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Celebrity Series Historical Docs David Attenborough Michael Palin Christiane Amanpour www.tvreal.ws
MIPCOM EDITION THE MAGAZINE OF FACTUAL PROGRAMMING
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A+E Networks www.aetninternational.com Duck Dynasty
• Liz & Dick • Duck Dynasty • The Men Who Built America
Approximately 500 hours of new programming is being launched by A+E Networks at this year’s MIPCOM. Among the offerings is a new season of Duck Dynasty, which is a hit reality series for A&E in the U.S. The show is also performing well in the international market, according to Marielle Zuccarelli, the managing director of international content distribution at A+E Networks. “What’s unique about this show are the characters,” she says.“Broadcasters are looking for content with a strong ratings track record, and our character-driven series always deliver.” A+E Networks also highlights The Men Who Built America, from HISTORY, and Liz & Dick, a TV movie from Lifetime. The latter is a bio-pic starring Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler that follows the explosive love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Zuccarelli says that A+E Networks is eager “to bring more awareness at the market to our format catalogue. We want broadcasters to look at us as a one-stop shop for all genres of programming.”
“ Character-driven shows are generating high ratings for broadcasters and are very much in demand internationally.
AFL Productions www.aflproductions.com
IN THIS ISSUE
Star Gazing Celebrities are becoming more open to participating in reality programs 28
Past Perfected Producers of historical programming are breathing new life into the genre 34
Interviews David Attenborough Michael Palin Christiane Amanpour
38 42 44
Profile National Geographic Channel 46
• Painfully Funny • Shelarious • 2Rude4UTube
While Scott Hanock may be new to AFL Productions, he is no stranger to selling the type of hidden-camera comedy programs that the company is known for. “I have specialized in home-video clips, comedy-blooper shows and hiddencamera comedy series for the past 12 years,” notes Hanock, a VP and the international sales manager at AFL.“I have found that many broadcasters and cable and satellite networks find [that this] programming really works for various time slots during the day. Comedy bloopers with either no dialogue or strong visuals with well-written voice-overs make people laugh all the time. Adding in another layer of edgier clips for more of a mature audience allows us to play to later nighttime slots, too.” AFL’s 2Rude4UTube is one of those edgier shows, a clip collection showcasing real people behaving badly on camera. The company also has comedy series to offer, among them Painfully Funny, Crazy TV Pranks and Shelarious.
Crazy TV Pranks
“ We have different kinds of series that can work in so many parts of the world.” —Scott Hanock
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APT Worldwide www.aptww.org • Eisenhower’s Secret War • My Future Baby: Breakthroughs in Modern Fertility • Global Health Frontiers: Foul Water, Fiery Serpent
Ricardo Seguin Guise
Publisher Anna Carugati
Editor Mansha Daswani
Executive Editor Kristin Brzoznowski
Managing Editor Joanna Padovano
Associate Editor Simon Weaver
Online Director Meredith Miller Chris Carline
The two-part history documentary Eisenhower’s Secret War leads off the slate for APT Worldwide. Produced by Starbright Media, the 2x1-hour production takes a comprehensive look at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s unusual presidential campaign of 1952, as well as his strategies as president during the Cold War and how he shaped the nuclear arms race. APT Worldwide is also bringing to MIPCOM My Future Baby: Breakthroughs in Modern Fertility, an hour-long feature from Stand Media that follows couples who are undergoing the latest in fertility treatments.“The stunning 4D animation and micro-lens closeups bring this technology to life as never seen before,” says Judy Barlow, the VP of international sales at APT Worldwide. The company also has Global Health Frontiers: Foul Water, Fiery Serpent, a current-affairs and health documentary produced by Cielo Productions.
“ Our strength is in the breadth and high production values of our nonfiction content.
—Judy Barlow My Future Baby: Breakthroughs in Modern Fertility
Production Directors Phyllis Q. Busell
Art Director Cesar Suero
Sales & Marketing Director Vanessa Brand
Sales & Marketing Manager Terry Acunzo
Business Affairs Manager
Ricardo Seguin Guise
President Anna Carugati
Executive VP & Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani
Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Real © 2012 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website:
ARTE France www.artepro.com/sales • Happiness is on the Plate • Football Rebels • Iraq 2003: Days of War and Invasion
The lifestyle series Happiness is on the Plate blends travel, cooking, nature and a civic sensibility, as it follows the daily work of five chefs fighting for eco-friendly cooking. Buyers can pick up the HD series from ARTE France.The company is also offering up Iraq 2003: Days of War and Invasion. “Our commitment is to enlighten and inform,” says Cédric Hazard, the head of international sales and acquisitions at ARTE France. “The 21st century began with an international crisis of unprecedented severity in Iraq.Ten years after, what assessment can be made? ... And not to be forgotten, the committed social engagement of our Football Rebels, showing us footballers who’ve managed to resist against the spheres of power, becoming figureheads of resistance or rebellion, well beyond their sole sporting achievements.” With these titles, among others, the company is hoping to “establish ourselves as the ultimate reference in documentary distribution,” says Hazard.
“ In a rapidly changing world, viewers count on ARTE to observe the world around us and the issues our planet is facing, with a priority: clarity. —Cédric Hazard
Get TV Real Weekly— delivered to your inbox every Wednesday. For a free subscription, visit: www.worldscreen.com
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Big Media & KM Plus Media www.bigmedia.tv • Close Quarter Battle • Miracles of Nature • My Animal Friends
“ We feel that by achieving the right balance between exciting new original productions and a stellar catalogue of proven titles, we have positioned Big Media as an elite provider of content around the world.
The Special Forces veteran Terry Schappert offers viewers in-depth analysis of contemporary close-quarter battle scenarios in the aptly titled Close Quarter Battle. The action-packed half-hour series is being offered by Big Media and its international sales arm KM Plus Media. There’s a new season of Miracles of Nature as well. The 26x26-minute series looks at interesting aspects of the natural world: waterfalls, geysers, volcanoes and more. For the younger set, My Animal Friends allows kids to be captivated by animal footage while also hearing narration in a child’s voice describe a day in the life of a baby animal. “These programs have a universal appeal and will surely resonate with audiences around the world,” says Danny Wilk, the president of Big Media. “While these shows focus on a few of the hottest, most sought-after genres in the market today, they also perfectly exemplify how our catalogue of over 2,000 hours of diverse programming allows us to satisfy the needs of almost any broadcaster.”
Miracles of Nature
Canamedia www.canamedia.com • Air Boss • Wildlife Crossroads • Dinner Party Art Class
“Our newest series focus on engaging (and sometimes over-thetop) characters in emotional situations that will entertain and inspire viewers while teaching them a thing or two.
From reality to wildlife, travel to cooking, the programming mix at Canamedia can address a variety of needs within the nonfiction genre. One of the company’s newest series, Air Boss, provides an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the lives of those starring in air shows. In particular, it spotlights a day in the life of Wayne Boggs, dubbed “the air boss.” “We’re also pleased to be presenting Wildlife Crossroads,” says Andrea Stokes, the international sales and acquisitions manager at Canamedia. “The series takes viewers across four East African nations to explore what is being done to preserve and protect the national park systems, showcasing a broad spectrum of wild animals in their natural habitats. “On a fun and flirty note,” Stokes continues, “our new series Dinner Party Art Class combines dating and relationships with fine wine, fine food and fine art as vivacious singles come together to find true love, while Rebecca Brand, the lively and spirited single teacher, attempts to teach a cast of real local singles the secrets of love, art and cooking.”
