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THE MAGAZINE OF INTERNATIONAL MEDIA • APRIL 2012
The Drama Edition Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner Homeland’s Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa Boardwalk Empire’s Terence Winter Touch’s Tim Kring & Kiefer Sutherland Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes Person of Interest’s Jonathan Nolan House’s David Shore The Killing’s Piv Bernth Revenge’s Mike Kelley Borgia’s Tom Fontana Missing’s Ashley Judd Lilyhammer’s Steven Van Zandt
Plus: Elizabeth Guider Talks to Warner Bros.’ Bruce Rosenblum, NBC’s Robert Greenblatt and CBS’s Nina Tassler About the New Golden Age of Drama.
ProSiebenSat.1’s Thomas Ebeling
HBO’s Richard Plepler & Michael Lombardo
Fox Networks Group’s David Haslingden
Starz’s Chris Albrecht Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin
M6’s Thomas Valentin Zee’s Subhash Chandra Filmmaker Werner Herzog POW’s Stan Lee
Mark Harmon NCIS’s Global Star
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APRIL 2012/MIPTV EDITION
Publisher Ricardo Seguin Guise
departments WORLD VIEW
A note from the editor.
By the International Academy’s Bruce Paisner. VIEWPOINT
By Reed MIDEM’s Laurine Garaude.
IN THE NEWS
New shows on the market. Starz’s Chris Albrecht. Seven’s Tim Worner. Andy Kaplan on 15 years of AXN. In the stars.
Executive Editor Mansha Daswani
Editor Anna Carugati
ALL THAT DRAMA
Editor, Spanish-Language Publications Elizabeth Bowen-Tombari
This special report on the new golden age of television includes interviews with Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner, Homeland’s Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, Boardwalk Empire’s Terence Winter, Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes, NCIS’s Mark Harmon and Gary Glasberg, Touch’s Tim Kring and Kiefer Sutherland, House’s David Shore, Person of Interest’s Jonathan Nolan, The Killing’s Piv Bernth, Revenge’s Mike Kelley, Borgia’s Tom Fontana, Missing’s Ashley Judd and Lilyhammer’s Steven Van Zandt.
HOME BOX OFFICE’S RICHARD PLEPLER AND MICHAEL LOMBARDO
The premium pay-TV network’s co-president Richard Plepler and president of programming, Michael Lombardo, talk about their continual search for distinctive and genre-defining content. —Anna Carugati
FOX NETWORKS GROUP’S DAVID HASLINGDEN
As the president and COO of Fox Networks Group, David Haslingden oversees a broad portfolio that includes the FOX International Channels bouquet globally. —Anna Carugati
CHERNIN ENTERTAINMENT’S PETER CHERNIN
After his long, distinguished run at News Corporation, Peter Chernin established his own production company, which has already put itself on the map with hits like New Girl and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. WORLD SCREEN is published seven times per year: January, April, May, June/July, October, November and December. Annual subscription price: Inside the U.S.: $70.00 Outside the U.S.: $120.00 Send checks, company information and address corrections to: WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, Suite 1207 New York, NY 10010, U.S.A.
For a free subscription to our newsletters, please visit www.worldscreen.com.
VISIT HUNDREDS OF DISTRIBUTORS’ SCREENING ROOMS AT
Editorial Assistant Marissa Graziadio Online Director Simon Weaver Production & Design Directors Meredith Miller Lauren Uda Art Director Phyllis Q. Busell Sales & Marketing Director Cesar Suero Business Affairs Manager Terry Acunzo Sales & Marketing Assistant Vanessa Brand
Contributing Writers Chris Forrester Bob Jenkins Juliana Koranteng Mihir Shah David Wood Copy Editors Grace Hernandez Susan Rae Tannenbaum
Executive Editor, Spanish-Language Publications Rafael Blanco
Senior Editors Bill Dunlap Kate Norris
on the record
Contributing Editor Elizabeth Guider Special Projects Editor Jay Stuart
—Elizabeth Guider & Anna Carugati
Managing Editor Kristin Brzoznowski
Editorial Intern Haley Howell
Ricardo Seguin Guise, President Anna Carugati, Executive VP & Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani, Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development
WORLD SCREEN is a registered trademark of WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, Suite 1207 New York, NY 10010, U.S.A. Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website: www.worldscreen.com ©2012 WSN INC. Printed by Fry Communications No part of this publication can be used, reprinted, copied or stored in any medium without the publisher’s authorization.
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APRIL 2012/MIPTV EDITION
THE SUPER INDIES Mini-majors are grouping together independents across multiple genres 152… EUROWOOD Continental European producers are delivering English-language drama worldwide 162… MADE IN SPAIN A spotlight on Spanish broadcasters and producers 166…INTERVIEWS ProSiebenSat.1’s Thomas Ebeling 170…ThomasValentin on 25 years of M6 174…Dogan TV’s Irfan Sahin 184…Parthenon’s Carl Hall 186…Shine International’s Camilla Hammer 188…PROFILE Panini Media 190 BLUE CHIP AND BEYOND Multipart documentaries are sitting alongside expensive wildlife specials in channels’ prime-time schedules 224…FIT FOR TV Programs focused on health and wellness are being given a boost by the VOD and home-video markets, alongside strong merchandising opportunities 232…INTERVIEWS Werner Herzog 238…HBO’s Sheila Nevins 240…Yann Arthus-Bertrand 242 TOY WITH ME Toy brands are influencing the content business 282…MAKING THE LEAP Producers are adapting books, comic strips, video games and more for TV 290…SPAIN TOONS IN A look at some of Spain’s leading animation companies 296…INTERVIEWS POW!’s Stan Lee 298…Studio 100’s Hans Bourlon and Gert Verhulst 300…Disney Junior’s Nancy Kanter 303…FME’s Sander Schwartz 304…Zodiak’s Nigel Pickard 306 SAY IT AGAIN Despite the challenges associated with scripted formats, they are in high demand around the world 338…GAME ON Interactive elements and enhanced play-along features are bringing new life to the always-in-demand game-show genre 346…INTERVIEWS NBC’S Paul Telegdy 350…Sony’s Andrea Wong 352 INDIA’S NEXT STEPS Digitization is transforming India’s media market, creating new opportunities for local and international players 362…INTERVIEW Zee’s Subhash Chandra 368
asia pacific CHANNELING ARABIA Major international channel brands are stepping up their distribution efforts in the Middle East 378…INTERVIEW OSN Network’s David Butorac 384
AIMING FOR SUCCESS Latin American distributors continue to take their products to
international audiences 410…INTERVIEW
Sony’s Andrea Wong 420
appear both inside THE LEADING SOURCE FOR
PROGRAM INFORMATION Listings
and as separate
of numerous distributors attending MIPTV 429
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A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR ANNA CARUGATI
Tell Me a Story I have been planning for some time, with much anticipation, a trip to Rome. It’s a graduation present for my daughter, who has been studying Latin for four years and has developed a keen interest in the ancient world. I have been to the Eternal City several times; it holds an enduring appeal to me. I would like to pass on to her my fascination with the city—from the Republic to the Empire through the Renaissance and beyond. She is, after all, half Italian, and she should know her roots. And as present-day Italy does not hold much to admire, perhaps Rome’s accomplishments through the centuries in the realms of law, architecture and art will give her something to cherish and be proud of. With relish, I have dedicated my free time to studying the city’s history, luxuriating in the exquisite prose and scholarly knowledge of such historians as Robert Hughes and Simon Schama, and revisiting the works of Cicero,Virgil, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Did you know EXAMINING THE even that Caesar’s last words were not “Et tu, Brute,” or that the T-shirt evolved from a garment worn FRAILTIES, FLAWS under the Roman toga, eye mascara was applied with a stick made with coal, and apartment buildings originated in Rome? I hope these interesting AND MOTIVATIONS OF tidbits will engage my teenage daughter. Of course, where Romans excelled was in HUMAN BEINGS IS the law. The jurist Julius Paulus contemplated issues that are still debated today, such as, “He who has knowledge of a crime but is unable AT THE HEART OF to prevent it is free of blame. He inflicts an injury who orders it to be inflicted; but no guilt to him who is obliged to obey.”While THE SUPERB attaches Romans considered themselves to be authorities in matters of the law, they conceded that STORYTELLING IN the Greeks were superior in literature and readily appropriated the stories of Greek gods and studied the tragedies and comedies of SophoALL THESE DRAMAS. cles, Aeschylus and others. As I’ve been reading about Rome, I’ve been wondering, is there anything new under the sun? Haven’t the great issues of the ancient world—power, greed, justice, morality, death, betrayal, revenge, love, redemption and God(s)—been constantly debated, examined, questioned throughout the centuries? They certainly have been in Western literature: think of Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Balzac, Dickens, Dostoevsky,Tolstoy, the list goes on and on. Undoubtedly, through the ages, agriculture, transportation, communication and industry have advanced enormously. We use tools, vehicles, appliances and electronic devices our forebears couldn’t even have imagined, but at our core, have we changed? How different are our fears, 20
ambitions, emotions, jealousies, yearnings or dreams from the men and women who walked about in ancient Rome? Are questions of morality not still the same? Do we not keep struggling to survive, striving to do better despite messing up over and over again, and desiring to improve? Don’t we all hope for redemption? These themes are universal because they are timeless, as old as civilization itself. This dawned on me as I immersed myself in the interviews that accompany our main feature on drama, which examines this second golden age of television we are living in and was so expertly written by my colleague Elizabeth Guider. I had the immense pleasure and privilege of speaking to some of the most successful showrunners in the business. Boardwalk Empire is about power, greed, ambition and corruption in the Prohibition era. Mad Men is also about power and ambition but set against the background of changing social mores in the ’60s. Both shows feature main characters whose moral compass is decidedly off course. How about House? Where is the morality in the brilliant but damaged doctor, who will stop at nothing to save a patient and torments his staff to spur their best work? In Homeland, a bipolar but highly intuitive agent won’t curb her obsessive suspicions of a decorated hero, and in Missing, a mother will stop at nothing to save her son.The love of a child is also at the heart of Touch. Revenge deals with the age-old trap of vengeance. NCIS looks into the motivation of all sorts of crimes, reminding us that even in the most difficult moments, humor can only help. The Killing is about a murder and how the actions of one person can affect people not seemingly involved. Downton Abbey describes how dissimilar the ambitions, dreams and behaviors are of people in different social classes—or are they? Examining the frailties, flaws and motivations of human beings is at the heart of the superb storytelling in all these dramas. We examine the art of storytelling in our main interviews with HBO’s Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo; with Peter Chernin, whose company has produced New Girl, the breakout comedy of the season; and with Fox Networks Group’s David Haslingden, who readily admits that powerful original programming is the key to the success of his bouquet of channels. A good story is also the basis of the factual, children’s and format programming we examine in our features. “Tell me a story,” in fact, is a request echoing back to the beginnings of mankind.
