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MIPTV: RHI Entertainment Rebrands, Names Stewart Till as CEO

Stewart Till - P 2012
Stewart Till

The company, now known as Sonar Entertainment, announces several production and distribution deals in Cannes.

RHI Entertainment made noise on the Croisette on Saturday with the TV development, production and distribution company announcing a rebranding as Sonar Entertainment under CEO Stewart Till.

The company’s chairman of the board of directors Gabriel de Alba broke the news calling the rebrand “a fresh start and a solid business strategy for growth and expansion.”

Till was named RHI’s co-interim CEO alongside Mike Corrigan and David Salzman in July of 2011 after working as non-executive chair at Icon UK and chair of Skillset, president of international at Polygram, chair of the UK Film Council and chief executive at UIP.

Till will set up shop at Sonar’s New York office just after the market.

“We were looking for a name that worked worldwide,” Till said of the new company moniker, adding that Sonar has “connotations of navigation, direction and movement.”

Things are already moving quickly for Sonar who will start shooting several ambitious projects this year.

The company will continue to produce major TV movies and mini-series such as previous titles Merlin and Treasure Island and will also expand into the series business.

It may be the end of the world as we know it, but Sonar is just fine. The company will distribute five four-hour mini-series all with disaster themes including terrorists blowing up the London-Paris chunnel, an oil company drilling in the ocean floor, energy technology threatening global destruction and the sun’s inner core sending massive meteors to earth in Disaster Pack: Volume One.

Sonar has also signed a deal with director, writer and producer Steven E. De Souza to develop one-hour original action-adventure series MPH about an international law enforcement unit that goes undercover in a monster truck show. De Souza is best known for Die Hard, 48 Hours and The Bionic Woman among other titles that have earned him more than $2 billion at the box office.

On Sonar’s radar are epic eight-hour miniseries King Tut with Muse Entertainment about the famed Egyptian pharaoh and a TV version of the Hellraiser franchise. Other notable titles include two-hour back-door pilot The Hunters based on Joshua Williamson’s graphic novel, plus distribution rights to Canadian drama series Bomb Girls and movies After All these Years based on Susan Isaacs’ best-selling novel Compromising Positions, Good Scouts about a self-absorbed real-estate agent forced to lead a girl scout troop and Christmas Heart about a community and a family searching for a holiday miracle to save their ailing son’s life and romantic comedy Meddling Mom.

Sonar’s programs “won’t fit into  box” according to Till, but, he says “they’ll all give networks a reason to buy and viewers a reason to watch.”

Sonar owns rights to over 1,000 titles comprising more than 3,500 broadcast hours of programming.

“The timing is so right for this,” Till said, adding: “It’s an exciting time.”