By Peter White
EXCLUSIVE: Canadian producer Pier 21 Films, set up by former eOne Television chief Laszlo Barna, is to adapt A Good Wife: Escaping The Life I Never Chose, the story of a teen bride being forced to move to Canada, into a television series.
The company has optioned A Good Wife: Escaping The Life I Never Chose, written by Samra Zafar with Meg Masters and published by HarpersCollins Canada in March.
The book tells Zafar’s story; at sixteen, she had big dreams. She was going to go to university and forge her own path. Then, with almost no warning, those dreams were snatched away when she was suddenly married to a stranger at seventeen and had to leave behind her family in Pakistan and move to Canada. Her new husband and his family vowed that the marriage and the move would be a fulfillment of her dream, not a betrayal of it. But as the walls of their home slowly became a prison, Samra realized their promises were empty ones. Desperate to get out and refusing to give up, she hatched an escape plan for herself and her two daughters. Slowly, over the months and years, she found the strength not only to build a new future, but also to walk away from her past.
This comes as Pier 21 Films, which produces CTV’s new satire The Beaverton, doubles its scripted development slate. It is developing dramas with Michael Konyves, showrunner of Anthony LaPaglia-fronted Netflix/CityTV drama Bad Blood, and Sandra Chwialkowska, writer on Ransom, which aired on CBS. The company has also started a co-venture with Tim Fontaine, founder and editor-in-grand-chief of Indigenous news site Walking Eagle News and is working with Canadian comedians including DeAnne Smith, Aisha Brown, Hunter Collins, Nelu Handa, and Amish Patel.
Last year, Pier 21 Films promoted Melissa Williamson to President, while Nicole Butler was named Chief Operating Officer. The pair jointly run the day-to-day operations and oversee the ongoing strategy for the company’s growth. Williamson helped Barna launch Pier 21 Films in 2011 and worked in LA at Blueprint Entertainment before joining Entertainment One’s television division in 2008. Meanwhile, Butler was previously Head of Business Affairs at Barna-Alper Productions and VP of Production at both Barna-Alper and Entertainment One and currently oversees day-to-day production on The Beaverton.
“Our ambition for the company is to support the creative first and let that pave the way for financing and production planning,” said Williamson and Butler. “Many of the exceptional talent we’re working with are homegrown but their voices speak to global audiences. We’re excited about the potential to share their stories with the world.”
“Melissa and Nicole are extraordinary executives,” Barna added. “Their strong relationships, focus and drive will help take the company to the next level.”