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Discovery Access www.discoveryaccess.com
Discovery Access’s launch in February 2001 marked the first time that the vast Discovery Communications archive was opened up to the external production community.The company has since built up a client base that includes BBC, HBO, ZDF,ABC, CBS, CBC and NHK, among many others. “We’ve always planned to grow organically, building our client base over time and with sparing marketing dollars,” says Jocelyn Shearer, theVP of Discovery Access.“Since launch, we’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the number of site registrants who find us via word of mouth. It seems the international production community grows ever more connected and communicative with one another.” There is a diverse range of footage offered through Discovery Access, Shearer points out. “For example, we feature short themed loops on the home page of DiscoveryAccess.com. Some of the latest include ‘spray,’ ‘exotic locations,’ ‘relaxation,’ ‘transportation,’ ‘explosions’…you name it! We try to stay globally relevant and not focus on too much Americana.” Clients can choose to search online or have a member of the Discovery Access team search for them. They can make transactions online or offline.
“ At MIPCOM 2012, Discovery Access will continue to build brand awareness in the international community and connect with our many existing global clients face-to-face.
MultiVisionnaire Media www.multivisionnaire.com • Burma: A Human Tragedy • Pad Yatra: Pilgrimage to Save Our Planet • Flesh Air: Hot Cars & Sexy Gals
Flesh Air: Hot Cars & Sexy Gals
Two of Hollywood’s leading ladies narrate documentaries on the MultiVisionnaire Media slate. Anjelica Huston guides the viewer in Burma: A Human Tragedy, which tells the story of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Daryl Hannah lends her voice to Pad Yatra: Pilgrimage to Save Our Planet, which chronicles the journey of 700 people trekking across the Himalayas. “Burma and Pad Yatra are two amazing documentaries that are already playing throughout Asia and North America,” says Sean Haley, the managing partner at MultiVisionnaire. “Both have very strong messages to convey, while providing educational insight and entertainment.” MultiVisionnaire’s Flesh Air: Hot Cars & Sexy Gals is sure to draw some attention, especially for those looking to add some sex appeal to their slate. “Flesh Air: Hot Cars & Sexy Gals has been playing all over the world,” says Haley. “Mainly on the [male-skewing] pay-TV channels, but in Australia, where the series originates from, it’s playing on free to air.”
“We are looking to connect with some production partners on projects we are currently developing in the U.S. and Canada.
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National Geographic Channels www.natgeotvsales.com • Doomsday Preppers • Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide • JFK: The Lost Bullet
“ Our comprehensive slate offers flexibility for buyers looking for innovative and smart programming.
The catalogue from National Geographic Channels has an extensive range of programming, from blue-chip natural history and character-driven wildlife series to explorations in pop culture and relevant current-affairs stories to strong science and stories of historical relevance. “The programs being unveiled at MIPCOM represent a variety of genres that perform well across factual schedules and reflect the overall strengths of National Geographic Channels’ productions,” says Germaine Deagan Sweet, the company’s senior VP of global content sales. She points to Doomsday Preppers, a new 12-part series, “which exploded onto the U.S. television market.” Deagan Sweet calls Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide “one of the best science series to be realized this year.” She explains, “This fast-paced, four-hour series takes the viewer on a wild adventure from the birth of the Earth to the emergence of the world we know today.” Deagan Sweet also highlights JFK: The Lost Bullet, a onehour special.
—Germaine Deagan Sweet
New Dominion Pictures www.newdominion.com • A Haunting • Surf Life • Tainted Love
Paranormal has been one of the hottest genres in the marketplace. Following on this trend, New Dominion Pictures is bringing out ten new hour-long HD episodes of its docudrama A Haunting. “Everyone loves a good ghost story, and the scarier the story the better,” says Kristen Eppley, the company’s senior VP of international distribution. “Buyers looking for a sense of escape and travel for their audience can turn to Surf Life,” Eppley goes on. “Surfer Hagan Kelley takes us on the road to exotic discovery in the series,” traveling to secret hot spots in the British Virgin Islands, San Juan, Aguadilla, Trinidad and Tobago, and California. “Sex [trafficking] and human trafficking is a problem worldwide; seasons two and three of Tainted Love go deeper into [these issues] to reveal the diverse faces of 21st-century survivors, and teams their stories with insights from experts and modern-day abolitionists working to make a difference.”
“ For over 20 years, New Dominion Pictures has been a major supplier of high-quality, cost-effective programming.
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Nordic World www.nordicworld.tv • CQB: Close Quarter Battle • Dexpedition • The Nile Quest
The titles that Nordic World is highlighting for MIPCOM buyers have subjects that open the window onto worlds that have universal resonance. CQB: Close Quarter Battle is one such offering. “Sadly, combat situations are part of the human condition, which makes CQB: Close Quarter Battle as relevant to audiences in Norway as in Nepal,” says Espen Huseby, the CEO of Nordic World. “At the other end of the spectrum, Dexpedition has all the ingredients—sex, drugs, fashion, travel, clubbing—likely to appeal to the world’s 15- to 35-year-olds. And The Nile Quest also focuses on a subject of universal appeal, the gigantic waterway system that has had such a profound influence on human civilization.” Huseby says his goal is to “come home with a full order book” after the market. “MIPCOM is also about the softer aspects of business—exchanging ideas, tracking trends, assessing market sentiment, building brands, meeting old friends and making new ones…. In today’s virtual world, there’s no substitute for the real thing.”
“ Given the caliber of our content and the strength of the Nordic brand, we’re confident that MIPCOM 2012 will live up to our expectations.
—Espen Huseby CQB: Close Quarter Battle
Novavision-MEG www.novavision.fr • Mad Grandma, Mad Kids, Mad Girls, Mad Animals • Junior Hidden Camera • Fast, Mad and Explosive
Novavision-MEG is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The company is doing so with a big bang, too, as it is undergoing a name change shortly after MIPCOM. Effective January 1, 2013, Novavision is taking on new company branding as NOVOVISION. Despite the change in names, the French company will continue its mission of providing short-form, nonverbal comedy programs.There are four new candid-camera offerings: Mad Grandma, Mad Kids, Mad Girls and Mad Animals. The company recently acquired Gagsters, a series of 26 halfhour children’s hidden-camera shows, which it has integrated into its Junior Hidden Camera catalogue. Novavision purchased 13 episodes for its Fast, Mad and Explosive strand, which features footage based on police chases and outrageous incidents caught on surveillance cameras. “We expect that these shows should be acquired during MIPCOM by about 87 broadcasters spread over 65 countries,” says François-Xavier Poirier, the company’s founder and CEO.
“All these dialogue-free shows appeal to an enormous range of broadcasters, as there is no language barrier and as this type of content works in all cultures.
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Passion Distribution www.passiondistribution.com • Baggage Battles • Braving the Elements • When Vacations Attack
“ Over the past few years we have become a key supplier to unscripted-program buyers and we want to continue to build on that.
There are more than 400 hours of new content available from Passion Distribution, which is highlighting Baggage Battles among its offerings. “The show premiered in the U.S. on Travel Channel in April and has proven ratings success with over 8.7 million viewers tuning in and an immediate recommission, giving our buyers multiple seasons and the opportunity to buy into a longrunning brand,” says Sally Miles, the CEO of Passion. The company is also presenting Braving the Elements from The Weather Channel’s prime-time schedule. “This genre has proven itself globally to be a ratings winner in a prime-time schedule, so we are delighted to have a brand-new series taking us into new worlds not seen before,” says Miles. Next up from Passion is When Vacations Attack, another Travel Channel show. “Our buyers will be excited to see there is something for everyone, giving us the opportunity to do more business with more international broadcasters in the second half of 2012 and satisfying buyers’ programming needs.”
