Shine taps Fennessys for Oz prod'n company

Brothers will exit senior exec posts at Fremantle Media

SYDNEY -- Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Group has hired Mark and Carl Fennessy to head up a new production shingle in Australia and New Zealand in 2010, luring the brothers away from their senior executive posts at Fremantle Media Australia.

The move follows the establishment of Shine Germany in March and is part of the company's strategy to identify talent in key territories worldwide to complement the group's existing European and American operations.

"I have long wanted to establish a creative, energetic production company in Australia as part of Shine, and I am thrilled this will now become a reality," Murdoch said. "Mark and Carl are simply the finest independent producers of their generation in Australia. I am convinced of this through the recent experience of working with them on our formats, 'The Biggest Loser' and "MasterChef.' "

The Fennessy brothers oversaw Fremantle's growth into one of Australia's largest production groups after the 2003 merger of Grundy Television and production company Crackerjack. FMA has in production such shows as "So You Think You Can Dance," "MasterChef Australia" and "Farmer Wants a Wife."

The new venture the brothers lead will take Murdoch onto turf currently occupied by her brother, Lachlan, who has runs his own private investment company, Illyria Ltd., since his retirement from their father's News Corp. Illyria has several small media investments and made a failed bid to form a joint venture with James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings last year.

Separately, Simon Spalding, Fremantle Media CEO for Europe & Asia-Pacific, said the Fennessy brothers will stay with FMA until November. A search for their replacements is under way, he said.