Endemol Studios to Adapt French Political Thriller Series 'Kingmakers' for U.S. TV

The LA-based company is adapting the series that starred Nathalie Baye and earned record ratings for broadcaster France 2.

French politics will be given the royal treatment stateside when Endemol Studios brings hit Kingmakers to U.S. television for an adaptation of Gallic hit Les Hommes de l'Ombre. The adaptation marks Endemol's LA-based studio's first third-party scripted format acquisition since its launch less than a year ago. The politically-charged primetime thriller stars Nathalie Baye and was produced by Tetra Media Studios and Macando.

The series, which means "Men of the Shadows" in French, was created by Carlos co-writer and Golden Globe winner Dan Frank alongside Frederic Tellier, Charline de Lepine and Emmanuel Dauce and co-stars Bruno Wolkowich and Gregory Fitoussi, who will also be seen in Jeremy Piven-starrer Mr. Selfridge on ITV.

Endemol has started discussions with talent for the U.S. version, but no deals have been signed to date.

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Les Hommes de l’Ombre aired on public TV network France 2 starting last January and saw record ratings. It gave the broadcaster its best ratings for a French scripted program since 2008 with an 18.4 market share and more than five million viewers for each episode. The Gallic version is in production on a second season.

The story centers around two political communications advisors who will stop at nothing to see their candidate win a tight race after the French president is assassinated.  

Endemol Studios is doing its homework and is consulting with professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, senior political analyst for CNN and former White House advisor to four U.S. presidents David Gergen on the show.

“The propulsive storytelling, coupled with potential global television appeal made this political thriller a must-have for us,” Endemol’s CEO Philippe Maigret said, adding that the “unique and ambitious format” will make for “a relevant, timeless and compelling American drama with original characters that bring the audience behind the scenes of high-stakes politics, starting with a presidential political campaign.”

For creators and producers de Lepine and Dauce, the transition to U.S. screens won’t be difficult.  “We created ‘Les Hommes de l’Ombre’ to showcase the behind the scenes of French politics, but we used writing techniques from series embraced by a broad audience, including American series to make sure the storylines will translate universally,” they explained.

The LA-based Endemol Studios recently sold Red Widow to ABC for a prime time slot and their Low Winter Sun will shine on AMC, both of which are Endemol-scripted adaptations. The company launched last August on US turf after the success of its breakout hit, AMC’s Hell on Wheels.