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FremantleMedia Taps Former BBC Entertainment Exec Sean Hancock As VP

By | Tuesday February 4, 2014 @ 1:38pm PST

HANCOCK Sean (1)FremantleMedia North America has named former BBC Entertainment executive and producer Sean Hancock as VP Alternative Programming, CEO Thom Beers announced today. Hancock begins his new position April 28 reporting to FMNA_LogoEVP Alternative Programming Toby Gorman. In his new role, Hancock will be responsible for development and production of reality competition, game show and other unscripted programming. Hancock moves to FremantleMedia following a three-and-a-half-year stint as commissioning editor at BBC Entertainment. During his tenure there he greenlit and/or executive produced a slate of programming, including BAFTA-winning The Revolution Will Be Televised, six seasons of Russell Howard’s Good News, The Michael McIntyre Chat Show, Sweat The Small Stuff  and Junior Doctors.

Steve-Harvey-Family-Feud-1The news comes the same day that FremantleMedia North America’s Family Feud announced it had shattered a ratings record. The Steve Harvey-hosted game show hit a 6.1 household rating during the week ending January 26. That puts the show up 7% in household ratings over the prior week, 20% vs the comparable week last season and up 336% since Harvey assumed the hosting reins in September 2010. Feud is now cleared by Debmar-Mercury between 5 and 8 PM in more than 70% of the U.S. In total viewers, Feud nabbed more than 9.2 million for the week, up 9% from the previous week and 18% from a year ago.

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Toby Gorman To Head FremantleMedia North America’s Unscripted Department

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 10:13am PST
Nellie Andreeva

gormanFormer top reality producer-turned-FremantleMedia North America CEO Thom Beers has picked a person with the same background to head the company’s unscripted development. Veteran reality producer Toby Gorman has joined FMNA as EVP of Alternative Programming,  effective mid-April. He will spearhead the development of formats for reality competition and game shows for broadcast, major cable networks as well as syndication. He replaces Jeff Tahler, EVP Global Content. “FremantleMedia aims to continue to build on its strong presence in reality, game show and other unscripted television, and Toby has earned a wonderful reputation as a terrific series producer and show runner,” Beers said. The company behind American Idol, The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, Family Feud and Beers’ The Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers has struggled to add another marquee reality franchise to its portfolio over the last couple of years though it has a promising new syndicated entry in Craig Ferguson’s Celebrity Name Game. Read More »

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Craig Ferguson-Hosted ‘Celebrity Name Game’ Cleared In 80% Of U.S.

The Craig Ferguson-hosted Celebrity Name Game iscraig_ferguson__120928183323 (1) set to launch on 58 Sinclair stations, four CBS O&Os and others, pushing clearances for the fall 2014 syndicated pop culture game show past 80% of the U.S — up from 40% in less than a month. Tribune Broadcasting previously came aboard, acquiring Celebrity Name Game for all 25 of its stations. The half-hour strip, based on the board game Identity Crisis, was developed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods with Scott St. John (Deal Or No Deal), who will serve as showrunner. The show teams celebrities with contestants to identify famous names, including actors, singers, athletes, pop culture figures, politicians and even cartoon characters. Celebrity Name Game is co-produced and co-financed by FremantleMedia North America and Debmar-Mercury, and is distributed domestically by Debmar-Mercury and internationally by FremantleMedia.

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Tribune Nabs Craig Ferguson-Hosted ‘Celebrity Name Game’ From Debmar-Mercury

Debmar-Mercury has sold nationally syndicated pop culture game show Celebrity Name Game to Tribune Broadcasting stations covering 40% of the U.S. Hosted by The Late, Late Show‘s Craig Ferguson, Celebrity Name Game, based on the board game Identity Crisis, was developed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods with Scott St. John (Deal Or No Deal), who will serve as showrunner. The half-hour strip is set for a fall 2014 launch on Tribune stations including WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago. In Celebrity Name Game, celebrities team with contestants to identify famous names including actors, singers, athletes, pop culture figures, politicians and even cartoon characters. Celebrity Name Game is co-produced and co-financed by FremantleMedia North America and Debmar-Mercury, and is distributed domestically by Debmar-Mercury and internationally by FremantleMedia North America.

