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Global TV Biz Consolidation: Shine-Endemol-Core Would Create Mega Indie

Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.

21st_century_fox_logo_newIn 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. Read More »

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21st Century Fox & Apollo In Joint Venture Talks For Shine, Endemol And CORE Media

21st_century_fox_logo_newIn a move that would create a mega-indie, 21st Century Fox has confirmed its intent to form a joint venture with private equity firm Apollo Global Management which would combine the Fox-owned Shine Group and Apollo-controlled Endemol and CORE Media Group. Shine-Group-logo-Large1-300x80The deal would be the latest big step in the fever pitch consolidation that’s happening in the global TV production Core-Media-Group-logo-2012__130424013517-275x267sector. Apollo has been known to be contemplating an Endemol tie-up with American Idol parent CORE Media, and at one time there was a scenario of adding Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment to the mix. If a deal to combine Shine with Big Brother producer Endemol and CORE comes to fruitiion, it would follow such recent major media transactions as Discovery acquiring All3Media (at one time considered a purchase target of endemolFremantleMedia), and the continuous shopping spree by ITV which just last week bought Leftfield Entertainment for $360M. Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox today warned, however, “There can be no assurance that the proposed transaction will be completed.” The process is expected to continue several months. The full statement reads: “21st Century Fox confirms its intent to form a joint venture with funds managed by affiliates of Apollo … Read More »

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Howie Mandel Inks First-Look Deal With CORE Media Group

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 10:52am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

mandelHowie Mandel’s Alevy Prods. and CORE Media Group have signed a first-look deal for Mandel and Alevy to executive produce scripted and unscripted TV and digital projects. Mandel and his Alevy partner Mike Marks currently executive produce the TBS hidden camera series Deal With It. Mandel previously worked with CORE president Marc Graboff at NBC, where Mandel hosted Deal Or No Deal, earning an Emmy nomination, and continues to serve as a judge on America’s Got Talent. “Over the course of my long-standing relationship with Howie, I have come to appreciate him as possessing that extremely rare combination of being an incredibly talented performer as well as a smart, savvy producer,” Graboff said. Other shows produced by Alevy Prods. — repped in the deal by WME, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney Bill Sobel — include Mobbed, Take It All and Howie Do It.

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MIPTV: Social Experiments On The Rise As U.S. Buyers Hunt For Formats; Comedies Eye Comeback

mip tv logo 2Television executives are always on the hunt for the proverbial Next Big Thing, and for the past year or so, the Mipcom and Mip-TV markets have emerged as important hubs where some of the hottest new formats are unveiled. Following a strong showing at last fall’s Mipcom, Keshet‘s Rising Star sold around the world, including to ABC in the U.S. What will be the breakout format at Mip-TV which kicks off tomorrow? With the U.S. reality market yet to yield a new tentpole franchise since NBC premiered The Voice three years ago, and most established series more than a decade old, the necessity of finding reinforcements is ever more urgent and means execs need to be constantly vigilant as to where the new possibilities may be hidden. Likening the search to digging for truffles, Jennifer O’Connell, head of Core Media’s U.S. Television Division, says, “We’re really going to be sniffing around everywhere.” It’s important to keep a “very open mind to where a great idea can come from.” Regardless of the provenance, U.S. broadcasters are more apt to take a second look “if someone else did it first… It can be almost like an insurance policy,” she says.

keepyourlightshiningMost agree that the biggest proving grounds for new programming remain the UK, the U.S. and the Netherlands. Israel has also been coming on … Read More »

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BBC Mounts Celebrity Gymnastics Series ‘Let’s Get Ready To Tumble’

By | Monday October 21, 2013 @ 8:27am PDT

Earlier this month, I wrote about gymnastics as a possible new frontier for celebrity competition shows, and about buzz that the BBC was readying such a project. The broadcaster has now made it official, commissioning Let’s Get Ready To Tumble. The show will air live in Saturday primetime and feature British celebs teamed with international gymnasts to tackle what are being described as “never-before-seen, new-to-TV disciplines.” The announcement could mean there will soon be two celebrity gymnastics formats in the international arena. I recently reported that CORE Media is developing Celebrity Champions in the U.S., an original format that sees former Olympians coach celebrities and has Mary Lou Retton attached as anchor judge. CORE is currently talking to U.S. networks. Read More »

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Halfire-Core Entertainment Adds Execs Stephanie Fontana, Ben Murray

