Regular collaborators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones have launched production company House of Tomorrow at Endemol UK. The new outfit will produce dramas, comedy series and feature films for the UK and international markets and already has projects in development at U.S. and UK networks. Writer/host/producer Brooker will be Creative Director of House Of Tomorrow and Jones will be Managing Director. The pair were previously aligned at Endemol-owned comedy producer Zeppotron. Their collaborations have included widely sold series like the International Emmy winning satirical drama Black Mirror, detective spoof A Touch of Cloth and BAFTA nominated thriller Dead Set. Jones also exec produces popular BBC comedy Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe. She was formerly Endemol UK’s head of business developement and headed up the group’s M&A team. As Endemol increases its scripted footprint around the globe, it will add House of Tomorrow to its growing stable of drama producers including Tiger Aspect Productions and Artists Studio. The Big Brother producer also recently entered an exclusive first-look development and distribution deal with UK drama producer Mam Tor Productions Limited.
EXCLUSIVE: Why did the Shubert Organization, which owns 17 of Broadway‘s 40 designated theaters, sign off on a deal to buy New World Stages, the five-theater underground off-Broadway complex owned by Dutch entertainment mogul Joop van den Ende? Sources tell me the answer has nothing to do with the arts and everything to do with real estate — along with the unique, not to say wacky, world according to Shubert, a $410 million nonprofit that coincidentally owns the most powerful commercial theater company in the U.S.
The company, whose theaters housed Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, Cats, Fiddler On The Roof, Amadeus and countless other legendary shows, has been Broadway’s reigning landlord for nearly a century. In recent years, the Shubert Organization has sold air rights above its landmarked Times Square theaters to the tune of $50 million. This spring, the Witkoff Group, a building consortium, paid $18.3 million for 45,000 square feet of air above the Shubert-owned Booth and Gerald Schoenfeld Theatres on West 45th Street. That deal will allow Witkoff’s project, the Times Square Marriott Edition hotel at 701 Seventh Avenue, to grow to 500 feet high.
AMC has hired former Warner Horizon Television exec Drew Brown as SVP Production. In his new role, Brown is responsible for overseeing all aspects of production and post production for the studio and network side of the business. He reports to Joel Stillerman, the network’s executive vice president of original programming, production and digital content.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Endemol Pacts With Mam Tor; Cannes Looks East; ‘For The Dogs’ Becomes ‘Hunter’s Prayer’
Endemol has entered an exclusive first-look development and distribution deal with UK drama producer Mam Tor Productions Limited. The Big Brother producer will provide development funding and deficit financing during the three-year deal in return for exclusive first-look distribution rights to Mam Tor’s output. Mam Tor was founded in April by former film and TV agent Tally Garner who previously ran Curtis Brown’s in-house production company Cuba Pictures. Her credits include BAFTA winning drama Boy A with Andrew Garfield, and Rufus Norris’ feature Broken. She also exec-produces BBC One’s adaptation of Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell.
EXCLUSIVE: Shubert Organization chairman and CEO Philip J. Smith confirmed the deal by Broadway’s biggest landlord to purchase New World Stages, an off-Broadway complex on West 50th Street just outside the Broadway theater district. ”I would say, ‘Yes, it it’s going to happen,’ ” Smith told Deadline.com when asked about a report in the New York Times speculating on the sale. “I can’t say when, but it will happen.” He declined to say how much Shubert would pay for New World.
Comprising five grotto houses ranging in size from 199 to 499 seats, New World is owned by Dutch entertainment mogul Joop van den Ende’s Stage Entertainment, currently lead producer of the musical Rocky, which is set to close in August at the Shubert-owned Winter Garden Theatre. Van den Ende’s involvement in New Workd goes back to a co-production arrangement his former company, Endemol, had with New York-based Dodger Theatricals. It was the Dodgers who took over the former discount-movie theaters after they went out of business in 2001. The Dodgers spent $23 million converting the space into a “theater mall” with a total of more than 1,900 seats, three bars and more restroom space than many Broadway theaters.
DirecTV kicked off TCA‘s Saturday sessions with a look at its upcoming mixed martial arts drama Kingdom, which is premiering on October 8 at 9 PM ET/PT. Most of TCA’s sked today is devoted to the programming from non-traditional networks, i.e. DirecTV’s Audience Network, Amazon, Reelz and Hulu. While most of the Kingdom panel’s chatter with creator Byron Balasco and castmembers Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Nick Jonas, Jonathan Tucker and Joanna Going was confined to the show’s staging of its fisticuff scenes, DirecTV SVP of Entertainment Chris Long expounded on how this edgy niche drama fits in Audience Network‘s wheelhouse.
