Senior hires at HMPG, Big Little Fish; Atlas options “Gangsters vs. Nazis”

Atlas Media options non-fiction book gangsters vs. nazis

NYC non-fiction prodco Atlas Media has optioned Michael Benson’s recently released book gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America for a documentary project. Bruce David Klein, Atlas’ president and executive producer, made the announcement.

Released by Citadel Press and distributed by Penguin Random House, the book chronicles how Jewish gangsters waged their own unofficial war against Nazi activists in the US during the 1930s, in the pre-war years when Euro-style fascism was starting to gain ground across the Atlantic.

“I’m looking forward to collaborating on this documentary project, and have no doubt, given Atlas’ track record, that audiences will be riveted by this important, overlooked story of America’s fight against fascism,” said the book’s author Benson in a press release announcing the deal.

Atlas’ most recent feature doc was Icahn: The Restless Billionaire, about enigmatic Wall Street financier Carl Icahn, which premiered on HBO in February. The company is currently in production on a doc about stage and screen legend Liza Minnelli (which was first announced last summer) for an as-yet-unnamed premium cable net.

Hearst Media taps Wickert, Bradley for partnerships and development positions

The recently rebranded Hearst Media Production Group (formerly Litton Entertainment) is continuing its busy winter and spring of personnel moves and expansion, hiring Jacqueline Wickert and promoting Laura Bradley, both to the position of business partnerships and development executive.

Wickert (pictured left) arrives at HMPG after eight years at the also recently renamed Paramount Global (formerly ViacomCBS), where she most recently served as VP of current programming and integrated marketing. Prior to that, she served in senior branded entertainment and partnerships roles at NBCUniversal, CBS and Warner Bros. Television Studios subsidiary Telepictures.

Bradley (pictured right) has been with HMPG/Litton since 2015, most recently serving as senior director of client activation, in which capacity she developed brand partnerships for the company’s slate of programming across major broadcast nets and station groups. Both she and Wickert will report to Amy DeGregorio, HMPG’s SVP and managing director of sales for educational/informational (E/I) programming, in their new roles.

“Jacquie and Laura bring a wealth of highly complementary experience and talents to their new roles,” said Bryan Curb, HMPG’s EVP and general manager, E/I. “They will be important contributors as we execute on our ambitious plans to grow the development slate and our marketing partnerships.”

RDF’s Peter Usher joins Big Little Fish as creative director

UK indie Big Little Fish Television has appointed its first creative director, bringing in Peter Usher from Banijay-owned RDF Television’s Fizz label.

Reporting to Big Little Fish CEO Mark Procter, Usher — whose credits with Fizz, where he served as co-creative director, include Tipping Point and Britain’s Most Expensive Home — will focus on the creation of returnable factual series and factual entertainment formats, as well as growing talent relationships. As creative director, he joins COO Georgina Surtees, who came on board the three-year-old prodco last summer, as part of the company’s senior management team.

“Big Little Fish launched just weeks before the pandemic, but despite these most challenging times we’ve had incredible success and support from channels and commissioners,” said Procter in a release announcing the hire. “Now, to be talking about bringing in such a creative talent is thrilling. It’s a new chapter for BLFTV, and the projects Peter’s already working on are hugely exciting.”

Big Little Fish’s recent productions include the true-crime two-parter Married to a Psychopath and the military-aircraft history special The Lancaster at 80both for Channel 4.

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