Related: Craig Ferguson-Hosted Game Show Set For Fall 2014

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Syndicated Pop Culture Game Show With Craig Ferguson Set For Fall 2014 Launch Via FremantleMedia, Debmar-Mercury & Coquette

Nellie Andreeva

FremantleMedia North America has teamed with Debmar-Mercury for Celebrity Name Game, a fast-paced game show slated for a fall 2014 nationally syndicated launch with The Late Late Show’s Craig Ferguson hosting. The half-hour strip, based on the board game Identity Crisis, was developed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods with Scott St. John (Deal Or No Deal), who will serve as showrunner. Ferguson’s involvement stems from the project’s first incarnation at CBS where Coquette sold it as a pilot two years ago under the title Identity Crisis with Ferguson hosting. In Celebrity Name Game, celebrities team with contestants to identify famous names including actors, singers, athletes, pop culture figures, politicians and even cartoon characters. “Celebrity Name Game is a hilarious and innovative rapid-fire game show that combines the best of pop culture with the best of comedy,” said FMNA CEO Thom Beers, noting the company’s success with game shows hosted by comedians like Drew Carey (The Price Is Right), Steve Harvey (Family Feud) and Wayne Brady (Let’s Make A Deal). This marks the second syndicated collaboration between FMNA and Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury, along with Family Feud, which is produced by FMNA and distributed by Deb-Mer. Read More »

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FremantleMedia North America Hires Christine Shaw As SVP Communications & Marketing

By | Thursday September 19, 2013 @ 9:13am PDT

Former BBC Worldwide exec Christine Shaw has joined FremantleMedia North America as SVP Communications and Marketing, where she will lead all PR and marketing efforts for the company’s library of TV properties that includes American Idol, The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, The Price Is Right, Let’s Make A Deal and Family Feud among others. Shaw will report to COO Lee Rierson. At BBC Worldwide, Shaw oversaw corporate communications as well as publicity and marketing strategies for the company’s production arm, as well as its digital entertainment and games businesses.

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FremantleMedia North America Hires Gayle Gilman To Oversee Digital Content

By | Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 8:07am PDT

Burbank, CA – FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) has named Gayle Gilman as the new Executive Vice President, Digital Content, effective immediately. Gilman will oversee the creation of all original digital content, including The Pet Collective, the fastest growing pet destination on the Internet. In addition to content creation, Gilman will also be responsible for supporting distribution strategies, positioning FMNA as a premier creator and provider of digital content. She will work closely with the company’s new Digital & Branded Entertainment Division, led by CEO Keith Hindle, to support FremantleMedia’s global digital strategies and activity. Gilman will report to Chief Operating Officer Lee Rierson and will look to immediately begin building her support team. Gilman joins FremantleMedia from Original Productions, where she served as the Senior Vice President for Original Productions Entertainment Network (OPEN). In this role, she established and operated the company’s digital media strategy, including the creation of branded and original content, as well as multiplatform distribution. Prior to launching the OPEN digital division for Original Productions, Gilman served as the co-executive producer for the Emmy-nominated “Ice Road Truckers”, as well as “Swords: Life on the Line,” “Lobstermen” and “America’s Lost Treasures”.

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FremantleMedia North America Taps Lee Rierson As COO

By | Monday July 8, 2013 @ 12:11pm PDT

Burbank, CA – FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) Chief Executive Officer Thom Beers has named Lee Rierson as Chief Operating Officer, effective July 22. In his position as COO, reporting to Beers, Rierson will oversee Production, Business and Legal Affairs, Communications and Marketing, Business Development and Strategic Planning. FMNA’s current slate of shows includes “American Idol,” “The X Factor,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The Price is Right,” “Let’s Make a Deal” and “Family Feud,” among others.

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FremantleMedia North America COO Donna Redier Linsk To Depart

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: FremantleMedia North America COO Donna Redier Linsk has opted not to renew her contract. Redier Linsk will exit the company in July and segue into a new role as a consultant at FMNA’s Fox series American Idol until December. Chief Operating Officer was a new position established by FMNA in 2009 when Redier Linsk was brought in by then-CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz from Fox Broadcasting, where she had been SVP Business Affairs and Alternative Production for five years. At FMNA, Redier Linsk oversaw production, finance, business and legal affairs for all of the company’s entertainment programming and was actively involved in day-to-day production of American Idol, The X Factor and America’s Got Talent. FMNA is expected to name a replacement. “I want to thank Donna for the contribution she made to our business over the last four years,” said Frot-Coutaz, now CEO of parent company FremantleMedia. “She brought us her relentless rigor, business acumen, passion for production and incredible dedication. I will miss her dearly.” Added FMNA CEO Thom Beers, “Donna is an amazing talent.” Read More »

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It’s Official: Craig Cegielski Joins FremantleMedia As EVP Scripted, Stefanie Berk SVP

By | Thursday June 6, 2013 @ 10:10am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Previous: Craig Cegielski Joins Fremantle Media As EVP Scripted, Stefanie Berk As SVP

Burbank, CA – FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) has named Craig Cegielski to the newly created position of Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development. The announcement was made today by Thom Beers, CEO, FremantleMedia North America to whom Cegielski reports. Stefanie Berk has also joined the company as Senior Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development, reporting to Cegielski.

