouse, Ricciardi, Demos and Paluga are repped by CAA. Ricciardi and Demos are also repped by Barry Littman and Steve Warren of Hansen, Jacobson.

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