ZDF Enterprises announces founding of new firm with documentary-film giant Steve Burns

Cannes, (PresseBox) - ZDF Enterprises and Studio Hamburg Produktion Gruppe announce that their subsidiary firms Gruppe 5 and Studio Hamburg DocLights are forming a partnership with Steve Burns, former Discovery Networks and National Geographic Channels programming and production executive.

The new production company will develop and produce non-fiction series and specials, and fact-based dramas geared for the U.S. and international markets. The headquarters will be based in Annapolis, Maryland, with Burns as its CEO. All partners have already successfully worked with one another on projects such as 2057, Armageddon, Mission X, Terra X, Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, America Before Columbus, America's Great National Parks, and Jaguar.

Until July 2011, Steve Burns was Executive Vice President of Global Programming for National Geographic Channels. Prior to joining NGC, Burns was a 15-year-veteran of Discovery Networks. As EVP of Production, he was responsible for nearly 2,000 hours of programming per year across the ten U.S. Discovery Networks. He served as EVP and Chief Science Editor at Discovery Networks, initiating the Discovery Quest expedition Specials. He was responsible for the successful re-launch of Science Channel as General Manager.

Burns has won multiple industry awards, including two Emmys. His teams have been nominated for an Academy Award and received over 200 Emmy nominations, including dozens of wins, along with two Peabody Awards.

Steve Burns: "After Geographic, the first calls I got were from Uwe Kersken and Joern Roever, who were long-time partners on some great series at Discovery, Science, and National Geographic. We were looking for a way to continue to work together. So, with our combined knowledge of programming, the world markets, commissioners and distributors, it was a natural idea we form a company based in the U.S."

Alexander Coridass, ZDF Enterprises' President and CEO, adds: "We at ZDF Enterprises have known Steve a long time. We've made dozens of factual projects with him, and we esteem him as an outstanding personality in our industry. I am proud that we could bring off this joint venture, and am sure that our combined resources will lead to outstanding and globally successful programs under the leadership of Steve Burns."

Gruppe Film's CEO and Managing Director Uwe Kersken says: "Over the past 12 years of our collaboration with Steve Burns, two things in particular have stood out: Firstly, Steve has always looked all over the world for the best ideas and the best makers, thus opening his broadcasters' doors to them, no matter what nationality or origins they had. Secondly, when it comes to quality and style, he is always absolutely clear and enormously helpful with his evaluations and advice. As a truly outstanding storyteller and skillful reviser, he is always in search of improvements and always has solutions to propose which he conceived himself. My colleagues and I are delighted that we have joined forces with this top producer. We can all still learn a great deal from him."

Joern Roever, CEO of Studio Hamburg DocLights GmbH, is also looking forward to the new cooperation: "With his creativity and his instinct for audience hits, Steve Burns is an ideal partner for our high-gloss productions and innovative formats. The direct access to the world's largest TV market is an important and exciting step to even more internationality."

About Studio Hamburg DocLights

Studio Hamburg DocLights GmbH is a subsidiary of ZDF Enterprises and Studio Hamburg Produktion Gruppe, which is part of NDR Media. Joern Roever, Michaela Hummel and Andreas Knoblauch are the General Managers. The main emphasis is on wildlife and factual entertainment. With the NDR NaturFilm brand, DocLights is one of the leading wildlife producers and series like "Wild Russia", "Wild Scandinavia", "Myth of the Forest" and "Amazon" have received over 200 awards worldwide. Since 2011 feature films have been added in the family entertainment segment: "Russia -- in the Empire of Tigers, Bears, and Volcanoes", "Serengeti", "Our Forest".

Regular coproduction partners are Arte, National Geographic, Animal Planet, ORF, Terra Mater, NHK, Channel One Russia and the BBC. In factual entertainment, DocLights specializes in soaps like "Our Farm in Africa" (ZDF), "Leopard, Sea Dog, and Co." (ARD), "Where Love Goes" (ZDF), "Men Alone at Home" (kabel eins), "The Super-Bargain House" (ZDF), and innovative formats such as "From the Expert's Hand" (NDR), and "The Mountains of the Germans" (ZDF), as well as high-quality documentaries with celebrities like Tim Maelzer ("Nutrition Checks" (ARD)) and Markus Lanz ("Longing for Greenland", "Longing for Mongolia" (ZDF)).

