Much as it did with October’s Mipcom, Israel’s Keshet International dominated the just-wrapped Mip-TV market. The savvy folks behind Rising Star energized the Croisette this week with ticking time bomb format Boom!, which closed at least a deal a day including in the U.S., France, Spain, Belgium and Hungary. And, interactive singing competition Rising Star, which had already locked down more than 25 territories since last October, is still selling. But save for Brazil, which on Sunday became the first territory outside Israel to debut a local version of Rising Star, the shows have yet to be tested abroad and Mip was abuzz with anticipation, mixed with some skepticism, about the ultimate results. Underscoring that, Brazil, which scored strong numbers, had a technical glitch that meant some home viewers had trouble entering their votes. I understand this was not the same sort of situation suffered by NBC’s Million Second Quiz last year when its app crashed during the premiere. In the case of Rising Star, I’m told there was no loss of connectivity and the live show was not affected. But, it’s a fair bet that other networks who have acquired the format are keeping a keen eye on the international rollout. Portugal is next to bow in May, and ABC debuts the format in June; it’s playing close to the vest with details.
In Cannes this week, execs up and down the Croisette praised the folks at Keshet International for their marketing acumen, enthusiasm and ability to generate creative formats. The company is often credited with putting Israel on the TV map thanks, most notably, to scripted drama Prisoners Of War, aka Homeland. The deal success of Rising Star, and now Boom!, had more than one observer marveling this week that Keshet has taught “a masterclass in marketing.” A key element of that masterclass includes bringing both formats to the Riviera sales shows hot on the heels of their respectively record-breaking debuts in Israel on Keshet Channel 2. Each format’s gimmick has also been highly touted. Rising Star‘s interactive app, incubated in Tel Aviv’s cutting-edge start-up community, lets viewers control the show’s outcome. Boom! is more of a straightforward quiz show. But the concept of contestants defusing (fake) bombs onstage, while shocking some, has made buyers sit up and take notice. Read More »
For about six months, the industry has been buzzing about Turkey and its potential as a fresh source of adaptable formats. That’s been spurred on by recent deals with the U.S., a successful export track record in neighboring regions, and a growing need for unique formats on the part of Western buyers. But, in the half-year since 2013’s Mipcom, people are wondering whether Turkey can really emerge as a new proving ground to be cultivated by the West, or if executives have been prematurely excited by some groundbreaking in-roads.
Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, has historically traded in series and soaps with largely local and historical themes. And its production industry is growing. According to data released at last month’s Discop market, it has surpassed Latin America to be the most prolific drama-producing nation outside the U.S. Other recent data says that a majority of Turkish channels air more than 100 new shows a year. Those are for the most part exported to the rest of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, bringing in about $150M in 2013.
But outside those territories there wasn’t much action until October last year. During the Mipcom market, Turkey made a big entrance into the U.S. with the first scripted format set up at a network by American producers when Ghost Whisperer alums Ian Sander and Kim Moses sold the Eccho Rights-repped The End to Fox. Unlike much Turkish output, the story is contemporary and has a universal feel. It centers on a woman who must navigate a web of lies and intrigue as she searches for her husband whom she presumed dead following a plane crash — but it turns out, he never boarded the plane. Produced by local powerhouse Ay Yapim, it aired in the first half of 2012. In the past six months, The End (or Son in Turkish) has been sold into Germany and Russia for local versions, while Shine France took an option and Netflix signed a non-exclusive agreement for the original in Sweden and the UK. The End has also aired on SVT in Sweden, the first time a Turkish drama had been shown in primetime on a national channel — it doubled the slot average. Read More »
Amazon Studios‘ director Roy Price told attendees at a Mip keynote today that filming is starting in Paris this week on its pilot The Cosmopolitans. A chronicle of the loves and adventures of a group of young expatriates in the City of Light, it hails from The Last Days Of Disco filmmaker Whit Stillman who wrote and will direct and executive produce. The cast of the half-hour pilot includes Shaun Evans Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny and Carrie MacLemore. Read More »
