German producer Tele München Group (TMG) has thrown its support behind embattled US miniseries producer RHI Entertainment, telling C21 it still has faith in the firm and expects to continue working with it.
The two companies have a long history of co-financing miniseries together, which most recently saw RHI investing in TMG's US$25m adaptation of classic novel Moby Dick, which is currently in production.
However, RHI is enduring a tough year, having faced the threat of bankruptcy after missing an interest payment on a US$75m loan, and with its top execs having taken salary cuts as part of an ongoing restructure.
Earlier this week it de-listed from Nasdaq, as reported by C21, and announced that it had let go of its long-serving president of production and distribution, Joel Denton.
However, Dr Herbert Kloiber (left), TMG's owner and MD, told C21 there was "every reason to believe" the US company would pull through.
"They've never owed us a nickel over the past 20 years for longer than a day, and nor have we," he said. "I don't think we have any reason to believe - knowing everything we do - that we will not be paid, let's say, for a final instalment on Moby Dick.
"To read about a partner that you have been working with being in a situation like this is disappointing," said Kloiber of Robert Halmi Sr. "This is someone that I've known for half my life - he's a decent chap."
He added that he was optimistic the two firms would continue to work on future projects. "We're happily discussing a couple of projects with RHI that are lined up for 2010 and even 2011, if they get through this financial situation over the next six to eight weeks, which we believe they can.
"It's a tough time, but I still think that we and RHI, in some shape or form, will continue to make good stuff."
The news comes after TMG yesterday announced a US$20m deal with UK-based producer-distributor Power, which will see the two companies teaming up for productions over the next three years. Kloiber said the accord would benefit both parties. "It is crucial for the banks to feel assured that a good portion of the original budgets are covered," he said.
He also revealed that the duo had their complete slate of co-financed projects for 2010-12 already lined up, though he remained tight-lipped about what the next coproduction would be.
"We have all the projects lined up - each of them has been defined and set in its parameters," he said. "This is not just an envelope which will be filled later. We don't believe in making announcements over deals that don't have any substance."
He added that, overall, the miniseries market had become much tougher over the past few years. "It's become tighter, but a good idea and a good show will still find its prominent place," he said.
"All the rules can be bent. Many people said you could never make an eight-hour show like (Tandem MD) Rola Bauer did with The Pillars of the Earth, but there it is - she's made it, she's done it, she's sold it and she's probably going to do another one soon. It's all there to be proven wrong." "