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LONDON — NBC Universal has acquired comedy and entertainment specialist Monkey Kingdom for an undisclosed amount, building on its ambitions to grow its U.K. and international production footprint.
The deal — the first production acquisition announced under the auspices of NBC’s London-based president of international television production and former Desperate Housewives producer Michael Edelstein — also sees NBC diversify beyond the drama production into entertainment and comedy.
Monkey Kingdom, founded 10 years ago by David Granger and Will Macdonald, has been behind a slew of entertainment and factual programs including The Charlotte Church Show, My Kind of Town, Young Dumb and Living off Mum and Best Friend Rehab.
But the opportunity to become part of a bigger media umbrella that can be a springboard for its international ambitions and promise relationships with networks like Bravo, Oxygen and NBC helped persuade Granger and Macdonald of virtues of the deal.
“It’s great making shows in the U.K., but as a forward-thinking production company we should be looking at global opportunities and it is incumbent on us to spend more time developing content,” said Granger.
Under the deal with NBC Universal, the studio will supply back office, legal and other functions, said Edelstein. Monkey will continue to be run by Granger and Macdonald reporting to NBC U exec Gareth Neame, managing director of its U.K. production business.
“This [deal] really goes to the strategy of working with the best and the brightest. The aim is to free them up to focus on creative and take away the pressures of having to run a standalone business,” said Edelstein.
It’s an approach which has paid dividends with Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films, the indie NBC Universal International president Pete Smith acquired last year, which has delivered one of the highest rated and critically praised drama series of the year.
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