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Vanity Fair: “IT’S A GOLD MINE”: INSIDE THE WASHINGTON POST’S BIG HOLLYWOOD DEAL

The Post set the wheels in motion earlier this year when publisher Fred Ryan started putting feelers out to his West Coast contacts, including Willow Bay and Elizabeth M. Daley, both of whom he knows from serving on the board of the University of Southern California. (Bay, a veteran broadcaster who is married to former Disney chief Bob Iger, is dean of the university’s communications and journalism school; Daley is dean of the film school.) Ryan said it was Daley who suggested he reach out to Grazer—cofounder of Imagine with Ron Howard—to pick his brain about which agents might best help the Post expand into film and television. “We just hit it off from the very beginning when I explained what we were trying to do,” Ryan recalled…

“The biggest opportunity for us is the ongoing investigations. That’s where the Post really shines, where they’re four or five or six months down the line with a particular story, putting a lot of resources behind it, and now they’re letting us in on that story before it even breaks.” Imagine producers recently embedded with Post journalists for one such story, which they’re turning into a documentary, “to see the process of reporting and what it takes to get the truth right,” said [Imagine President and Chief Strategy Officers Justin] Wilkes. “Imagine is so bullish on it that we’re financing it.” Other projects in development include something related to the fall of Afghanistan and also a scripted TV series based on the Post’s recent “Gringo Hunters” feature, about an elite Mexican police squad that targets American fugitives fleeing across the southern border…

“What got me super excited,” said Grazer, “is that Ron and I have made a lot of movies based on true stories. We love true stories and documentaries. We have 18 to 22 projects a year, and a lot of the things we do are based on true stories and the IP that underlies that, whether it’s Apollo 13 or A Beautiful Mind or Friday Night Lights. The Washington Post is just so rich with stories that you can bring to cinematic environments. It’s a gold mine.”

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