Braving the Elements
Power www.powcorp.com • The Cheetah Diaries • Jig • Rhino Wars
Even though Power only entered the nonscriptedprogramming arena this year, the company has already amassed 200 hours of diverse content to offer. The latest product includes Rhino Wars, a one-hour documentary that takes viewers to the dramatic front line of the battle being waged against poachers by conservationists in their attempt to save the rhino from extinction. “Color and vibrancy” can be found in the BAFTA-nominated Jig, according to Georgina McNeilly, Power’s VP of international sales. The two-hour program goes behind the scenes to follow a cast of characters of all ages from across the globe as they prepare for the Irish Dancing World Championships. “For lovers of big cats, seasons one through four of The Cheetah Diaries tells the intimate stories of the cheetahs in South Africa’s Cheetah Outreach program as they progress from tiny balls of fluff to majestic adults,” McNeilly says. Each season has 13 half-hour episodes, which Power is offering up to buyers at MIPCOM.
“This MIPCOM Power looks to extend its reach in the factual market and reinforce the message that we now sell documentaries as well as drama.
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Solid Entertainment www.solidentertainment.com • Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace • Wild in the Streets • Deep Green
Wild in the Streets
Interest is high in world affairs, and Back Door Channels:The Price of Peace, from the catalogue of Solid Entertainment, takes a look back at one of the most difficult diplomatic achievements of the 20th century. The doc spotlights the Camp David Accords and the ensuing peace treaty of 1979. “The Arab Spring has shown the world what change looks like, both good and bad, and it’s not over,” says Richard Propper, Solid’s director of international licensing.“I believe it’s important to see what real change in the Arab world looked liked decades ago when peace was achieved.” Solid’s Wild in the Streets takes a look back at the origins of soccer, also known as Shrovetide Football, still played in Ashbourne, England. “Broadcasters want programming that marries history and our contemporary society together—this film is it,” Propper says. The company’s catalogue also includes Deep Green, about alternative energy solutions. “There are so many programs out in the marketplace on conservation,” Propper notes. “Deep Green is different.”
“ With a catalogue of outstanding series and one-offs, we look to continue sales into the broadcast marketplace and emerging digital delivery outlets.
Terranoa www.terranoa.com • Saved from Extinction • The Twilight of Civilizations • Children of the Cold
Buyers who are on the lookout for high-profile factual series can turn to Terranoa to check out the six-part Saved from Extinction.The wildlife series travels the world to explore the fate of species that were thought to be saved from extinction until new dangers arose. “We are also confident our mini-series The Twilight of Civilizations will feed the appetite of buyers looking for new access to ancient history, as this series sheds new light on the reason behind the collapse of the pyramid era in Egypt and the Khmer Empire,” says Isabelle Graziadey, the head of international sales and acquisitions at Terranoa. She also highlights the holiday specials Christmas over the World and Children of the Cold.“We know broadcasters are always looking for good event one-offs, especially around Christmas programming,” Graziadey says.Terranoa is also looking for pre-buys on two ambitious projects: Robots at War, which looks at the use of robotics in war and military affairs, and Super Fungi, revealing the 21st-century science behind one of the oldest and most resilient living organisms on earth.
Children of the Cold
“The expertise that is our trademark has been forged over the years thanks to longstanding and trustful relationships built with media buyers and the creative community around the world.
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Veria Living Worldwide www.verialiving.com/programsales • Yogi Cameron: A Model Guru • Kitchen Cures with Peggy K • Yoga Sutra Now with Jai Sugrim
The former supermodel turned spiritual healer Yogi Cameron returns with a second season of Yogi Cameron: A Model Guru, which is available from Veria Living Worldwide. The company, which specializes in the health and wellness genres, has another yoga-centric title to offer, with Yoga Sutra Now with Jai Sugrim. The registered holistic nutritionist, health educator and culinary consultant Peggy Kotsopoulos is at the center of the food-based Kitchen Cures with Peggy K. “During the last year there has been a significantly increased appetite from broadcasters around the globe for healthy-lifestyle-and-wellness programming, which is a direct response to growing consumer demand,” says Raymond Donahue, the senior VP of program sales for Veria Living Worldwide. “By filling a need in the marketplace across many dayparts, including prime time, and by programming our own 24/7 network, we have developed a successful strategy for reaching and engaging a large cross section of the population.”
“ We can now offer broadcasters even more ‘viewer-tested’ programming in topic-centric blocks…to help them enhance their key dayparts, [which] can attract and build a loyal viewer base.
Yogi Cameron: A Model Guru
Watch It Now Entertainment www.watchitnowentertainment.com • Hard Candy Fitness Presents: Addicted to Sweat • Tara Stiles: This is Yoga • Billy Blanks: Dojo Series
The projects from Watch It Now Entertainment are celebrity- and brand-driven. They feature fitness routines, recipes, motivational and inspirational instructions, and more. “Consumers want to have fun with their workouts, and they don’t want to spend a lot of time doing them,” says Darren Capik, the company’s president and founder. This is why Watch It Now offers up titles such as Hard Candy Fitness Presents: Addicted to Sweat, which features the exclusive program based on Madonna’s personal workout routines, previously only available at the Hard Candy Fitness Club. Tara Stiles educates yoga beginners and helps advanced yogis freshen their skills in Tara Stiles: This is Yoga. The creator of Tae Bo, Billy Blanks, is front and center in Billy Blanks: Dojo Series. “As we move into the next phase of growth, we want to expand our customer base in emerging markets such as Central Europe, India, China, South America and the Middle East,” says Capik. “Telecoms,VOD platforms and also independent DVD labels are of interest.”
Billy Blanks: Dojo Series
“Watch It Now’s programs deliver results, while keeping workouts fun.
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World Wide Entertainment www.wwent.net
The last six years have seen considerable growth at Global Agency. The Istanbul-based outfit, founded by Izzet Pinto, started with entertainment formats, focusing on “formats that create buzz.” The company then began to add films and drama series to its slate and is now entering the factual arena with the acquisition of the World Wide Entertainment brand. Rather than retaining the current titles in the World Wide Entertainment catalogue, Pinto, who serves as CEO, has decided to build a new slate from the ground up. “We want to freshen up the brand,” he says. “The brand has been existing for the last 15 years, which shows its strength. On the other hand, we want the buyers to be excited by fresh content. This is our strategy, to take the strong name but have a brand-new catalogue that will be exciting.” He adds, “We will have very strong content for MIPCOM. We will probably not have a huge catalogue, due to the limited amount of time, but I know that the very selective titles we will choose will be very appealing to the clients.” Pinto says that to amass the initial slate, the company is working with a number of leading producers from the U.S.
“ When I first founded Global Agency it was just formats, then I stepped into film distribution, then into drama-series distribution. Now it was the right time for factual.
