Essential Media sells drama division, Ian Collie departs for new venture

Essential’s drama division has been behind Rake, Doctor Doctor, The Principal and more

• Essential Media sells drama division to FremantleMedia
• FremantleMedia Australia’s Ian Hogg to join Easy Tiger board

Essential Media and Entertainment has sold its scripted division to FremantleMedia for an undisclosed sum.

In an associated deal, FremantleMedia has acquired a majority stake in the new Australian drama company Easy Tiger Productions. The high-end scripted indie will be led by former Essential Media partner Ian Collie who will take up the position of managing director.

Essential Media’s drama division has been behind Rake, Doctor Doctor, The Principal, Jack Irish and upcoming series for SBS The Sunshine Kings.

Collie will be joined in the new company by development executives Rachael Turk and Tanya Phegan, formerly of Essential Media. In addition to the creation of new drama content, Collie’s scripted projects currently in development at Essential Media will be transferred into Easy Tiger Productions, as will its slate of past drama series.

Easy Tiger Productions’ board will include FremantleMedia’s Sangeeta Desai, COO and CEO emerging markets; Sarah Doole, director of global drama and Ian Hogg, regional chief executive officer, Australia & Asia Pacific.

Founded in 2006 by Chris Hilton, Sonja Armstrong and Ian Collie, Essential Media produces documentaries, features films, factual series and lifestyle programming. The business also produces scripted television and factual entertainment in Los Angeles and Toronto via its joint ventures Essential Media USA, EQTV and Essential Media Canada.

Essential Media and Entertainment’s CEO Chris Hilton said: “We are extremely proud of the exceptional drama IP Essential Media has created and financed over the years and are pleased to see it find the additional resources it needs to prosper under FremantleMedia. We wish Ian Collie the very best in the new venture.”

Essential Media’s current Australian unscripted production slate includes a second season of BodyHack with Todd Sampson (for Network Ten), Uncharted with Sam Neill (for Foxtel & Prime NZ) and The Living Universe (ABC, Arte France, Curiosity Stream & UKTV). The latest season of Gourmet Farmer season five is currently being broadcast on SBS to stellar ratings cementing its position as SBS’s number one food series franchise, and the next instalment of Shane Delia’s culinary adventures Shane Delia’s Recipe for Life (SBS) will premiere soon.

Having just completed the Australian film festival circuit (SFF, Revelations, MIFF, BIFF), the Kriv Stenders-directed feature documentary The Go-Betweens: Right Here will release in cinemas on September 28, 2017.

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