With ‘Queen of the South’ wrapping up, producer David Friendly wonders what’s next

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“Queen of the South” producer David Friendly at the ATX Television Festival in 2016. Photo by iDominick, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The USA series “Queen of the South,” which follows the fearless Teresa Mendoza as she escapes a cartel but then runs a drug empire herself, will finish its fifth and final season in June. 

An English-language adaptation of the telenovela “La Reina del Sur,” “Queen of the South” was the first foray into television for producer David Friendly. 


Trailer for Season 5 of “Queen of the South”

Friendly began his career as an entertainment journalist but then went to work for producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard at their company, Imagine. 

He’s since worked for other production companies and started his own, Friendly Films, in 2006. At this point, he’s been a producer on more than two dozen films. Those include “My Girl,” the three “Big Momma’s House” movies, and the Oscar-nominated “Little Miss Sunshine.”

When the market for mid-budget movies fell off, Friendly turned to television. Now “Queen of the South” is winding down and Friendly doesn’t think TV will offer an opportunity for a five-season run again. So he’s at a crossroads, unsure where — or if — he still fits in. 

“Usually at 3 or 4 (o’clock) in the morning, I tend to wake up most nights, and we all find something to worry about. In my case, it’s like, am I gonna get to do this again?”

Friendly is committed to pushing forward and adapting in an industry obsessed with streaming. But he says part of the problem, in addition to studios dropping producer deals, is the players are constantly changing. 

“Literally, you can walk in the door, pitch something to an executive, three weeks go by, and you’re following up, and you find out that they have left the company or are in a different department now, and you have to start all over again.”

Friendly says he used to know every buyer at every studio, and who to take comedy to and who to take drama to. But now, he says, “Good luck at Netflix. You’re talking about hundreds of different people on different teams. That makes it quite a bit more difficult and sometimes dizzying to form the sort of intimate creative relationships that allow you to develop a trust with the buyer.”

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Host:

Kim Masters

Producer:

Kaitlin Parker