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Council Tree Productions Enters the Pitch Game

The well-publicized television development group preps for a busy marketplace.

From left: “Happy Days” writer Fred Fox, Jr., “Happy Days’” Marion Ross, host Herbie J Pilato, “Laverne and Shirley’s” Eddie Mekka, and Deborah Pratt, “Happy Days” guest actress and co-creator of “Quantum Leap,” on the set of “Then Again with Herbie J Pilato.” 

Note from Joel Eisenberg: Though this article is hosted on my webpage, as I am a subject herein the story has been guest-written by ... my doppelgänger. To the news at hand ...

Council Tree Productions has launched. 

Authors Joel Eisenberg and Steve Hillard, co-creators of The Chronicles of Ara fantasy novels, have initiated the project selling phase of their well-publicized television development group. Projects acquired by the new entity are presently being pitched to buyers.

Eisenberg is an author, screenwriter, and producer. He has sold or developed projects for networks including TNT, Ovation TV, FOX Studios, Decades TV and more, in addition to writing or producing film projects distributed by Warner Brothers and various indie companies. Hillard heads Council Tree Investors, a private equity firm working primarily in the telecom space, whose group once took control of Telemundo, in 2000, with a $181 million investment. 

The duo met at The Great American Pitchfest, an industry event where writers showcase their work to attending executives. Hillard presented his controversial self-published novel, Mirkwood (which featured author J.R.R. Tolkien as a semi-fictional character) to Eisenberg, whose production group was based at Paramount Studios at the time. The pair hit it off, and ultimately formed the new company.

“We share a keen interest in science fiction, fantasy, and intelligent non-genre edgy fare,” says Hillard. “A partnership was our logical next step.”

Though the company is presently focusing its efforts in television, ”Mirkwood,” a predecessor of sorts to “The Chronicles of Ara,” is being developed by the group as a feature.

The company is also developing “Farway Canyon,” lensed by Anthony Ferrante, the director of the Sharknado franchise. A pilot presentation has been shot and the project is presently out to buyers. Other projects include Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, a classic TV-themed talkfest, which is expected to air later this year on Decades Network, a CBS and Weigel Broadcasting Company. “IRL,” described as “an LGBTQ Lord of the Flies,” fits the company’s mandate for edgy material. 

“Jeffrey’s Plan,” a dark comedy, details the inadvertent ascent of a new black revolutionary, whose socially-aware wife strives to have him return to the relative normalcy of corporate America. Based on a play by Stacey McClain (“The Parkers”), “Jeffrey’s Plan” will be directed by Bill Duke (Dark Girls, A Rage in Harlem) and Steve Akahoshi. Duke is also attached to Council Tree’s “Louis vs Schmeling,” based on the historic boxing rivalry.

Unique for a company of this nature, Eisenberg and Hillard have opened their doors to new content creators. “There is so much talent out there who do not have the contacts,” says Hillard. “Facebook has become a surprising source of material. We have found projects there running the gamut, everything from a fantasy about a Hasidic gunslinger, to a law firm that represents the porno industry, to a vampire with Down Syndrome ... and several female and minority-driven stories that we quickly acquired.”

The duo’s first sale was to Ovation TV for a television version of The Chronicles of Ara. Though the project is now in turnaround, conversations continue about other options. Eisenberg considers this an opportunity. He believes ongoing, consistent networking is key to a successful career. 

“It’s not who you know,” Eisenberg says, “but who knows you. When I was breaking in, I knew no one, and so I was a non-entity in my chosen profession. When I moved to Los Angeles from New York, like so many others I took a chance. The difference is I never gave up. I can go on and on with stories, but let’s just say that I believe every artist needs an advocate, or the world will miss out on some astounding work. You need to meet those advocates.”

Hillard agrees, acknowledging that the networking never ends. “It’s a must,” he says. “Always extend to everyone an equal opportunity.”

“We’ll continue to check social media for interesting material,” Eisenberg adds, “as everyone is welcome to submit.”

Council Tree Productions regularly posts wants and needs on social media, and the principles advise to stay tuned as updates are forthcoming. 

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