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Universal Television Alternative Studio Strikes First-Look Deal With ‘Depp V. Heard’ Producer Empress Films

Universal Television Alternative Studio (UTAS) is getting into business with Depp V. Heard producer Empress Films.

The Universal Studio Group-owned UTAS has struck an exclusive first-look deal with the UK indie, which filmmaker Emma Cooper launched in 2020.

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Empress is known for Netflix and Channel 4’s Depp V. Heard, as well three other Netflix titles, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard TapesWho Killed Jill Dando? and The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann; and Sky and Peacock co-production Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow.

The partnerships will provide Empress with access to UTAS’s transatlantic development resources, IP library and talent roster.

“Emma Cooper is a world class talent who has created some of the most-watched factual hits globally in recent years,” said Toby Gorman, President of UTAS. “As we look to grow our documentary and factual output, her track record makes her and the team at Empress ideal partners in that ambition and we know we are perfectly positioned to provide Emma and her team the support of our studio’s transatlantic resources.

“Monica Rodman on our Universal Television Alternative team will manage the partnership in the U.S. and because of the unique ecosystem we have at Universal Studio Group we will leverage the global expertise of Ed Havard at Universal International Studios to unlock opportunities worldwide.”

“We aim to grow Empress into the leading production company for premium nonfiction, drawing in the most compelling stories and storytellers on both sides of the camera,” added Cooper. “Our collaboration with Universal Studio Group enables us to expand our slate with some of the most exhilarating and ambitious films and TV shows in both nonfiction and fiction.

“Toby, Monica, and Ed’s team have proven to be trusted partners, seamlessly aligning with Empress’ goals to continue pushing the limits of storytelling across genres that will engage an expanding global audience. I’m thrilled to embark on this partnership and excited about the stories we will tell.”

UTAS’s productions include Peacock cooking series Baking It, hosted by Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler; The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, another Poehler vehicle for Peacock; and docuseries from Dick Wolf such as LA Fire & Rescue and Prosecuting Evil with Kelly Siegler. It also makes NBC’s Hollywood Game Night and The Wall.

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