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REFLECTIONS ON MEDIA ISSUES BY BRUCE L. PAISNER
There Are No Secrets Many years ago, when I was a cub reporter at Life magazine, the managing editor called me in for a pep talk. The message was about as follows: people try to keep secrets, we are here to find out their secrets, our motto is, “There are no secrets.” I hadn’t thought about that for some time, but it came back to me with force when the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation hit an iceberg in its clumsy attempt to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. They decided to keep it a secret. They then decided not to tell anyone about the secret decision—except Planned Parenthood. What were they thinking? Particularly in this era of instant messages of all sorts, the outcome was predictable. Millions of people organized themselves into online supporters of Planned Parenthood, and ultimately the Komen Foundation had to cave. This is the second time this year that something like this happened in the U.S. The first was the mobilization to stop legislation in the U.S. Congress to curb online piracy. Whatever the MANY COUNTRIES motive of those opposed to the legislation, they were to summon millions of NOW HAVE able new online supporters in a matter of days, get Wikipedia LAWS PROTECTING to black out its encyclopedia service for a day, and ultimately stop the legislation PEOPLE’S PRIVACY. dead in its tracks. The journalists of the last century are THE UNITED STATES gradually being replaced by the online behemoths of this one. They will find the DOES NOT. secrets, publicize them, and mobilize millions of voices. In the early days of e-mail, I was taught a valuable lesson, summed up as most valuable lessons can be, in an aphorism: If you’re not prepared to read it in tomorrow morning’s New York Times, don’t put it in an e-mail. But now the Internet and social media are creating a whole new challenge to people’s privacy. A few years ago, the truth megaphone operated at most once a day, in the daily newspaper or the evening network-news broadcast. As both the Komen/Planned Parenthood dustup and the battle over online piracy legislation have now made clear, the megaphone, on 24 hours a day, is implacable. The issues surrounding this latest advance in human communication are many and, in many cases, troubling. When does the power to ferret out secrets become the broader power to advance whatever agenda one wishes? This time Wikipedia closed down for a 24
day to protest Internet-specific legislation. What is to stop it from closing down to advance a political cause or a social one? Despite the journalistic mission of my editor at Life, average citizens used to have pretty good ways to protect their secrets. By and large, no one had the resources to uncover the hidden side of most people. Clearly, the Internet changes that, and we are living through a time between its invention, and the evolution of rules to cover its use and to protect its users—often from themselves. Most Western democracies, including the U.S., have always sought to strike a balance among three sometimes contradictory concepts: the right to know, the right to free expression, and the right to privacy. What we will watch in the next years is the balance among those concepts, recalibrated for the new age in which we live. One fruitful area of exploration is new privacy laws that would require Internet users to consent to being tracked as they travel from website to website and to give explicit consent before aggregators can use their personal information. Many countries now have laws protecting people’s privacy. The United States does not. There is no U.S. legislation that spells out the control and use of online data. Presumably, the U.S. government will eventually try to do so, and the battle will surely rage over that. At the International Academy, though our primary mission is awarding Emmy Awards for excellence in television, we are also committed to bringing impartial information to our members. So, as the various currents of the privacy debate flow along, we will attempt to put the different arguments and the best answers to them into context. In this connection, the Academy held a panel on the antipiracy debate at our spring Board meeting in March in New York. Eve Burton,VP and general counsel of Hearst Corporation, led the discussion. I want to close, as I began, with a thought about that editor at Life magazine many years ago. He spent a career finding out and exposing secrets, taking great pride in his work. But I think his pride came as much from overcoming the challenges as from getting to the facts. I sometimes wonder if he wouldn’t have found this process today both too easy and, in terms of society as a whole, rather dangerous. Bruce L. Paisner is the president and CEO of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 4/12
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A LOOK AT INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENTS BY LAURINE GARAUDE
A New Meaning of “International” At MIPTV and MIPCOM, “international” is part of the DNA of our events. Indeed, MIPTV was international even before the television market was. When Bernard Chevry first created MIPTV in Lyon back in 1963, the television business was made up of a handful of national terrestrial broadcasters who tended to swap rather than sell their shows. And there were virtually no private production entities. He was considered pretty audacious for thinking that there would be an international business of trading rights. Fast forward to 2012. Public broadcasters operate alongside the private sector, television is digital and the “novelty” of cable and satellite reception is a dim memory as audiences juggle a plethora of connected devices to watch, interact and engage with programming as never before. But beyond the fact that TV has undergone and continues to undergo a major transformation, there is one thing that has been hitting home quite strongly these last few years, but which has accelerated in just the last few months, and that is, we are experiencing a new phase and a new meaning of the word “international.” What I mean by this is that international is becoming INTERNATIONAL IS intricately woven into the fabric of the industry: the people, the business, the conBECOMING INTRICATELY tent, the audience. It goes way beyond doing business WOVEN INTO with people from around the world and getting other countries to adopt or be THE FABRIC OF interested in your culture. Recently,Televisa and Lionsgate announced a partnership THE INDUSTRY. with a strong message: pairing up to create original content in English for the U.S. Hispanic community.This is taking the concept of international beyond selling rights or formats to actually working together and bringing the knowledge and understanding of cultures to the table to create programming that will speak to this audience. In 2000, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television used MIPTV as its focal point for developing Chinese production and partnerships.That started as a period of observation, as Chinese companies looked at what attracts international audiences.Twelve years later, the situation has changed considerably. There have been many developments, including a slate of co-production deals that includes Snap! Let’s Go!, the first long-format televisionanimation-series partnership between China’s CCTV Animation and PorchLight Entertainment of the U.S. 26
And at last year’s MIPTV, the Latin Media Corporation announced a deal with the Chinese company Zhejiang Huace Film & TV to adapt a Latin American telenovela for the Chinese market. Who would have thought this was possible a couple of years ago? Nowadays, companies are more and more looking for new ideas, fresh concepts that will strengthen their brands and give them the original touch needed to stand out in today’s content-packed environment. And they are looking for concepts that can come from producers around the world. After all, The X Factor, which is a success in the U.S., was first created in the U.K., but is still considered to be a very American show. As we know, The X Factor is produced by FremantleMedia, a British company owned by RTL Group and run in North America by France’s Cecile Frot-Coutaz. Language has been the real barrier to directly creating really global content, but the recent renaissance and growth of co-productions and cross-border collaboration has provided market space for reality shows, dramas, documentaries, animation, remakes and formats that are less dependent on their linguistic characteristics when it comes to international success. A couple of examples are the Swedish Wallander and, more recently, The Killing (produced originally by Denmark’s DR), remade for AMC in the U.S. So we are in a world which is intrinsically international and where “international” means working together to create shows that work everywhere and that speak to all. This is reflected at MIPTV, which is more international than ever, with more than 100 countries represented.The sale of programs is always a core part of the business done at the show. But there is much more to it than that. It is where delegates can create new partnerships and alliances with companies and people that can make their business and content truly international in the way it needs to be today: built in from the very beginning. We are approaching the 49th edition of MIPTV (next year will be the 50th!) and we will see this profound transformation exemplified through the focus on new formats and talent at MIPFormats; co-production at MIPDoc and the new Drama CoProXchange at MIPTV; the Focus on Producers and the new Producers’ Hub program; and on game-changing innovations and the broadened TV ecosystem gathering at MIPCube. As the global community gathers in Cannes, I am looking forward to discovering together new inspiring and innovative cross-nation collaborations that will continue to enrich our content worlds. Laurine Garaude is the director of the television division at Reed MIDEM. 4/12
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ALL3MEDIA International www.all3mediainternational.com • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries • Accused • Diamond Divers
Following the success of police dramas such as George Gently and Midsomer Murders, ALL3MEDIA International has high hopes for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. “This is a new series we’ve invested in and it’s stunning, simply fabulous,” says Peter Grant, the company’s senior VP of international sales. “The lead actress is gorgeous and the 1920s is an era of glamour that works so well on TV when done like this. A great premise and fun, dynamic scripts, this show has really delivered on its promise and just aired to great reception in Australia.” ALL3MEDIA is also bringing back another season of Accused. “Season one recently picked up a clutch of International Emmys,” Grant notes. From Studio Lambert for Spike TV in the U.S., Diamond Divers is a male-skewed show about grizzled sea captains and commercial divers who are looking to strike it rich underwater. Grant calls it a “modern-day gold rush with sharks and cowboys.”
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
“Our producers have really got the best talent
working for us at the moment, both in terms of writers and on screen.
AMC/Sundance Channel Global www.amcnetworks.com
“Despite the fact that in
• Sundance Channel • WE tv
A relative newcomer in the world of international cable and satellite channels, AMC/Sundance Channel Global has spent the last few years signing up operators across Europe and Asia for its Sundance Channel and WE tv brands. Last year, in particular, was a strong one for AMC/Sundance Channel Global, which in November tapped MGM Networks’ Bruce Tuchman to lead its international expansion efforts as its president. “It’s pretty clear to me there is an extremely strong demand” for Sundance and WE tv, says Tuchman. This year will see more signature programming from the AMC U.S. portfolio rolling out on the international feeds, including the premiere of Breaking Bad in Asia. “We’ll continue to do what we’re here for in the first place, and that is to create a compelling programming experience, demonstrate that to our constituents and use all the excitement generated to drive our business goal, which is to grow larger internationally.”
many markets there have already been years of cable and satellite growth and lots of different brands coming in, the opportunity exists for us.
Hell on Wheels on Sundance
THE LEADING ONLINE DAILY NEWS SERVICE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA INDUSTRY. For a free subscription, visit www.worldscreen.com/pages/newsletter
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Artear www.artear.com The Social Leader
• The Social Leader • Left on the Shelf • Be Kind to Me
The Buenos Aires–based multimedia company Artear is heading to MIPTV with a range of series on offer, including The Social Leader, starring Julio Chávez, Gabriela Toscano, Luis Luque and Rodrigo de la Serna. The show tells the story of a community activist who achieves his dreams through political and social work within various neighborhoods and touches on life’s frustrations and unfulfilled wishes. Also available to buyers is Left on the Shelf, the story of three unwed sisters who come to rely on each other in the aftermath of their mother’s death. It stars Betiana Blum, Gabriela Toscano, Celeste Cid and Griselda Siciliani. Another highlight is the series Be Kind to Me, about a couple who must get to know each other all over again after 22 years of marriage. The series stars Julio Chávez and Cecilia Roth as a couple in a midlife crisis who discover that they have grown apart as adults, and that the person lying next to them has become a stranger.
L:eft on the Shelf
Artist View Entertainment www.artistviewent.com • She Wants Me • Shadow Witness • Proﬁle of a Killer
A number of recognizable Hollywood stars can be found on the film slate of Artist View Entertainment. Hilary Duff is featured alongside Josh Gad, Kristen Ruhlin and Charlie Sheen in the romantic comedy She Wants Me.The iconic Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo is part of a tightly crafted murder mystery in Shadow Witness. Part mystery, part thriller, Profile of a Killer stars Joey Pollari, Gabriele Angieri, Jr. and Emily Fradenburgh. The story follows the trail of a highly intelligent serial killer who leaves police baffled, and the only man who can dissect this tortured mind may be the next victim. Artist View has been in business for more than 20 years now, and its library continues to grow. “As we enter into MIPTV this year our expectations are positive yet realistic,” says Jay Joyce, the company’s VP of worldwide sales. “The digital age is upon us and we know we have a solid place in the industry with our large catalogue and wide variety of genres, all available in HD.”
She Wants Me
“Our newest product
line has TV movies and feature ﬁlms available for all media and time slots.
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Azteca www.comarex.tv • Legendary Love • Quererte Así • Grachi
“ We always look
forward to meeting our clients from Europe, Africa and Asia face to face, and MIPTV is the perfect opportunity to do so.
The Azteca novela Legendary Love began airing in Mexico and has proven to be a hit, according to Marcel Vinay, Jr., the CEO of Comarex. “It’s full of mystery, suspense and, of course, as all telenovelas go, a great love story,” he says. Comarex is also presenting Azteca’s Quererte Asi, which has “a great classic story,”Vinay notes.The novela focuses on a wealthy young girl named Paulina, who is marrying Alberto at the urging of her mother. Just days before the wedding, Paulina meets Rafael, a young doctor, and quickly forms a strong connection.The question is,Will the intrigues and lies keep them together or apart? Skewing younger, the telenovela Grachi is back in its second season, which Comarex is presenting for the global market. “With our new programming slate of telenovelas and series, we hope to continue to impress programmers with our quality shows and in turn reach out to global audiences with exciting and new story lines,” Vinay says. “So, all in all we are always very keen to receive feedback...regarding our new shows from around the world.”
—Marcel Vinay, Jr.
BBC Worldwide www.bbcworldwide.com World’s Toughest Trucker
• Sinbad • Parade’s End • World’s Toughest Trucker
BBC Worldwide is offering another strong slate of drama, a genre the company has seen much success with. Topping the list is Sinbad, a modern take on the Arabian Nights legend, from the makers of Primeval.Another drama, Parade’s End, is an adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s novel set in Edwardian England. The project is written by Oscar-winner Sir Tom Stoppard and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s Sherlock, and Rebecca Hall. Alongside drama, “factual is always a popular genre,” says Steve Macallister, the president and managing director of BBC Worldwide Sales & Distribution, pointing to World’s Toughest Trucker. The 8x45-minute series is one of BBC Worldwide’s recent acquisitions. Macallister believes the title will generate interest among buyers because it features “a subject that has proved really popular internationally.” The show is from Dragonfly Film & Television Productions and GroupM Entertainment.
“ We have over 50,000 hours of content in our catalogue, covering all genres. ”
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Beta Film www.betaﬁlm.com
“Beta Film truly looks around the globe to partner with the best from each territory.”
• Copper • Arctic Air • Munich ’72
Following the success of Borgia, Copper is the second joint project of Beta Film and the multiple Emmy Awardwinning American author and showrunner Tom Fontana. The crime series is set in 1860s New York City in the notorious Five Points neighborhood. “We are the international partner in this BBC America/Cineflix/Shaw Media production,” explains Christian Gockel, Beta Film’s senior VP of acquisitions and sales.“Our focus is to cater to the broadcasters’ needs and slots, but also initiate or be part of existing signature high-budget projects like Borgia, which has a second season in production, and Copper,” Gockel says. Another Beta Film highlight is the North American adventure series Arctic Air, set in the high Arctic, about a maverick airline and the unconventional family who runs it. “Being the 40th anniversary of one of the most tragic Olympic stories ever, we also present the event movie Munich ’72, about the 1972 Summer Olympics, where Palestinian terrorists took 11 Israelis hostage and marked the starting point of international terrorism,” Gockel says.
