Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
Dan Cutforth was already a reality TV veteran with some time spent developing Survivor when he started Magical Elves with Jane Lipsitz in 2001. Since then the Brit-born producer has charged forward with Bands On The Run for VH1, Project Greenlight, the Peabody winning Project Runway and of course Top Chef. The Bravo cooking competition show took the Reality Competition Program Emmy in 2010, breaking The Amazing Race’s 7-year winning streak. A wide reaching franchise now and undoubtedly one of the reasons the UK’s Tinopolis Group acquired Elves earlier this year, Top Chef certainly rates as a contender this Emmys. In that vein, Cutforth reveals his state of mind this Emmy season, how the genre has evolved and how he and Lipsitz keep Top Chef cooking.
DEADLINE: So Dan, what do you think the current state of Reality TV is?
DAN CUTFORTH: I think it’s interesting how hard it is to break through with a great, new show now, and I think this is something that’s been true probably for the last, maybe, three to five years. I think when you look at the current state of reality TV, at least on the mainstream level, the shows that tend to be more successful have been around for a while. It’s difficult today to show the audience something they haven’t seen before, and I think that’s what tends to be the … Read More »
The consolidation of independent unscripted production companies continues, with FremantleMedia buying a 75% stake in SallyAnn Salsano‘s 495 Prods. with the option to acquire the remaining 25%g in the future. Founded in 2006 by Salsano, 495 Prods. is behind such unscripted series as MTV’s Jersey Shore and spinoffs Snooki And JWOWW, The Show With Vinny and The Pauly D Project; Spike TV’s Tattoo Nightmares, which FremantleMedia distributes internationally, and Repo Games; MTV’s dating show Friendzone and the daytime syndicated talk show The Real. The company also produces Jerks With Cameras for MTV, Tattoos After Dark for Oxygen and CMT breakout hit Party Down South. “Our ambition is to continue to grow 495 Productions in the U.S. and to broaden its global footprint even further through our extensive distribution and production network,” FremantleMedia CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz said. Read More »
‘Pretty Little Liars’, ‘Gossip Girl’, ‘ER’ Getting Local Versions In Asia
Warner Bros Television Group series Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl and ER have been commissioned and optioned as local versions in the Philippines, Thailand and India, respectively. In the Philippines, ABC Development Corporation is in production on Pretty Little Liars with the 22-episode adaptation to air on TV5 in April. The show ranks as the No. 1 original series of all time on ABC Family, where its 5th season will air this summer. In Thailand, Kantana Public Company Limited is producing an 18-episode local adaptation of Gossip Girl. In India, ER is under option with Gold Television Network. This follows the announcement last month that a Colombian version of the show was going forward. Read More »
The UK’s Tinopolis Group is bolstering its U.S. presence with the acquisition of Magical Elves. Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth lead the Emmy-winning Magical Elves which was founded in 2001 and makes such shows as Top Chef and Cold Justice. It also developed and produced Project Runway for Bravo (now on Lifetime). On the feature side, Magical Elves has produced concert doc Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. Follow-up, Katy Perry: Part Of Me, was Cutforth and Lipsitz’s directorial debut and the duo’s second feature as directors, Under The Electric Sky, premiered in Sundance last month. Cutforth and Lipsitz will continue to run Magical Elves under the Tinopolis Group, in which they become shareholders via the new deal. Tinopolis previously acquired A. Smith & Co and Base Productions in 2011 and also owns Pioneer, Mentorn Media, Passion Distribution and Firecracker. The group’s chairman, Ron Jones, said today, “Tinopolis has a clear strategy to continue building an international media business with a strong and diversified revenue base, producing quality programs in its home territories for the worldwide market. This is another important acquisition for us, strengthening our commitment to U.S.-based production. Magical Elves is a great company with exceptional creative leaders. We look forward to welcoming Dan and Jane to our team.” Today’s acquisition announcement, for which financials were not disclosed, is part of a growing trend that sees UK … Read More »
EFA Unveils FIPRESCI Nominees For Best First Feature
The European Film Academy has unveiled nominees for the European Discovery 2013 FIPRESCI Prize. The award is presented annually as part of the European Film Awards to a young and upcoming director for a first full-length feature film. This year’s nominees are Sweden’s Eat Sleep Die by Gabriela Pichler, Mikael Marcimai’s Sweden/Norway/Ireland/Finland co-production Call Girl, Italian actress-turned-director Valeria Golino’s Cannes Un Certain Regard title Miele, Germany’s Oh Boy from Jan Ole Gerster, and Spain’s The Plague by Neus Ballús. The nominated films soon will be submitted to the 2,900 EFA Members to select the winner. The prize will be awarded December 7 at the European Film Awards Ceremony in Berlin. Read More »
Shout! Acquires EuropaCorp. Titles
Shout! Factory has picked up U.S. rights to the EuropaCorp. films, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, directed by Luc Besson, and A Monster In Paris by Bibo Bergeron. Shout will roll the films out on a cross-platform release including home entertainment, VOD, SVOD and television. The César-winning Adèle Blanc-Sec is an adaptation of the Jacques Tardi comic book series and was released in France in 2010. Louise Bourgoin and Mathieu Amalric star. Shark Tale director Bergeron’s Monster is a CG-animated adventure based on his own original story about an inventor, his best friend and a monkey who inadvertently create a monster with a talent for music. Vanessa Paradis, Sean Lennon, Adam Goldberg, Danny Huston, Bob Balaban, Catherine O’Hara and Jay Harrington form the voice cast.