Yesterday, I moderated a Mip-tv panel that brought together the folks behind Comedy Central‘s web-to-TV transfer Broad City. The comedy, created by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, is exec produced by Amy Poehler (this was the trio’s first time in Cannes and they were giddy with excitement). Broad City began as a web series, and was ordered by Comedy Central in March 2013. The first season recently concluded, and has a second-season order. Also on the panel were Comedy Central President of Content Development & Original Programming Kent Alterman, and Caroline Beaton, SVP International Program Sales for Viacom Intenational Media Networks. We talked about how the girls got together in the first place, Poehler’s involvement, and the impact of the switch to television. Alterman addressed the web’s usefulness as an incubator, and Beaton spoke to why comedy does translate abroad. Poehler, who had a lot of Parks & Recreation fans in the audience, waxed on the importance of diversity and authenticity, and how you can’t pull the wool over the eyes of today’s youth. She also got in a good Sharon Stone/Basic Instinct joke at my expense, for which I thank her — I was pretty nervous and she put me right at ease. Here’s the video of our chat:
Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur, who segues between Hollywood and home-based projects, is set to direct and produce serialized crime series Trapped in his native country. From Kormakur’s RVK Studios, it’s based on his original idea and written by Sigurjon Kjartansson and Clive Bradley. Trapped follows the investigation of the grisly murder of an unidentifiable man found in the water after an international ferry arrives in a small town at the bottom of a fjord. Soon after, a powerful blizzard hits the town with deadly force, making the only road in or out impassable. The 10-part series, the most ambitious Icelandic commission ever ordered, will air locally on public broadcaster RUV. RVK’s Magnus Vidar Sigurdsson is also producing and RVX, the effects arm of RVK, will design the VFX. Dynamic Television’s Daniel March and Klaus Zimmermann are executive producers and are handling worldwide distribution. Kormakur, whose The Deep was shortlisted for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2012, is currently directing Everest for Universal, Cross Creek Pictures and Working Title Films. Read More »
Ami Glam, the former Keshet Channel 2 Head of Entertainment and Reality, is in town here at Mip with his new format, The Extra Mile. The 24-episode series, which debuts on Israel’s Channel 10 in early May, brings together 10 acrimoniously divorced couples who must work together when faced with challenges in order to win a big cash prize. But there’s a twist: they’re not in it for themselves, the money is to be put aside in a trust fund for their kids. Glam calls the show “very intense,” but adds that the couples will learn new things about themselves through the process. “With divorce, you only see the negative side, we’re looking for the positive and great moments.” Glam and his wife Ilan Glam’s Studio Glam produces the series which faced its own challenge during shooting. Filming on an island in the Philippines, the production had to be evacuated for a week when Typhoon Yolanda hit late last year. Nevertheless, Glam is bullish on the outcome with several options already in hand. Here’s the original trailer, with subtitles:
Discovery Communications is going to the dogs, via DogTV that is. The company has made an investment in 2-year-old channel bills itself as the first television network created just for canines. The companies also have formed a strategic partnership to help accelerate DogTV’s growth and allow for collaboration with Animal Planet. DogTV is a 24-hour network that effectively helps babysit stay-at-home pooches with programming specifically designed for their eyes and ears. Content is split into three categories — relaxation, stimulation and exposure — to help provide balance for their daily routines. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, program director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University, is DogTV’s chief scientist. Prior to the channel’s launch in 2012, he performed a study monitoring dogs’ behavior in their own homes, which captured viewing time and preferences, leading to the development of DogTV’s programming. Additional pet experts include Victoria Stilwell, of Animal Planet’s It’s Me Or The Dog, and veterinarian Dr Marty Becker, who frequently appears on Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show.
Related: Super Bowl Blowout Sends Record 13.5 Million To ‘Puppy Bowl X’
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Canal Plus has given an 10-episode order to one-hour crime drama Spotless. Co-created by Shameless UK producer and writer Ed McCardie and Corinne Marrinan (CSI, Crossing Lines), the series is produced by Studiocanal’s Tandem Communications in association with Rosetta Media for Canal+ Original Programming. The London-set drama is billed as irreverant, sexy and dangerous. It’s the story of a troubled man whose tidy life is turned upside down when his outlaw brother crash lands into his world, and gets both of them involved in the deadly dynamics of organized crime as their dysfunctional family struggles to gain control over life, business and shared destiny. Principal photography is targeted to begin this summer in London. The first two episodes will be directed by Pascal Chaumeil (Heartbreaker) and casting is underway.
McCardie is head writer and Marrinan is writer and co-executive producer. Executive producers include Tandem’s Rola Bauer, Jonas Bauer and Suzanne Berger, who first brought the project to Tandem. Producing for Tandem is Moritz Polter. Spotless is produced by Hugh Warren, most recently producer of the UK drama series, Call The Midwife.
