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David Ellender, former CEO of FremantleMedia Enterprises, has begun his second act in the international TV business with the launch of Slingshot Global Media, an L.A.-based production outfit that will develop and produce premium television fiction on a straight-to-series model.
As CEO, Ellender will oversee development, financing, production and distribution of Slingshot’s slate. He will relocate from his current home in London to L.A. Equity group TPG Growth will bankroll the new venture.
At FremantleMedia Enterprises, Ellender oversaw the global distribution of mainly non-scripted juggernauts including the Idol, X Factor and Got Talent music shows, as well as some scripted shows, among them U.K. fantasy series Merlin. But, speaking to THR, Ellender said he now sees far greater opportunities in the scripted space.
“There are 60-plus platforms now to sell [scripted] content to — from networks to premium cable to streaming services such as Netflix. It’s a huge market,” says Ellender.
Ellender will name his executive team — including a head of creative, head of legal and head of international sales — in the coming weeks ahead of the MIPTV international television market in Cannes in April.
Slingshot will pursue a straight-to-series strategy similar to that successfully implemented by French giant Gaumont (producers of NBC’s Hannibal and Hemlock Grove for Netflix). “We won’t be following the network approach — we won’t do piloting,” says Ellender. “By the end of 2015 we hope to have two series on air.”
Slingshot will focus on programming for the U.S. market, both returning and limited-run series, though Ellender said it will also be open to international co-productions with a strong global appeal. The company is aiming to partner with international broadcasters to do co-financing.
“Financing on the individual projects will be a combination of commissioning from the U.S. broadcaster and international presales,” says Ellender. “If there is a small gap left, we can come in and fill that with equity.”
Ellender spent 12 years at FremantleMedia Enterprises, with the final seven years as CEO. He stepped down in 2013 as part of the executive shuffle following the appointment of Cecile Frot-Coutaz as CEO of parent company FremantleMedia. He will be replaced by German exec Jens Richter, currently at producer/distributor Red Arrow, who will take over at FremantleMedia Enterprises later this year.
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