EXCLUSIVE: NBCUniversal International Studios’ Marc Helwig has joined Miramax as head of worldwide television. Helwig, who has a background as an executive, producer and talent agent, will oversee development and production for the company’s slate of scripted programming, reporting to Miramax CEO Bill Block.
Additionally, Miramax has signed a first-look TV deal with producer and former NBCUniversal International Studios president Michael Edelstein. Under the two-year arrangement, which includes backing for staff and a discretionary development fund, Edelstein will develop content for Miramax’s television operation. It kicks off a ramp-up at the division, and is expected to be followed by other TV talent deals.
Helwig fills a top TV role at Miramax that has been vacant since the exit of Lauren Whitney more than a year ago.
Admitting that it has been “super exciting and very strange to start a new job in the middle of a pandemic,” working out of the spare room in his house, Helwig told Deadline that “what drew me to the job is the very artist-centric legacy that the label represents,” pointing to such 1990s feature titles in the Miramax library as The English Patients and Shakespeare In Love.
Helwig’s mission is for the TV studio to reflect the early days of Miramax as “an incubator for fairly offbeat, innovative content.” Mining the Miramax library for new TV projects is “is one important part but not the only part,” he stressed.
The announcement of Helwig’s hire follows the recent close of ViacomCBS’ purchase of a 49% stake In Miramax from owner beIN Media Group, which includes first-look film/TV deal with Paramount Pictures and Paramount Television.
It calls for Miramax and Paramount TV to partner on titles Paramount TV brass, led by president Nicole Clemens, are excited about. Helwig has a longstanding relationship with Clemens dating back to their years together as agents at ICM.
“I am immensely excited to join Miramax at such a pivotal moment in the company’s evolution, and believe that our new partnership with CBSViacom puts us in a strong position to turbocharge the studio’s extensive and diverse library of content at a time when branded IP coupled with top talent is at a premium,” said Helwig. “I am also thrilled to be in the business with Michael Edelstein, whose extensive background, coupled with his unique insights in the international arena, render him perfectly positioned to create and contribute to a new array of exciting, international scripted programming.”
As EVP at NBCUniversal International Studios, where he did not overlap with Edelstein, Helwig led the studios’ LA division, heading up development as well as overseeing the studio’s international slate of programming. Prior to NBCU, he was in a multi-year producing deal at Legendary Entertainment where he developed and served as executive producer on Lost In Space for Netflix and the 2019 feature reboot of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy for Lionsgate.
Helwig started his career in the UK as a founding partner and literary agent at Berlin Associates in London and spent several years as a feature lit agent at ICM in Los Angeles representing a roster of international filmmakers.
“Marc Helwig is one of the most strategic and innovative executives in the global television industry, with years of experience and expertise gleaned from his past ventures in producing, agenting and from working on the studio side,” Block said. “With him at the helm of our TV business, I’m confident that we are in an excellent position to develop the most compelling content on a variety of platforms for audiences around the world.”
Edelstein was taking a breather after 7+ years as NBCU International Studios president when he was approached by Block about a producing deal at Miramax.
For Edelstein, that was a welcome change after being focused on shareholder returns for so long. “It is very lovely to not have to worry about finances and go back to what I love, which is telling great stories and being creative,” he said.
Additionally, “I like the flexibility of taking projects everywhere,” said Edelstein, who plans to use his extensive relationships in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia to find collaborators as well as the right home for each project. “In this day and age of vertical integration, it’s great to have an entrepreneurial partner like Miramax who is platform agnostic and open to producing content around the world.”
Edelstein is spending the current coronavirus-related production shutdown reading books and scripts and speaking with creators from around the globe via teleconferencing to identify potential projects.
“There has never been a more exciting time to be a storyteller, and it’s a wonderful time to launch a new studio,” he said. “When the world opens up again, people will need compelling material. There are more buyers than ever.”
As President of NBCUniversal International Studios in London, Edelstein built the international studio into a respected content player in the international marketplace, producing premium television for global audiences including the UK’s biggest scripted television export of all time, Downton Abbey. During his tenure, the division created more than 1100 hours of original content and garnered numerous awards including 18 Emmys, 3 Golden Globes, 6 BAFTAs, 14 Logies and 12 Leos.
Before joining NBCU International Studios, Edelstein worked as a producer, including stints as an executive producer on the first season of ABC’s Desperate Housewives and on ABC’s summer series Defying Gravity, which helped establish the current model for international co-productions. He previously worked as producer at Industry Entertainment and as director current programs at CBS Entertainment.
“I have long been an admirer of Michael’s, having watched him go from success to success over the years, and we are honored to have him as a part of our team,” Block said. “These are exciting times for the television community, and with these leaders in our corner, I am excited to watch our company soar.”