DISCOVERY AND LIONSGATE ANNOUNCE SERIES COMMITMENT FOR ORIGINAL VIETNAM WAR DRAMA ‘THE SUCK’ FROM EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS ED ZWICK, MARSHALL HERSKOVITZ, KEITH ADDIS AND TONY THOMOPOULOS
By Scott Green
March 5, 2017
Ten-Episode Series Helmed by Award-Winning Showrunners Ed Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz, With Zwick Directing the First Episode
Based on Memoir by Combat Veteran Stephen McAllister
Discovery Channel and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) announced a series commitment on the original scripted project, The Suck, to air in 2018.
Based on an unpublished memoir by Vietnam veteran and former Greenpeace International executive Stephen McCallister, by turns funny, terrifying and tragic, the 10-episode series presents a unique and unexpected view of the American experience in the Vietnam War. At the same time, it dramatizes the story of the Vietnamese in a way not previously explored in television.
The Suck, which is produced by Lionsgate to air on Discovery Channel, will be helmed by Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (Nashville, the creators of thirtysomething). Zwick, who previously directed the Academy Award winning films Glory and Legends of the Fall, will direct the first episode.
“We are so lucky that Ed and Marshall, who have created so many indelible characters and unforgettable stories, are now taking Discovery viewers on a new journey. It’s great that we get to partner with the Lionsgate team to bring it all to life,” said Rich Ross, Group President of Discovery, Animal Planet, Science Channel and Velocity.
“This series brings together an incredible property, the brilliant creative team of Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz and the perfect partner in our friends at Discovery,” said Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs. “Ed and Marshall have done a remarkable job of shepherding the success of Nashville this season, and we’re proud to bring their singular talents to the television portrayal of Stephen McAllister’s unconventional Vietnam memoir. We’re also delighted to continue growing our relationship with Discovery on this high-end premium scripted series that we expect to resonate with their viewers for years to come.”
The series is the latest example of Discovery’s expanded relationship with Lionsgate. Discovery and Lionsgate are also collaborating on “Manhunt: The UNABOMer” anthology scripted series starring Sam Worthington and Paul Bettany, now in production. Discovery and Liberty Global invested in Lionsgate in November 2015.
Stephen McAllister entered the US Army in August 1968 and was trained as an infantry point man and scout dog handler. He served in Vietnam with the 25th Division at Cu Chi and was released from the Army in July 1970. After the war, McAllister attended college majoring in Civil Engineering and Environmental Studies. In 1981, he joined the crew of the Greenpeace vessel named the Rainbow Warrior. He advanced to various leadership positions in Greenpeace, including Co-Director/Campaign Director for Greenpeace USA, Executive Director of Greenpeace Australia and Deputy Executive Director/Campaign Director of Greenpeace International. After leaving Greenpeace in 1991, he pursued a business career in the Washington D.C. area, from which he recently retired. McAllister is currently on the Board of Directors of Oceana, an ocean advocacy group, with Keith Addis.
Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz have created some of television’s most critically acclaimed and memorable series, including the Emmy Award-winning thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, Relativity and the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Once and Again. They are currently Executive Producers on the hit series Nashville. Their longtime collaboration began on the Emmy-winning TV movie Special Bulletin, which led to the formation of the Bedford Falls Company, their home for film and television projects. Among the partners’ feature film producing credits are Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond, all of which were directed by Zwick; the Oscar-nominated film I Am Sam; as well as Traffic, which won two Golden Globes and four Academy Awards.
Zwick, who won an Academy Award as a producer of Shakespeare in Love, also directed the Oscar-winning film Glory, Courage Under Fire, The Siege, Defiance and Love & Other Drugs, and most recently directed Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Herskovitz directed Jack the Bear and the cult favorite Dangerous Beauty, and in 2007, created the groundbreaking online series and social network quarterlife, which at the time was the Internet’s most successful scripted series.
Keith Addis is the co-founder of Addis/Wechsler, which evolved into Industry Entertainment Partners in 1997. The company was one of the first entertainment firms to combine talent management with film and television production. Industry’s producing credits include The Player (Golden Globe, Best Picture), Quills (two Academy Award nominations) and Requiem for a Dream (two Academy Award nominations). Addis currently manages the careers of clients, including Ted Danson, Sam Waterston, Dylan McDermott, Jeff Goldblum and producer/Director Michael Uppendahl. Over the years, Addis has guided the careers of major stars, including Ray Liotta, Whoopi Goldberg and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. Addis began his career at ICM in 1974, worked on Taxi Driver as an assistant to Martin Scorsese and producer Michael Phillips in 1975, became a partner in the Robert Littman/Keith Addis talent agency from 1976 to 1980, and then launched his career as a personal manager in 1980. His friendship with McAllister and familiarity with the material as the memoir has taken shape dates back 15 years, as the two have both served on the Board of Directors of Oceana.
Anthony D. (“Tony”) Thomopoulos spent 12 years of his career at ABC, moving progressively from Vice President of Prime Time Programs, to President of ABC Entertainment, to President of ABC Broadcast Group. In 1986, he became Chairman of United Artists Pictures and later formed Thomopoulos Productions, an independent production company that produced Striking Distance. From 1991 to early 1995, Thomopoulos was President of Amblin Television, after which he joined International Family Entertainment, Inc. (IFE) to oversee programming for The Family Channel. He was subsequently named CEO of MTM Entertainment, a subsidiary of IFE. He then became Chairman and CEO of Media Arts Group in 2001. In 2005, he was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to serve as a state commissioner of the California Service Corps for three terms. Today, Thomopoulos remains founder and partner in Morning Light Productions, as well as Thomopoulos Productions. In addition, he currently serves on several board of directors, including SNT Media.
About Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 224 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visit www.discovery.com
About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s #1 pay-TV programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in more than 220 countries and territories. For 30 years Discovery has been dedicated to satisfying curiosity and entertaining viewers with high-quality content through its global television brands, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery and Science, as well as U.S. joint venture network OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Discovery controls Eurosport, the leading pan-regional sports entertainment destination across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools, including an award-winning series of K-12 digital textbooks, through Discovery Education, and a digital leader with a diversified online portfolio, including Discovery Digital Networks. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.
Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) is a vertically integrated next generation global content leader with a diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, premium pay television networks, home entertainment, global distribution and sales, interactive ventures and games and location-based entertainment.
With the acquisition of Starz, Lionsgate adds to its portfolio of businesses the flagship STARZ premium pay network serving 24.3 million subscribers and the STARZ ENCORE platform with 31 million subscribers. The combined company will operate five over-the-top (OTT) streaming services and the STARZ app delivering content directly to consumers.
The Company’s feature film business spans eight labels and includes the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, the Now You See Me and John Wick series, the critically-acclaimed box office hit La La Land, which earned a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations, Hacksaw Ridge, Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, CBS Films/Lionsgate’s Hell or High Water, Roadside Attractions’ Manchester by the Sea, Codeblack Films’ breakout concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain and Pantelion Films’ Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the U.S.
One of the largest independent television businesses in the world, Lionsgate’s slate of premium quality series encompasses nearly 90 shows on more than 40 different networks. These include the ground-breaking Orange is the New Black, the fan favorite Nashville, the syndication success The Wendy Williams Show, the hit drama The Royals, the acclaimed Casual, the breakout success Greenleaf and hit Starz series including Outlander, Black Sails, Survivor’s Remorse and Power, the second highest-rated premium pay television series of 2016.
Lionsgate’s home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rates. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of more than 16,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as a foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment and Starz brands are synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world. www.lionsgate.com
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