About Studio Hamburg Produktion Gruppe

Studio Hamburg Produktion Gruppe is one of the creative and economic market leaders in the German film and television productions landscape. It is the parent company for its operational subsidiaries whose production portfolio extends over all important program segments in the TV and film industry. For all large German TV channels, these companies produce everything from long-running series to full-length feature films, from exciting documentaries to entertaining television shows.

Contact Studio Hamburg DocLights/Studio Hamburg Produktion Gruppe

Carina Meier, Studio Hamburg Produktion Gruppe GmbH, Jenfelder Allee 80, 22039 Hamburg, phone: +49 (40) 6688-4802, fax: +49 (40) 6688-5428, mobile: +49 (177) 7133504, cameier@studio-hamburg.de, www.studio-hamburg-produktion.de

About Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion

Since its founding in late 1989, Cologne-based Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion GmbH has been developing and producing documentary films and series in the fields of history, science, nature, culture and society. The current shareholders are ZDF Enterprises, Studio Hamburg DocLights, Christel Fomm and Uwe Kersken, who is also CEO and Executive Producer. After obtaining a degree in psychology, he began working as a TV producer, author and director for the German and international TV market in 1985. He has been a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences since 2006 and was repeatedly invited to the executive board of the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers.

The credits of Gruppe 5 comprise programs such as " Alexander von Humboldt - An American Journey," "The American Travels of Alexander von Humboldt", "Dead Men Tell Tales" (The History of Forensic Medicine), "Storm over Europe" (The Wandering Tribes), "Masters of Life and Death (Medicine in the Third Reich)", "Ways out of Darkness" (Europe in the Middle Ages), "The Day X" (Days that changed the World), "The Germanic Tribes", "Update - The World in 50 Years, "Supercomet - After the Impact", and "Welcome to China"-super docs (including "China's Forbidden City", "China's Great Wall", "Secrets of the First Emperor", "The Glass Mountain -The Secret of Zhao Ling"), "The History of the Germans", "Great India", "The Varus Battle - Battle Against Rome", "1492 - America before Columbus", "South Africa - Land of Hope", "Dawn of the Oceans", "Superstructures," "Planet Egypt," "Holy War" and "Konrad Adenauer."

Gruppe 5 produces predominantly for the German public-law broadcasters ZDF, ARD and ARTE and coproduces with international partners such as Canal +, France Télévisions, BBC, RTE, S4C, ORF, TVE, Mediaset , RAI, SBS, CCTV, NHK, Discovery, Discovery International, Science Channel, History, National Geographic Channel US, National Geographic Channels International, Smithsonian Channel and others.

Contact Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion

Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion GmbH, Kartäuserwall 19 - 21, D-50678 Köln/Cologne, phone +49 221 946 7070, fax +49 221 946 707, e-mail: info@gruppe5film.de

ZDF Enterprises GmbH

Founded in 1993, ZDF Enterprises GmbH is the wholly-owned subsidiary and commercial arm of ZDF German Television Network, one of Europe's largest and most respected broadcasters. Headquartered in Mainz, Germany, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for the development, production and global distribution of quality original programming. The company is also responsible for all program acquisitions and international co-productions on behalf of the network, and acquires programming for world-wide distribution. Its vast program library ranks as the largest in the German language. The extensive catalogue includes television movies and mini-series, drama series and comedies, documentaries, family entertainment and children's programming. ZDF Enterprises also oversees all licensing and merchandising activities based on its high-profile programs, including book and music publishing and the licensing of its program properties in all key product categories. Committed to the future, ZDF Enterprises has embarked on numerous New Media initiatives, ranging from opportunities within the burgeoning e-commerce industry to the creation of themed edutainment dimensions featuring the recognized program brands with which ZDF has become synonymous.

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