“While our demo is adults 35-54 who are highly educated and from high income households, our programming slate doesn’t have to fit a certain demo. We’re looking for TV shows that get out of the clutter. We chose Kingdom not so much based on the fact that it was a sport drama, but because we loved the script,” explained Long about the network’s road-not-taken m.o, particularly in the wake of acquiring Friday Night Lights.
Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
Israel has grown to become one of the world’s go-to spots for formats, and the trend is likely here to stay with execs believing it soon will resemble the UK and Scandinavia. Arguably jump-starting the trend was scripted drama Be Tipul, which HBO adapted as In Treatment in 2008. But the one that opened the floodgates was Hatufim, the original version of what Showtime fashioned into the Emmy-winning drama series Homeland. And in the past year, a nonscripted show has brought the territory to a whole new level. Rising Star, the interactive singing competition created by Tedy Productions and Hatufim‘s Keshet International, turned attention full-bore to the Middle Eastern nation and has helped give rise to a slew of new programming that is wending its way around the globe. Pretty impressive for a country that has only two commercial broadcasters — a situation that is leading some locals to produce for international first. But there’s also a universality to the stories and concepts that Israel is bringing to market. Producer Tal Shaked of A Cappella echoes a sentiment you hear a lot when talking with local execs. “We’re a small country in the Middle East with a lot going on around us,” she says. “We have Jews and Russians and Arabs and Ethiopians. … We have religious and nonreligious people. There’s never a dull moment. The country lives under threat – we are surrounded by enemies. And that makes people be very creative.” Here is a look at some of the key reality producer/creatives in the market today.
Ryan Seacrest Prods.’ new president Eugene Young has made his first senior executive hire since joining the company two months ago. 51 Minds’ Rabih Gholam has been tapped as EVP, Unscripted Programming. Gholam will report to Young, working alongside EVP, Current Unscripted Programming Izzie Pick Ashcroft, EVP, Production Robert Norris Catto and SVP of Development Matt Sims. As EVP of alternative programming of Endemol-owned 51 Minds, Gholam recently produced Whodunnit? for ABC, Same Name for CBS and Somebody Has to Go for Fox. He started off in late-night TV before migrating to reality. Gholam is the second executive from 51 Minds to depart after the executive restructuring following the company CEO Cris Abrego’s appointment as co-chairman and co-CEO of parent Endemol North America that saw Christian Sarabia elevated to president of 51 Minds. VP Dave Caplan recently inked a deal with Lionsgate TV.
Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
In mid-May, 21st Century Fox surprised industry watchers when it announced its intent to form a joint venture with Apollo Global Management that would include the Shine Group, Endemol and CORE Media Group. Apollo had been known to be contemplating a tie-up of Big Brother producer Endemol and American Idol parent CORE Media, but the Shine element was new. What was unsurprising was this further move towards consolidation in the TV production sector which has seen myriad companies – big and small — acquired by the likes of Discovery, Warner Bros, ITV, Sony and Red Arrow to name a few, in the past year and a half. Folks caution that it’s still early days for a potential combined Shine-Endemol-Core, but that the desire is there to see such a deal come to fruition. If it does, it will create a so-called Mega Indie that would be one of the world’s biggest independent production companies working across both scripted and non-scripted. 21st Century Fox and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo would co-own and manage the new joint venture.
EXCLUSIVE: DirecTV’s upcoming 10-episode drama series from creator Byron Balasco and Endemol Studios will be called Kingdom. The straight-to-series project, previously titled Navy St., will debut on October 8 at 9 PM on Audience Network. Kingdom, which was written by Balasco on spec, takes place in Venice, California and is set against the backdrop of Mixed Martial Arts. It stars Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez and Matt Lauria, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas and Joanna Going. Balasco is executive producing and serves as showrunner. Endemol Studios (Hell on Wheels), which has 12 scripted projects set up at various networks, produces, with its sibling, Endemol Worldwide Distribution, distributing internationally. DirecTV’s is currently airing the second season of original drama series Rogue.