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Passion’s Distribution’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Stars have become more open to participating in celebrity-based TV shows, which provide strong marketing potential and prospects for ancillary revenues. By Kristin Brzoznowski
hen thinking about pop-culture figures such as Britney Spears, Donald Trump and Jennifer Lopez, television might not be the first career highlight that jumps into your mind. However, TV has become an increasingly large part of all of their media empires. Numerous celebrities have been harnessing the power of the small screen to further their other interests, whether it’s singing, cooking, athletics or something else. 452
Broadcasters and viewers have been quite welcoming toward stars’ openness to participating in TV shows. Distributors of celebrity-based programs—with everything from observational documentaries to competition series to biography-focused specials—have been reaping the benefits as well. But it hasn’t always been so easy to secure a famous face to front your show, declares Jeff Tahler, the senior VP of global content at FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME). “Reality tele10/12
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Alongside America’s Got Talent and American Idol, FME’s catalogue includes celeb-centric titles such as The Celebrity Apprentice, The X Factor and Project Runway. These shows are given a boost by being led by the already famous, but, interestingly enough, many of them are also dedicated to helping launch the careers of ordinary people in search of stardom. FME also has a wealth of titles whose leads have become famous perhaps directly due to their TV exposure, Tahler explains. “There are celebrities that are created because of the [exposure] these shows [provide], the Anthony Bourdains and Jamie Olivers of the world. Jamie didn’t start off as a celebrity, but it would be hard to argue right now that Jamie is not a huge celebrity; same thing with Bourdain.” STAR SEARCH
Power couple: FremantleMedia Enterprises’ Project Runway features a celebrity host and judges; its contestants are aspiring fashion designers.
vision is still a relatively young genre in the grand scheme of TV programming,” he says. “When it first started going toward celebrity, stars looked at it and said, ‘Is this good for me?’ For a while, celebrities’ managers and agents didn’t fully know whether [reality TV] was a good move or not. At some point, though, celebrities began to realize, ‘If I do a good job, if I put myself out there and I’m likable, whatever it is I do in my everyday life is going to benefit from the exposure.’” Tahler admits that it’s not right for every celebrity, “but there is a large swath of working actors, actresses, athletes, singers, musicians, that it makes real sense for. It has shown to be an incredible platform for those people to be able to be out there and in front of an audience.” He cites as examples Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, whose music careers kicked back into high gear after appearing as judges on seasons 10 and 11 of American Idol. He also points to the judging panel at America’s Got Talent, which features, among others, radio shock-jock Howard Stern and comedian Howie Mandel. “Whether it’s Howard getting exposure for his SiriusXM radio show or Howie for his stand-up career, it helps!”Tahler says. 454
The programming mix is similar at Shine International. The catalogue includes series like The Choice, which places stars from all spectrums in the contestant’s seat, and The Shire, a show for Australia’s Network Ten whose cast is quickly becoming nationwide celebrities in their own right. There’s also the MasterChef franchise, with international iterations that boast such well-known names as Gordon Ramsay. Shine also has My Secret Past, a show for Channel 5 in the U.K. in which celebrities share true-life stories about serious subjects that have affected them in their lives. Indeed, viewers are always eager to get a glimpse into stars’ personal lives and love hearing the backstories straight from the celebrities themselves. This is one reason that reality and biographical shows have been so popular within the celebrity genre, says Sally Miles, the CEO of Passion Distribution. “The Mortified Sessions demonstrates this nicely, as each episode presents a celebrity’s life and personality through their past,” she explains. “The celebrity shares childhood items, from their first love letter to old school reports. I believe this clever format reveals far more about a celebrity than a standard interview-style show.” Miles admits that for securing international sales it is critical that the celebrity have a global profile. However, she has also seen instances whereby introducing a show into a certain territory has increased the celebrity’s profile throughout that region. “RuPaul is a perfect example of this,” Miles says. “With sales of his Drag Race series going into over 70 territories, Passion has played a big part in making him into the international star that he is.We are now hoping to emulate this success with Travis Wall from All the Right Moves.The So You Think You Can Dance finalist has progressively worked his way up within the industry and is now choreographing for a number of A-listers. Such unique factors play a key role in pushing and selling a personality into a territory.” Munia Kanna-Konsek, the head of sales at Beyond Distribution, agrees that scoring international slots comes down to more than just star power. “If a program has known celebrities then absolutely practically every territory would go for it,” she says. “If they are unknown then there has to be something that would attract a buyer and the audience. Chuck’s Week Off is a good example for any territory that may not be familiar with Chuck Hughes himself, as he is not a film star or a rock star (although he does rock!). What will engage them is Chuck’s personality and, just as importantly, where he travels to and what he does—you just can’t help but be drawn to him.” Kanna-Konsek has noticed that celebrity-based programming has a large female following. “Definitely these programs 10/12
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Baring it all: The T.O. Show, sold by Beyond, turns the spotlight on Terrell Owens, an American NFL athlete.
lean towards females, but we are very aware of trying to cultivate programs that are actually geared to co-viewing; women watching but it’s engaging enough for their boyfriend or husband to view as well,” she says. HOLLYWOOD HEIGHTS
Over at Breakthrough Entertainment, there are series and specials for both genders, according to Nat Abraham, the company’s president of distribution. “Hollywood’s 10 Best and Filmography are more female-skewed; however, Hollywood’s Greatest Mysteries: Movies That Kill and Big Screen Top Ten generally appeal to our broadcasters’ male audiences. Books into Film, which was recently licensed to HBO Central Europe, on the other hand, caters to both women and men.” Abraham says that Breakthrough’s Hollywood shows tend to appeal to buyers of movies and scripted series, pointing to deals with HBO, Canal+ in Poland and SinemaTV in Turkey. “The films and stars featured in their own programming slates are complemented by our celebrity and Hollywood countdown series.” Abraham says that it has been a sales advantage to have celebrity-based series that can act as complementary programming around movies and series that feature certain actors. “For example, if a broadcaster is airing a movie featuring Johnny Depp they may choose to air ‘Johnny Depp Performances’ from our series Hollywood’s 10 Best as a preview or prelude to the feature.” In addition, he has noticed that this type of show attracts the attention of broadcasters from a wide range of territories.While the overall appetite for celebrity programs is strong globally, there are certain territories where the demand is stronger. “The Italians love celebrity-driven content, but this has to be with top A-listers, mostly American or Italian,” notes Passion’s Miles. “This is also the case in most Spanish-speaking territories, with only world-famous celebrities or people within their own region being of interest. Germany and Norway also tend to be big consumers of celebrity content. Australia likes to embrace celebrity as a brand and build that association with their network.” Miles says that in many cases celebrity shows offer broadcasters the advantage of attaining higher ratings. “Very often a 456
high-profile celebrity equals a powerful brand that will draw an audience,” she notes. “Celebrities have always ignited public interest and viewers have always been intrigued by their personal lives. This style of show is highly promotable, providing great marketing and publicity opportunities.” The brand-building power of a celebrity is unparalleled, giving a network great marketing opportunities and also paving the way for additional revenue streams through product extensions. An example of this is the success of Gordon Ramsay, the star of MasterChef in the U.S. He has a worldwide network of hotels, restaurants, books and products, including pots and pans. There’s a big business around him, with consumer products that bring in millions at retail. BRAND MATTERS
