Former HBO Films president Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment today announced that they are turning the Flying Tigers into a ten-hour TV miniseries. The Flying Tigers were ace American volunteer pilots who served under General Claire Chennault fighting the Japanese over the skies of China during the Second World War. Playground has partnered with the Chennault family on the project. “We are in discussions with numerous broadcasters in the US and in China on the project,” Jim Griffith, one of the executive producers of The Flying Tigers, told Deadline. Callender, Griffith and Ron Shelton will executive produce the miniseries. Bill Macdonald, the co-creator and writer of HBO’s Rome will produce and write The Flying Tigers. Filming will begin in China and Louisiana in late 2013. As part of the Chinese Air Force, the three squadrons of the Flying Tigers flew their first mission just 12 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Known for the success in the air and the famous teethed nose art on their aircraft, the Tigers later became part of the USAF for the rest of the war. This isn’t the first time the squad has been depicted on film. Back in 1942, John Wayne starred in a Flying Tigers movie from Republic Pictures.
EXCLUSIVE: Colin Callender is returning to his roots as a British TV producer. Callender’s Playground Entertainment, in association with City Entertainment and KippSter Entertainment, has acquired rights to the classic E.M. Forster novel Howards End to turn it into a miniseries for Britain’s BBC Two. Search is underway for a writer to pen the adaptation, which Callender will executive produce with Joshua D. Maurer, Alixandre Witlin and David A. Stern.
The novel was originally published in 1910 and explores social and class divisions in early 20th century England through the prism of three families: the wealthy Wilcoxes, the gentle and idealistic Schlegels and the lower-middle class Basts. The title refers to the address of the Wilcox family’s country home. Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her star-making turn as Margaret Schlegel in Merchant Ivory’s 1992 feature adaptation. The new take on the material will be the first time it’s adapted as a mini. The rights deal was negotiated by Jonathan Sissons of Peters Frasers Dunlop on behalf of the E.M. Forster Estate.
EXCLUSIVE: Starz has picked up The White Queen, a 10-episode drama series based on the best-selling historical novels by Philippa Gregory. The pay cable network has brought in former HBO Films president Colin Callender as executive producer for the series, produced by the UK’s Company Pictures. Callender’s duties on White Queen are part of a larger two-year agreement his company Playground has signed with Starz. Under the pact, Callender also will serve as an exec producer on the second season of Starz’s period drama Magic City. It reunites Callender with his former HBO boss Chris Albrecht, now CEO of Starz, and Starz’s managing director of original programming Carmi Zlotnik, a former 20-year HBO veteran. “Carmi and I have worked with Colin for many years, and we are excited to have such a world-class movie and television visionary lending his talents to our Starz series,” Albrecht said.
Set against the backdrop of England’s Wars of the Roses, The White Queen is an adaptation of three books from Gregory’s The Cousins War series: The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter.
Max Irons (Red Riding Hood), newcomers Rebecca Ferguson and Faye Marsay, Amanda Hale (The Crimson Petal & The White), James Frain (The Tudors) and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer star in the series, which is slated to premiere on Starz in 2013. Starz has acquired U.S. domestic distribution rights to The White Queen from Company Pictures’ parent company ALL3Media International. It also has picked up worldwide multiplatform rights — with the exception of television rights in the UK, where the series will air on BBC One, and some TV/home video rights in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
White Queen is described as a tale of love and loss, seduction and deception, betrayal and murder woven through the stories of three different yet equally driven women caught up in the ongoing conflict for the throne: Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville.