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 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 »
Law & Order repeats provided the foundation on which TNT built its original programming. Now the cable network is getting in business with Law & Order mastermind Dick Wolf on a crime drama procedural but on the unscripted side. TNT has greenlighted Cold Justice, which follows two top female investigators as they dig into cold murder cases. The network has ordered eight episodes of the project, from Wolf Films and Magical Elves, for summer 2013 premiere. Dick Wolf, Dan Cutforth & Jane Lipsitz and Tom Thayer executive produce. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 4:48 PM: IATSE has been called to a meeting with Fashion Star producers Magical Elves this afternoon, Deadline has learned. The face-to-face comes after the union put an offer before the producers of the NBC reality show to settle a labor dispute that started Saturday. “Talks are ongoing. The ball is in their court,” an IATSE spokesperson told Deadline earlier Tuesday. “We are still on strike.” Fashion Star is scheduled to resume taping tomorrow at 1:30 PM at Hollywood Center Studios. The union began discussions with Magical Elves yesterday. Four days after the crew walked off the job over health and pension benefits, picketing today was mainly centered on the De Longpre Avenue offices of the show in Hollywood. As of Tuesday afternoon, IATSE say they intend to be picketing tomorrow at Hollywood Center and the Magical Elves offices on Sunset. Read More »
Top Chef producer Magical Elves has promoted Jo Sharon to SVP Development. She had been Head of Development, where she was behind NBC’s Fashion Star, CBS’ 3 and Bravo’s Gallery Girls and also oversaw development of the premium YouTube channel The Stylish. Her more recent projects include Style’s Betsey And Lulu and Cold Justice, a partnership with Dick Wolf in development at TNT. She joined Magical Elves in 2010 after stints at Nash Entertainment, Renegade 83 and IMG Entertainment under now-Starz president Chris Albrecht.