Reporting from Jerusalem
With the TV business evolving at a rapid pace, Lionsgate COO of television, Sandra Stern, mused on Tuesday that “every generation is now 15 minutes old.” She made the remark on a panel here at Keshet’s Innovative TV Conference and was joined by eOne TV CEO John Morayniss and WME agent and partner Marc Korman. The execs discussed shifting paradigms, a potential talent shortage and the wisdom of remakes.
Business models are changing and “Everybody is looking around saying ‘How do we make noise?’” But “if you do good work, the audiences are going to find you,” Stern commented. Lionsgate’s Orange Is The New Black found a lot of love when it debuted on Netflix this summer. Morayniss noted that along with Netflix and other new entrants, there are “probably over 50 networks in the U.S. that are commissioning original scripted programming.” EOne is teamed with Discovery on Klondike, the net’s first original. “Good shows will rise to the top, there will be a market, and money will be made.”
Korman said that today’s marketplace is in “an incredible place.” Once upon a time, if you had a procedural you took it to CBS, and with a family-skewing show, you’d go to ABC, he said. But “that’s all changed” and is “great news on the agenting side” because shows can be built and then the “marketplace decides where it goes.” Talking about Extant, the Amblin TV and CBS Studios sci-fi project that snagged a 13-episode straight-to-series order from CBS and has Halle Berry starring, Korman said, “Every entity wanted it, but it wound up at CBS – and in a million years, I never would have thought it would be at CBS. We thought it was going to go to FX.” But it was the marketplace that “really told us what made the most sense, and I don’t think that would have happened three or four years ago.”
Stern called today’s a “Golden Age of TV production.” There is “more opportunity out there for people who open their eyes and look at new models and paradigms.” For Morayniss, it’s an interesting time to be an independent producer, but one of the biggest difficulties is finding talent. The abundance of outlets has led to a talent shortage. “We’re running out of inventory. That’s a reason why you’re seeing non-American writers and seeing an international market opening up.” Stern concurred, there’s “a lot of room for new voices. We’re developing and producing with people who never would have had a chance,” she said.
Another topic that was touched upon was remakes of old shows and movies. Perhaps alluding to the recent cancellation of Ironside, Korman said, “Drama lately doesn’t seem to be translating.” He suggested that an update of Get Smart could “be interesting” but lamented that Beverly Hills Cop never made it to air. It “just didn’t work.” Morayniss pointed to eOne’s The Firm as one of his biggest disappointments. The extension of the Tom Cruise hit movie “was all about the packaging and we didn’t focus enough on the creative… We lost track of the show.” Lionsgate is adapting Mary Harron’s 2000 serial-killer movie American Psycho. Stern said, “Rather than going back and remaking the movie, we’re doing it as a series with the lead character 25 years later. We hope that approach is better than just remaking a classic.”