Beyond Distribution www.beyond.com.au
“Beyond is aiming to cover all needs
• World’s Weirdest Restaurants • Chuck’s Week Off: Mexico • Hero Dogs of 9/11
with a broad range of new programming and a strong batch of returning series.
The celebrity chef and TV personality Chuck Hughes is set to stroll the Palais in Cannes. The Canadian restaurateur is launching two new titles with Beyond Distribution at the market, Chuck’s Week Off: Mexico and Chuckmas. The pair of new programs follow on the success of his debut series, Chuck’s Day Off, now in its third season. “After three years of only having days off, hunky chef Chuck Hughes finally gets a week off in Chuck’s Week Off: Mexico,” jokes Yvonne Body, Beyond’s head of co-productions and acquisitions. “We are very excited about World’s Weirdest Restaurants, which is exactly what it says,” adds Body. “Some of the restaurants featured have to be seen to be believed, but the amazing thing is that most of them do serve really good food.” Body also highlights the doc Hero Dogs of 9/11. “Even though I’m not a dog lover, I found the stories totally remarkable and marveled at how dogs can be trained to work in such seemingly impossible situations,” she says. 4/12
World’s Weirdest Restaurants
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Big Media/KM Plus Media www.bigmedia.tv Get Out
• Close Quarter Battle • Miracles of Nature • Get Out
This will be the biggest market to date for Big Media, together with its international sales arm KM Plus Media, in terms of the number of people from the company attending. “We expect (and hope) to see the results in the form of increased sales and new territories,” says chairman Jon Loew. On offer from the company is Close Quarter Battle (CQB), an HD action series hosted by Special Forces expert Terry Schappert. Also in HD, Miracles of Nature spotlights natural creations such as geysers, active volcanoes and bizarre rock formations. Get Out is another series that explores the beauty of the world around us. The show, which features beautiful hosts, takes viewers to exotic destinations to showcase hip and trendy spots. “This is one of Big Media’s most popular series, licensed around the world,” notes Loew.“Our catalogue of over 2,000 hours of diverse programming allows us to satisfy the needs of almost any broadcaster. Plus, our 200-plus hours of newly produced or acquired content each year enables us to remain competitive in multiple genres.”
“ We are an ideal partner for independent
producers and distributors because we can also bring ﬁnancing to the table.
BoPaul Media Worldwide www.bopaulmedia.com Mrs. Caldicot’s Cabbage War
• Heaven • Mrs. Caldicot’s Cabbage War • Paul Naschy Classics Collection
The main goal for Paul Rich at the market is to introduce clients to his new company, BoPaul Media Worldwide. Rich, the company’s owner and president, says the variety and depth of the catalogue are sure to grab buyers’ attention, with 800-plus films and TV series that range from documentaries to classic films to new independent movies to reality series. The documentary Heaven is a particular highlight, as it spotlights the afterlife from the eyes of practitioners of five religions from around the world. In the way of comedy, Mrs. Caldicot’s Cabbage War features a bored housewife whose life spins into high gear when her mean-spirited, philandering husband dies after being hit by a cricket ball. For horror lovers, the works of Paul Naschy—who thrived as an actor, writer and director in the genre—have been compiled into a classic collection. Naschy has portrayed such iconic monster characters as Count Dracula, Mr. Hyde and a werewolf.
“ The newly launched BoPaul Media
Worldwide will build on a combination of current independent ﬁlm productions, classic ﬁlms, foreign theatrical releases, prime-time TV dramas and reality programming.
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Breakthrough Entertainment www.breakthroughentertainment.com Operation Unplugged
• Diamond Road • Raw Opium • Operation Unplugged
Heading into this market, Breakthrough Entertainment has broadened its catalogue, “from witty sketch and scripted comedies to insightful documentaries to fun-filled animation,” says Nat Abraham, the president of distribution. “We are continuously focused on adding only exceptionally strong stories to keep our catalogue fresh and current for our existing clients and for new broadcasters.” As MIPDoc is a key part of the market, Breakthrough will be there highlighting titles such as Diamond Road, which exposes the secret reality behind the world’s most sought-after gem. These tiny bits of carbon have made some into multimillionaires and others into virtual slaves. Raw Opium looks at the way the oldest medicine on the planet is now driving a vast criminal trade. The doc shows how the poppy flower continues to play a key role in the tense sphere of international relations. In Operation Unplugged, technology-obsessed participants are stripped of their devices and placed in the wilderness.
“We are extremely selective in the content
we produce and acquire, to be fully reﬂective of the current trend in storytelling combined with strong characters.
Canal Futura www.futura.org.br • Color Bars • Energy Paths • Ecological Footprint
This year marks Canal Futura’s 15th anniversary on air. “This is a remarkable date,” says Lúcia Araújo, the general director. “Along this time, Canal Futura has followed its proposal of providing quality entertaining and educational programming. During these 15 years, we also were able to considerably enlarge our programming offer.” Araújo highlights the titles Color Bars, Energy Paths and Ecological Footprint. She says that Canal Futura’s programming is dedicated to promoting ethnic and racial equality, community spirit, entrepreneurship and cultural pluralism, all the while combining education and entertainment. “We hope MIPTV will be a prosperous environment, which allows us to expand partnerships around the world, and also will be an active space to close new deals,” Araújo says. “We want to solidify our brand as a quality content distributor and we are sure MIPTV could be the perfect market for that.”
“ We look to enrich people’s daily
development, offering them entertainment and useful knowledge for life.
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Caracol Television www.caracolinternacional.com • Broken Promises • The First Lady • The Labyrinth
Eliciting words like “humor,” “action,” “drama,” “intrigue” and “suspense,” the MIPTV portfolio from Caracol Television includes “the ideal ingredients for international viewers,” according to Lisette Osorio, the company’s international sales director. “Caracol TV Internacional will bring to MIPTV programming with the highest quality of production, full of attractive story lines that are sure to satisfy the individual needs of every market.” Osorio highlights the series Broken Promises, about three young girls who are tricked by the promise of getting a dream life. The First Lady also involves a woman with a dream. Paloma wants to become someone, economically and socially, and will use her charms however possible to get there.This includes seducing a married presidential candidate. The Labyrinth involves a man who proves his innocence in the murder of the wife of his company’s president. The very same woman, who has been presumed dead for years, contacts him to warn him that his family in danger, and a tireless search to find out who is behind it all begins.
The First Lady
“ We are very
conﬁdent in our ability to bring our unique and dynamic portfolio to the world and are always very satisﬁed with the outcome.
Cineﬂix Rights www.cineﬂixrights.com • The Human Body in 3D • Air Aces • World War II: The Last Heroes Air Aces
Sales and acquisitions are top priorities for Cineflix Rights for this market, according to Paul Heaney, the company’s president and managing director. “We’re also keen to do more in the way of deficit-funding deals with producers and broadcasters to get productions off the ground, as we’ve done recently with the new series of Massive Moves with Windfall Films and HGTV [in Canada],” Heaney says. The company will be bringing to Cannes series from its own Cineflix Productions, including Air Aces, which tells the stories of some of the most heroic airborne combat missions in history using rare archival footage and cutting-edge CGI. Cineflix Rights also has brand-new programming from its largest ever number of third-party producers.Titles include The Human Body in 3D, from Touch Productions, and World War II:The Last Heroes, from Impossible Pictures. Heaney adds, “Alongside our factual and factual-entertainment slate, we’re excited to be joined by colleagues from Cineflix Studios to launch their first scripted project, Copper, which is the first drama ordered by BBC America.”
“ We are expecting this to be a busy market for both sales and acquisitions, as we’re actively looking to acquire more programming from producers.
—Paul Heaney 42
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Content Television www.contentmediacorp.com • Line of Duty • Crawlspace • Another Shade of Blue
While MIPTV provides a platform for Content Television to showcase its slate to an international audience, its teams are also there with an eye to finding and investing in television and digital properties. “Operating as three distinct yet complementary divisions—Content Television, Content Digital and Content Film—allows us to ensure [that] the titles we acquire or co-develop are tailored to suit the differing broadcast and viewer requirements of each platform,” says Saralo MacGregor, the executive VP of Content Television and Content Digital. Content’s key drama launch is Line of Duty, a catand-mouse thriller. The drama thriller Crawlspace came to Content’s catalogue from the U.S. independent studio Vuguru. The documentary Another Shade of Blue follows the world-famous adventure writer and photographer Ty Sawyer as he travels to some of the planet’s most remote outposts. MacGregor says the show provides “a unique and fresh angle to the traditional travelogue genre.”
Line of Duty
“ Even though our catalogue continues to grow
year on year, we continue to work personally with each individual client to ensure that the best content is delivered to their audience.
Deutsche Welle/DW Transtel www.dw.de/www.dw-transtel.de
“With a completely redesigned website,
• Let’s Do Business • Assignment X • Ecopia
programming lineup and corporate identity, we have a lot of new information to share with our partners.
This year has already been a big one for Deutsche Welle (DW) and DW Transtel, which overhauled operations in February to feature a revised TV program and online presence.What remains the same, however, is the commitment to quality, says Petra Schneider, DW’s director of distribution. “DW Transtel has always been known for its in-depth documentaries and features—and this year is no different.We have added even more depth to our programming palette and are sure that it is something that will really resonate with our partners. With such a huge range of choices at MIPTV, buyers are looking for something extraordinary, and DW Transtel delivers with the high-quality television that we have been producing for decades.” Six new series will be on offer, including Let’s Do Business, giving an entertaining glimpse behind the scenes of the financial world. Assignment X follows scientists and researchers on a fundamental journey for knowledge, and Ecopia provides an innovative look at the urban landscape.
—Petra Schneider Let’s Do Business
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Echo Bridge Entertainment www.echobridgeentertainment.com • The L.A. Complex • Degrassi • Teen Days
“Sexy and provocative” are the words used to describe the new drama The L.A. Complex.“The show has that ‘it’ factor,” says Dan March, the president of international at Echo Bridge Entertainment, which distributes the series. “The characters jump off the screen; they all have great charisma but are unable to hide their flaws.The writing is terrific, and we think the combination of humor, drama and scandal makes the show very addicting.The series will premiere on The CW, which could not be a better home.” Echo Bridge hit the ground running this year with its drama Degrassi, which is in its 11th season. “We extended our terrific relationship with [Viacom International Media Networks] to include 90 new episodes of the hit franchise Degrassi in more than 30 countries around the world,” March says.The animated series Teen Days rounds out Echo Bridge’s new offerings. “We’re expecting continued growth in SVOD and we’re excited to see demand rising quickly for our substantial television catalogue,” March adds.
The L.A. Complex
“We are here to do business with several
new VOD platforms and to discuss new digital opportunities.
Endemol Worldwide Distribution www.endemoldistribution.com • Black Mirror • Secret Eaters • ¡Q’Viva! The Chosen
Entertainment icon Jennifer Lopez, international music star Marc Anthony and world-renowned concert director Jamie King lead the action in the docujourney series ¡Q’Viva! The Chosen. Filming in English, Spanish and Portuguese, the show sees the trio traveling through Latin America in search of the most compelling Latin singers, dancers, musicians and other amazing performers. Before the show even launched, Endemol Worldwide Distribution delivered unprecedented distribution for the series, with deals covering all 21 Latin American markets. Endemol will be bringing the show to MIPTV in hopes of signing up even more international broadcasters. The company is also going to be shopping the drama Black Mirror, “which is now achieving cult status,” says Cathy Payne, Endemol Worldwide Distribution’s chief executive. The factual series Secret Eaters, which puts the eating habits of overweight families under surveillance, is also a top priority on Endemol’s sales agenda.
¡Q’Viva! The Chosen
“ We expect steady business on our
catalogue and interest in our new releases has been high to date.
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Entertainment One www.eonetv.com
“Our slate this market is
• Primeval: New World • Saving Hope • Whiskey Business
extremely well rounded and we have new quality content to offer our international and domestic channel partners.