FME’s Tahler says he’s seeing large-scale brand-building efforts happening more and more around this type of programming. “When you talk about celebrity, you can’t help but think about the business that they’ve created outside of their television show. There are consumer products and other ancillary pieces; there are digital platforms that can be built off of shows or individuals that we work with. More and more we’re going to be working with these people to do multiplatform development.” Passion’s Miles agrees that digital platforms have become a key driver for promoting a show and the celebrity at its center. “Dynamo [the star of Dynamo: Magician Impossible] is a perfect example of this with regards to social-media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, which help increase awareness. Sites such as YouTube have also played a massive part in raising his profile.” Given the wide-scale exploitation of celebrities—from the TV shows to social media to consumer products and more— one begins to wonder whether the audience will soon tire of seeing certain stars. Is there such a thing as celebrity overload? “I think certain formats have hit a level of saturation, but we will never saturate the audience’s appetite for celebrity, just like the magazines week in and week out on the shelves,” says Miles. “The style of a show and the perspective it provides are key to keeping the interest flowing.” 10/12
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Perfected From showcasing new insights to staging big-budget reenactments, producers of historical programming are breathing new life into the genre. By Bill Dunlap
ontrary to occasional scattered reports, the history docu-
Cmentary is alive and well. It may not be your father’s his-
tory documentary, but if you’re OK with reenactments instead of narration and still photos, CGI instead of maps and drawings, scripted drama instead of talking heads, and a generous definition of “history,” there is plenty to choose from. The shift toward more entertainment value in documentaries has been going on for some time, but it’s becoming almost a necessity these days. An interesting way to illustrate what is happening with history documentaries is to look at two prominent players in the genre, one a public broadcaster with a strong reputation of presenting serious history, the other a popular family of channels with history in its very name. A TALE OF TWO BROADCASTERS
ZDF in Germany and A+E Networks’ HISTORY have long been partners in the development of documentaries, especially programs on World War II and the Nazi era in Germany. ZDF and HISTORY, especially its United States channel, are both embracing a model with more entertainment value and they both recognize that the old way of presenting history has changed. HISTORY’s U.S. channel has taken some flak recently for its success with reality shows like Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men and Pawn Stars, at the apparent expense of actual historical fare. Christian Murphy, the senior VP of international programming and marketing for A+E Networks, makes no bones about being in the business of attracting viewers, but he thinks maybe too much is being made of the reality shows. “The traditional long-form documentary still plays a role in the programming mix on our channels internationally and in the U.S., but it’s not as prominent in the mix as it has been in the past,” Murphy says. “We’re always looking to explore programming creatively within the different genres, to look at different ways to present history. We’re a commercial channel, and eyeballs are very important.You have to stay relevant and fresh. But I would never say the documentary is 458
dead or that we’re not a documentary channel. I think what you’re seeing is more of a transition to an entertainment style, where the entertainment comes along with the information now. It’s really just looking at different ways to present history.” In fact, American Pickers, one of HISTORY’s most popular reality series, opens like this: “I’m Mike Wolfe.” “And I’m Frank Fritz.” “And we’re pickers.” “We travel the back roads of America looking for rusty gold. We make a living telling the history of America...one piece at a time.” Murphy notes that a traditional documentary like WW II in HD (known internationally as World War II: Lost Films) was one of HISTORY’s highest-rated shows. “That was more traditional, [with top production values] and high quality with personal stories of war,” he says. “America: The Story of Us did incredibly well internationally.These are modern-day traditional documentaries. But even the traditional documentary has had sort of a makeover.Viewers these days are pretty fickle. Unless you’re grabbing them and entertaining them pretty quickly, it’s hard to hold them.The audience today has a huge hunger to be entertained, but also a hunger for the information. They want information coming at them quickly with lots of interesting facts that tie to where we are today.” FORGET ME NOT
Alexander Coridass, the president and CEO of ZDF Enterprises, which is charged with the international distribution of ZDF’s most commercial documentaries, says buyers and audiences are as interested in history as they have always been. “We can’t confirm that there is a fading interest in contemporary or ancient history,” Coridass says. “The market is so diversified, almost atomized, that you can’t always define general trends. It might be that this or that channel changes a slot, that the audience is asking for different programming, but generally speaking, people, perhaps more than ever, are interested in some basic questions:Where do we come from? How could this have happened?” 10/12
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Although public broadcasters like ZDF are held up as highminded creators of traditional history documentaries, Coridass has no problems with HISTORY’s recent tack. “We congratulate A&E and HISTORY because they are doing a fantastic job over there,” he says. “When you feel your audience is asking for a certain type of product, you offer it.” The same with reenactments: “When, for instance, you reenact some generals talking about their military plans, that’s scripted. We sometimes have a huge part of a documentary—30, 40 or 50 percent—that is scripted reenactment.” Some of ZDF’s and HISTORY’s recent and current slate of programs demonstrate those points.The emphasis is on big projects with high production values. This year’s big hit for HISTORY in the U.S. was Hatfields & McCoys, the story of the famous family feud in Kentucky and West Virginia, starring Kevin Costner and written and directed by a team with roots in drama rather than documentaries. “Hatfields & McCoys was dramatized, but it was very historically accurate,” Murphy says. “That’s one thing that we’ll always remain—authentic, historically accurate and based on fact. At the end of the day, we want to entertain our viewers and keep them coming back.” It did both, with three installments averaging 13.8 million viewers and the finale drawing 14.3 million, making it the toprated entertainment telecast ever for ad-supported basic cable. Coming up next are The Men Who Built America and Mankind:The Story of All of Us. “The Men Who Built America is essentially a docudrama, with fully scripted dramatic pieces within each documentary,” Murphy says. “They play like scenes from movies about the likes of
John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, and then you cut back to an authority or historian.” The eight hours will roll out internationally in the first quarter of 2013. “Mankind is the biggest thing we’ve ever embarked on as a company—12 hours of the history of mankind. It’s one of those unique shows that crosses into natural history, science and biology. It tells personal stories as well as weaving in the development of man throughout history to get us to where we are today. It’s something we’ll put out on HISTORY around the world simultaneously later next year.” WORLD AT WAR
ZDF continues to mine the rich history of World War II, with the second season of Last Secrets of the Third Reich in the works. Another key offering is 30Years That Shook the World:World War I and II. “We want to show the different elements that led to this catastrophe of this horrible 20th century,” Coridass says. “The producers consider the First World War as a kind of a start of a global, especially European, civil war that ended only in 1945. There are very definite links between the wars. All the protagonists of WWII, such as Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, Montgomery, many others, were soldiers in the First World War.Their ideas of [what the world should be] were formed in the trenches of World War I. That’s an aspect we want to highlight. It was the first technological war, the first war with planes, heavy artillery, tanks and so on. After World War I the face of this continent was changed and the Soviet Union was born.” Also in development is Lost Treasures of the Silk Road, which uses complex reenactments to track the trail of missing treasures across northern and central China, including in the Taklimakan Desert.
Taking flight World War II: Lost Films was one of HISTORY’s highestrated shows. 10/12
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think history is coming back. I can feel it from the conferences [we attend]. I’ve spoken with different broadcasters and they’re thinking of expanding a bit the place of history in their schedule. In Europe we still have some strong public broadcasters who want to invest in big history stories. When they see the successes of, say, the HBO series on the Roman Empire, they say there is an appetite from young audiences to go back to history, but we have to find narratives, find angles in the history to have good characters.” GOING BACK Built to last: New from Terranoa is the two-hour The Twilight of Civilizations, produced for ARTE.
