EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer McG has re-launched his Wonderland Sound and Vision with a multi-year funding partnership with Mickey Liddell’s private equity-backed LD Entertainment. The arrangement makes McG a buyer with the financial backing for Wonderland to independently develop, produce and finance its own slate of feature film, television and digital projects. The two sides are not disclosing the size of LD Entertainment’s investment but sources indicate that the deal includes an eight-figure overhead component for Wonderland’s current offices on Sunset Boulevard. McG has brought in Alloy Entertainment’s SVP Television Gina Girolamo to run the television division of the now independent company. She succeeds Peter Johnson, who has left after a nine-year stint. Mary Viola, who has been with Wonderland for four years, will continue to oversee the company’s film slate. We hear Wonderland plans to produce 5-6 shows a year, serving as a virtual studio: co-financing, sharing distribution and owning copyright. Wonderland is believed to be the only independent production company of this scale run by a creative type, writer or director. It is a step up for Liddell’s LD Entertainment; he primarily has invested in distribution rights to prestige films like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, and started a distribution arm to get in the releasing game.
For the past 12 years, Wonderland was based at Warner Bros Television where it produced more than 500 hours of primetime TV series, including the CW staple Supernatural, Nikita, Chuck and digital series Aim High. McG was offered to stay at the studio with a very lucrative new deal but wanted to step out of the traditional system, an idea he had been bouncing around for years. Here is how McG explains the philosophy and the goals of the company in its new incarnation: “Wonderland is built for the most talented directors, writers, and actors to come over and get their films and television shows made. Our focus is to support the artist and get the material into production. This new relationship now puts Wonderland in a position to go straight into production on our projects. We are now a buyer and, in turn, plan to deliver product to the marketplace quickly and efficiently via traditional and emerging distribution platforms.” Liddell called McG “one of the most creative and innovative talents in the entertainment industry.”
Since she joined Alloy in May 2010, Girolamo shepherded the company’s rapidly expanding TV slate, executive producing eight projects that went to series: The Lying Game and The Nine Lives Of Chloe King at ABC Family, The Secret Circle at the CW, How To Rock at Nickelodeon, 666 Park Avenue at ABC and the upcoming The 100 and The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals at the CW and the Pretty Little Liars offshoot Ravenswood at ABC Family. Prior to Alloy, Girolamo was VP Comedy Programming at Universal Media Studios and VP Comedy Development at NBC.
The film arm will be run by four-year vet Viola. Among Wonderland’s feature projects are the recently wrapped Chris Evans/Michelle Monaghan-starrer A Many Splintered Thing for Voltage Pictures, and an adaptation of the Stephen King short horror story Mercy with Blumhouse and Universal. Development includes The Duff for CBS Films, Tink for Disney and The Girl Who Conned The Ivy League with Amanda Seyfried. Viola also produced Wonderland’s online series Aim High for Warner Bros digital distribution. “Gina and Mary both possess a deep understanding of pop culture, powerful storytelling and an ability to identify new talent. These qualities, combined with Wonderland’s capacity to fund our own content, will allow us to immediately create the films and television shows we are passionate about,” McG said.
As director, McG, repped by WME and Management 360, is currently in post-production on the Kevin Costner-starrer 3 Days To Kill. Produced by EuropaCorp and Relativity, the film will be released February 14, 2014.
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