There’s a mix of high-budget produced and acquired drama, factual “jobservational” series, U.S. TV movies and terrestrial docs on Entertainment One (eOne)’s slate. This includes Saving Hope, starring Erica Durance and being made for NBC and CTV; Whiskey Business, a new CMT movie starring Pauly Shore; and Primeval: New World, for which eOne is preselling the North American version. “We are expecting to have a real presence at both MIPDoc and MIPTV,” says Prentiss Fraser, the senior VP of worldwide sales and acquisitions at eOne Television International. “Not only do we have a great lineup this year but our fall slate is very strong, so we’ll be looking to lock in some strategic partnerships for later this year as well. We’re also looking to acquire world-class content for our catalogue; to continue to build our digital network partnerships with mobile, broadband and other channel distributors; to meet with our existing digital suppliers [and] content creators and to gather valuable digital intel at MIPCube.”
FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) www.ﬁnas.gov.my • SeeFood • Bola Kampung: The Movie • War of the Worlds: Goliath
“ Partnering with Malaysia is an ideal choice for co-production.”
—Mohd Naguib Razak
The Malaysia Pavilion has expanded 30 percent in size for MIPTV 2012.The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS), along with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), is in charge of driving growth in the country’s feature-film and televisionproduction sector and recently has shown a strong focus and results in 3D-animation feature films. SeeFood, a coproduction of Silver Ant and Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, for example, has been released theatrically worldwide and has sold to more than 90 countries in all. Other titles to be showcased at the market include Bola Kampung: The Movie, a co-production of Animasia Studio and Cartoon Network Asia, and War of the Worlds: Goliath, a 3D stereoscopic animated movie. Mohd Naguib Razak, the director general of FINAS, says that Malaysia’s objective is to put innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship at the forefront of the global multimedia content supply chain. The goal is to portray Malaysia as a friendly partner for co-production, distribution and investment. 48
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FremantleMedia Enterprises www.fmescreenings.com • Hit & Miss • The Wedding Band • Home Cooking Made Easy
Multi-award-winning TV writer Paul Abbott (State of Play, Shameless) is back with a brand-new project, the drama Hit & Miss.The series is the latest project to come out of FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME)’s first-look deal with Abbot’s production-and-development company, AbbottVision. FME is also touting the new drama The Wedding Band, which stars Brian Austin Green, Harold Perrineau, Peter Cambor, Derek Miller and Melora Hardin. “We expect an extremely busy market for FME,” says David Ellender, the company’s global CEO. “The launch of our highly anticipated new drama Hit & Miss is attracting huge interest from buyers across the world; we will be unveiling a wide range of fresh and innovative new factual and lifestyle programming, and announcing new first-look deals with more of the industry’s top talent.”Among the factual highlights is Home Cooking Made Easy, which follows on the success of Baking Made Easy with the dynamic supermodel turned patisserie chef Lorraine Pascale.
The Wedding Band
“We’re bringing a modern and diverse portfolio, which showcases perfectly our commitment to partnering with the industry’s most prominent talent in order to create, ﬁnance and distribute globally popular programming for audiences across the world.
Globo TV International www.globotvinternational.com • The Illusionist • Irrational Heart • The Invisible Woman
The recent NATPE market was strong for Globo TV International, leaving Raphael Corrêa Netto, the company’s head of international sales, encouraged that interest will remain high at MIPTV. For the event, Globo has lined up the telenovelas The Illusionist and Irrational Heart. The Illusionist spotlights a seductive and enigmatic man who exerts a strong influence over his friends and family. Irrational Heart tells of the intense rivalry between two brothers. “The telenovela premiered at NATPE and it is a great success,” says Corrêa Netto. “It has already sold to countries including Portugal, Cuba, Peru, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Chile, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and Bolivia, besides others where the negotiations are in progress.” Globo is also betting on strong interest in the comedy The Invisible Woman, an irreverent and modern look at a young couple who get to learn the real meaning of imagination. “The quality of our products is already known internationally,” says Corrêa Netto.
“ Our 2012 catalogue is varied, with
products of universal appeal and prepared according to the market trends.
—Raphael Corrêa Netto 50
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GMA Worldwide www.gmanetwork.com • My Beloved • Legacy • Broken Vow
GMA Worldwide is the content-acquisition and distribution subsidiary of GMA Network, the leading media broadcasting company in the Philippines. The company acquires canned programs for the network’s two freeto-air channels and handles worldwide distribution of the network’s feature films, footage and television programs of various genres. At MIPTV, the company is offering Legacy and Broken Vow. Legacy stars Heart Evangelista, Alessandra de Rossi, Lovi Poe, Geoff Eigenmann and Mike Tan. Broken Vow features Bianca King, Gabby Eigenmann, Luis Alandy, Rochelle Pangilinan and Marco Alcaraz. Also on offer from GMA Worldwide is My Beloved. “We have the winning formula of Philippine TV’s phenomenal love team with My Beloved,” says Roxanne J. Barcelona, the VP of GMA Worldwide. “This is the same team that brought you our most successful dramas, Marimar, Dyesebel and Endless Love. My Beloved is currently the number one program on Philippine prime time.”
“ Over the years, GMA Worldwide has
sustained strong business relationships with clients across the globe.
—Roxanne J. Barcelona
Goldstein Douglas Entertainment The Glacier Project
• Universal Squadrons • Cheaters • The Glacier Project
Having set up shop in Santa Monica, California, Goldstein Douglas Entertainment will be heading to Cannes to get the word out that it is open and ready for business. “We are an emerging production-and-distribution company with a large slate of new reality series in development and a small but attractive slate of $3-million TV movies with great casts that we’ll be discussing with clients at MIPTV,” says Cord Douglas, a company partner and the head of sales and acquisitions. Already in the Goldstein Douglas catalogue is Universal Squadrons, an action film about an Iraq War veteran who recovers from amnesia and finds out he was part of an experimental program that may have turned him into a killing machine. The Glacier Project is about two world-champion big-wave surfers who travel to Alaska to surf tidal waves created by glacial avalanches. The catalogue also includes Cheaters, which is going into production of its 13th season. “Our expectations are to expand sales of Cheaters to new territories, as well as renew and extend current sales,” says Douglas.
“ By MIPTV of 2013, we expect to have 50-plus fresh hours of reality
series and three to five new television movies in the $2-million to $3-million range.
—Cord Douglas 4/12
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ITV Studios Global Entertainment www.itvstudios.com Falcón
• Mr. Selfridge • Falcón • Airline
Alongside its deep library of returning dramas, such as Lewis and Poirot, ITV Studios Global Entertainment is presenting the brand-new ten-parter Mr. Selfridge.“The life of the flamboyant and visionary American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge,‘the man who brought entertainment to shopping,’ is the subject of an ambitious scripted series for ITV1, written by the Emmy Award–winning Andrew Davies,” says Tobias de Graaff, the director of global television distribution at ITV Studios Global Entertainment. “We’ll be introducing buyers to this fantastic drama for the first time at MIPTV.” The company also has a wealth of European drama acquisitions, including Falcón, based on Robert Wilson’s best-selling books. “We’re also very pleased to be bringing back the hit documentary reality series Airline,” says de Graaff.“Southwest Airlines is back with 13 brand-new episodes produced by ITV Studios America for TLC. It’s been six years since cameras last followed the customers who fly with the largest airline in the United States.”
“The strength of our slate is
in the breadth and quality of our new and returning series; this market we are launching six new dramas and nine new formats.
Kanal D sales.kanald.com.tr Fatmagül
• Kuzey Güney • Time Goes By • Fatmagül
Turkish drama has been going from strength to strength, and Kanal D has a slew of successful titles to offer. “The mixture of modern and local, Eastern and Western, the high production quality, universal subjects, good acting, wonderful and real locations, are some reasons for the success of Turkish drama,” says Özlem Özsümbül, the head of sales and acquisitions at Kanal D. For this market, Kanal D is launching Kuzey Güney, the story of two brothers who have different ambitions and different paths as they struggle to survive in their own worlds. The drama Time Goes By is set in 1967. It’s about a sea captain who returns home to his wife after being gone for a long time, though she soon finds out he’s had a secret love affair with a foreign woman. Özsümbül says that Kanal D has already sold Time Goes By as well as the drama Fatmagül into more than 30 countries, “but there is still a growing interest,” she adds.
“As the major worldwide content provider
of Turkish dramas, Kanal D has the widest catalogue.
—Tobias de Graaff
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KBS www.kbs.co.kr Love Rain
• Love Rain • Man from the Equator • Super Fish
A key focus for KBS at MIPTV is to reach clients in the Middle East and Oceania, as well as Europe, all areas where “the Korean wave did not penetrate yet,” says Oh-suk Kwon, the executive director and head of the content business division at KBS. While the KBS catalogue spans multiple genres, including entertainment, music and documentaries, it’s drama that tops the list. “We have historical costume dramas, which describe Korea’s long history; medical; action; teen series; and melodramas, which are our strength,” Kwon says. The drama Love Rain features the rising Asian star Jang Geun-Suk and YoonA, a member of the pop group Girls’ Generation.The drama Man from the Equator centers on best friends who become rivals. KBS is also showcasing the fivepart documentary Super Fish, which explores the relationship between humans and fish. Kwon cites a growing interest in kids’ programs as well. “We will look at the latest trends and consider what to buy and how to adapt it for making worldclass kids’ programs in Korea,” he says.
“ We want to discuss format and co-production opportunities along with program sales.”
“ We look forward to spending time with
• Anger Management • Boss • Nail Files
our established broadcast partners and to meeting new clients and forging new relationships.
Charlie Sheen has become one of the world’s most-watched stars, so it’s no wonder that interest is high for his new comedy Anger Management. The half-hour series, produced by Lionsgate Television, premieres on FX on June 28. “Anger Management in particular will be a key priority for us at MIPTV,” says Peter Iacono, the managing director of Lionsgate Television International.“With Charlie’s enormous talent and international appeal, a terrific premise and title, and a powerhouse creative team led by executive producer and showrunner Bruce Helford, we couldn’t be more excited about the worldwide potential for this series.” Lionsgate is also offering up the critically acclaimed series Boss, which is now in production for a second season. Kelsey Grammer won this year’s Golden Globe Award for best actor in a drama series for his starring role in the show. From the team behind Jersey Shore comes Nail Files, another stand-out title on the Lionsgate slate. In addition to these newer titles, Lionsgate continues to see increases in the demand for its flagship series Mad Men and Weeds, Iacono says.
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M-Net Sales www.mnetsales.com • The Wild • Crimes Uncovered • Jacob’s Cross
Over the last few years, M-Net has been on a vast buying campaign, with a focus on acquiring African film rights. The company’s catalogue includes the African Film Library (AFL), which houses more than 700 features, documentaries and short films. M-Net also produces and acquires TV content from a range of genres. At MIPTV, M-Net Sales will be focusing on the drama series The Wild, set against the backdrop of a beautiful South African game reserve, and Jacob’s Cross, about a South African-born businessman who is destined to create the next great African business empire. Also set in South Africa, the docu-drama Crimes Uncovered looks at crimes where perpetrators have been successfully captured and prosecuted. “We have very high expectations in terms of MIPTV,” says Mandy Roger, the sales and business-development manager at M-Net Sales. “We hope to meet and enter into strategic partnerships with the major international buyers in the market, increase M-Net Sales’ brand and program awareness, and put African content firmly on the map.”
“ In addition to M-Net’s increase in production budgets and program quality, we feel we offer something fresh and uniquely different than other distributors.
Mance Media www.mancemedia.com Bikini Destinations
• Bikini Destinations • The Parlotones: Dragonﬂies & Astronauts • Casual Maﬁa
Formed earlier this year, the Hollywood-based Mance Media is making its first trip to Cannes, though its CEO and president, Matthew Mancinelli, is no stranger to the industry. “We’re expecting a lot of activity at our new stand location, as I am debuting my new company and programming for the first time,” says Mancinelli, who started his career at Bennett Media Worldwide. For its inaugural outing, Mance Media will be bringing the lifestyle series Bikini Destinations.The show follows gorgeous swimsuit models as they explore exotic locales on calendar shoots and adventures around the world.The 3D rock opera The Parlotones: Dragonflies & Astronauts features the performance of 16 Top 40 hits at an event in South Africa. Mance Media is also offering the 2D rights for the 90minute production. If laughter is what buyers are after, a package of 26 three-minute comedy videos from the L.A.based sketch group Casual Mafia may fit the bill. Mancinelli points out that the videos are well suited for VOD, mobile and interstitials.
“ Mance Media is bringing over 200 hours
of HD programming to MIPTV, in addition to new native 3D titles available worldwide.