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has shifted emphasis from history to current events and issues lately, but Christina Rogers, the organization’s head of sales, says there is still a market for history and NFB is doing these programs selectively. “The international public channels still like those kinds of documentaries,” she says. “There is no mandate to do X number of history docs a year.We’ll do them based on what comes our way that we think will be of interest to Canadians and to an international public as well.” Rogers acknowledges that some commercial channels are swinging away from documentaries, as HISTORY is doing in the U.S., in search of viewers. “The U.S. is the leader because viewing habits are changing so rapidly,” she says. “But it’s starting to happen elsewhere. Channels that are ratings-based and advertising-based need to find ways to get people to tune in at specific times, and often reality programs, the way they’re structured, say in a competition format, make you want to tune in at a certain time. The commercial channels are not doing so much of those traditional historical documentaries anymore, but we still do have a demand from the public channels all over the world.” THE FRENCH WAY
NFB had critical and commercial success with Paris 1919, a $2-million film on the peace-treaty negotiations that followed World War I. “It was a little unorthodox when it came out in 2009 because there was so much dramatic reenactment,” Rogers says. “You see that a lot more lately.” Rogers sees audiences as more demanding in that they want to be entertained. “The buyers are seeing that and they’re looking for things that are both entertaining and informative,” she says. Docs that are “character-driven,” she says, are particularly important to a lot of NFB’s buyers. At the Paris-based Terranoa, Isabelle Graziadey, the head of international sales and acquisitions, says the company isn’t selling as many history documentaries as it did ten years ago. Nevertheless, she is trying to ramp up the company’s slate of history docs. “I’m trying to recover a bit what was lost in our catalogue in these kinds of shows.The interest I’m seeing in history is in the big re-creations, which is a big hurdle because of the cost,” she says. “But I 460
Graziadey is currently selling The Twilight of Civilizations, two hours produced for ARTE that tell the stories of the collapse of the pyramid-building era in Egypt and of the Khmer civilization in Cambodia. “I felt it is answering something that hasn’t been on the market for a long time,” she says. “It’s serious science. And you’ve got animation to [illustrate] the world the people were living in and a lot of CGI to show the size of these cities and the engineering behind the pyramids.They make it entertaining and visually striking.You have to make it entertaining; you have to wrap the science around a really nice visual style to present big stories.You have to make it look up to date and not like something we did five years ago.” Frédéric Wilner and Saléha Gherdane directed The Twilight of Civilizations. “Every producer today has to know how to make it cheap and look expensive,” Graziadey says. “Invest the money in CGI and the things you want the audience to be captivated by. Don’t spend too much time shooting. Be very sharp on the editing and have experts hands on so you can save a lot of time and money.” Another French production company, Gedeon Programmes in Paris, is betting on big, blue-chip history documentaries. Robert Salvestrin, the head of international presales and co-productions at Gedeon, says there is demand for programs with a more entertaining sensibility. “People are trying to avoid old-fashioned styles. Reenactments are more scripted now to be more entertaining. That’s what they are asking for now in France—blue-chip, fully scripted history drama. They are using screenwriters borrowed from fiction with [advice] from expert historians to add a new perspective.” That was the approach Gedeon took with Paris, The Great Saga, a co-production with Planète+ and Dassault Systèmes. “We have been working with two authors, one from fiction,” Salvestrin says. “It’s fully scripted for prime time. People are still looking for big history shows for prime time.” A 52-minute version will be available for international sales. The audiences that look for historical docs, while they may want production values enriching the storytelling, definitely want accurate information.That is the fine line producers and broadcasters of the genre must walk—making these programs factually correct and fun to watch. 10/12
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Sky’s Flying Monsters 3D.
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David Attenborough The BBC’s television service was still in its infancy when David Attenborough joined it, in 1952. Working as a pro ducer in the factual department, Attenborough didn’t actually make it to the front of the camera until two years later, when Jack Lester, the presenter originally slated to host the series Zoo Quest, fell ill, and Attenborough was asked to step in. The series became the BBC’s most popular wildlife program at the time, and firmly cemented Attenborough as the face of the pubcaster’s natural-history documentaries. Over the course of 60 years in broadcasting, he has captured on film scores of species in such landmark productions as The Life of Birds and Frozen Planet. Today, at 86, Attenborough is at the fore-
front of 3D in the U.K., teaming with Atlantic Productions for a number of programs for Sky Atlantic and Sky 3D. The first, Flying Monsters 3D, earned a BAFTA, making Attenborough the only person to have won the coveted British award for productions in black and white, color, HD and 3D. Next up he ventured to the Antarctic for The Bachelor King 3D, chronicling the life of a male king penguin. His latest is Kingdom of Plants 3D, which was filmed over the course of a year at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London. Attenborough, who is celebrating his milestone 60th anniversary in broadcasting with a BBC retrospective, speaks to TV Real about the wonders, and pitfalls, of 3D television.
TV REAL: Why did you want to work in 3D? ATTENBOROUGH: I’ve been working in television since
with things half a mile away, that has no 3D component in it at all. But close-ups of plants, of flowers, as they unfold, as insects fly in and explore the interior of the plants, in time lapse and in 3D and in color, are mesmeric.
1952. I started when it was 405-line black and white in the studios that put out the first television public service in the world back in 1937. I’ve been working in it ever since, and moving into color and HD and so on, so the prospect of making the final step into 3D was one I couldn’t resist. TV REAL: What were some of the challenges you encountered? ATTENBOROUGH: The main challenge is the camera, which
when we started, three years ago, was even more awkward than it is now. It took four people to carry it, it took a team of about ten to service it and keep it happy, it took three quarters of an hour to change the lens. All of which makes it not very suitable for trying to film nervous animals, which you have to try and creep up on in an unintrusive way. Since my programs are mostly about animals, it meant one had to rethink [what I would do in 3D.] The other thing is, what does very well [in 3D] is computer-generated imaging. So with those limitations in mind, we came up with the idea of doing something about fossils. We could bring fossils to life with CGI, and also you can creep up on a fossil without it running away! So we chose terrasaurs, which are flying reptiles that flew above the head of the dinosaurs and are very often ignored.That produced a program called Flying Monsters 3D, which was the first 3D program I did. Then we did one in the Antarctic with penguins. And then we did a series on plants that exploited time lapse and macro work, which also are very exciting in 3D. TV REAL: Is the impact of macro images in 3D more striking than filming panoramic shots in 3D? ATTENBOROUGH: It’s almost impossible to make true 3D in a panorama, because it shows depth, and if it’s a panorama 10/12
TV REAL: And why did the penguins work so well in 3D? ATTENBOROUGH: Penguins don’t mind when you’re on
land—they don’t take any notice of human beings at all! What is more, they all look exactly the same, so if one gets rather bored with you as it sits there by the camera, and shuffles away, another one shuffles into picture almost immediately. TV REAL: What about underwater 3D? ATTENBOROUGH: Underwater 3D is also miraculous, but
there was no underwater camera when we started. But we are working on an underwater camera now. TV REAL: How long do you think it will take for the technology
to become more manageable so that more can be done in 3D? ATTENBOROUGH: Well, I suppose it’s improving all the
time. It only takes two people to carry a camera now, and I dare say it will go on getting smaller and smaller, which will be a very good thing. The big hurdle is to get rid of the dark glasses you need to see 3D at the moment. I was reading only this morning about some technology that is hoping to be able to get rid of the glasses. When that happens, I think it will be a very big leap forward for the audience. I suspect that there are a lot of things that you never want to see in 3D at all.Who wants to see a quiz show in 3D? But there are many subjects which benefit very much from 3D. TV REAL: You’ve had such a long history with the BBC, but have done all your 3D work with Sky. Are the costs related to 3D prohibitive for a public broadcaster? World Screen
By Mansha Daswani
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Green thumb: David Attenborough and the team at Atlantic filmed Kingdom of Plants 3D for Sky at the famous Kew Gardens in London.
ATTENBOROUGH: Yes, there are many [pressures] upon the license money, and the BBC can’t do everything. Indeed, it has been criticized in the past for trying to do everything. They decided not to take up 3D at this particular stage. TV REAL: At a recent talk at the Royal Geographical Society,
you mentioned that overpopulation is the world’s greatest problem, as it is the cause of pollution, deforestation, etc.You mentioned that since you started working, 60 years ago, the world’s population has nearly tripled. How can we control population growth? ATTENBOROUGH: The one store of hope is that in every instance where women are in charge of their own future, where they are allowed politically to have a vote, where they are allowed socially by their husbands to make their own decisions, where they are educated and there are medical facilities that are appropriate, the birth rate falls. TV REAL: What role can natural-history docs play in helping
people understand that an effort needs to be made to protect the environment? ATTENBOROUGH: That’s a decision which affects all of us, politicians as well as filmmakers. Human beings have got to wake up to the fact that we are changing the world and unless we do something about it, we are going to get into serious trouble.We just have to do everything we can to try and minimize the effects we are having on the planet. And whatever 464
we do, we won’t be able to reverse them. All we can do is slow them down. TV REAL: Do you think your films may be the only way future generations will see some of the creatures you’ve recorded over the last 60 years? ATTENBOROUGH: There are certainly some animals that I think will have disappeared, and indeed, some have already disappeared. None of any great significance or dramatic size or anything, but nonetheless some have disappeared and they will continue doing so. TV REAL: At the Royal Geographical Society talk, you also
mentioned that you would like to make a documentary on the elusive giant squid. ATTENBOROUGH: It’s one of the great challenges. I’ve never had the time and the money to really set about it properly. Plenty of other people have and spent a great deal of money and time, diving mostly off New Zealand, where the squids are known to be. And nobody has yet produced anything. TV REAL: Looking back on your career, what animals or plants or places most fascinated you? ATTENBOROUGH: There are too many that I’m fond of, really! It’s very difficult. How do I choose between a whale shark and a gorilla and a humming-bird? I can’t choose. 10/12
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Michael Palin By Mansha Daswani
As a child in Sheffield, in the north of England, Michael Palin would often accompany his sister to the local train station, seeing her off as she returned to her job in London and wishing that he, too, could venture away from home. That childhood curiosity for exploration has, over the last two decades, turned into quite the successful career for Palin. After leaving an indelible mark on the world of comedy with the Monty Python series and films like A Fish Called Wanda, Palin began traveling across the globe in a host of series for the BBC, including Around the World in 80 Days, Sahara and Himalaya. His newest series for the British pubcaster is Brazil.