By | Monday August 12, 2013 @ 2:29pm PDT

Halfire-Core Entertainment, the joint production and financing venture between TV producer Noreen Halpern‘s Halfire Entertainment and CORE Media Group led by Marc Graboff, has added two to its exec ranks. Stephanie Fontana, niece to Borgias and Oz creator Tom Fontana, will serve as Director of Development and Production based in Halfire-CORE’s LA outpost. The 18-year TV development and production vet’s credits include the CW’s Reaper, ABC’s Desperate Housewives, and HBO’s Oz. Also joining the company is Toronto-based Ben Murray, who will serve as Director of Business Development after runs as director of biz affairs and development at Serendipity Point Films and as a programmer for the Toronto Film Festival. Read More »

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Core Media Joins Pursuit Of Scandinavian Production Company Nice Entertainment

By | Tuesday July 23, 2013 @ 7:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Nice Entertainment is turning into quite the acquisition target. I’ve learned that American Idol parent CORE Media Group has joined the list of potential suitors for the Scandinavian production company. CORE had signaled commitment to adding international presence to its U.S. operations, and I hear the company’s international team has had a number of meetings with key Nice executives over the course of several months. Other companies that are reportedly looking at Nice are UK’s leading private broadcaster ITV, said to be mulling a $135 bid, as well as Fremantle, Sony and Time Warner.

The Helsinki-based Nice, which has branches in Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, is the largest independent group of production companies in the Nordic region and is the No.1 producer in two of the markets, Finland and Norway. The company makes both drama and reality series with a portfolio that includes Hidden Tracks, The Half Brother, Babes On The Bus and Celebrity Babysitter. Nice is 65% owned by leading Nordic private equity house CapMan, which reportedly is looking to sell, with the remaining 35% under local management. Under president Marc Graboff, CORE has been actively acquiring, buying Sharp Entertainment (Extreme Couponing, Doomsday Preppers) and taking ownership stake in Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher’s B17. CORE also launched scripted production venture with veteran Canadian producer Noreen Halpern.

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CORE Media Group Adds Trio Of VPs

By | Tuesday July 2, 2013 @ 4:11pm PDT

The American Idol format owner has brought aboard a trio of executives amid its recent spate of creative partnerships. Roy Peters joins CORE Media Group as VP Branded Entertainment, Christine Petrillo has been tapped as VP Client Solutions, and Michael Speier is the new VP Corporate Communications and Public Relations. Peters was VP of branded-entertainment firm Matter Inc, Petrillo joins from Alloy Digital, where she was VP Strategic Relationships. They will be based in New York and report to CORE Chief Revenue Officer Cameron Death. Speier, who’ll be based in LA and report to EVP Human Resources Kay Straky, most recently topped executive communications for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. The hirings come less than a month after CORE tapped Tim Sullivan as SVP Development and Production.

Related: Presley Family Supports Potential Sale Of CORE’s Majority Stake

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CORE Media Partners With Israeli Prod. Company Tedy, Puts Project In Development

By | Thursday June 20, 2013 @ 2:07pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

CORE Media Group has formed a partnership with the Israeli production company Tedy Prods. Under the agreement, Tedy will work closely with CORE’s U.S.-based head of TV Jen O’Connell as well as London-based Simon Shaps on developing and producing scripted and unscripted shows and formats for Israel and then the U.S., U.K. and overall international marketplace. The two companies are already collaborating on their first joint project, a drama from Ron Leshem and Amit Cohen, creators of Tedy Prods.’ Israeli series Gordin Cell, which was adapted for NBC by Peter Berg last development season. “Israel has created some of the most creative and entertaining shows and formats and we look forward to working with Tedy to build on that tradition,” CORE president Marc Graboff said. This marks the latest creative partnership for CORE. Its recently launched venture with veteran Canadian producer Noreen Halpern just landed a 3-for-1 series deal at NBC. The company also joined forces with Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher’s B17 as well as Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills Prods. Over the past two decades, Tedy has produced such popular Israeli series as Shemesh, A Star Is Born, Our Song, Savri Maranan, Comedy Store,  Hashminia, Hapigamot, Alifim and Danny Hollywood, which also was adapted in the U.S. and went to pilot at the CW.

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CORE Media And Noreen Halpern’s Scripted Venture Inks Drama Series Deal With NBC

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 10:50am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Halfire-CORE, CORE Media Group’s scripted production venture with veteran Canadian producer Noreen Halpern‘s Halfire Entertainment banner, has closed a deal with NBC. Under the 3-for-1 agreement, Halfire-CORE will develop three lower budget drama projects for NBC, one of which is expected to go to series. No concepts or writers for the projects have been identified yet, but the producers are expected to begin the process shortly.

