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Disney+ unveils European hires, slate

Streaming service Disney+ has appointed executives in Spain and Germany to oversee original productions and unveiled a slate of 10 new European commissions.

Benjamina Mirnik-Voges

Independent producer Sofía Fábregas has been appointed VP of original productions in Iberia, and Entertainment One’s Benjamina Mirnik-Voges has been given the same position in Germany.

Both roles will be responsible for the development and production of the local Disney- and Star-branded originals for Disney+, reporting to local leadership and Diego Londono, executive VP of media networks and content at The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) EMEA, working in collaboration with Liam Keelan, VP of original content at TWDC EMEA.

The new roles follow the previously confirmed appointment of former Channel 4 exec Sean Doyle as director of original production for unscripted general entertainment across Europe, reporting to Keelan.

Creators and producers working with Disney+ in Europe include Juliette Howell, Stephen Butchard, Quoc Dang Tran and Jörg Winger, with the media giant saying they “will bring a distinctive European flavour” to the direct-to-consumer streaming service.

The first 10 projects commissioned for Disney+ under the Disney brand and the forthcoming general entertainment brand Star are the start of Disney’s ambition to commission 50 productions in Europe by 2024.

The four French commissions comprise two Star originals and two for Disney+.

For Star, Oussekine is a four-part miniseries that examines the terrible true events of December 5, 1986 that led to the death of a young student, Malik Oussekine.

It is created and directed by Antoine Chevrollier (Baron Noir, Le Bureau des Légendes) and co-written by Faïza Guène, Julien Lilti and Cédric Ido.

Sofía Fábregas

Also for Star, Soprano: Sing or Die is a documentary series that follows French rapper and singer Soprano as he and his crew get ready for a stadium tour in summer 2022.

For Disney+, Parallels, from creator Quoc Dang Tran (Marianne, Nox) and co-written by Anastasia Heinzl, follows four teenagers whose lives are turned upside down when a mysterious event propels them into parallel dimensions. It is produced by Empreinte Digitale (Raphaël Rocher and Eric Laroche) and Daïmôn Films.

Also for Disney+, Weekend Family is a comedy that chronicles the life of a new stepfamily that meet up every weekend. But when the father gets into a relationship with a new partner, the weekends take on a whole new turn.

Created by Baptiste Filleul (La Foret), it is produced by Groupe Elephant and written by Nour Bensalem, Géraldine de Margerie, Julie-Anna Grignon, Marion Carnel and Paul Madillo.

In Italy, the three Star originals include The Good Mothers, a mafia series seen entirely from the women’s perspectives.

The series is executive produced by Juliette Howell and Tessa Ross for House Productions (Brexit: The Uncivil War) and Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa for Wildside. It is written by Stephen Butchard (Baghdad Central) and based on the book by journalist Alex Perry.

Star is also bringing back the Italian comedy series Boris, which originally ran on Fox in Italy and is set behind the scenes of a fictional low-budget drama series called The Eyes of the Heart.

Diego Londoño

In the new version, produced by Fremantle-owned The Apartment, the cast and crew reunite to discover how the world of television has changed.

Another Star original from Italy will be a romantic drama inspired by the Italian box office hit The Ignorant Angels, from Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek.

Produced by R&C Productions, it follows a woman after her husband is killed in a car accident and she discovers that he has been having an affair with a man.

In Germany, drama Sam: A Saxon comes from Big Window Productions and tells the real-life story of Samuel Meffire, East-Germany’s first black police officer.

Dark comedy Sultan City comes from producers Ayla Gottschlich and Aysel Yilmazand, plus head writer Ipek Zübert, and follows the respectable matriarch of a German-Turkish family who accidentally becomes the head of a criminal underworld.

In the Netherlands, sports documentary Feyenoord Rotterdam is produced by Lusus Media and spotlights the famous Dutch football club.

Londono said: “Our commissioning strategy showcases our commitment to producing world-class original content, tailored to local markets but with the creative ambition to appeal to audiences across the globe.

“Europe has a global reputation as a creative powerhouse, which, combined with Disney’s expertise in high-quality storytelling and its relationships with top talent on- and off-screen, will ensure Disney+ is the go-to destination for compelling and engaging entertainment in Europe.”

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