TV REAL: Why did you select Brazil for your latest journey? PALIN: I was fascinated by the image of Brazil, but I knew very
little about it. It’s now economically a very successful country. The next Olympics and World Cup are going to be in Brazil, so a lot of people are going to be talking about it. I thought, I’ll get in early and have a look before it’s in the headlines everywhere! TV REAL: What were some of the highlights of your time there? PALIN: There’s a long list of things that are rather marvelous.
One, of course, was visiting Rio for the first time. It truly is a spectacular city. For someone brought up having holidays in gray, windy days on the east coast of England, on the North Sea, to see Copacabana Beach, and acres and acres of wonderful sand and people enjoying themselves so unashamedly—I loved all that. Being able to visit cities I knew even less about, like Salvador. Wonderful music, wonderful food, again very colorful and lively. And then there were the Iguaçu Falls, which are stupendous. They just go on and on. And then undoubtedly for me two of the most unforgettable visits were to tribes in the interior in the rain forests and seeing how that very ancient way of life that was there long before the West discovered Brazil still persists. TV REAL: You’ve said that if you could take a Western child anywhere in the world to show them a different culture, it would be to the Amazon rain forest. Can you elaborate on that? 466
PALIN: For the first time on any of my journeys, I was with people who have barely changed for thousands of years. In the very northern part of Brazil, where we start our series, the Yanomami tribe are not visited that much. It’s difficult to get there; you have to have special permission. These were people, in a sense, at a very different level of development from our own, and yet they were very sophisticated in their own way of life. I didn’t quite know how to deal with these people. And I thought, I’d love to see how [kids] reacted to them.They’d have a much clearer, more open reaction. I’d love to see what a child from the West might feel about how people like theYanomami actually adapt and survive in that environment. TV REAL: What kind of journey do you want to take your audiences on in your series? PALIN: We’re offering people a view of a country. We’re not summing up what we think about that country.We’re not being dogmatic.We’re trying as much as possible to give the Everyman view of what it is like to see a part of the world.We have to make sure that we encounter people, that’s very important.You’ve got to make sure that there are places where people will talk to you or you can get on a bus or a train. It’s a fairly broad brief. But it’s also quite personal. I suppose it depends on my reaction to what I’m seeing. I’m still a very enthusiastic traveler. Enthusiasm for what I see, a sense of wonder, is really important in all the programs that I do. If I got disillusioned and fed up with traveling the world, I think I’d probably give up. But I still find it an enormous privilege to do what I do. TV REAL: In Himalaya, I thought the segment with you in a den-
tist’s office in Peshawar, Pakistan, was just fantastic! PALIN: [Laughs] It was a very foolhardy thing to do! I’ve had quite a bit of work on my teeth.To have this man put his hand in my mouth and start to pull... I thought it was brilliant—there I was in Peshawar on this little side street in a slightly dangerous area with a dentist. 10/12
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TV REAL: Your first travel documentary was an episode of
BBC Two’s Great Railway Journeys of the World in 1980. What attracted you to participating in that series? PALIN: I was born and brought up in England just after the war, the ’40s and ’50s, and you didn’t travel far. There just wasn’t the chance to go on trains, much less airplanes. But I loved stories about the world and I always had a very great curiosity about what the rest of the world looked like. I saw trains as the way of escape from being stuck at home in Sheffield all the time. My sister used to work in London and I remember going down to the station in Sheffield and putting her on the train. I thought,What an exciting thing to do; I wish I were going with her! [In 1979] somebody rang me up and suggested would I like to do a great railway journey. And I said yes. It turned out all the great international journeys had already been taken.The one I got was from London to Crewe! [Laughs] So I ended up going around the U.K. I didn’t regret it. It was an enormously enjoyable journey. But I went immediately back to writing films. I think I was doing Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam at the time. So I never thought of it as being a career. It was just a lucky break to do one documentary and then get on with comedy. TV REAL: So how did Around the World in 80 Days come about?
and indeed, life or death in very difficult waters. So we got to know them and I just dropped my guard completely.There was no point in acting. I got rather ill on that journey and I remember doing a piece to camera in which I said, I feel pretty miserable and would rather be sitting down at home than sitting on a dhow. And people really loved that.We realized that being straightforward about what’s going on was the way to win the audience. TV REAL: How do your travel books complement the TV shows? PALIN: I’ve always kept a little notebook with me, as most trav-
elers do. And the BBC decided, when we did Around the World in 80 Days, that they wanted a book to go with it. So I had to take rather more elaborate notes. When I got home I realized that there was going to be quite a lot of material that I had put in my diary that was not going to end up on-screen, just because either the camera wasn’t filming at the time or there wasn’t enough time to put these things on-screen. I really enjoyed the fact that the book did not have to be a transcript of what you saw onscreen.The book could actually be something quite different. It was my view of what I saw and what I felt, and a lot more private, personal observations.The book sold much better than anyone ever expected. And so we repeated that pattern later. I present it as a diary of the journey. Sometimes it coincides with what’s on-screen and sometimes it’s different.
I’m still a very enthusiastic traveler. Enthusiasm for what I see, a sense of wonder, is really important in all the programs that I do. PALIN: A BBC producer got in touch with me and said that
they’d seen my railway journey eight years previously.They asked if I wanted to do something that the BBC had never done before, which was to send someone around the world with a camera and no script, within 80 days, without taking any aircraft. I’d just finished making A Fish Called Wanda with John Cleese and there was nothing around that I wanted to do, so I said, I’ll do it. TV REAL: Did you start out with this Everyman approach
to travel filmmaking that you’re now known for? PALIN: I wasn’t sure how to play it when I set out on Around
the World in 80 Days.There was no script; we just discussed an itinerary.What was I supposed to do? Act as the Phileas Fogg character as in the Jules Verne story? Or be me? I thought, I can’t be me, no one wants to watch me hour after hour on television. I thought, I’m an actor, I’ll act. For the first couple of episodes I was conscious of playing the Englishman abroad—slightly goofy, not getting it all right. And then in the third episode lots of arrangements went wrong.We ended up on a dhow, one of these very simple sailboats, crossing from Dubai to Bombay, and we were with 18 fishermen from North India. None of them spoke English, really.We depended on them for the success of the journey 10/12
TV REAL: As the head of the Royal Geographical Society, you spoke often about the importance of geography and exploration, especially for young people. PALIN: It’s very important to know about our environment. Where we live, how we live, why the weather is the way it is, why there’s a hill there and why there’s a river there. That’s geography. I think geography affects our understanding of so many things. I feel sad when people say, global warming, [the world is] going to end—that’s about all they know from some scary headline. Find out why it happens, how it might affect your area. I love the world and I love going around it. To me, that process of discovery is really, really important. It stretches your imagination. Physically and mentally, it’s a good thing to travel the world as much as possible. And I don’t mean going on long plane flights necessarily. Just knowing the area where you live. Walking rather than driving. Cycling rather than taking a train.That’s just important, to know about where we live and why we live there and what it all means. Then I think we can all join in the debate about how we are going to deal with things like climate change. It’s going to affect my grandchildren far more than it’ll affect me.We’re duty bound to try and leave some legacy of understanding. World Screen
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By Anna Carugati
Christiane Amanpour is CNN’s chief international correspondent and the anchor of Amanpour, a nightly foreign-affairs program on CNN International. She is also the global-affairs anchor for ABC News, where she provides analysis of important issues of the day and anchors prime-time documentaries. In her 30-year career as a journalist, she has interviewed most of the world’s top leaders and has reported from every major news event and hot spot, winning dozens of awards. She talks to TV Real about her new show and her commitment to impartial and accurate reporting.