The pact illustrates Halfire-CORE’s strategy of entering the scripted primetime space by bypassing the traditional pilot cycle and going with a straight-to-series model instead. It also extends on NBC’s efforts in the lower-cost drama arena where the network has been probably the most active broadcast network, experimenting with different templates and partners, including Gaumont (Hannibal) and Georgeville TV (Crossbones). I hear the Halfire-CORE deal came out of Halpern’s existing relationships with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt and scheduling chief Jeff Bader, with whom Halpern worked at ABC on Rookie Blue, one of several series she shepherded in her previous role as head of scripted for Entertainment One. Graboff, of course, also has a relationship with Greenblatt, with whom he worked for almost a year before leaving to head CORE, and with NBC where he spend more than a decade. Read More »

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Tim Sullivan Joins CORE Media As SVP Development And Production

By | Wednesday June 5, 2013 @ 10:11am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

CORE Media Group has hired Tim Sullivan as SVP, Development and Production. He will work on developing and producing unscripted shows, reporting to CORE’s Head of U.S. Television Jen O’Connell. Sullivan most recently worked at Zodiak USA, where he served as SVP, Head of Development overseeing the creative efforts of the independent production company’s U.S. arm. Before that, Sullivan was a producer on Top Chef Just Desserts and a Director of Development at Magical Elves. Sullivan joins CORE’s growing unscripted roster, which also includes Sharp Entertainment (Extreme Couponing, Doomsday Preppers), which CORE acquired, and Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher’s B17, in which the company has an ownership stake.

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CORE Media Group Seeking Buyers For Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali Rights: FT

By | Tuesday May 21, 2013 @ 5:29am PDT

CORE Media Group is said to be testing the market to sell off Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion and rights to images of Presley and Muhammad Ali. The Financial Times reports the assets could fetch more than $200M. Citing people familiar with the matter, the FT says CORE, which co-produces American Idol, is eyeing bidders in Asia, Europe and the U.S. for Elvis Presley Enterprises and Muhammad Ali Enterprises. The Raine Group has been hired to advise. However, if it is not satisfied with offers, CORE could retain the properties. Combined, the assets generate about $60M a year in revenues.

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CORE Media Group Acquires Stake In Rhett Bachner & Brien Meagher’s Prod. Company

By | Monday May 6, 2013 @ 2:26pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: CORE Media Group, which co-produces American Idol, is expanding its unscripted portfolio by acquiring an ownership stake in Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher’s B17 Entertainment. Under the agreement, signed in a competitive situation with multiple suitors pursuing Bachner and Meagher, CORE will join forces with the duo to develop and produce non-fiction programming and explore multi-platform content opportunities, including mobile games and web-based series. “B17 is a forward thinking production company and teaming up with them fits perfectly into CORE’s overall mission of  producing and owning great content for all platforms,” said CORE president Marc Graboff, while the company’s head of U.S. Television Jen O’Connell called B17 ”part of the next generation of great prod companies.”"They’re prolific, and they have such great ideas that are inventive and fresh,” she said. At CORE, Bachner and Meagher join unscripted producer Rob Lee, who signed a deal there a year ago, Matt Sharp, whose company CORE acquired last summer, as well as Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, whose Hazy Mills Prods. has a deal with CORE for scripted, unscripted and digital projects that fall outside of their deal at NBC. Additionally, CORE recently launched a scripted venture with Noreen Halpern and has Simon Shaps building its international base. Read More »

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Core Media Launches UK Outpost, Taps Simon Shaps To Run It

By | Monday January 28, 2013 @ 9:00am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Core Media Group, the umbrella entertainment company whose portfolio includes reality series American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, is starting an international production division. The company is partnering with Simon Shaps, former Director of Television at ITV, to build the new unit, which will be based in London. Its goal will be to create formats to be sold in the global marketplace, including the U.K., and be brought back to the U.S. Shaps will also look for investment opportunities for Core, including production companies and international formats. As MD, International Content and Production, Shaps will report to Marc Graboff, President of Core Media Group and will work closely with Jennifer O’Connell, Head of Core’s U.S. Television Division. Shaps ran Granada’s and then ITV’s global production business before taking over as Director of Television. He commissioned some of the most successful shows in the U.K. like Britain’s Got Talent. Core recently expanded its team with the hiring of Glenn Stickley as SVP, T.V Production and Jenny Ramirez as VP, Development and Production.

