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. Read More »
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. Read More »
Rapper Pitbull (Armando Christian Perez) will be counting down to 2015 with Fox, signing a deal for Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution special. Hosted by Pitbull and produced by Endemol, the special will air on Wednesday, December 31 from 8:00-10:00 PM ET live (CT/MT/PT tape-delayed) and is envisioned as potentially launching a New Year’s Eve franchise for Fox with Pitbull in the vein of ABC’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest and NBC’s New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly. The show will feature performances by Pitbull and various musicians, DJs, and celebs and will take place in his hometown of Miami, FL. Endemol is launching a new division, Endemol LIVE, with Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution, alongside the “Calle Ocho” performer’s own Honey I’m Home banner. Cris Abrego and Charlie Corwin, co-chairmen and co-CEOs of Endemol America, signed an exclusive deal with Pitbull in January to produce TV and digital content. Here’s a preview of the special, Pitbull-style, in the rapper’s own words: “The world needs to get ready to un-mute New Year’s Eve, because we are taking the party from the Big Apple to the Pineapple. New Year’s Eve is officially in Miami and hosted by yours truly, Mr. Worldwide. P.S. Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but whatever happens in Miami never happened, Daleee!”
Independent TV and digital production company Endemol has tapped Gal Zaid as Director of Comedy and Drama of Endemol Israel as the division teams with Endemol North America to develop new original scripted TV, with an eye toward potential U.S. adaptations. Zaid (Prisoners Of War, Hostages) previously served as Director of Drama at Channel 10 and Keshet. He’ll oversee all scripted content for Endemol Israel, facilitate its partnership with Endemol’s LA branch, and work in tandem with Endemol U.S. Said CEO of Endemol Israel Elad Kuperman: “Gal is responsible for some of the most successful and exciting scripted series to come out of Israel and we are thrilled to have him join us in this key role.” Last week Endemol struck a first-look deal with London-based Origin Pictures and acquired UK production shingle Artists Studio as part of its drive for more original scripted TV. Upcoming Endemol Israel series include crowdfunding show Fundastic.
Endemol Worldwide Distribution has pacted with London-based Origin Pictures, makers of recent BBC mini Death Comes To Pemberley, in an exclusive three-year first-look deal. The partners will jointly develop and finance a new slate of drama series for the UK and international markets, marking a further push by Endemol into scripted projects. Endemol will provide development funding and will handle international rights. The pair previously worked together on Death Comes to Pemberley, which launched at Mipcom last October. Origin Pictures, founded in 2008 by former BBC Films exec David Thompson, works across television and features. Its TV credits include BAFTA nominated mini The Crimson Petal And The White and the upcoming BBC One mini Jamaica Inn starring Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay. On the feature side, Origin has produced 2011 horror pic The Awakening and last year’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.
Endemol is expanding its scripted programming business with the acquisition of Wales-based drama production house Artists Studio. The company makes such series as Gillian Anderson-starrer The Fall for BBC Two, the channel’s most successful drama ever with more than 4M viewers per episode during the first season run. Under the deal, Endemol will distribute Artists Studio product including the 2nd season of The Fall which goes into production this year; as well as other projects in development for UK and U.S. broadcasters. Previous Artists Studio credits include Combat Hospital for ABC and Thorne for Sky UK. Gub Neal (Prime Suspect, Queer As Folk) co-founded Artists Studio in 2009 with former Box TV colleagues Justin Thomson-Glover and Patrick Irwin. Artists Studio will come under the Endemol UK banner. The acquisition also includes Far Moor Media, an executive producer packaging service for international drama producers whose credits include the currently filming Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for BBC One and BBC America. Endemol has grown its scripted business by 75% in the last five years, and this deal is part of the increasing trend towards consolidation in the indie production sector. Over the past 18 months, there has been a raft of acquisitions by the likes of ITV, Red Arrow and the U.S. studios including Warner Bros and Sony.
