Garner and her producing partner Rowan Riley, via their company Alma Margo, sealed a first-look deal with Tomorrow earlier this year. Their first series will be a drama about an international jewel heist titled “Balabusta.”
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“She’s very engaged and involved in every step of the way,” Adelstein said of Garner. “That’s probably one of the best deals we’ve ever made. We’re really happy to be in business with her.”
Garner, of course, is on a roll, having scored Emmy nominations this week in both lead actress in a limited series (for “Inventing Anna”) and supporting actress in a drama (for “Ozark”). Garner already has two Emmys, having won for “Ozark” in 2019 and 2020 in the supporting drama actress field.
“Balabusta” is one of several projects in various forms of development at Tomorrow Studios. As Variety exclusively reported on Wednesday, Tomorrow has also struck a deal with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions to jointly adapt Jonathan Frazen’s novel “Freedom” into a series.
“Freedom,” which was released in 2010 and named one of the New York Times’ 10 best books of the year, will be adapted into a TV series by writer and playwright Melanie Marnich (“The Affair,” “Big Love”). The story follows a St. Paul couple who start out as idealistic parents, but begin to question everything as the American society around them starts to crumble.
“The book is fantastic and there’s just nothing better than getting a piece of material from a writer like Melanie Marnich,” Clements says.
It’s part of a growth spurt for Tomorrow Studios, which Adelstein founded in partnership with ITV Studios in 2014. Clements, who has worked with Adelstein for more than a decade (including at their previous company with Shawn Levy, 21 Laps/ Adelstein) and has been with Tomorrow since its launch, was upped to partner alongside him last year.
“I’ve known Becky for 25 years, we’ve been together now for about 12 years,” Adelstein says. “We sort of speak the same language.”
Adds Clements: “What Marty and I set out to do was have total creative independence with a great partnership with ITV, and stay as close to the actual producing of TV series. Eliminate layers, stay close to the people who possess the real talent, and let’s just make great television. It took a moment for people to go ‘oh, you’re producers for hire,’ and we’re like, ‘no, we’re not. We’re deficit financing the shows.’ We’re bringing great creative material to the networks and on budget.”
Tomorrow is behind TNT’s “Snowpiercer,” set to end with its upcoming fourth season, and Apple TV+’s “Physical” starring Rose Byrne. Currently in production are Netflix’s live-action take on the manga series “One Piece,” and Showtime’s “Let the Right One In,” starring Demian Bichir.
“I figured out early on that in order for us to attract the talent that we wanted to be in business with, it was all about having the best IP in the world,” Adelstein says. “To that end, I started going to Japan. It took me two years, going four times a year to get them to trust us with the anime stuff to make into live action shows. We go to Scandinavia, we go all over the world and mine this IP. Now, we’re in an expansion stage where we’re going to bring in some other people, we’re going to build it a little bigger.”
That included recently bringing on former Bruckheimer TV exec Tony Sabastina to serve as senior VP of development. Also over the past year, Tomorrow landed a first-look deal with Frank Spotnitz’s London-based Big Light Prods., focused on the international space; and in 2020, the company launched an adult animation joint venture with Nick Weidenfeld called Work Friends, which produces the Steve Dildarian series “10 Year Old Tom” for HBO Max. Next up, “we’re in the middle of negotiating with lots of people Marty and I’ve known for many years who they themselves are capable of making four or five series on their own,” Clements says.
The biggest disappointment along the way was “Cowboy Bebop,” which finally launched last year after delays brought on by COVID-19, as well as an injury that struck star John Cho. After all that, the show was quickly canceled by Netflix. “Heartbreak,” Clements says. “Something in the moment just did not work for the audience.”
“Cowboy Bebop” still received an Emmy nomination this week, for main title design, while “Snowpiercer” landed its first ever nod, in visual effects for a single episode.
Meanwhile, the duo say they’re averaging optioning between one and two new properties a month. Next, they’d like to expand Tomorrow’s comedy brand.
“Marty and I’ve done a lot of comedies in our day, and I think we’re really wanting to launch our comedy business in a greater way,” Clements said. “We love it. I personally think that one hours are going to become half hours, we’re going to be moving in that realm of 30-minute programming across the board. We just like great comedic voices, so we’re trying to really pick up that side of the business.”
With “Physical,” completing its second season on Apple TV+, Clements said she was “so proud of Annie Weisman, who created it, and Rose [Byrne] is very involved, along with Stephanie Laing, our director.”
Tomorrow Studios currently includes a small staff of around 12 execs. Adelstein says he doesn’t expect to get much bigger, but rather focus on other ways to grow the company.
“We’re getting close to capacity what we can handle because we’ve got a number of shows lined up behind the ones we have,” he says. “So what I want to do is bring in some label deals, where I bring in some accomplished non-writing executive producers who can make sure that the company has constant flow of material and shows coming out. In this business, you never know — you could have two shows canceled one day and three picked up the next. I want to make sure that the company keeps producing and keeps moving forward, but never gets too big.
“What I love about this company is whatever we dream we seem to be able to do,” Adelstein adds. “‘Snowpiercer’ came about because I was watching the movie with my wife, and I liked it so much I said I’m going to make a TV show out of it. It took me two years to track down the rights. ‘Let The Right One In’ was one that my daughter showed me seven years ago… This is the most fun I’ve ever had.”
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