In what sounds like a challenge to ITV’s upcoming Rising Star adaptation, the UK’s Channel 4 is launching a live multi-platform, interactive singing competition, The Singer Takes It All. Endemol UK created the format, which will air in four hourlong parts. Well-known UK TV presenter Alan Carr will host. The weekly primetime game show will see budding singers perform live on a 60-foot-long moving stage while, via a new app, judges at home will rate their performances a ‘hit’ or a ‘miss.’ The results will play out on screen seconds later. If a singer gets a hit rating, they move forward towards the Gold Zone at the front stage to continue their song. But if the majority of viewers judge them a miss, they’re booted backwards off the track — and potentially out of the show. Viewers get up to four votes for each performance with constant voting throughout. The best singer on each show will perform a second time for a shot at an unspecified cash prize. The free app is built by Chunk, incorporating new live-voting technology developed by Tectonic Interactive. No air date has been set.
21st Century Fox Co-COO James Murdoch recently told investors that about half of his studio’s cash flow comes from television series. “There’s maybe one other firm that can claim the same volume and success” that Fox has had in TV, he said at the Sanford C Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in May. The increasingly visible Murdoch will further discuss Fox and its plans for the TV business when he delivers the Media Mastermind Keynote at October’s Mipcom. Murdoch was upped to his current role at Fox in March, in a clear indication that dad Rupert is putting his succession plans in order, and has been appearing publicly with far more frequency over the past year. He now has direct responsibility for 21st Century Fox’s TV interests, which include the Fox Networks Group in the U.S. and, internationally, holdings in BSkyB, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia and STAR India. It’s a particularly interesting time for the European holdings as BSkyB in May confirmed it had initiated preliminary discussions with 21st Century Fox to evaluate the potential acquisition of its pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy. Meanwhile, Fox has also said it is looking to form a joint venture with Apollo Global Management which would combine the Shine Group, Endemol and CORE Media Group. Mipcom runs from October …
Norman Lear, the greatest TV comedy producer of all time, can’t get a series made these days, he says. The Producer’s Guild of America may have named its episodic comedy award after Lear, but good luck getting a Lear-made episodic comedy on the air now. In a TV-transforming run through the 1970s, Lear tackled the most controversial issues of the time – including racism, abortion, sexism and so much else – but he says the only time he’s ever been censored is today.
Lear, now almost 92 and reflecting on his legendary career in a packed session at the PGA’s Produced By conference, said no one ever told him, “You can’t do that,” while he was producing ground-breaking shows such as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. But today, when he pitches a comedy that’s set in a retirement village, nobody wants to hear about it.
“They don’t want to touch the demographic,”he said. Apparently, he said, there’s only room for one old person (that would be another comedy veteran, Betty White, who actually is a few months older than Lear) on network television today.
The name of the show Lear has been pitching is Guess Who’s Dead?, a title that got a huge laugh from the audience. It is particularly ironic that Lear, whose People for the American Way organization long has fought for free …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Spain Getting Local Version Of Israeli Reality Format ‘The Extra Mile’; Layoffs Loom At BBC News
‘The Extra Mile’ Headed To Spain For First Adaptation Outside Israel
Reality format The Extra Mile is getting its first international adaptation. Created by Ami Glam, CEO of Israel’s Studio Glam, the show challenges divorced couples to work together for prize money for their kid. It will be produced by Endemol Spain for Mediaset Telecinco Channel. The Spanish take will be made in the Canary Islands and is expected to be air in the summer. Spain was one of the 12 territories that bought the right to produce The Extra Mile as a part of a multi-territory deal with Endemol. When the show launched in Israel, it broke records for Channel 10. It is still airing and has an average 24.8% share. The Spanish adaptation will be called Ex, ¿Qué harías por tus hijos?
Social experiments may be the ne plus ultra of the unscripted TV world right now, but game shows are still hot too. So much so that Endemol UK is launching a dedicated production division to specialize in game show formats for the local and international marketplace. Remarkable Games will exist within Remarkable Television and build on that company’s track record of delivering multiplatform game show hits. James Fox, former Head of Entertainment at Remarkable Television, will become Creative Director of Remarkable Games. His purview is to create, develop and exec producing a new portfolio of game show formats as well as further building the success of Remarkable’s existing titles in the genre, Pointless (BBC One), The Million Pound Drop (Channel 4), Ejector Seat (ITV) and the upcoming Two Tribes (BBC Two). Remarkable Games will also work closely with Endemol UK’s commercial and digital teams, including online gaming hub Endemol Games. Fox joined Endemol in 2010 and moved over to Remarkable in 2012. He’ll be joined by Ejector Seat producer Dom Waugh who becomes Executive Producer for Remarkable Games.