Gemma Arterton Coming To West End With ‘Made In Dagenham’
Former Bond girl Gemma Arterton is set to star in a West End musical version of 2010 film Made In Dagenham. She’ll play Rita O’Grady, a role originated by Sally Hawkins in the Nigel Cole-directed movie. The show is a musical comedy about women who battled for equal rights at a Ford factory in Essex, England, in 1968. The BBC reports that Richard Bean, who wrote One Man, Two Guvnors, is penning the script for the show, which opens November 5 at the Adelphi Theater. Rupert Goold (Enron, American Psycho) is directing. Arterton recently starred onstage in The Duchess Of Malfi. Read More »
After two years of power play, private equity firm Apollo Global Management appears poised to take control of Big Brother producer Endemol. The Dutch production company inherited billions of dollars in debt following the 2007 buyout, believed to have ballooned to $4.1 billion in 2011 before it was restructured. After the restructuring, Apollo ended up with the largest portion of Endemol debt, giving it a stake of about 30% in the company. Endemol’s owners also include the company’s co-founder John de Mol through the investment company Dasym Investment Strategies, which handles some of his money. Both Apollo and de Mol had reportedly been looking to take control of Endemol. Now it seems Apollo is succeeding. I hear there is no signed deal yet, but such an outcome appears very likely, sparking a lot of market chatter. Read More »
Endemol North America (Big Brother), has signed an exclusive overall deal with Armando Christian Perez (Pitbull) to develop and produce original content for television and digital platforms. Perez will also serve as executive producer on the projects under the deal announced at Endemol’s NATPE party, along with manager and Latium Entertainment CEO Charles Chavez. The digital aspect of the deal also includes a Pitbull channel on upcoming online network Endemol Beyond. Pitbull’s single Timber featuring Ke$ha, is in its third consecutive week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and new song We Are One (Ole Ola) featuring Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte was named the official anthem for the 2014 World Cup. Read More »
Big Brother producer Endemol is expanding its footprint in Israel, one of the hottest TV territories at the moment that is churning out formats sold around the world. On the heels of Endemol’s acquisition in April of a controlling share in Israel’s leading independent producer Kuperman, which has now become Endemol Israel, the Netherlands-based independent production company has acquired a 33% stake in Israeli broadcaster Reshet. The deal, which had been rumored for the last couple of weeks, is subject to regulatory approval. Under the agreement, the two companies will collaborate to launch new original content – created and produced by Endemol — for the Israeli market on Reshet’s platforms. It will be distributed internationally by Endemol, which also will produce Israeli versions of international formats for the broadcaster. Reshet will use the money from the transaction, said to be $28.5 million (part of it used to purchase Reshet stock and part a loan) to increase investment in local shows. Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Reshet has grown in recent years and currently has the highest rated channel in the country, with local versions of global formats as well popular original series like Comedians at Work, Irreversible and State of the Nation, according to the company.
Channel 4 Orders Comedy Pilot From Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan
The UK’s Channel 4 has commissioned the pilot Catastrophe from Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan. The pair will write and star in the single-camera comedy about an Irish woman and an American man who make a bloody mess as they struggle to fall in love in London. Catastrophe is an Avalon Production for Channel 4. Adam Tandy will serve as a non-writing producer with Avalon Television UK producing. Delaney won the award for “Funniest Person on Twitter” at the Comedy Central Comedy Awards. His television credits include Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, Fuel TV’s The Daily Habit, and the pilot Movie Nook for TBS. Delaney is repped by Kara Baker at Avalon Management, WME and CAA Touring.
Endemol Bets $13M On Social Casino Gaming Company Plumbee
Endemol said today that it has invested $13 million in social casino gaming company Plumbee. The digital start-up’s existing investor, Idinvest Partners, also participated in this round. The deal values the business at $40 million. Launched in 2011, Plumbee creates, operates and markets free-to-play online and mobile games on social networks. The two companies will create premium social casino games, exploiting Endemol’s global entertainment brands and building on Plumbee’s worldwide user base. Read More »
Endemol Beyond is a new global venture that will create a premium network of international and local channels across such platforms as YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Dailymotion. Big Brother producer Endemol is spending an initial 30M euros ($40.3M) on the venture which will invest in high-end original productions for the channels and will also acquire third-party programming. Genres will include comedy, entertainment, fashion and film. Endemol says Endemol Beyond will mirror its core content business, leveraging the company’s global creativity, brands and IP and producing premium entertainment that is exploited across all platforms. Its digital video business already has over 100 YouTube channels in worldwide markets including Germany where the Endemol Beyond brand was launched in 2012. Georg Ramme, who runs the German operation, will become managing director of Endemol Beyond International.
Endemol-owned UK production company Initial‘s credits include hit reality shows Big Brother UK and Your Face Sounds Familiar. After promoting Nick Samwell-Smith to managing director in September, the outfit has now hired Mirella Breda as creative director. Breda will join Initial in February after a long stint at the BBC where she has been executive editor of BBC Entertainment commissioning since 2007. Her tenure has included developing and exec producing Masterchef, Dragons Den, Comic Relief and Initial’s Total Wipeout. At Initial, she will look to expand entertainment output with new formats for the UK and international markets.