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Core Media Group Expands Original TV Production & Development Unit With Hires

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 3:27pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Veteran producer Glenn Stickley (The Amazing Race) has joined Core Media Group, the umbrella company whose portfolio includes reality series American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, as SVP TV Production, while former FremantleMedia exec Jenny Ramirez has been hired as VP Development and Production. Both will report to Jennifer O’Connell, head of Core’s U.S. Television Division. Under President Marc Graboff, Core has been expanding its production capabilities through deals with independent producers, including acquiring Sharp Entertainment. Read More »

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Apollo Global Eyes Merging CORE Media, Chernin Entertainment Into Endemol

By | Friday October 5, 2012 @ 12:35pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Private equity firm Apollo Global Management is looking to build one of the biggest independent content companies in the world with a potential merger of CORE Media Group and Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment into Endemol.

I hear Apollo controls the largest portion of Endemol debt, giving it a stake of about 30% in the company behind such reality franchises as Big Brother. Meanwhile, last year Apollo bought American Idol parent CKx (now CORE Media) for $560 million. Apollo is considering combining the two unscripted TV-focused entities and adding scripted TV outfit Chernin Entertainment to the mix. (Chernin’s company also has a feature division.) In order to bring in Chernin Entertainment, I hear Apollo will likely combine resources with Chernin investor Providence Equity Partners, but Apollo is expected to be in the driver’s seat as the controlling shareholder of a restructured Endemol with CORE and Chernin.

I hear if the plan comes to fruition, Chernin would be the Chairman of the global Endemol Worldwide, while CORE president Marc Graboff would be running the combined company. A merger of the three entities would create an instant TV powerhouse, melding Chernin’s rich Fox deal and the company’s scripted portfolio and … Read More »

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Jennifer O’Connell Named Head Of U.S. Television For CORE Media Group

By | Thursday October 4, 2012 @ 8:10am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

CORE Media President Marc Graboff has recruited a former NBC colleague to oversee the company’s original scripted and unscripted production and development. Jennifer O’Connell has been named head of U.S. Television for CORE Media Group. She will start in mid-October, based in the company’s Los Angeles offices and reporting to Graboff. “I have always been impressed by Jen’s intelligence and creativity, as well as her great relationships in the creative community,” said Graboff.  “With her deep experience on the selling and producing side of the television business, coupled with her prior expertise as a network buyer, Jen is truly the ideal executive to lead CORE’s television operations.” Read More »

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Cameron Death Joins CORE Media As Chief Revenue Officer

By | Wednesday August 15, 2012 @ 9:25am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Former NBCUniversal executive Cameron Death has joined CORE Media Group as Chief Revenue Officer. In the newly created position, he will be responsible for creating and extending revenue through sponsorships, integrated marketing, and the development of other ancillary revenue streams, reporting to new CORE president Marc Graboff who continues to build up his management team. Death (pronounced “Deeth”) will be working closely with both Chief Digital Officer Matt Apfel on the digital side and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Gannett on the marketing side. VP Tamaya Petteway and her marketing team will now report to Death. Death most recently was SVP and GM of the NBCUniversal Digital Studio, which he helmed since its inception in 2008. There he worked with Graboff in his previous role as a top NBC executive.

Related: Kim Williams To Join CORE Media As CFO

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Kim Williams To Join CORE Media As CFO

By | Tuesday August 14, 2012 @ 4:52pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Kim Williams, COO of the NFL Network, is finalizing a deal to join CORE Media Group as CFO. Williams is expected to be a key lieutenant for new CORE president Marc Graboff who has been rebuilding the management team since CKx was transformed into CORE in May. She joins recent additions Peter Hurwitz who joined as EVP, General Counsel; Matt Apfel as Chief Digital Officer; Jason Morey as EVP and Worldwide Head of Music for 19 Entertainment; as well as Kay Straky as EVP Human Resources.

As Chief Operating Officer of NFL Network, Williams was responsible for the day-to-day management of the National Football League’s cable television assets. She previously served as SVP & Chief Financial Officer for the NFL, responsible for the League’s overall financial activities including financial reporting and analysis, financial routines and controls, and long-range strategic planning. Before that, she served as SVP & Chief Financial Officer for NBC West Coast where she worked with Graboff.

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