Producer Gigi Pritzker on 'Genius,' her first foray into TV
Gigi Pritzker didn't plunge headlong into the movie business -- her original life plan was to run an NGO in Nepal. An accidental journey to film school set her on a path to producing lots of films, including the Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water. But she'd never done television until Genius, on the life of Albert Einstein, demanded to be made as a series. The first season of the National Geographic anthology series is now up for 10 Emmys.
Producer Gigi Pritzker is a member of the wealthy Chicago Pritzker family, but she never wanted to go into the family business. And she didn't think she'd end up in Hollywood either, until an anthropology professor offered some unlikely career advice. As the CEO of Madison Wells Media, she's produced and helped finance lots of films but she'd never done TV. That is, until she started to develop a film based on the life of Albert Einstein, and found that it demanded to be a series. Pritzker talks about executive producing Nat Geo's first scripted program, Genius, which is in the Emmy race with 10 nominations.
Matt Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.
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The production company OddLot Entertainment has made or invested in quite a range of projects in recent years, including the coming-of-age dramedy The Way, Way Back, the film adaption of the sci-fi novel Ender's Game, Jon Stewart's directorial debut Rosewater, and last year's best picture nominee Hell or High Water.
OddLot's founder is Gigi Pritzker, and film production is just one division of her company, Madison Wells Media, which also has projects in virtual reality and live theater.
It's been a good year for Pritzker. Hell or High Water was in awards contention and so is her first television project, Genius on National Geographic.
If Pritzker is a familiar name it may be because her family is one of the richest in the country. Gigi Pritzker could have gone into any of a number of family businesses, but when she spoke to us from her home town, Chicago, she said she knew in college she didn't want to do that. Though she wasn't planning to get involved in Hollywood, either. She tells us about how her plans to run an NGO in Nepal got derailed by a professor who recommended she go to film school.
She also shares how she ended up executive producing the Nat Geo anthology period drama Genius, the first season of which focused on Albert Einstein (Picasso is up next for Season 2). The series is nominated for 10 Emmys this year--including Outstanding Limited Series. Actor Geoffrey Rush is in the race for his performance and Ron Howard is nominated for directing.
Pritzker spent years trying to make a film about Einstein but found that the project wasn't working--until it shifted into television. This was new territory for her--as well as for a lot of other players in the series. She tells us about the transition from film to TV and how it ended up being a lot of women who brought the Einstein story to life.