Scott Free London Lines Up ‘The Fishing Fleet’
Ridley Scott’s Scott Free London has acquired film rights to the Anne de Courcy novel The Fishing Fleet. The company will develop the project as a feature with Scott Free’s Liza Marshall producing. The book is a social history of husband hunting by young British women in India. The deal was negotiated by Blake Friedmann’s Conrad Williams and Carlo Dusi for Scott Free London.
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Sally Miles’ UK-based Passion Distribution exclusively distributes content for U.S. broadcasters and producers including Scripps Network International, Sundance Channel, OWN, The Weather Channel and World of Wonder. Growing indie producer/distributor Tinopolis has acquired the four-year-old company to expand its international reach. In 2011, Tinopolis acquired Hell’s Kitchen producer A. Smith & Co. and L.A. & DC-based Base Productions. It also owns factual producer Mentorn Media, sports producer Sunset + Vine and drama outfit Daybreak. Under the terms of the acquisition, Tinopolis’ existing distribution arm Mentorn International and its 2,500 hours of programming including the first two seasons of Ricky Gervais’ An Idiot Abroad, will be folded into Passion and overseen by Miles.
John Brenkus and Mickey Stern’s BASE Prods. has become the latest U.S. independent production company in the unscripted TV space to be acquired by a large European company. UK’s Tinopolis Group has bought BASE, which has offfices in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, as well as its catalog that includes such programs as Sport Science, Fight Science, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files and Police POV. The pricetag is said to be around $75 million, a little less than the $95-$100 million Tinopolis recently paid for another U.S. independent company, A. Smith and Co. Both deals have a very similar structure. Like A. Smith, Base will keep its independence, continuing operations from in its facilities in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, with Brenkus and Stern signing multi-year contracts to stay at the helm of the company. In addition, the BASE principals will become significant shareholders and members of the Tinopolis Group management team. Brenkus will have a seat on the Tinopolis Group’s North American Board, and Stern will be a member of the Board of the parent company.
Insiders are speculating the deal is worth upwards of $100 million:
London / Los Angeles – June 28, 2011 – The Tinopolis Group and A. Smith & Co. Productions announced today that the two entities have joined forces by bringing A. Smith & Co. and its decade of success developing and producing some of the most notable unscripted television programming seen around the world under the Tinopolis Group, creating a transatlantic television powerhouse. A. Smith & Co. will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity based in Los Angeles joining and working with Tinopolis Group’s other companies which include television production entity Mentorn and sports television producer Sunset + Vine. The announcement was made today by Ron Jones, Executive Chairman of Tinopolis Group, and Arthur Smith, Founder and CEO of A. Smith & Co., who will join the Tinopolis Board of Directors and continue to lead the company alongside his partner and company President, Kent Weed.
Under this agreement A. Smith & Co. becomes the leading North American television production entity within the Tinopolis organization with the ability to tap into the company’s resources on a worldwide basis. This transaction brings together the financial resources and expertise of Tinopolis, one of the UK’s leading producers of media and programming, and its primary investor, private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, and A. Smith & Co.’s leadership which has pioneered genres and delivered ratings hits such as “Paradise Hotel”, “The Swan,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Trading Spaces,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” and “Pros vs. Joes.”
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