After previously focusing on preschool series and parental resources, LA-based prodco The Mother Company has signed a first-look deal with eOne that will see it produce two new show with Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and make its first tween and YA content. Under the new deal, it will adapt are Howard Wallace, PI (pictured left) by Casey Lyall and The Lost Girl (pictured right) by Anne Ursu.
Both are aimed at the middle-grade space, and will be executive produced by Flower Films, while Amanda Bowman Gerisch, the VP of scripted development for television at eOne will run point for the partnership.
The deal came together after Peter Micelli, the chief strategy officer for TV, film and digital at eOne, joined the media conglom in 2018. He’d previously served as The Mother Company’s agent at CAA, and convinced its president Samantha Kurtzman-Counter to take take a meeting.
“We had been talking about moving into the tween and teen space and had been looking at some properties and thinking about how we were going to do that,” says Kurtzman-Counter. “And [Micelli] said eOne was building it’s YA and middle-grade library, and were really interested in doing smart content that will help change the world.”
eOne introduced TMC to Flower Films as a possible collaborator since both prodcos were trying to make a similar content. Kurtzman-Counter says what particularly drew her to working with Flower Films was its interest in telling deep stories for the same age group that “buck stereotypes and have multi-racial diverse role models.”
Howard Wallace includes three middle-grade books that are being adapted into a half-hour comedy. The story tells of a 12-year-old detective who meets a new girl, a city-slicker, at school. The two join forces to solve mysteries, while wrestling with the issues of adolescence.
The project is in the early stages of development, and TMC is accepting submissions and reaching out to some of the prodco’s favorite writers to start adapting it.
While TMC pitched Howard Wallace, eOne’s Gerisch pitched the Lost Girl adaptation.
The book is about identical twin sisters separated for the first time, who find their lives beginning to unravel without their sibling. The new show will likely be an hour-long series, though it’s still in the early stages of development, without much finalized. Kurtzman-Counter says she was drawn to the project because of the tone and complex characters, but ultimately it was the girl-power element that made it a series she could really get behind.
“We’re all really interested in a deep storytelling for [tweens] that dives into true emotional stories so it feels like we’re making shows that are really multi-layered,” says Kurtzman-Counter. “Even when we were making preschool shows, we never wanted to make shows that talked down to children.”
These two series are quite a shift for the prodco, which previously produced preschool series Ruby’s Studio that premiered on American Public Television in 2016 and was then picked up by Netflix, through distributor 9 Story Media Group. But Kurtzman-Counter says this was always her plan for the company. She got her start directing Disney Channel reality series Totally in Tune and Totally Hoops for the YA set, and always wanted to get back to that. It was only when she had a preschooler of her own that she began to dabble in shows her own child would like.
The two announced projects also aren’t the end of this first-look deal either. Another project has also been picked up to be adapted from a book into a YA series, and will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, The Mother Company plans to continue producing preschool series and resources for parents, including a doctor-on-demand service called Tell Stella, which will live online.