EPIX(TM) Greenlights New Lionsgate Original Programming Pilot "Tough Trade"
Pilot to Focus on a Famous Dysfunctional Country Music Family; Will Begin Filming in Nashville in Late Summer 2009
NEW YORK & SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb 10, 2009 -- EPIX(TM), the new multi-platform entertainment service unveiled by Studio 3 Networks, a joint venture between Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Lionsgate, today announced that it has greenlit the pilot for "Tough Trade", with plans to launch the original television series produced by Lionsgate Television in 2010. Jenji Kohan, creator and executive producer of "Weeds" will take the helm, serving as executive producer and show runner for the project.
"We are thrilled to be moving forward with the pilot episode of what is expected to be EPIX's first original series," said Mark Greenberg, president of Studio 3 Networks. "Lionsgate has an incredible track record of original television series that capture the imagination of viewers and always leaves them wanting more. I have no doubt that 'Tough Trade' is going to build on this incredible creative spirit, driving consumers to EPIX to watch and interact with this program. The team behind this series is one that has changed the entertainment landscape with 'Weeds,' 'The Cooler,' and others and we believe they will do it again with 'Tough Trade.' This is yet another illustration of EPIX's progress as we near our fourth quarter television launch."
"Tough Trade," the first series pilot for EPIX, is a provocative one-hour drama about the Tuckers, a three-generation Nashville music dynasty whose penchant for drink, debauchery and divorce has left them on the verge of bankruptcy. Although it's been said that "no one knows what goes on behind closed doors," "Tough Trade" flings those doors wide open, exposing the tragic and sometimes comedic secrets, scandals and sorrows of this unforgettable American family.
"EPIX is a brand that is going to change the way Americans consume entertainment, making it an ideal candidate for a Lionsgate series," said Lionsgate President of Television Programming and Production, Kevin Beggs. "The music industry has remained untouched in original programming and with this series we are going to take full advantage of the storylines it has to offer. There is no denying that both EPIX and Lionsgate have a unique approach to the entertainment business, and you can say the same for the characters in 'Tough Trade.'"
Chris Offutt is the creator, writer and co-executive producer of "Tough Trade." He is an award-winning novelist and short story writer, recently serving as executive story editor on HBO's "True Blood" and is currently a writer and co-producer for Season 5 of Lionsgate's hit comedy "Weeds."
Executive producing along with Jenji Kohan and Chris Offutt are Sean and Bryan Furst ("The Matador," "The Cooler"). The show was developed by Furst Films, under the company's first look deal with Lionsgate TV.
Studio 3 Networks recently announced the name of the multi-platform entertainment brand, EPIX on January 27, 2009 at NATPE. EPIX will launch on broadband in May 2009 and on television in the fourth quarter 2009.
About Studio 3 Networks
Studio 3 Networks is a joint venture between Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Lionsgate. In the Fourth Quarter of 2009, Studio 3 Networks will launch EPIX, a branded next-generation premium entertainment channel, video on demand and Internet service that combines new and classic feature films and original programming, including series, music and comedy specials. Studio 3 Networks will control all rights to EPIX's programming.
EPIX will have exclusive access to Paramount, Paramount Vantage, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies released theatrically on or after January 1, 2008 and MGM, United Artists and Lionsgate titles released theatrically on or after January 1, 2009. It will also have access to more than 15,000 motion picture titles spanning the vast libraries of the studios and will feature new original television series and live event programming. Differentiating itself from existing networks, EPIX will deliver content on multiple platforms and include interactivity that will significantly enhance the entertainment experience. Viacom will provide operational support, including marketing and affiliate services through its MTV Networks division.
Lionsgate is the leading next generation studio with a major presence in the production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home entertainment, family entertainment, video-on-demand and digitally delivered content. The Company is leveraging its content leadership and marketing expertise through a series of partnerships that include the operation of the FEARnet branded VOD and Internet horror channel with Sony and Comcast, the fall 2009 launch of the next generation entertainment brand EPIX with partners Viacom, Paramount Pictures and MGM, investment in the leading young men's digital distribution platform Break.com, ownership of the premier independent television syndication company Debmar-Mercury and an alliance with independent filmed entertainment production and distribution company Roadside Attractions. Lionsgate also has forged partnerships with leading content creators, owners and distributors in key territories around the world, including Televisa in the U.S. and Latin America, StudioCanal in the UK, Hoyts and Sony in Australia and Eros International in India.
On January 5, 2009, the Company also agreed to acquire the TV Guide Network and TV Guide.com in a deal expected to close by February 28, 2009.
The Company has generated more than $450 million at the North American theatrical box office in the past 12 months and has forged strong positions in television and home entertainment with the production of such critically-acclaimed television series as Weeds and Mad Men, the distribution of Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Family Feud, South Park, Trivial Pursuit and The Dead Zone, and nearly 7% market share and the industry's leading box office-to-DVD conversion rate in home entertainment. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 12,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate brand is synonymous with entrepreneurial innovation and original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the globe. More information on Lionsgate can be found at www.lionsgate.com.