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MarVista Entertainment www.marvista.net Radio Rebel
• Radio Rebel • Seattle Superstorm • Power Rangers Super Samurai
“ The market gives us
the chance to meet with other content producers to source future projects and co-production opportunities.
The Power Rangers Samurai series is now airing in more than 150 countries worldwide, thanks to the sales efforts of MarVista Entertainment. The new series Power Rangers Super Samurai, which debuted in mid-February on Nickelodeon in the U.S., will be on offer from MarVista for buyers at MIPTV. There, the company will also be looking for pickups on Radio Rebel, a Disney Channel original movie starring Debby Ryan, as well as the disaster movie Seattle Superstorm, a Syfy Saturday original movie. Both titles were produced by MarVista Entertainment with Canadian coproduction partner Two 4 the Money Media. “We’ll be attending MIPTV with ten equally engaging new films across all genres to provide international buyers with a well-rounded film package that appeals to a broad spectrum of today’s television viewing public,” says Vanessa Goglio Shapiro, the executiveVP of sales at MarVista.“From disaster movies to romantic comedies, as our broadcast partners have come to expect, our movies feature strong story lines and a recognizable international cast.”
—Vanessa Goglio Shapiro
MediaBiz www.mediabiz.com.ar • Nine Moons • Cops and Robbers • Be Kind to Me
In the drama Nine Moons, a pair of obstetricians must deal with complex cases of pregnancy, all while a relationship between them begins to blossom. Mixing drama and comedy, Coffee Stories features various tales of people at coffee time, using the same bar as a meeting point. The police thriller Cops and Robbers weaves together a story of impossible love between a thief and a female police officer as part of an action-packed detective tale. For this market, MediaBiz will be focused on selling the formats of series and telenovelas like the ones named above, says Alex Lagomarsino, the company’s CEO. It will also be looking to secure sales from its catalogue of finished comedy, action and suspense, police and drama titles. Be Kind to Me is among these lead offerings. “On the other hand, MediaBiz as an entertainment-business agent continues exploring the opportunities—alliances, channels and coproductions—of new businesses and offering projectdevelopment assistance for international companies that would like to produce in Latin America,” Lagomarsino notes.
Be Kind to Me
“ Our shows’ extraordinary stories are
easily adaptable for different countries.
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Mentorn International www.mentorninternational.com • Storm City • How the Universe Works • World’s Scariest and Greatest
“ Buyers around the world continue to want high-quality content
from proven producers, especially with more specialist digital channels launching all the time. —David Leach
For broadcasters who are looking for 3D content, Mentorn International is offering up Storm City, a factual series that combines science and nature. “We are very excited to launch our first 3D series, Storm City,” says David Leach, the managing director of Mentorn. The 4x1-hour series “demonstrates the dramatic effect of natural disasters on buildings and people with reallife stories and a totally immersive experience for the viewer—and it’s also available in 2D HD.” Through the use of state-of-the-art technology, viewers can witness blow-by-blow damage of orchestrated natural disasters, captured by blast-proof cameras. Also in the science-and-nature category, How the Universe Works is now in its second season. Mentorn also has World’s Scariest and Greatest, an 8x1-hour HD title. “We’re lucky to have a very varied slate, from high-end science docs to popular factual entertainment, so we’re expecting to do good business again this year,” Leach says.
Miramax www.miramax.com Chicago
• Chicago • Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 • Good Will Hunting
Home to more than 700 motion pictures, the Miramax library has collectively received 284 Academy Award nominations and 68 Oscars.“Since 2012 represents Miramax’s first MIPTV, our growing sales organization is focused on fostering a broad range of relationships and opportunities for the celebrated library of motion pictures that Miramax is bringing to the market for the first time,” says Joe Patrick, the head of worldwide sales. “We are looking to establish direct relationships with TV channels and digital platforms around the world. We would also like to continue to assess and develop prospective branding opportunities with ondemand platforms and cable networks, and to initiate conversations with key broadcasters about upcoming Miramax titles.” Films included in the Miramax portfolio are Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, all starring Uma Thurman; Shakespeare in Love, Chicago, Good Will Hunting, The English Patient and No Country for Old Men. Last year, Miramax released three new films, including the critically acclaimed The Debt.
“ We are very excited
to be working with such a celebrated library and the many acclaimed titles we are bringing to the market.
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Multivisionnaire Media www.multivisionnaire.com • Heathens and Thieves • I Am Bad • Pirate Brothers
While Multivisionnaire Media is a multi-genre distributor, its sales efforts for MIPTV are focused on TV movies this time around. This includes Heathens and Thieves, which is packed full of cowboys, guns and horses. “Everyone loves a great western,” says Sean Haley, the managing partner of Multivisionnaire. Haley also highlights the thriller feature I Am Bad, which is shot entirely from the perspective of the killer. “Thrillers are on the rise worldwide, and this one is unique because you never see the serial killer, you are seeing everything from his eyes,” Haley says. Next up is the martial-arts action flick Pirate Brothers from Indonesia. “This feature has incredible fighting action, explosions and boat chases,” Haley notes. “Overall, our programming is designed to fulfill the multiple needs of each buyer as they program their slate for the coming year,” says Haley. “We handle over 250 hours of programming, and our titles are ready and current.”
I Am Bad
“ Multivisionnaire provides a wide variety of titles, from action to thrillers, from sexy to drama.
New Films International www.newﬁlmsint.com
A Novel Romance
Lionsgate-TISA Television International recently entered into a far-reaching exclusive agreement to represent at least 20 new theatrical films from New Films International (NFI) in the Latin American marketplace. The deal provides Lionsgate-TISA with the exclusive TV rights across all platforms including free, pay, pay per view, VOD and mobile. Among the titles covered in the pact are 27 Club, A Novel Romance, Age of Kali and American Cowslip. “NFI is continually expanding its scope, both in terms of our acquisitions and in-house productions,” says Nesim Hason, the president of NFI. “Having such a strong international partner in Lionsgate is ideal, as both of our companies are poised to bring intelligently branded, high-quality content to the marketplace in great volume.” Hason adds, “In a very short time, we have already witnessed an extremely successful rollout of NFI feature films in Latin America…. We’re excited to follow a similar pattern of success as we expand our partnership to include Lionsgate in Germany, France and the U.K.”
“ NFI is continually expanding its scope.”
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Opus Distribution www.opusdistribution.com Hoodlum & Son
• Peakviewing Transatlantic library • Ring of Honor • Peloton
A few months back, Opus Distribution acquired the Peakviewing Transatlantic library of films. The slate includes 19 movie titles, which Opus now holds the worldwide rights for. In the catalogue are such titles as Beauty and the Beast, The Christmas Stallion, The Last Leprechaun and Hoodlum & Son. Opus will be at MIPTV ready to close new deals from the Peakviewing Transatlantic catalogue. “Additionally, Opus represents the best in professional wrestling with Ring of Honor, a new program that is produced weekly by one of the largest broadcasters, the Sinclair Broadcast Group,” says Ken DuBow, the president of Opus Distribution. The company is also presenting Peloton, about an amateur cyclist. DuBow says his goals for the market are to “sell, sell, sell, and continue on the growth path I set forth in 2009 with the inception of Opus. MIPTV is especially important because it will be the final chance to see many broadcast clients prior to the summer.”
“ In just over two
years, Opus has begun building a large library of broadcastfriendly films, with the number of titles now approaching 50.
ORF-Enterprise contentsales.orf.at Kings of the Masai Mara
• Limits of Light • Kings of the Masai Mara • Danube: Europe’s Amazon
As the international distributor on behalf of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), ORF-Enterprise Content Sales International offers an extensive range of programs from all genres. “With a main office in Vienna and sales agents in various territories, our sales team successfully operates around the globe,” says Marion Camus-Oberdorfer, the head of Content Sales International. “Our main target is the close understanding of special market requirements per territory and the intimate knowledge of our customers’ needs and feeds. Because service is our success!” There’s a trio of highlights coming from the documentary slate: Limits of Light, which explores strange worlds in the universe, as well as Danube: Europe’s Amazon and Kings of the Masai Mara. “ORF-Enterprise Content Sales International has gained many valuable experiences in the first year of its existence as commercial affiliate and representative of ORF’s programs and distributor for independent producers,” Camus-Oberdorfer says.
“ For MIPTV 2012 we expect to build on
our success of the previous years and to enchant international buyers with our new and exciting range of programs.
—Marion Camus-Oberdorfer 66
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Osiris Entertainment www.osirisent.com Suspicion
• Suspicion • All God’s Creatures • The Twenty
Osiris Entertainment has a goal to bring two to three new films to the market every month, according to Evan Crooke, the company’s founder and CEO.This effort has resulted in a diverse slate that covers thrillers, dramas and more. Suspicion stars Brad Blaisdell (Inspector Gadget, The Negotiator) as Darrell Jacobs, a retired mobster living in Phoenix. Battling cancer, he quietly roams the downtown and frequents his favorite café, where he meets a young waitress.The two form a friendship that winds up exposing Darrell’s true identity and puts him in a state of panic about his safety. Another thriller title, All God’s Creatures, is set in New York City. It follows Jon Smith, who is a barista by day but savagely kills “filthy women” by night. He meets a young prostitute and must confront the monster that lives inside him. Osiris is also highlighting the drama The Twenty, about a man struggling with his sobriety who finds a mysterious message on a twenty-dollar bill. He starts a quest to uncover the meaning, meeting a cast of interesting characters.
“ We are pleased to offer strong independent films with a variety of genres and seasoned actors.
Playboy Plus Entertainment www.ptvioriginals.com • Foursome • The Stash • Badass!
MIPTV will be the coming-out party for the new outfit Playboy Plus. “Under this brand we have rights to sell the Playboy-produced library that our clients have come to know as the leaders in soft erotic content with the best production value out there,” says Marisa Tamburro, the director of sales and marketing. “In addition, we have several hardcore brands we represent. Brazzers is the world leader in online adult content and now its vast library is available for all TV rights.We have Twistys, Mofos and the recent acquisition of Digital Playground, well known for their bigbudget, high-end adult films.” Tamburro says she’s seen strong interest in reality shows continue.“We’ve answered our buyers’ demands and are producing new seasons of their favorite series.” This includes Foursome, The Stash and Badass! With 13 new episodes in Foursome’s fifth season, the company will have a total of 56 half-hour episodes available by summer. The Stash has also proven to be a strong show, entering into its second season. Badass! has a third season in production.
“ Our main focus is reality-based series; we’ve seen this genre still dominating in sales.”
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Power www.powcorp.com Treasure Island
• Treasure Island • Neverland • 7 Below
Two well-known tales take on bold new iterations in Power’s lead drama titles for MIPTV, Treasure Island and Neverland. The pirate adventure Treasure Island stars Eddie Izzard and Elijah Wood. “It achieved Sky1’s seventh-highest viewing figures ever for original drama when it premiered in January,” says Susan Waddell, Power’s CEO. Neverland is the prequel to the much-loved story of Peter Pan, featuring Rhys Ifans and Keira Knightley. Both are 2x2-hour productions. Power is also presenting 7 Below, a supernatural thriller starring Val Kilmer, Ving Rhames and Luke Goss, alongside the cyber-terrorism action-thriller Blackout, starring James Brolin and Billy Zane. Other titles on Power’s slate include Blood Money and Camelot, both in the action genre. “Power is also proud to announce its entry into the factual market with 200 hours of content,” Waddell adds. This slate includes its first 3D program, Dragons 3D, and seasons one through four of The Cheetah Diaries.
“ Power is renowned for its big-budget, star-cast TV movies, series and miniseries.
Rainbow Releasing www.rainbowreleasing.com Just 45 Minutes from Broadway
• Just 45 Minutes from Broadway • Queen of the Lot • The Rainbow Film Company library
Currently in post-production, Just 45 Minutes from Broadway stars Judd Nelson, of The Breakfast Club fame, alongside Tanna Frederick, Diane Salinger and Jack Heller. Rainbow Releasing will have the worldwide rights available for MIPTV buyers. Sharon Lester, Rainbow’s director of distribution, is also betting on Queen of the Lot to drum up interest. Henry Jaglom directed the film, which stars Noah Wyle,Tanna Frederick and Peter Bogdanovich. The catalogue also includes the Rainbow Film Company library, which features the works of such renowned stars as Vanessa Redgrave, Orson Welles, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and many others. The company has more than 20 years of experience in distributing high-quality independent films. Its slate has documentaries, like Hearts and Minds, from the Academy Award–winner Peter Davis, and Phyllis and Harold; dramas such as Tracks, starring Academy Award–nominee Dennis Hopper; and comedies, including Someone to Love, starring Orson Welles.
“ Rainbow Releasing has remastered
all of its titles in HDCAM SR for international broadcast licensing, and the goal at MIPTV is to exploit these titles worldwide.
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RCN Televisión www.canalrcnmsn.com/ventasinternacionales • Three Miracles •The Butterﬂy •The Blessed Ones
The story of three girls named Milagros, who were born on the same day in different and distant homes, is told in Three Miracles. The 57x1-hour series, a lead title from RCN Televisión, follows as destiny unites the trio, who share their love for the same man. It stars Johana Bahamón, Angélica Blandón and Farina Franco. As for other highlights, María Lucía Hernández, the international sales director at RCN Televisión, points to the 60x1-hour series The Butterfly. “The show is currently on air, garnering good results in prime time with a 16.5 rating and 40.4 share,” she says. The Butterfly is a love story marked by crimes and lies. The lead character is the elegant, intelligent and attractive head of a money-laundering network. Hernández adds, “We have new product, with The Blessed Ones, House Man, Wait For Me!, From Riches to Rags and Policeman of Heart. These productions will surely attract international buyers.”
“ At MIPTV we’ll be showcasing original, diverse and successful
stories like Three Miracles, one the most-watched shows in Colombia in 2011.
—María Lucía Hernández
Rive Gauche Television www.rivegauchetelevision.com Happily Never After
• Happily Never After • Operation Osmin • House Blend
Happily Never After, a series that reveals true tales of matrimonial murder and some of the most heartbreaking crimes of love gone horribly wrong, will be available to buyers from Rive Gauche Television. The series features interviews and dramatic re-creations, taking viewers through the romantic courtship, wedding and the sinister events that led to murder. “I am pleased to say that we are coming to the market with a strong slate this year,” says David Auerbach, the president of Rive Gauche.The company is offering Operation Osmin, an extreme weight-loss series in which ordinary people endure the most difficult transformations of their lives. The format House Blend is about couples with children from a previous marriage who want support to move forward with their relationships. In each episode, a couple will swap children for a week to gain experience parenting children who aren’t their own. After a week, children from both sides meet up and vote on whether they approve of their parents’ romance.
“ We have some
exciting new series, some ground-breaking new formats and new orders of additional episodes for our returning brands.
—David Auerbach 72
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RTVE www.rtve.es • Isabel • Love in Difﬁcult Times • Remember When…
Narrating the life of one of the most important women in the history of Spain, Isabel tells the story of Queen Isabella the Catholic. The first season leads up to her marriage to Fernando of Aragon and her coronation as Queen of Castile. “One of the most important periods of history is captured in 13 chapters for prime time with a fast-paced narration, magnificent interpretation and a meticulous setting,” says Rodolfo Domínguez, the commercial director of RTVE. The show is among the highlights RTVE is presenting at MIPTV, where it will also be showcasing Love in Difficult Times, set within the time of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. “This is a daily series starring a great cast that combines young actors and some of the biggest names in Spanish acting,” says Domínguez.“Painstaking, rigorous documentation went into this series, setting a new standard for the quality one expects from TVE fiction.”After several years of success, Remember When… has now reached its 12th season.
“ These products
are made with the highest quality.
—Rodolfo Domínguez Remember When...
Russia Television and Radio/SOVTELEEXPORT sales.vgtrk.com/en Life and Fate
• The Spy • The White Guard • Life and Fate
SOVTELEEXPORT is the distribution arm of Russia Television and Radio/VGTRK, the biggest stateowned media holding of the Russian Federation. The outfit represents a catalogue of more than 10,000 hours of high-quality Russian productions. Among the highlights of the portfolio is The White Guard, based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s eponymous novel as well as his popular play Days of the Turbins. The action starts as civil war breaks out in Russia, and a town is torn apart by German invaders, Ukrainian Nationalists and the Communists.Life and Fate has been adapted from Vasily Grossman’s classic novel of the same name, which was actually banned in the Soviet Union. The action takes place in the 1940s and the characters are involved in the Battle of Stalingrad. The detective adventure The Spy is set in 1941 and tells the tale of a top German espionage agent and two mavericks—a greenhorn boxer and an experienced spy—who are the NKGB’s last hope for setting things right.
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Saban Brands www.sabanbrands.com • Power Rangers Super Samurai
“ We look at MIPTV as an essential
The Power Rangers franchise continues to deliver for Saban Brands, according to Frederic Soulie, the company’s VP of distribution. “Last year, we relaunched Power Rangers with Power Rangers Samurai. In the last 12 months, Power Rangers Samurai has become the number one boys’ action series, airing in about 150 markets worldwide. This year, we’re presenting our latest season: Power Rangers Super Samurai. We debuted it in the U.S., on Nickelodeon, on February 18, and the show’s success continues as the number one boys’ action series.” A global rollout for Power Rangers Super Samurai is now under way, Soulie adds. Soulie is looking forward to MIPTV as an opportunity to connect with current partners and forge some new relationships as well. “MIPTV lets us connect with our international licensees for our brands (Power Rangers and Paul Frank), meet new distributors for home entertainment and explore new digital distribution platforms, which have become a key area of focus for Saban Brands,” he says. More acquisitions are in the works for the company.
platform to connect with current and future broadcasters and share the success of Power Rangers worldwide.
Power Rangers Super Samurai
Scripps Networks International www.scrippsnetworks.com Million Dollar Contractor
• Selling Spelling Manor • Million Dollar Contractor • The Pioneer Woman
There are nearly a dozen new titles on Scripps Networks International’s slate, most of which have not been available in the market before. Among them, Selling Spelling Manor gives viewers a voyeuristic look into one of Hollywood’s most infamous mansions. In a similar vein is Million Dollar Contractor, which Bob Baskerville, the company’s COO, describes as a “rip ’em up type of show but done in really high-dollar real-estate areas of New York City.” He adds, “A show that is a big favorite in my own house and many others here in the States, and one we think is going to resonate well internationally, is The Pioneer Woman.” MIPTV marks the continuation of Scripps’ relationship with Passion Distribution, “which is a great sales partner for us and a highly credentialed organization,” says Baskerville. “With all of our networks now being sold by one organization, and arguably with our deepest catalogue offering in our history at MIPTV, we believe that we can drive revenues to new heights while letting other distributors around the world offer even more lifestyle content to their viewers.”
“ These are shows that perform well for us
in the U.S., and we think they’re going to present exciting opportunities in terms of their popularity overseas.
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SevenOne International www.71int.com • Lilyhammer • Betty White’s Off Their Rockers • What If?
“ SevenOne International stands for fresh programming.”
Based on the International Emmy Award–winning format Benidorm Bastards, the series Betty White’s Off Their Rockers is led by a global comedic icon.The eponymous star orchestrates a band of fearless senior citizens as they pull pranks on unsuspecting youngsters. SevenOne International is presenting the title alongside Lilyhammer, billed as the “ultimate fishout-of-water story.” Jens Richter, the managing director of SevenOne, says, “Lilyhammer’s Norwegian premiere reached an all-time-high for NRK1 and the best ratings for a Norwegian-made drama series ever! The following episodes performed even stronger.Viewers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America can already watch this great dramedy via the streaming platform Netflix and it will soon air on the BBC.” Another SevenOne title with proven ratings success is What If?, from the creator of Benidorm Bastards. “What If?’s ratings on 2BE in Belgium went through the roof, with the reruns on vtm still reaching 39 percent in the commercial target group, and it also had skyrocketing ratings on RTL 4 in the Netherlands,” Richter says.
—Jens Richter What If?
Smithsonian Channel www.smithsonianchannel.com Titanoboa: Monster Snake
• Forensic Firsts • Titanoboa: Monster Snake • MLK: The Assassination Tapes
Measuring 48 feet long and weighing in at 2,500 pounds, the gigantic Titanoboa snake is being called one of the greatest discoveries since the T. rex.The fossils were uncovered in a Colombian coal mine and the serpent is the focus of the new Smithsonian Channel special Titanoboa: Monster Snake. Other Smithsonian highlights include Forensic Firsts and MLK:The Assassination Tapes. David Royle, the executive VP of programming and production at Smithsonian Channel, says,“Our hallmark is strong visual and dramatic storytelling, whether we’re breaking the exclusive story of the largest snake the world has ever seen, in Titanoboa, or using unseen footage to tell the tragic events behind the assassination of Martin Luther King, or investigating breakthroughs in forensic science and its impact on solving crimes.” Royle says the channel is also looking for compelling new nonfiction programs, in a wide variety of genres.“Coproductions are a key part of our strategy, and we will be seeking new partnerships as well as remaining open to opportunities to join existing programming collaborations,” he adds.
“ Smithsonian Channel is growing rapidly, and our increasing
production output is reflected in the variety of programs we have at MIPTV.
—David Royle 4/12
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Tandem Communications www.tandemcom.de • World Without End • Labyrinth • Titanic: Blood and Steel
Continuing its relationship with the author Ken Follett,Tandem Communications is highlighting World Without End. The production has been presold in more than 120 territories and will be ready for delivery in the third quarter of 2012.The event mini-series Labyrinth, based on the international best-selling novel by the author Kate Mosse, is also going to be ready in Q3.The event series Titanic: Blood and Steel will be ready to air worldwide to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the legendary ship. “These three titles are all extremely well-produced programs, each with internationally known casts, great scripts, superb production values,” says Rola Bauer, the president of Tandem.
“ In all our meetings we continue to have an excellent dialogue
with our clients, listen to their news and trends and speak with them about several possible new Tandem titles currently in development. —Rola Bauer
Tele München International www.tmg.de • Helicopter Rescue • Cosmos • Hubert & Staller
“ There are excellent productions coming out of the German-language territories. ”
From wildlife documentaries to dramas, Tele München (TM) International is offering up the full range of products. The doc series Helicopter Rescue takes viewers along on an action-packed aerial ride. From the award-winning filmmaker and professor Dr. Kurt Mündl comes Cosmos. Michael Oesterlin, the executive VP of international sales, calls Cosmos “an intriguing and spectacularly photographed wildlife documentary series.” What he describes as “a drily humorous ‘whodunnit’ police series produced for ARD entitled Hubert & Staller” is another of the highlights. TM International is also emphasizing the newest addition to the Rosamunde Pilcher franchise, The Other Wife.
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Telefe International www.telefeinternational.com.ar • Candy Love • Mistreated • The Man of Your Dreams
Telefe International’s key strengths lie in three areas, according to Michelle Wasserman, the company’s head of international business, programming, formats and production services. “On one hand, we offer a growing and diversified catalogue with successful products like Candy Love, which is leading the Argentinian prime-time; high quality series such as The Man of Your Dreams and Mistreated; and innovative comedies such as Graduates, created by the team behind The Successful Mr. and Mrs. Pells and A Year to Remember.” Wasserman also points out that the company has a strength in that its titles are all easy to adapt. “We have been able to adapt our formats throughout the world,” she says.
“ We consider MIPTV to be synonymous with opportunities.”
Televisa Internacional www.televisainternacional.tv •Abyss of Passion •A Shelter for Love •CQ
For more than 50 years, Televisa Internacional’s telenovelas have been striking a chord with viewers (and buyers!) worldwide. Televisa continues this legacy with its latest crop of shows for the global market, which includes Abyss of Passion.The love story is set in a small, picturesque village dedicated to the growth of habanero chiles. Like the pepper, the town is hot and the passion of its inhabitants is, too.Televisa is also looking to shore up new sales for the classic novela A Shelter for Love and the teen comedy CQ. The latter is about the adventures of eight high-school students. Each represents a different type of character, all of whom live in the same crazy, fun universe called CQ.
Abyss of Passion
A Shelter for Love
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Televisa Networks www.televisanetworks.tv • Canal de las Estrellas • TL Novelas • Telehit
Televisa Networks operates a slew of channels, including TL Novelas, home to more than 600 soap-opera titles.The channel programs content for children and teens as well as period soaps, classic and prime-time series.Telehit promises a perfect balance between entertainment and music, airing series for youngsters, exclusive shows, the most successful music videos in English and Spanish, concerts, interviews and the latest news of the music industry. Billed as the most complete entertainment channel for the whole family, Canal de las Estrellas features soap operas, news casts, music shows, specials and sport events, comedy shows and competition programs.Two of the highlight series from Canal de las Estrellas are Darling Sweetheart and Double Life.
