Demarest Films, Kilburn Media Back The Fremantle Corp. (Exclusive)

Chapman Baehler
"All My Children"

The U.S. film financiers get into global distribution and TV with investments in the 'All My Children' distributor

Specialty film financiers Demarest Films and Kilburn Media have acquired investment stakes in the Canadian-based TV production-distribution shingle The Fremantle Corp. as former Lionsgate exec Brad Pelman is installed as CEO.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the new stake sees Demarest and Kilburn continue their content development push that includes a first-look deal with The Combine, the film and TV company founded by Jeremy Renner and writer-director Don Handfield.

Pelman, a former Maple Pictures and Alliance Films exec who also invested in The Fremantle Corp., said the deal gets Demarest and Kilburn into the distribution and TV arenas as they help finance new content. "They (Demarest and Kilburn) can look at anything they're investing in the future and I can be the distributor," Pelman told The Hollywood Reporter.

There are no ties between Fremantle Corp., which was founded in 1952, and FremantleMedia, even though both produce TV shows. Mark Manuel, who founded Kilburn Media, which he runs with Ted O’Neal, and Pelman worked together at Lionsgate.

As a distributor, Fremantle Corp. manages more than 1,000 TV and film properties, or around 5,000 hours of content, including Agnes Nixon’s All My Children daytime soap, the annual Tony Awards and the family series Black Beauty. Fremantle Corp. is also a mainstay of international TV markets as it shops factual and lifestyle shows, movies, drama and documentary series to global broadcasters.

Pelman and Randy Zalken, who remains at Fremantle Corp. as president, will develop a TV content slate for Demarest and Kilburn to back. "It's just a matter of putting the right pieces together and building a slate, which Fremantle will bring to the international market and sell in a traditional manner or untraditionally in doing Netflix deals across the board," Pelman said.

Demarest and Kilburn can also tap its new Canadian partner and available tax credits and other subsidies here to make indie films north of the border. "This transaction ... fits very well into our strategic plan for cost-effective expansion, allowing us to deploy more of our investment capital in building growth through operations,” said Manuel and Demarest co-founder Sam Englebardt in a statement.

Norm Bishop, of Bishop & McKenzie LLP, and Edith Myers, of CEI Management, represented Pelman, Kilburn and Demarest in the transaction. Steven Newman and Marc Hirshberg, president of Evra Media Solutions, represented Zalken.

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