via press release:
STARZ AND BBC CO-PRODUCE RONALD HARWOOD’S “THE DRESSER”
STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS AND IAN MCKELLEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME
Movie To Be Directed By Richard Eyre and Produced By Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment and Sonia Friedman Productions
Beverly Hills, Calif., January 9, 2015 – Starz, in partnership with the BBC, will produce and air the television adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s classic play “The Dresser,” set against the backdrop of World War II and inspired by Harwood’s own experiences as a dresser for the distinguished British actor/manager Sir Donald Wolfit. The movie for television will be directed by Richard Eyre, and stars Anthony Hopkins (Noah, Thor, Silence of the Lambs) as “Sir” and Ian McKellen (The Hobbit franchise, X-Men franchise, Lord of the Rings franchise) as his dresser “Norman.” “The Dresser” represents the first time Hopkins and McKellen have worked together. It is executive produced by Colin Callender of Playground Entertainment, Sonia Friedman for Sonia Friedman Productions, Polly Hilly, BBC Head of Independent Drama and Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning. “The Dresser” was commissioned by Stephenson on behalf of BBC Drama and BBC Arts and will air on BBC Two in the UK and STARZ in the U.S.
Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz, said, “‘The Dresser’ is a timeless and poignant story about the relationship between artists, and to have this classic play brought to life on-screen by such acting giants as Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen is thrilling. We are glad to be working in partnership again with the BBC and Colin Callender on this very special project, and to be establishing a relationship with acclaimed theatre producer Sonia Friedman.”
“This production is a testament to the commitment of the BBC and Starz to bring quality drama to the screen,” Executive Producer Colin Callender said. “It is also a testament to Ronald Harwood’s glorious writing that we have been able to bring together such a wonderful creative team from the worlds of film, television and the theatre.”
“The Dresser” will begin production in London in 2015. Starz retains all US multiplatform pay TV rights as well as worldwide multiplatform distribution rights to “The Dresser.” BBC retains UK television rights.
Hopkins made his first film for television, A Flea in Her Ear in 1967 and continued to enjoy a successful career in cinema and television. In 1968, he worked on The Lion in Winter (1968) with Timothy Dalton. Many successes came later, and Hopkins’ remarkable acting style reached the four corners of the world. In 1977, he appeared in two major films: A Bridge Too Far (1977) with James Caan, Gene Hackman, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Elliott Gould and Laurence Olivier, and Maximilian Schell. In 1980, he worked on The Elephant Man (1980). Two good television literature adaptations followed: “Othello” (1981) and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1982). In 1987 he was awarded with the Commander of the order of the British Empire. In 1993, he was knighted.
Hopkins has acted in Howards End (1992), The Remains of the Day (1993) (Oscar nominee), Legends of the Fall (1994), Nixon (1995) (Oscar nominee), Amistad (1997) (Oscar nominee), The Mask of Zorro (1998) and most recently Thor (2011), Hitchcock (2012), Thor: the Dark World (2013) and Noah (2014). His most remarkable film, however, was The Silence of the Lambs (1991), for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor. He also received a B.A.F.T.A. for this role.
McKellen has been honored with over 50 international acting awards for his work on stage and screen.
He is beloved by fans worldwide as Magneto in “X-Men” and Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies. His first Academy Award® Best Actor nomination was for Bill Condon’s 1998 classic “Gods and Monsters.”
Over 50 years he has been leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain, in the West End of London and on Broadway.
He has won Olivier Awards for his performances in “Macbeth” (1976-78), “The Alchemist” (1977), “Bent” (1979), “Wild Honey” (1984), and “Richard III” (1990), as well as Evening Standard Awards for his work in “Coriolanus” (1984) and “Othello” (1989) and for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre (2009).
Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) is a leading integrated global media and entertainment company with operating units that provide premium subscription video programming on domestic U.S. pay television channels (Starz Networks), global content distribution (Starz Distribution) and animated television and movie production (Starz Animation), www.starz.com.
Starz Networks is a leading provider of premium subscription video programming through the flagship STARZ® and ENCORE® pay TV networks which showcase premium original programming and movies to U.S. multichannel video distributors, including cable operators, satellite television providers, and telecommunications companies. As of
September 30, 2014, STARZ and ENCORE serve a combined 56.2 million subscribers, including 22.5 million at STARZ, and 33.7 million at ENCORE, making them the largest pair of premium flagship channels in the U.S. STARZ® and ENCORE®, along with Starz Networks’ third network MOVIEPLEX®, air more than 1,000 movies monthly across 17 linear networks, complemented by On Demand and authenticated online offerings through STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and MOVIEPLEX PLAY. Starz Distribution develops, produces and acquires entertainment content, distributing it to consumers globally on DVD, digital formats and traditional television. Starz Distribution’s home video, digital media and worldwide distribution business units distribute original programming content produced by Starz, as well as entertainment content for itself and third parties. Starz Animation produces animated TV and movie content for studios, networks, distributors and audiences worldwide.
Playground, founded in 2012 by Colin Callender, is committed to producing quality drama for the screen and the stage bringing together the finest US and UK talent from the worlds of theatre, film, and television. Callender won his first Emmy for the television adaptation of the RSC’s The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and, as president of HBO Films, was responsible for an unprecedented award-winning slate of movies and miniseries. Playground is currently in post-production with Company Pictures on the six-part miniseries adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Jonathan Pryce set to debut on BBC and Masterpiece in early 2015. It is also partnered with Charlie Pattinson’s New Pictures on the Golden Globe nominated The Missing, an eight part thriller for the BBC and Starz.
On the theatre front Callender is a producer of Jez Butterworth’s THE RIVER starring Hugh Jackman, and the Tony Award Winning musical revival of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, both currently playing on Broadway. Other recent productions include Nora Ephron’s Tony-nominated Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut; Tony-nominated Casa Valentina from four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein; and the critically acclaimed production of Macbeth at The Park Avenue Armory starring Kenneth Branagh.
Sonia Friedman Productions
Sonia Friedman Productions, founded in 2002, is a West End and Broadway theatre production company responsible for some of the most successful theatre productions in London and on Broadway over the past few years. Friedman has developed, initiated and produced over 140 new productions and has won numerous Olivier and Tony Awards®, including a record-breaking 14 at this year’s Olivier awards (Best New Musical, Best New Play, Best Revival of a Musical and Best Revival of a Play, among others).
Recent West End and Broadway productions and co-productions include: the UK premiere of ‘The Book of Mormon’, Jez Butterworth’s ‘The River’ on Broadway, starring Hugh Jackman, ‘Electra’, ‘King Charles III’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Shakespeare in Love’, ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Ghosts’, ‘Mojo’, ‘Chimerica’, ‘Twelfth Night & Richard III’ and ‘Old Times’. Forthcoming productions include ‘The Nether’, ‘Bend it Like Beckham the Musical’ and ‘Hamlet’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Sonia will also collaborate with J. K. Rowling on a new stage play to be based on the Harry Potter stories in co-production with Colin Callender.
‘The Dresser’ marks Friedman’s second television drama production, which follows directly after her current partnership with Playground Entertainment on the six-part mini-series adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’ for the BBC and Masterpiece co-produced by Company Pictures.
Sonia Friedman Productions is a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group.