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Craig Cegielski Joins Fremantle Media As EVP Scripted, Stefanie Berk As SVP

By | Friday May 31, 2013 @ 4:27pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: FremantleMedia North America is assembling a new scripted programming team. I’ve learned that former Lionsgate TV and GK-tv executive Craig Cegielski has been tapped as EVP Scripted Programming and Development. He’s being joined by Playtone’s Stefanie Berk, who is expected to serve as SVP Scripted. FremantleMedia has been without a scripted team since February when SVP Tony Optican’s contract was not renewed and VP Holly Hines left to head scripted development and production for Participant Media’s new cable network Pivot.

Veteran TV exec Cegielski most recently served as president of Graham King’s GK-tv, a post he left in January. There, he shepherded Camelot, the company’s series for Starz. Before that he served as EVP Programming and Sales, International TV, at Lionsgate. Prior to joining Lionsgate, Cegielski worked for CBS/Kingworld International, specializing in local production and programming. Berk comes from Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, where she was SVP Development.

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FremantleMedia North America Taps Alex Demyanenko SVP Non-Fiction Development

By | Thursday April 4, 2013 @ 9:35am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Alex Demyanenko has joined FremantleMedia North America in the newly created position of SVP, Non-Fiction Development and Programming. Under new CEO Thom Beers, FMNA is splitting development and programming for the broadcast and cable networks, with Damyanenko overseeing cable projects, and Julie Uribe, SVP, Non-Scripted Development, shepherding broadcast ones. Both report to Beers. Demyanenko comes from Shed Media US, where he was SVP, producing such series as Basketball Wives and Basketball Wives LA (VH1) and Tough Enough (USA). Prior to that, he was VP, Series Development and Programming at VH1, developing over 20 series in four years, including Celeb Rehab, Tough Love and The T.O. Show. Prior to VH1, Demyanenko was Head of Development at Rocket Science Laboratories, where he developed Fox’s Joe Millionaire, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé and Trading Spouses.

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FremantleMedia North America’s Head Of Scripted Tony Optican Exits

By | Wednesday February 20, 2013 @ 5:01pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Tony Optican is leaving FremantleMedia North America after a four-year stint as head of the company’s scripted programming division. I hear his contract was up and was not renewed. FMNA is already looking for a replacement for Optican as well as for VP scripted development Holly Hines who just left to head scripted development and production for Participant Media’s new cable network. Under Optican, FMNA landed one series on the air, TBS’ dramedy Wedding Band, which was recently cancelled after one season. FMNA gets a co-producer credit on the CW/Warner Bros. TV pilot The Tomorrow People as the original format is part of its catalog. Mining that catalog for scripted US series will likely be among the priorities for Optican’s successor. Before joining FMNA, Optican was SVP of original programming at Sci Fi Channel and VP of current programming at Fox.

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Thom Beers To Be Named CEO Of FremantleMedia North America

By | Tuesday August 28, 2012 @ 3:57pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It’s a done deal. I’ve learned that FremantleMedia this week will announce the long-rumored appointment of Thom Beers as CEO of FremantleMedia North America. The prolific producer will succeed longtime FMNA CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz who on July 1st assumed her new position as CEO of the entire FremantleMedia company, which is owned by RTL. Beers is already in the FMNA fold after the company acquired 75% in his Original Prods. in 2009 for a reported $50 million. He also held a CEO title for 13 years, since launching his Original Prods in 1999. He remained Original CEO after the company’s acquisition by FMNA.

There have been a slew of rumored candidates for the FMNA CEO job since Frot-Coutaz’s promotion was announced in April. The list included outside contenders as well as a strong internal candidate, COO Donna Redier Linsk.

Beers has produced more than 1,400 hours of original programming, including some of basic cable’s top unscripted shows. Original’s portfolio includes unscripted cable series The Deadliest Catch, Storage Wars, Storage Wars: Texas, Bering Sea Gold, Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men, Wild Justice and Black Gold. In an interesting footnote, Beers in June signed with CAA, while his previous agency, WME, handles FMNA. FMNA does not have a formal agency representation but has been with Mark Itkin for over a decade, first at WMA and then at WME.

