EXCLUSIVE: Dav Patel is set to headline and executive produce The Key Man, a limited series telling the story of disgraced financier Arif Naqvi. Set in the Middle East, the project hails from Miramax Television. It is part of the company’s increased international focus, signaled by the hiring three years ago of former NBCUniversal International Studios executive Marc Helwig — who has deep European TV industry ties — as Miramax’s Global Head of Television.
Mining the indie studio’s library of IP has been a big priority for Helwig and his team who have shepherded series projects based on such Miramax movies as The Gentlemen, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Gangs Of New York, Chocolate, The English Patient and Prêt-à-Porterand have mounted a revival of Miramax TV’s first unscripted series Project Greenlight.
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The filmmakers behind some of the movies are also involved in the TV adaptations, including The gentleman writer-director-producer Guy Ritchie, who is a writer, director and executive producer on the Netflix series of the same name, and Gangs of New York director Martin Scorsese who is attached to executive produce and direct the potential offshoot series.
The Key Man is joining a significant portion of Miramax Television’s series that are being developed and produced internationally, including The Gentlemen, which has been filmed in and around London; and Chocolate, which is being developed as a French-language TV series with Mediawan; as well as several series based on book IP rather than Miramax library titles, The Turkish Detective for Paramount, which wrapped production in Istanbul; The Henna Artist with Freida Pinto at Netflix, which would be filmed in India if greenlit; The Christie Affair, with Daisy Ridley, which is in the works in the UK; and an adaptation of Le Grand Secret (English title: The Immortals), also part of the co-production deal with Mediawan.
“Miramax IP is in its very DNA international facing and so there is a natural opportunity to mine the library for local to global shows,” Helwig said. Additionally, “Miramax is a legacy company built on backing innovative, new voices, and we are recapturing that essence in television with our approach to working with many new and emerging voices in Europe and beyond,” he said.
Miramax is majority owned (51%) by the Qatari beIN Media Group, based in Doha, with Paramount Global holding the remaining 49% stake.
“The next phase of the company will see us create more connective tissue with our parent company in Doha and a stronger focus on MENA-centric drama,” Helwig said.
The Key Man is an example of that.
Based on last year’s bestseller by WSJ reporters Simon Clark and Will Louch, it chronicles how Arif Naqvi (Patel), a charismatic Pakistani businessman who was the founder of Dubai-based private-equity firm Abraaj. Brilliant and inspirational, Naqvi became a global sensation as he built a billion-dollar empire persuading the global elite and titans of industry that the improbable key to solving poverty, hunger and political unrest is through his highly profitable investments. Enmeshed in the world of Popes, presidents, and profits, Arif’s empire came crashing down when his false promises proved to have severe consequences.
Patel executive produces alongside Scott Delman (Station 11) and Florence Sloan (Delhi Crime) who had optioned the book.
Three years into Helwig’s tenure, Miramax Television has accomplished the initial goal of having three on-air series — more than the company had produced in the past decade — Ritchie’s The Gentlemen at Netflix, Project Greenlight with Issa Rae at HBO Max and The Turkish Detective at Paramount.
The next goal is for the slate to expand to six series in the next three years, Helwig said. Among the hopefuls is a drama based on Gong Show host Chuck Barris’ memoir Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which had been adapted into the George Clooney-directed movie. While Justin Timberlake is no longer attached to play Barris, the project remains in active development at Apple TV+ and is currently in the process of hiring a director.
Slumdog Millionaire star Patel is making his feature directorial debut with the upcoming Monkey Man for Netflix, which he also co-wrote and stars in. He is repped by CAA and Sol 22. Clark and Louch are repped by UTA.
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