It’s The Old Consult-On-A-Movie-About-Maritime-Piracy Trick
If this real-life tale were pitched as a movie, it might go something like this: “Imagine Argo meets Captain Phillips, with a little In Bruges thrown in.” Mohamed Abdi Hassan, an alleged pirate mastermind, was arrested during the weekend after arriving in Belgium from Nairobi. He was led there by the belief that he was signing a deal to act as an expert adviser on a documentary about the Somali piracy business. Instead, he was met by authorities, who arrested him. Hassan, aka Afweyne or “Big Mouth”, was charged with hijacking the Belgian ship Pompei in 2009 and kidnapping its crew, per the Associated Press. Some of the pirates involved in that attack were caught and convicted, but Hassan remained at large. When he evaded capture in Malaysia in 2012, Belgian authorities took the undercover route and approached an alleged accomplice, Mohamed Aden, saying they wanted Hassan to “collaborate as adviser and expert in the matter on a film about maritime piracy,” federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle told The New York Times. After months of back-and-forth, Hassan and Aden agreed to travel to Belgium. When they arrived on Saturday, they were arrested and sent to Bruges for a court hearing. Today, the hearing was pushed to October 30.
‘Now You See Me’ Opens Atop Chinese Box Office With $9.1M
Heist pic Now You See Me was No. 1 at the Chinese box office over the weekend. The film about a group of magicians who pull off a complex caper made $9.1M in its first four days of release over the local holiday, FilmBizAsia reports. Local pic Love Will Tear Us Apart opened with $5.21M in its first two days and in its third weekend, Tsui Hark’s Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon took a further $6.93M for a cume of $88.7M, outperforming Hark’s last pic, 2011’s Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate. Read More »
David Goldberg will step down as chairman and CEO of Endemol North America in December, the company announced today. Goldberg had been with Endemol since launching the the U.S. outpost of the Dutch production company, originally founded by Joop van den Ende and John de Mol, in 2000. He will continue to work with Endemol as a consultant for its successful syndicated daytime show Steve Harvey, which he championed. Goldberg also started a scripted division of Endemol USA, which co-produces AMC’s Hell On Wheels and Low Winter Sun. The company’s unscripted slate include CBS’ Big Brother and ABC’s Wipeout. “It is time for me to try something new and I am excited about the possibilities,” Goldberg said. There are no decisions on his replacement. Endemol USA’s upcoming reality shows include Fox’s Step Up, NBC’s Wall Of Fame hosted by Anthony Anderson and ABC’s Sing Your Face Off.
Bunim/Murray Productions, best known The Real World, The Bad Girls Club and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, has licensed the Israeli dating series format Nobody’s Perfect for the U.S. This is not to be confused with the short-lived 1980s ABC sitcom of same name. In the dating show iteration of Nobody’s Perfect, couples reveal personal secrets on a first date to find out if that’s the best way to forge a relationship. While Bunim/Murray has snagged U.S. rights, Endemol has picked up the new format (created by Buzz Productions and Armoza Formats) in the Netherlands, Odeon in Germany, and Aito in Finland, reports RealScreen. “Dating formats continue to be some of the most beloved reality shows on air, and it’s rare to find a new spin on them,” Bunim/Murray president Gil Goldschein said in the announcement.
Remarkable Television’s David Flynn has been appointed chief creative officer at the company’s parent, Endemol UK. Flynn was previously joint managing director at Remarkable, producer of The Million Pound Drop (aka The Money Drop). Replacing him at Remarkable is Nick Mather, previously controller of entertainment and formats. Flynn created and exec produces The Million Pound Drop Live which first launched in 2010 and airs on the UK’s Channel 4. He also co-created game show Pointless and executive produces for BBC One. His other credits include The Bank Job, Seven Days On The Breadline and The Common Denominator. Mather has been with Endemol since 2005. His credits include The Kids Are All Right, The Whole 19 Yards and ABC’s 101 Ways To Leave A Game Show.
Legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan is to star in his first ever TV drama series. The untitled Endemol India co-production is being made for Sony Entertainment Television India. Hot writer-director Anurag Kashyap, whose Gangs Of Wasseypur and Ugly ran consecutively in the last two Cannes Directors’ Fortnight sections, is developing the project. Endemol India conceived the series that’s described as an epic drama, although details are being kept close to the vest. Bachchan’s company Saraswati Creations is co-producing. Bachchan, who has acted in more than 180 films, recently made his Hollywood debut in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. He’s previously hosted the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and the local version of Endemol format Big Brother, known in India as Big Boss. Kashyap was involved in four movies that played Cannes last month. Along with directing Ugly, he helmed a segment of Bombay Talkies, co-produced Monsoon Shootout and produced Critics’ Week title The Lunchbox which Sony Pictures Classics acquired. Endemol India was founded in 2006 and is a partnership between Endemol and The Chernin Group’s Asian investment arm, CA Media.