In February, Warner Bros Television Group said it had entered into an agreement to acquire the businesses of Netherlands-based producer Eyeworks outside the U.S. Today, the studio confirms it has received the required regulatory approvals and has completed the transaction. In yet another instance of key consolidation in the indie TV production space, Warner is buying Eyeworks’ interests in 15 territories across Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. The deal adds 13 new markets to Warners’ international network of production companies, helping it establish a strong foothold. Warner Bros is also taking over all of Eyeworks’ international distribution activities for both formats and finished product.
Private spaceflight project Mars One, led by eccentric Dutch billionaire entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, was originally announced back in 2011 as a mission to send the world’s first one-way astronauts to the Red Planet. The plan is to put together a group of earthlings who will go through a rigorous training process before making the 300-million mile voyage to Mars to establish the first human colony — with no hope of return. Endemol-owned Darlow Smithson Productions has now joined with Mars One as its exclusive worldwide production partner to document the different stages of the astronaut selection and training program. (Earlier this year, Lionsgate TV was in the mix, but I’m now told that a deal ultimately never came to fruition.) From more than 200,000 applicants, 705 candidates will be tested to the extreme, overseen by a panel of scientists, adventurers and astronauts. In order to qualify for the mission, individuals must demonstrate they have acquired the knowledge and skills as well as high levels of psychological and physical performance required for the longest distance voyage ever embarked upon by humans. But, no return trip from the planet is possible. Instead Mars One says it will send additional crews every two years to further build the colony.
With the astronaut selection process already underway, the first instalments of DSP’s production are expected to begin airing around the world in early 2015, although no broadcast partner has been announced. The first ambitious seven-month flights are eyed for 2025. Whether they become a reality, the project has been hailed as fodder for the ultimate reality series. That’s especially resonant in today’s TV landscape of increased focus on social experiments like Utopia. It also fits in with the trend towards space travel in the reality arena including NBC’s Space Race, from Mark Burnett and Richard Branson; Sony Pictures Television’s Milky Way Mission; and the tentatively titled Mission To Mars project from Thinkfactory Media and The Mars Society.
Mark L. Young (We’re The Millers) has landed a recurring role on HBO‘s The Comeback. The six-episode followup to the cult 2005 comedy starring Lisa Kudrow is set to return this fall. The original show starred Kudrow as washed-up sitcom actress Valerie Cherish, who gets a reality show documenting her attempt at a career comeback. In the new episodes, Valerie will continue her search to attain the spotlight. Young, repped by CAA and Velocity Entertainment Partners, will play Tyler Beck, Valerie’s nephew and USC film student who is part of the camera crew shooting Valerie around Hollywood. Young can next be seen in features Tammy and The Curse Of Downers Grove.
Jonathan Scarfe is set to heavily recur in the upcoming fourth season of AMCs Western drama series Hell On Wheels, from Entertainment One, Endemol USA and Nomadic Pictures. Scarfe, repped by Greene & Associates and More/Medavoy, will play Sydney Snow, an old war buddy to Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), who has a knack for getting himself and others into sticky predicaments.
As ITV increases its footprint in the U.S., the company has named longtime exec Paul Buccieri to the post of Chairman of the ITV Studios U.S. Group and ITV Studios Global Entertainment. The move follows ITV’s recent acquisition of Leftfield Entertainment, and a host of other purchases over the last 18 months which have made it the largest independent unscripted producer in the U.S. A former Fox and Endemol exec, Buccieri joined ITV Studios in 2007, and in 2013 was named President & CEO ITV Studios U.S. Group and Managing Director ITV Studios International. He will now focus on leading and integrating the U.S. group, which also includes ITV Studios America, Gurney Productions, High Noon Entertainment, Thinkfactory Media and DiGa Vision. At the same time, Buccieri will become Chairman of ITVSGE, the international distribution and consumer products business. Maria Kyriacou, Managing Director of ITVSGE, will in turn take on responsibility for the production operations outside of the U.S. and UK; those include interests in Australia, France, Germany and the Nordic territories. She joined in 2010 from Disney. Kevin Lygo, Managing Director of ITV Studios, said today, “Our strategy is to further develop and grow the American operation both in reality and scripted, which is key to the success of our global content business, and I’m therefore delighted that Paul …