Maria Zuckerman steps down as president of Topic Studios
EXCLUSIVE: Maria Zuckerman stepping down as president of Thematic studios, where she led the company’s movie, streaming, TV and podcast slate for more than three years. It is not yet clear where the respected executive will land.
“Maria has a fantastic creative sensibility with a keen business sense,” said Michael Bloom, CEO of First Look Media, to whom Zuckerman reported. “Over the past three years, she and the studio team have accelerated Topic Studios’ growth into a world-class independent studio, attracting stellar talent, exciting voices, and award-winning films, documentaries, series, and podcasts. We we are grateful for all that she has done and wish her the best for the future.
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During his time at Topic, Zuckerman revamped the studio by greenlighting, producing and selling profitable, brand-defining titles; the creation of four distinct content sectors (scripted TV, film, non-fiction and podcasts); creation of a Scripted TV department in Los Angeles; raise the profile of the Studio; and achieve its ambition to elevate the Topic Studios brand through premium content that has cultural impact. She also overhauled Topic’s investment model and creative content strategy, exponentially increasing content production and revenue throughout the pandemic.
Under Zuckerman’s leadership, Topic Studios sold projects to Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Paramount, and Freeform/Disney; created a podcast listing deal with Audible and sold pods to distributors including Spotify, iHeart, and Wondery; and established several pacts with independent producers. Projects Zuckerman has greenlit or sold for Topic Studios have been nominated for Oscars in major categories; won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; has been nominated for and won Golden Globes in major categories; recognized as a Pulitzer Prize finalist in podcasting; and received rave reviews from the press, including The New York Times and LA Times.
Under the Topic Studios banner, Zuckerman recently produced Nanny, from first-time filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2022, and sold to Blumhouse and Amazon. Additional films Zuckerman has greenlighted during his tenure at Topic Studios include the recently announced Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman. theater camp; by Brandon Cronenberg Overflowing swimming pool, with Alexander Skarsgård, which will be co-published with Neon; by Pablo Larrain spencer, which earned Kristen Stewart her first Oscar nomination; the star of Jodie Foster Mauritanian, published by STXfilms; Chris Smith’s surfing series 100 foot wave for HBO; Series nominated for Ry Russo-Young’s Independent Spirit Award Nuclear family for HBO; and director Lizzie Gottlieb’s documentary, Turn every pageon the remarkable fifty-year relationship between two literary legends, writer Robert Caro (The Power Broker) and its publisher Robert Gottlieb. Other notable titles under his helm include David Antebi’s feature directorial debut God’s timedeveloped under the studio’s first-look deal with Watch This Ready, which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Toni Collette’s upcoming debut Writers and loversadapted from the New York Times bestseller by Lily King, with Nick Payne, Susannah Grant and Sarah Timberman producing.
Zuckerman also oversaw the sale and release of documentaries, including The fight, co-published with Magnolia Pictures; by Lucy Walker Bring your own squad, on Paramount+; and Mucho Mucho Amor on Netflix. She also oversaw the competitive sale of Project Untitled Vincent Chin, a scripted drama limited series to be created for Amazon by Marilyn Fu, starring Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) attached to lead; and two premium dramas from the studios’ previous first-look deal with Tracy Oliver (Harlem), including the adult thriller Savannah with PKM Productions for Amazon Studios.
Zuckerman’s time at Topic has also seen the release of successful podcasts, including Pushkin Industries’ food and travel show. not lost of the old Dinner Download host Brendan Francis Newman, The messenger and american islamic state on Audible Plus and Pulitzer Finalist Someone on iHeartRadio.
Prior to Topic Studios, Zuckerman worked at HBO for 20 years, where she served as SVP, HBO Films. His career list included 30 titles from talents such as Richard Curtis, Peter Morgan and David Yates. His films earned 95 Emmy Award nominations for HBO, winning 17 Emmy Awards, including three for Best Picture/Miniseries; 22 Golden Globe nominations with five wins, including two for Best Miniseries or Best Motion Picture Made for Television; 23 BAFTA nominations and numerous NAACP, GLAAD and SAG Awards. Some of his HBO movies included Besie, Muhammad Ali’s greatest fight, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, gray gardens and Mary and Martha.
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