The team behind Amazon Studios‘ series Bosch was in town on Monday, talking up the adaptation of Michael Connelly’s bestselling books. Connelly was flanked by Titus Welliver who plays the iconic antihero Harry Bosch, as well as producer Henrik Bastin of Fabrik Entertainment, and Jan Frouman and Irina Ignatiew of Fabrik owner Red Arrow. Amazon first ordered a pilot to be written by Connelly in June 2013, and the series was picked up last month. The books revolve around the eponymous veteran LAPD homicide detective. Connelly said the stories will be culled from three books with a mixture of new material that will be “true to the city of Los Angeles and the character of Harry Bosch.” The 10-episode series is set in contemporary LA and is all shot there, which was very important to Connelly when he agreed to the adaptation. He said his thinking was, “I’m not going to make a deal with anyone who doesn’t agree to make every shot in Los Angeles.” And the city was accomodating, “The real LAPD let us shoot in the real detective bureau,” the first time, he said, that’s been done.
Welliver said the character in the series is very true to the books. “He doesn’t say much, the silences and moments of solitude in the … Read More »
With the proliferation of content coming from Hollywood, Scandinavia has been facing a linear scheduling issue, exacerbated over the past couple of years under volume deals with the studios. In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Modern Times Group and Sony Pictures Television are looking to address the situation with an exclusive multi-year content cooperation deal. The agreement will give MTG’s 10 Nordic free-TV channels, Viasat movie channels and Viaplay online platform the ability to offer Sony movies and TV series across the region. Read More »
Television 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.
Most 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 »
NBC acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to comedy Welcome To Sweden last October and will debut it on July 10. The series, created by Greg Poehler, recently started airing on TV4 in the titular territory. After two weeks there, it’s been recommissioned for a second season. The network has ordered a further 10 episodes of the fish-out-of-water tale that was its first-ever English-speaking series. Siblings Greg and Amy Poehler executive produce the comedy which is based on Greg’s own true life experiences. In the two weeks it’s aired on TV4, it is the channel’s No. 2 rated show and is No. 1 across younger demographics. The story revolves around New York accountant, Bruce, played by Poehler in his acting debut, who falls in love with a Swedish girl, Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) and follows his heart to Sweden. Lena Olin co-stars as Emma’s mother Viveka, and Illeana Douglas and Patrick Duffy play Bruce’s parents. Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Aubrey Plaza and Gene Simmons have cameos in the first season. “It’s an amazing feeling to create a show to which people are responding so favorably. We intend to make season two even better,” says Greg Poehler. Welcome To Sweden is produced by Entertainment One Television, TV4 and Syskon. Fredrik Arefalk exec produces for TV4 and Carrie Stein for Entertainment One which is handling worldwide rights in all media.
As the Mip-TV market gets underway in Cannes, Keshet International has announced its first offshore rights deal for ticking time bomb show, Boom!. France’s TF1 has acquired the format that just debuted in Israel to powerhouse ratings and is expected to be a big seller here this week. The game show sets a squad of four players the challenge of defusing eight replica bombs by answering trivia questions correctly within a strict time limit. The multiple choice responses are represented by different color wires. If the player gets an answer right, the prize money remains intact and the squad advances. If they cut the wrong wire, or run out of time, the bomb explodes spewing material across the studio and shaking the set. The team loses one player per exploded bomb, and 25% of the potential prize money. Keshet DCP is developing the show for the U.S. Read More »
Heading into the Mip-TV market next week, the UK’s DCD Rights has sealed deals on six-part thriller The Code with DirecTV in the U.S., Sundance Channel Latin America and Denmark’s DR. Produced by Australia’s Playmaker, the drama premieres Down Under on ABC1 later this year. Set in the Oz outback, The Code centers on two very different brothers — one a journalist, the other a hacker — who unearth information that those at the highest levels of political power will kill to keep secret. Lucy Lawless stars with Adam Garcia (Camp), David Wenham (Top Of The Lake) and Aden Young (I Frankenstein). DirecTV acquired the series for Audience Network. It was created by Shelley Birse and written by Birse, Blake Ayshford and Justin Monjo. Shawn Seet directs and Playmaker’s David Maher, David Taylor and Birse are producers. DCD, which works with high-profile Aussie titles like The Slap, Rake and A Moody Christmas, is launching The Code at Mip next week.
Formed by Daniel March, LA-based Dynamic Television launched at Mipcom last October. Ahead of the upcoming Mip-TV market, the company has appointed Borgia and Transporter: The Series producer Klaus Zimmermann as Managing Partner. In tandem, Dynamic is opening offices in Paris and Berlin. Zimmermann left his previous post as co-chief of France’s Atlantique Productions in September. There he helped drive large scale English-language drama series for European outlets that include the BBC, Canal Plus, ZDF, TF1, RTL, M6 and SAT 1, among others. Zimmermann will transfer his international production model to Dynamic, with a focus on the scripted commercial fare that is so hot right now with European broadcasters. Prior to Atlantique, Zimmermann was co-founder of Zen Productions and is also an exec producer on Bobby Moresco’s serial killer series 100 Code for Sky Deutschland and Red Arrow.
FremantleMedia International and Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffé are putting a new spin on Victor Hugo’s classic The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Under a co-development partnership, Joffé (The Killing Fields, The Mission) will write a retelling of the story to be titled Ugly. The planned TV series will trace the titular character’s journey and aims to show what it means to be human regardless of outward appearances. The period project will be set against the political, economic and social explosion of early 17th Century France. A further move by Fremantle into scripted drama, Ugly will be discussed with broadcasters at the upcoming Mip-TV market in Cannes. Earlier this year, FremantleMedia North America acquired rights to the Neil Gaiman urban fantasy novel American Gods for a potential series, and last year the parent company acquired a majority stake in Danish scripted producer Miso Film. Joffé is also lined up to direct A+E Studios and ITV Studios America’s eight-hour mini Texas Rising (working title) which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Joffé is repped by Resolution.
At last October’s Mipcom, Israeli interactive talent show Rising Star, was the hot property, selling local versions around the globe. At the Mip-TV market next month, The Big Picture, a new interactive entrant from Israel, is aiming to be the next big thing. The game show hails from Israeli format company A Cappella, which recently made U.S. and UK deals with eOne for religion-themed drama Reaching For Heaven. Big Picture is created by TV host and mentalist Nimrod Harel, whose first scripted series, The Believer, has been sold to Fox International Channels. A budget of $1M went toward developing and producing an English-language Big Picture pilot hosted by Andrew Günsberg (Australian Idol, Live To Dance), which A Cappella will shop at Mip-TV (see promo below). The trivia-based show asks a contestant to identify photographs projected on a 20-meter-high screen in the studio; the pictures can be of celebrities, political figures, events and such. There are 12 stages to the game with the ultimate possibility of winning $1M. The contestant can opt out at any time and take the money they’ve amassed, or continue vying for the top prize. If they get an answer wrong, they leave empty-handed. The interactive element in Big Picture is the participation of the viewing audience. Via a specially-designed app that uses technology created in Israel’s booming start-up community, and with consultants who have worked with the Israeli military, viewers can answer questions by text and potentially become the partner of the onscreen contestant, eventually splitting the purse. In a twist, the show will be pre-recorded in studio, but viewers will participate on the day of broadcast. Those selected will have their image projected on screen, and play along via the technology.
A Capella CEO Einat Shamir says, “The audience at home wants to be an active participant and influence what they watch on the screen in real time. The beauty of our format is the very unique production formula, which allows to overcome a lot of traditional obstacles many TV producers were facing when trying to cater to the new interactivity trend in the business.” Read More »
Warner Bros International Television Production has acquired format rights to distribute BBC One’s new quiz show, The Link. BBC One has commissioned 25 episodes for a daytime slot. The show is produced by STV Productions in association with LTV. Not to be confused with the BBC’s The Weakest Link, the game show pits teams against each other as they race to find the link between questions. Guess the connections, break the links, win money. “We know that great game shows are back at the top of broadcasters’ wish lists. The Link is that rare thing — an original new quiz show with a strong identity in terms of both its game play and visual elements, commissioned in a key market. Our excitement is shared by Mike Darnell and his team at the Warner Bros Television Group, who will be bringing it to market in the U.S.,” says WBITP’s Andrew Zein. The UK version of the show will be hosted by actor Mark Williams, best known as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies. Gary Chippington is executive producer for STV Productions, Jo Street is executive producer for the BBC and Paul Johnson is executive producer for LTV and Tuvalu Entertainment Ltd. Read More »