The Television Syndication Company www.tvsco.com • A.J.’s Time Travelers • ValCom Pictures • Michel Legrand Is Music
A full-service syndication-and-distribution organization, The Television Syndication Company (TVS) has a slate of projects from ValCom Pictures to present. A.J.’s Time Travelers follows a geeky high-school student who discovers a time-traveling machine. Also from the ValCom catalogue, Michel Legrand Is Music is a tribute to the threetime Academy Award-winner and musical icon, narrated by Jon Voight. A bevy of famous stars also appear in the film package that TVS is bringing to the market from ValCom. “Genres range from action-adventure to comedy to holiday feature films, so there is something for everyone,” says Cassie Yde, the president of TVS.
A.J.’s Time Travelers
“ TVS is representing three
great projects from ValCom Pictures that have achieved phenomenal results on U.S. television.
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Tricon Films & Television www.triconﬁlms.com • Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays • Ice Cold Cash • Metal Evolution
For MIPTV, Tricon Films & Television is bringing out “one of our strongest slates ever,” says Lia Dolente, the manager of international sales. “Though we have programs from a number of genres, from lifestyle and documentary series to scripted comedy, they are all similar in their production value and wide audience appeal.” In the way of scripted comedy, Tricon is presenting Michael:Tuesdays & Thursdays, a half-hour series produced by Rhombus Media. Ice Cold Cash is a food-themed trivia game show, currently with 28 half-hour episodes. For music lovers, the 11x1-hour Metal Evolution is billed as the definitive history of heavy metal music, from the highly acclaimed Banger Films.
Ice Cold Cash
“ Judging by how busy our meetings schedule is, we are looking forward to an energetic market. ”
twofour54 www.twofour54.com • Driver Dan’s Story Train
The Abu Dhabi-based twofour54 works to introduce international producers to the prospects in the Middle East and North Africa by highlighting the emerging opportunities that can be found in the region.“Twofour54 facilitates highcaliber production through our state-of-the-art production facilities to encourage and support the development and production of high-quality content for the local and international market in various languages,” says Wayne Borg, the deputy CEO and chief operating officer at twofour54. An example is Driver Dan’s Story Train, which was produced in the U.K. by 3Line Media with Blink Studios, a twofour54 partner company based in Abu Dhabi. “Blink came on board to produce the Arabic version and also to contribute scripts, storybooks, illustrations and animation to the second series,” Borg explains.
“ As there is renewed market growth and
interest from broadcasters in commissioning and acquiring content, twofour54 acts to facilitate the content-creation process.
Driver Dan’s Story Train
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Upside Television www.upsidetelevision.fr • Through Your Eyes • Unclaimed Baggage • Can’t Live Without Them
Originality, creativity and high entertainment value are the key strengths of Upside Television’s MIPTV catalogue, according to Christophe Bochnacki, the head of sales and acquisitions. “TV channels are looking today for gamechanging content to create special events and exclusive rendezvous with their viewers. We have it,” he says. In a unique take on the traditional travel series, Through Your Eyes is led by Sophie, a blind journalist, and her Dalmatian, Pongo. Also being showcased is the one-hour prime-time special Unclaimed Baggage, an investigation into the story of Marilyn Monroe’s mysterious trunk. Can’t Live Without Them is a prime-time scripted format telling the story of a modern family.
Through Your Eyes
“ Through Your Eyes is a show that will shake up your schedule!
For the first time in television the viewer will experience the world differently.
Venevision International www.venevisioninternational.com • The Talisman • Passions of the Heart • Natalia
The world premiere of the telenovela The Talisman was seen by more than 5 million viewers.Venevision International is offering the series for buyers at MIPTV. The novela is produced by the Miami-based Venevision Productions, which is also behind Passions of the Heart. The latter “features a renowned cast of international stars and a universally appealing story line that is sure to capture audiences around the world,” says Cesar Diaz, the VP of sales at Venevision. “Another highlight of our proposal,” he continues,“is the telenovela Natalia, produced by our broadcaster inVenezuela, Venevision, which recently had to extend the production of this ‘rag-to-riches’ novela due to its overwhelming popularity; it’s a big hit!”
“ We are and will continue to be
recognized as a leading producer of internationally successful telenovelas.
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WWE www.wwe.com • WWE TV Series • WWE PPV Specials • WWE Sponsorship & Digital Opportunities
Over the last year, WWE’s flagship programming has extended its reach with launches in Brazil, Russia and Indonesia, among other markets. “Our longest running weekly show, WWE Raw, has reached its milestone thousandth episode,” announces Ed Wells, the seniorVP and managing director of international operations. Other weekly flagship titles include SmackDown and Superstars, alongside the highlight shows AfterBurn, BottomLine and WWE Experience and the reality series NXT and Tough Enough. “In addition to our weekly television programming, PPVs and movies, we are also at the cutting edge of developments in digital technology and are constantly looking at new business models within the mobile and online arenas,” adds Wells.
WWE Raw SmackDown
“ WWE continues to be a
leading and innovative content provider for worldwide platforms, airing in more than 145 countries and in over 30 different languages.
ZDF Enterprises www.zdf-enterprises.de • Straight to Your Heart • Holy War • Figaro Pho
This year, ZDF Enterprises is aiming straight for buyers’ hearts, with its Spring Feelings programming slate.Topping the list is Straight to Your Heart, which is the new name for the hit daily soap Forbidden Love. “With its fresh new faces and stronger accent on glamour, it epitomizes our MIPTV thematic block Spring Feelings, which unites top-quality viewing aimed chiefly at female viewers,” says Alexander Coridass, the president and CEO of ZDF Enterprises. “Leading our documentary lineup is the five-part Holy War series, which takes a penetrating look at the conflicts between Islam and Christianity, an important program for our time. As for our children’s programs, my special tip is Figaro Pho, a whimsical animated series.”
“ By cultivating our
established program sectors, we give buyers a sense of continuity.
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in the news
MAKING HEADLINES IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY BY ANNA CARUGATI
Chris Albrecht When Chris Albrecht joined Starz LLC as president and CEO, in 2010, one of his main priorities was to produce high-end original programming. Having shepherded shows such as The Sopranos and Sex and the City at HBO, he wanted to send a message to the creative community that Starz was open for business. Albrecht talks to World Screen about his strategy for producing series that will brand Starz and attract viewers searching for quality entertainment.
WS: How is Starz positioning itself in the pay-TV market? What opportunities lie between HBO and Showtime? ALBRECHT: I look at HBO as being the “we’ve got everything” premium television channel: they’ve got movies, big dramas, comedies, late night, documentaries, movies, mini-series. That not only works well for them but it is imperative for them to stay that way because anything else now would be perceived as less than. I look at Showtime as having done a really good job in original programming. They’ve got a lot of quirky shows and now have dramas that are a departure from some of the shows they have done before—certainly Homeland is one of them. They don’t have, however, as big a quantity of first-run theatrical movies. So Starz, which has deals with two studios, Disney and Sony, and has a lot of first-run theatrical movies, is now also entering original programming. For us it’s a chance to augment our brand but also make it seem a little more seamless. Our originals are big, theatrical, quality shows that aren’t trying to be overly realistic, or take a real intimate look at a given world. They are big, fun crowdpleasers, and provide a little bit of an escape for the audience. We will distinguish ourselves from the other premium channels and at the same time make it a little easier for the audience to understand what Starz is. 92
WS: And the original programming helps brand the channel. ALBRECHT: For sure, original programming is what helps you to gain some attention, what helps you be unique within the different brands, but I don’t think it’s about any one program, per se. It’s about the whole offering in and of itself—movies are going to be an important part of what we do and the original programming is going to be an important part of what we do, and the two will hopefully go together on Starz in a way that makes us identifiable. WS: You ordered eight episodes of Boss without seeing a
pilot. What do you need to see or hear in a pitch that makes you take a risk on something? ALBRECHT: We did the same thing with Magic City and we are doing the same thing with Da Vinci’s Demons. It’s becoming our model. I sit in a room with the person who is going to be responsible for delivering the show, who is the writer-producer, and we talk about the show. If they have written a script, the conversation and the script have to be consistent. In other words, what the writer tells me the show is about has to be reflected in the script.We sit and talk about the script and the writer can expand on it and the ideas are not only ones that I would never have, but are ones that I say, “Wow, that is such a great idea,” and I get excited. I’ve said for a long time, the worst creative meetings are the ones in which I have the best ideas, because I don’t actually do anything other than sit in the meeting. Not producing a pilot is a giant leap and that’s a bit of a learning curve, because you are not able to actually look at the show before you are well down the road. If you are trying to have a consistent dialogue with your creative person, and you have a script, you can talk about it. If you then make a pilot, you can talk about the pilot.You can look at dailies. But if you don’t have a pilot, you don’t really have another chance to talk about the show until you see a cut of the first episode, and by that time, because of the financial necessities of the production, you are probably shooting the third or fourth episode. The real challenge is that we are learning on the go. We are hopefully getting better at it. The most frustrating thing for me as a person, and certainly as an executive, is to make the same mistake multiple times. And when you make a show, you have no control; you are relying on the talents of others. So not producing a pilot is definitely a much more adventurous road to take, but it’s one that we are committed to, it’s one that I think is fun and exciting. Certainly it’s an attraction for writers who want to come and talk to us about their shows. It isn’t risky as much as it is a bolder way of approaching it, although to be completely honest, if I had unlimited funds, I would go for a pilot, it’s definitely a hedge. WS: Producing a show requires a certain amount of alchemy more than formula.
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in the news
Miami heat: Starz has lined up an international cast for its latest original, the ‘60sera Magic City.
ALBRECHT: There is certainly a bit of magic that needs to happen. I think the magic is a function of a lot of talented people coming together at one time. But I do think that a successful, high-quality, long-running series is the hardest thing in show business, because you have to keep making them over and over and over again. There are so many pitfalls that come not only from a creative point of view but also from a business point of view—negotiations, contracts end, people go off and do other things. WS: And as a series gets more successful, there are more
challenges, both creative and financial? ALBRECHT: Right, and in an advertiser-supported
model, you can theoretically charge more money for the commercial time. In the premium-television model, there is no way to offset that increase, so the pressure on the show becomes even greater—it [had] better become really, really successful. Again, it depends on how much money you have. Can you afford to keep something on the air because it adds to the network’s image? Can you afford to keep something on because you like it? Can you afford to keep something on because you think it will eventually be worth a lot of money somewhere down the road? The downstream markets for premium television shows have been either international sales or DVD. There have really been only two shows—HBO’s Sex and the City and The Sopranos—that have had any kind of U.S. secondary window. Sex and the City was successful [in its secondary window], but The Sopranos was not. Pay-TV shows don’t have the ancillary revenue to offset costs, so it is a problem that is inherent with successful series. WS: If you have international partners, are you able to
offset some of that risk? ALBRECHT: International partners can help offset the
risk going in. The trade-off is that you’re capping the 94
amount of money you can make from international in most deals. There may be some increases, but if the show is wildly successful, you are not going to get the benefit of that. If Starz were to fully finance a show on its own, we would be taking an additional risk if the show weren’t successful for us, or if we couldn’t sell it internationally. But we are also unfortunately taking the risk that if the show is very successful, we’ll see someone else get a really good deal. Now if you have a partner, that’s not a bad thing, but you are trading off some of the upside. It’s the same thing in the movie business—a lot of U.S. independents presell international rights to get movies made. Yes, you are definitely limiting the downside, but as the international marketplace becomes a bigger part of the final revenue for theatricals, and now for television shows, you are definitely capping your upside. WS: Are there any upcoming originals you want to
highlight? ALBRECHT: We hope that Magic City resonates with
our audiences in the U.S. and with international buyers because that is a show that we own all rights to. We’re really hoping that the acclaim for Boss—the Golden Globe nominations and Kelsey Grammer’s win—can make people more aware of that show. The next group of programs that we have announced, Da Vinci’s Demons and Marco Polo, although similar in some ways that people might suppose, are actually similar in some ways that might surprise people, which is this chance to take a look at an iconic figure in world history and bring the audience into a really interesting world in a very fun way that can illuminate and entertain. I hope all of these shows, Magic City included, but certainly Da Vinci’s Demons and Marco Polo, can start to be emblematic of the types of things that people will think of when they think of Starz. One of the great advantages we had at HBO was that after we had put Oz and a couple of other shows on the air, creators thought, “Oh wow! I can do that there!” I think our shows will get the creative community to say, “Oh my God, I’ve got a great idea for Starz!” And that will make my job a lot easier, because then there will be people coming in and I’ll have way more stuff than I’ll ever be able to handle! We have a few things in development that are near the decision point that I am hopeful for. If we can get the attention for these shows and be able to continue with a few of them because they are successful, then we will be able to add to them and really have this identifiable, homogenous brand that the audience starts to gravitate towards, not just on a perprogram basis, but on an overall brand basis.
