Former Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channels (NGC) exec Steve Burns is teaming up with ZDF Enterprises subsidiaries Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion and Studio Hamburg DocLights to create a U.S.-German prodco, which will focus on non-fiction series and specials, as well as fact-based dramas.
Burns, who departed from his post as executive vice president of global programming for NGC last year and also a 15-year Discovery veteran, will head up the new company out of Annapolis, Maryland. All the partners for the as-yet-unnamed prodco have worked together previously on such projects as 2057, Armageddon, Mission X, Terra X, and Great Wall of China.
“After Geographic, the first calls I got were from [Gruppe 5 CEO and MD] Uwe Kersken and [Studio Hamburg DocLights CEO] Joern Roever, who were long-time partners on some great series at Discovery, Science, and National Geographic,” said Burns. “We were looking for a way to continue to work together. So, with our combined knowledge of programming, the world markets, commissioners and distributors, it was a natural idea we form a company based in the U.S.”
“Over the past 12 years of our collaboration with Steve Burns, two things in particular have stood out,” added Kersken. “Firstly, Steve has always looked all over the world for the best ideas and the best makers, thus opening his broadcasters’ doors to them, no matter what nationality or origins they had. Secondly, when it comes to quality and style, he is always absolutely clear and enormously helpful with his evaluations and advice.”