Cottonwood, Hulu, ZDF, ZDF Studios, France TV: “Banned”

Paris-based Cottonwood Media and the Paris National Opera are teaming up again with US streamer Hulu, German ZDF and ZDF Studios, and France Televisions, all partners on Find Me in Paris, for another premium live-action tween series, “Spellbound”.

Production of Spellbound is slated to begin this summer in Paris, with a later move to Brussels. Spellbound is produced by Jill Girling and Lori Mather (Ride), the same original executive producers and showrunners of Find Me in Paris.

Renaud Mathieu serves as line producer, a position he also held on Emily in Paris. The main director of the series is Alexander Jacob (Theodosia, 4 O’clock Club, Hollyoaks). The directors include Annie Bradley (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Expanse) and Robert Burke (Find Me in Paris, Free Rein).

Federation Kids & Family, a distribution arm of Cottonwood Media’s parent company Federation Entertainment, will work with ZDF Studios, the commercial subsidiary of German public broadcaster ZDF, to handle global distribution.

Find Me in Paris has run for three seasons since its release in 2018 and has been broadcast in 130 territories, with the soundtrack registering 18 million streams for 2020/2021 and the YouTube channel recording 46.1 million views as of February 2022.

“Spellbound” plays again at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Its protagonist, however, is a few years younger: feisty 15-year-old Cece Parker Jones, played by newcomer Hailey Melody Romain, and while they maintain a mix of fantasy and the theme of finding one’s place in the world, she replaces time travel from Find Me in Paris with magic.

In Paris, Cece discovers a book of family charms in Aunt Ginger’s pharmacy and accidentally breaks a ward that conceals her identity.

From now on, she must juggle the pressures of one of the top elite ballet schools in the world, academic studies, new friendships and, according to the plot, “maybe a cute boy… or two, as well as her incredible ability to activate magic, while staying.” the underground circle a secret only to her closest friends.”

A “premier entertainment series for a global audience,” Spellbound is “an exciting, high-concept series combining ballet, magic, witchcraft and more, with diversity and inclusivity at the heart of the production,” the partners announced Thursday.

“Having worked in the ballet world for a number of years, we were excited to tell ambitious stories with a BIPOC lead. With a fresh perspective on ballet and the added excitement of a magical twist, Cece and her friends have many exciting stories for us to share,” said Girling and Mather.

They added, “We’re thrilled to have a completely different writing space alongside the two of us, giving us new and different perspectives than we’ve had in the past and allowing us to tell authentic stories for ‘Spellbound.'”

Zoé Carrera Allaix, Cécile Lauritano and David Michel of Cottonwood Media are producing the series.

“Spellbound” continues the company’s commitment to serving underserved children and family audiences worldwide and marks it as a growth area for production.

While many prime-time teen dramas have an almost sitcom feel to them, with their limited sets, heavy lighting and color, and frequent close-ups, Find Me in Paris was shot “like a premium drama show,” Michel pointed out diversity at the announcement of Find Me in Paris.

No budget is given for Spellbound. For a tween show, however, it should be high. The first season of Find Me in Paris was budgeted at just under €12 million ($12.6 million).

“It was easy for us to immediately fall in love with this wonderful concept! “Spellbound” fits perfectly into the ZDF portfolio of top-class live-action teen series. We have worked with Cottonwood’s creative team on many projects and look forward to continuing our fruitful collaboration,” says Nicole Keeb, ZDF Head of International Co-Productions and Acquisitions, Children’s and Youth Programming.

“Having retained the Paris Opera House as the main setting as in ‘Find Me in Paris,’ ‘Spellbound’ brings a totally fresh and innovative storyline with some elements of surprise to delight audiences worldwide,” said Carrera Allaix, Lauritano and Michel of Cottonwood.

Arne Lohmann, VP Junior at ZDF Studios, remarked: “After the tremendous success of ‘Find Me In Paris’, it was only logical to work again with the amazing production team at Cottonwood and the Paris Opera House.”

For Claire Heinrich, Deputy Director of Children’s Programs and Head of Acquisitions at France Télévisions, “We liked the ‘Spellbound’ project after ‘Find Me in Paris’, which enchanted our viewers for three seasons in the exceptional setting of the Paris Opera because progress in terms of diversity and inclusion. We are excited to enrich our fiction offering with strong female performances aimed at a tween demo consuming them primarily on our Okoo platform.”

https://variety.com/2022/tv/global/cottonwood-hulu-zdf-france-televisions-spellbound-1235301135/ Cottonwood, Hulu, ZDF, ZDF Studios, France TV: “Banned”

Charles Jones

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