TV REAL: In your new show, Amanpour, what topics do you want to address? AMANPOUR: CNN’s brand is solid around the world and it’s synonymous not just with breaking news but with fair and accurate news coverage and with credible and trustworthy journalists. It is a 24-hour news network, which means that a lot of it is in a newscast format with live reports or [developments] happening that day.What I hope to do, and build on the program that I had in 2009–2010, is to, obviously, tackle the top issues; obviously, get the best interviews that I can with the most senior leaders or the most relevant players on that particular topic; but also go behind the headlines and do more in depth, [offer] a different perspective, seek voices that don’t automatically appear on every other show on every other network. And look,
let’s be frank, it is difficult; we live in a complete proliferation of news networks, of different platforms, and many [news programs] go after the same people. So we see the same people all the time, against the same background all the time, saying the same things all the time. I’m not so caught up in my own self that I think that I’m going to somehow reinvent the wheel.We obviously want the most relevant political leaders and military leaders, but also some culture as well. I often think that so much is said about a society and about our times through modern culture, and even looking back at ancient culture. That’s the kind of thing that I hope to do: current affairs, get behind the headlines, try to broaden the perspective, and definitely not take it just from a U.S. perspective, even though we are in the U.S. and CNN is an American company.Ted Turner broke the mold, blazed the trail with CNN International. And not just that, by really hammering into all of us, from the lowest level to the top level at CNN (this was 1985; I had started about two years before) that we don’t say the word “foreign.” We are not political activists, nor are we a bastion of nationalist sentiment. We cover the news and we do it with a global perspective. And especially for myself, who has grown up abroad. For me that is second nature: to get multiple perspectives on all sorts of important stories. TV REAL: You were working for CNN for 27 years, you went to work with ABC, now you’ve come back to CNN but you are still with ABC. How are you going to make that work? AMANPOUR: With great skill! I am very proud to have been a pioneer, in terms of getting the first-ever dual contract in the U.S. In 1996, I worked full time for CNN and CNN International, but I was also a contributor to 60 Minutes, the greatest magazine program in the history of the world. I was really proud to have had that unbelievable opportunity to work for two of the great geniuses in our business. One is Don Hewitt at 60 Minutes and the other is Ted Turner at CNN. It was also incredibly rewarding and it was actually a very good fit, because my deal with 60 Minutes allowed me to air the incredible pieces that I did on CNN International. I took an incredible opportunity to join one of the major Sunday morning broadcasts on a broadcast network, This Week on ABC, which is still an area of real estate on the broadcast landscape that is devoted to serious news. And it was to fulfill my mission, which is to bring more global perspective, more international views and news to a big and important American audience. CNN has a very big and important audience: they are the opinion leaders and the thought makers and the policy makers, while a broadcast network [reaches] people around the country. I strongly believe that certainly this country, the U.S., cannot have a functioning, coherent, mature and consistent foreign policy unless it has an informed citizenry. I believe that people in this country deserve to have at least some information about what’s going on in the rest of the world and what their own leadership is embroiled in, because this is a democracy. It feels right to be back in the global conversation that I started as a reporter 20-plus years ago.
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By Mansha Daswani
Fact File SENIOR PROGRAMMING EXECUTIVES:
Howard T. Owens, President, National Geographic Channel Michael Cascio, Executive VP, Programming Alan Eyres, SeniorVP, Programming & Development, West Coast Carlyn Staudt, Senior VP, Programming & Global Acquisitions Heather Moran, Senior VP, Programming & Strategic Development Hamish Mykura, Head, Global Development Michael Mavretic, Senior Director, Global Development GENRE: Factual. NGC contributes to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education. TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC: Adults 25 to 54. HD FEED?: National Geographic Channel HD has been available in the U.S. since 2006. AVAILABILITY: More than 70 million U.S. homes.
Programming Strategy ACQUIRED TO ORIGINAL RATIO: More than 95 percent
is commissioned and/or co-produced; less than 5 percent is acquired. SIGNATURE BRANDS: The channel recently launched a number of successful new series such as Doomsday Michael Cascio Preppers and Wicked Tuna. Returning hits include Alaska State Troopers, Locked Up Abroad and Taboo. SCHEDULING: “National Geographic Channel’s schedule emphasizes original series which provide anchors in prime throughout the week and Sunday night Explorer Specials,” says Michael Cascio, the executive VP of programming. “Saturday and Sunday daytime provide a showcase for series marathons.” ACQUISITIONS: “We are acquiring high quality content across all genres from the international market,” Cascio says. “Much of it is coming out of the U.K., France, and Germany with high budget 470
specials produced for terrestrials that we are able to acquire as presales for a more affordable fee. We are always looking to find high quality affordable content to complement and supplement our slate of co-productions and commissions.” He continues, “National Geographic Channel is growing rapidly and we’re focusing our efforts on creating original content unique to our air. However, we occasionally partner with other broadcasters such as Fox on ambitious projects like Cosmos, a 13-part docu-series coming in 2013 which pays homage to Carl Sagan’s award-winning scientific masterpiece.” COMMISSIONING: “We’ve had success commissioning projects from producers with exclusive or unique access to organizations, stories or characters. That unique access has brought us the Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron, On Board Air Force One and Inside the U.S. Secret Service, and has also brought us into subcultures that live among us but that we know very little about such as The Hutterites: American Colony and American Gypsies, which premiered in July 2012.” CO-PRODUCTIONS: “As a global network, we’re more often commissioning and fully funding projects, but we are open to collaborating with producers and international broadcasters on the most ambitious ideas. One upcoming four-part miniseries, When Earth Attacks, is a co-production with Pioneer Productions and Sky U.K. on the effects the Earth’s natural forces can have on the human environment.” SHOPPING LIST: “We’re looking for captivating characters that can drive long-running hit series for the network. In addition, we are always on the lookout for the most groundbreaking, splashy and big ideas for specials.” INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION: National Geographic Channels has a content-sales team, led by Germaine Deagan Sweet, that sells its extensive library of original content globally. FOX International Channels distributes the NGC channel brand worldwide. NONLINEAR PLATFORMS: “We include all media platforms (where available) worldwide when buying or acquiring rights for our programs. We currently provide our content via online, VOD and mobile either through our Nat Geobranded services like our websites and on-demand channels or through third-party content providers like Hulu and YouTube.
Making Contact PITCH ROUTE: For commissions or co-productions:
NGCIdeas.com. For acquisitions: firstname.lastname@example.org. MARKET SCHEDULE: Realscreen, MIPTV, MIPDOC, MIPCOM, Science Congress, among others. 10/12
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