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Cécile Frot-Coutaz Named CEO Of FremantleMedia, Tony Cohen Exits

By | Thursday April 19, 2012 @ 10:46am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Longtime FremantleMedia North America CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz is being promoted to CEO of the entire FremantleMedia company, which is owned by RTL. Frot-Coutaz will assume her new duties on July 1 and will be based in London. She will replace Tony Cohen who is stepping down. As for FMNA, it is yet unclear who will succeed Frot-Coutaz in the top post. “After being with the group for 17 years, Cécile has the vision and leadership that are needed to further grow FremantleMedia,” Guillaume de Posch, Co-CEO of RTL Group. “She brings expertise and drive from the largest TV market in the world and combines her creative skills as a producer with a sharp business perspective.” De Posch went on to thank Cohen. Read More »

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FremantleMedia Signs Deal With ‘Wipeout’ Creator Matt Kunitz

By | Tuesday March 20, 2012 @ 8:34am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Matt Kunitz Wipeout FremantleMediaEXCLUSIVE: After six years at NBC Universal and six at Endemol, reality producer Matt Kunitz is teaming with FremantleMedia North America. Kunitz, creator/executive producer of Wipeout and executive producer of Fear Factor, has signed a multi-year overall deal with the company behind Fox’s American Idol and The X Factor and NBC’s America’s Got Talent to develop and produce new unscripted shows. The pact starts in May. FMNA CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz noted Kunitz’s track record “of producing shows that families can watch together.” “We are anxious to create big, broad entertainment shows with Matt and give them the kind of support and global infrastructure that we are confident FremantleMedia can provide,” she said.

Although he has formally been at Endemol for the past six years with three back-to-back overall deals, Kunitz’s relationship with the company dates back to 2000. That’s when at NBC he began working on the Endemol-produced NBC reality series Fear Factor, on which he has served as an executive producer from the start. Kunitz also executive produces the current Fear Factor reboot, which delivered solid ratings but also sparked controversy. NBC is yet to make a decision on the future of the series, with a few more original episodes in the can for a likely summer run. “As I close a chapter on 12 great years with Endemol, I’m very excited Read More »

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‘Family Feud’ Renewed Through 2015 In 75% Of U.S., Goes HD

By | Wednesday November 2, 2011 @ 11:55am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Distributor Debmar-Mercury has renewed Family Feud through 2015 in more than 75% of the U.S. on stations that belong to Fox, Sinclair, CBS, Tribune, Cox, Capital, NBC, Sunbeam, Newport and Belo broadcast groups. The show, hosted by Steve Harvey and produced by FremantleMedia North America, has posted a ratings gains of 35% in households and 40% in women 25-54 vs. 2010, when Harvey joined as host and stations in more than half of the country upgraded the show to a 5-8 PM slot. “Stations have wasted no time in securing this franchise well into the future with these long-term renewals, extending Family Feud through 2015 and making it a viable alternative to off-network sitcoms for many stations seeking strong early fringe and access programming,” Debmar-Mercury co-president Ira Bernstein said. Starting next season, new episodes of Family Feud will be shot in HD.

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Syfy Picks Up ‘Total Blackout’ Game Show

By | Tuesday October 11, 2011 @ 1:59pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Syfy has picked up Total Blackout, a half-hour comedic game show from FremantleMedia North America that places contestants in complete darkness to compete in challenges. The series will start production October 18 for a 2012 premiere. Jaleel White (Family Matters) will host. The format has already launched internationally in a dozen countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. Total Blackout was created by Henrik Nielsen (Can You Duet?), who executive produces with Jeff Apploff.

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Fremantle Reboots ‘Universal Soldier’; Hires ‘National Treasure’ Creator To Pen Treasure Caper TV Series

By | Monday October 3, 2011 @ 3:03am PDT

MIPCOM: Those of you who cheered when Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren went mano-a-mano in Roland Emmerich’s 1992 sci-flick Universal Soldier will be pleased to know that it is being rebooted as a TV series. Damian Kindler (Stargate, Sanctuary) is writing the show, which will be produced by FremantleMedia North America, the U.S. arm of the London-based TV producer. Allen Shapiro and Craig Baumgarten, who produced the original movie, will be executive producers. Shapiro is currently chairman of TV Guide Network and was a founder of Mosaic Media Group, while Baumgarten’s movie credits include Hook and Shattered Glass. Baumgarten has a long track record as a studio executive including stints at Paramount, Columbia, Fox and Lorimar.

Meanwhile, Fremantle has hired Charles Segars, creator and exec producer of both National Treasure movies, to create Blood & Treasure (working title), a TV drama series about two brothers who go around the world solving crimes and unearthing some of the world’s greatest secrets — kind of cops-meet-The Da Vinci Code. Rob Wright (Law & Order) has written the series bible and first hour-long episode. Fremantle Media Enterprises, the producer’s rights arm, will be coaxing international buyers at MIPCOM. Blood & Treasure comes out of FME’s first-look deal with U.S. TV producer Landscape Entertainment (Medical Investigation).

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