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A LOOK AT INNOVATION IN THE TELEVISION INDUSTRY BY ANNA CARUGATI
advertisers—without really strong local productions. Because you control them, you do control the way they shape your brand. And because you control them, you do control the way you integrate your customers into them. The days of selling 30-second spots are over. Customers want more and unless you can deliver you will get left behind.
Tim Worner Australia’s Seven Network recently accomplished something most other networks around the world never have: it had the top ratings in every demographic in every week of the 2011 season. Tim Worner, who was the director of programming and production before being appointed CEO of Seven Network Television last year, is responsible for Seven as well as for the digital channels 7TWO and 7mate. He talks to World Screen about the power of good programming and savvy promotion.
WS: A number of international program buyers no
longer want volume deals with the Hollywood studios. WORNER: I can see situations where output or volume
deals make great sense. I think if you have good partners who are able to deliver consistently and take the time and trouble to really understand your business, they can work well enough. If you’re not getting a steady stream of bankable shows, it is going to become obvious pretty quickly that the sums do not add up. And they can be considerable sums.
WS: What have been Seven’s pro-
gramming and scheduling strengths? WORNER: The big event franchises have served us very well, especially shows like Australia’s Got Talent, The X Factor and My Kitchen Rules.They have allowed us to build a really strong platform in the early part of prime time on weeknights and it’s tough for the opposition to pull back that advantage. When you have Home and Away there five nights a week and My Kitchen Rules booming straight out of it four nights a week, you have the very best launchpad for the rest of prime time. My Kitchen Rules has now dominated for three series and has actually grown from each series to the next. It amazes me that broadcasters around the world have basically ignored it. WS: What have viewers come to expect from Seven? WORNER: I think our group has a really strong under-
standing of what our brand is, a really clear idea of what belongs on Seven. In development meetings, it’s really common to hear an idea described as “not a Seven show” or “a really Seven show.” We don’t take ourselves too seriously as a brand, we’re a bit irreverent and we like to have fun and we think viewers have responded to that. But the main thing is we are different from the opposition. WS: How important are original productions? WORNER: They are absolutely critical. If you look at the
top performing programs in Australia they are almost all, with the notable exception of Downton Abbey, Australian productions.This is not to say that U.S. or U.K. product has become useless. That is far from the case. But it is to say that you cannot make strides—with either audiences or 96
WS: What have you learned about how viewers are watching Seven’s programming from your catch-up TV service? WORNER: We’ve learned there is a lot of love for our serialized shows. Shows like Home and Away over-perform in this area. The other phenomenon we’ve seen is the watercooler effect becoming far more pronounced far more quickly. If there is a major controversial incident on one of these reality franchises and it attracts a lot of morning radio or social-media comment, the catch-up TV numbers for that episode will spike instantly and steeply. WS: When you are launching a new show, how do you
give it maximum exposure? WORNER: We have changed the way we operate in a
big way.We used to use our own airtime and some radio and that was about it.Those days are long gone. Now we look under every rock and stone for potential viewers and that means taking advantage of Yahoo!7, our online joint venture with Yahoo! The sneak peek has become a very powerful weapon. Having said that, nothing is anywhere near as powerful as a superbly executed promo on your own channel—nothing even comes close to it. WS: What kind of increases are you seeing in stream-
ing shows online, and is this incremental to the viewing on Seven’s linear channels? WORNER: I wouldn’t say that there has been a steep or a sharp increase in the streaming of shows online. Our catch-up service numbers are growing but I wouldn’t say the growth is getting away from us. Or that the acceleration of the trend is alarming. All too often this growth seems to be reported with almost breathless hysteria along with the inference that conventional television is dead. I don’t think so. In fact, working together both platforms have the potential to become more powerful.
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CELEBRATING THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF LEADING MEDIA COMPANIES BY ANNA CARUGATI
Years of SPT’s
Andy Kaplan AXN first launched in Asia in 1997 and has since rolled out feeds in India, Latin America and much of Europe. Its successful programming mix of high-quality, highenergy entertainment, featuring the best U.S. series and blockbuster movies, quickly expanded to include numerous popular original productions. The AXN brand also grew with the launches of channels like AXN HD, AXN Crime, AXN Sci-Fi and AXN Beyond. Today, the channel, owned by Sony Pictures Television, has reached such scale and reach that it is viewed as a co-production partner by major networks and producers. Andy Kaplan, the president of networks at Sony Pictures Television, has overseen a great deal of AXN’s growth. He talks about the strengths of the brand as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.
WS: AXN is turning 15. What factors have contributed to its success? KAPLAN: It probably sounds obvious, but great programming and marketing.We have created a very strong brand identity with AXN, which now in the minds of viewers around the world equals high-quality, high-octane programming.We were fortunate to acquire the broadcast rights to franchise shows like Lost and CSI in most of our territories and they resonated strongly with the audiences. From there, we’ve continued to acquire the best programming out there and our audience knows that when they tune in to AXN, they’ll see the highest quality drama there is. WS: What advantages has Sony had by being one of the earlier players in the international channel business? KAPLAN: The early-mover advantage is very, very significant. Being in a market early not only allows you to get the prime analog real estate but it also allows you to become known to audiences which are new to multichannel pay 98
television. As time goes on, you become a staple of their viewing habits and you can leverage your infrastructure to launch multiple channels. We were able to do this in many parts of the world, including India, Japan, Latin America and Central Europe.
WS: How have you tailored the AXN brand and programming to different territories? KAPLAN: AXN is similar in some ways in every territory but at the same time, it is very local. In a territory like Asia, the action is a bit more hard-edged. In a place like Spain or Japan, it’s much more female appealing. At the same time, through consistent branding and marketing, anyone traveling the world who is familiar with AXN will recognize it and know generally what to expect. But every country watches television a little differently and has different choices available, so how they use AXN is a case-by-case situation. WS: Once you have launched a channel, at what point do
you start investing in original programming? What factors must be in place before you can start making that investment? KAPLAN: We usually wait until we have full distribution in a market and have a strong enough revenue base to justify the additional programming expense.We also need to be sure we have a strong enough advertising-sales infrastructure because original programming is all about appealing to a wider audience to attract a higher rating and, ultimately, to attract a broader group of advertisers. WS: Tell us about some of the original productions that
are performing well on the AXN channels. KAPLAN: AXN in Asia produces more original programs
than in other territories. Cash Cab is doing very well in Singapore and Malaysia, the ratings for Minute to Win It doubled the channel’s average in India and The Amazing Race Asia is number one in its time slot among international channels in the region, up 37 percent this season and reaching more than 19 million viewers. Our entertainment news show, EBuzz, is seen by more than 20 million viewers. We do original productions in other territories as well, like Italy, where we have three successful reality clip shows, Torta di Riso, Torta di Spot and Real Bagatta, as well as other original productions like Manswers. In Germany, we are producing two original shows in 3D: AXN 3D Uncut and Animax 3D Play’d. Of course, none of this includes the hun-
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ning. We are also able to create a global event, premiering the show around the world on the same day, close to the U.S. premiere. WS: How does the concept of shelf space—more channels
in a given territory are better than just one—apply to the digital age? KAPLAN: The idea of shelf space, or grabbing real estate, is important, to a point. I’d rather have three channels in a market than one, but in most cases I don’t think you need seven. The ability to cross-promote across a multichannel platform is important, but having a few strong, targeted channels is more valuable than having a lot of underpenetrated digital channels. Suited up: For its first global co-production, AXN partnered with eOne, NBC and Global on The Firm.
dreds of hours of originals we’re producing for SET and our other channels. WS: AXN is a co-production partner with eOne, NBC
WS: How big of a growth driver is HD? KAPLAN: HD has become more of the norm. Every-
thing is either moving in that direction or is HD from the beginning. It’s all about the best viewing experience the platforms can provide and as the world moves to the point where everyone has an HD set, they’ll also have HD programming. But it took a decade to get there.
and Global for the series The Firm. Would you tell us about this co-production, and might you be doing more? KAPLAN: While we’ve been doing original productions for many years, we were looking for ways to diversify our dependence on acquiring our programming from WS: How are you using digital platforms, including the U.S. suppliers and also looking to be able to creonline, mobile and tablets, to support the linear channels? atively mold high-quality programming that would KAPLAN: These digital outlets are vital parts of the prowork for our channels in multiple territories. The Firm motional effort that supports the linear channels. The was the perfect first step in what we hope will be a hardest thing is getting noticed, and you need to get to many-pronged programming approach to supplement the audience any way you can. These platforms are our main source of programming, the U.S. studios. becoming more and more a daily part of how viewers Our partnership with eOne has been terrific from the access information and programming, so we need to be beginning.Together, we were able to build an economic model that allowed us to move forward without total dependence on a U.S. network.The NBC opportunity took it from a good opportunity to a great one, and they’ve been great partners as well. Creatively, we’ve been able to work closely with eOne and then NBC to produce a show that works for both the U.S. market and our channels around the world. And the ability to go straight to 22 episodes is quite unique and gives the production the ability to take a long view and plan where the story will go and how the characters will evolve, while also allowing us to produce efficiently and amortize our costs over a Taking a closer look: U.S. imports, like CBS Studios International’s NCIS: Los Angeles, have full season, from the begin- been key to AXN’s success around the world. 100
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Full speed ahead: AXN’s original productions include a pan-regional version of The Amazing Race for its Asian feeds.
there. Having said that, it hasn’t yet become the outlet for selling advertising that I’d hoped it would by now, but over the long term, I see it going in that direction. Separately, we have our Crackle business, which has launched in Brazil and Latin America, modeled after our U.S. business. It is a stand-alone, nonlinear, advertisersupported video platform.We believe that there is a market and an opportunity to provide programming to the nonlinear audience without trying to compete with SVOD [subscription video on demand].We’re excited by this and by the opportunities it provides us around the world.
biggest screen available to them at any given time. I think we still have a very long way to go before there’s a real generational shift from linear channels to nonlinear status quo viewing, in many parts of the world. Linear viewing is still the norm of how most consumers get their programming and again, in many parts of the world, this will remain the case for a long time to come. But we can’t be in denial about the direction things could be heading and that’s why we’re trying to be in all places and platforms so we’re ready for everything and available to everyone.
WS: Do other divisions of Sony benefit from the firm foothold AXN has in Asia? KAPLAN: All of our channels around the world work very closely with all of our sister operating divisions— Sony Pictures, Sony Music, Sony Electronics, PlayStation, etc. Our breadth and audience reach make us a tremendous promotional platform for all of these businesses to leverage our corporate parentage. Take, for example, what we were able to do with the MIB 3 [Men in Black 3] trailer in participating in the global debut. We were able to contribute hundreds of millions of eyeballs to this initiative. That’s just one of many examples. And this is true of all of our channels. Take SET in India. Recently a contestant won a million dollars on our original production of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? SPT distributes the format for the show. The show has delivered huge ratings for SET in India and this big success also really promoted the brand and the format around the world.
WS: Are you still looking to launch more channels in
WS: As viewers want to enjoy programming online or on tablets or on mobile, what do linear channels have to do to remain relevant? Do you see a time when there will be more on-demand viewing than linear viewing? KAPLAN: The research tells us that while people will enjoy entertainment on many devices, they choose the 102
new or existing territories? KAPLAN: Yes, we intend to continue to launch as many
channels as we can where it makes sense. We want more channels where we have a footprint and we want to be where we’re currently not. But it’s getting tougher as competition intensifies, so we have to be smarter and on our game and make sure we capitalize on our expertise and our scale. WS: What opportunities do you see to enlarge your channel businesses? KAPLAN: In addition to launching new channels, we are also well-positioned in territories with great growth potential, such as Brazil, where we now program and operate our channels regionally, and in India, where we have a long successful history. We will also be expanding our adsales business, where we think there is a lot of potential for growth. But whenever I’m asked this I sort of fall back to more of the same.This has been a good growth engine for the company for the last many years and we think we have many more years of growth in front of us. We’ll get there by sticking to our game plan, being focused and disciplined and opportunistic.With our team, I have no doubt about our ability to continue our success.
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DRAMA Elizabeth Guider on the new golden age of television. 104
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Think high-end, high-cost American network series like Smash, Touch or The River or the current crop of pay cable contenders like HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Showtime’s Homeland, as well as basic cable’s Covert Affairs on USA Network or Breaking Bad on AMC. Never has there been a time when so many top talents, behind and in front of the camera, were so attracted to, and adept at massaging, the genre. Nor a time when so much money was at stake. PRIZED ASSETS
BBC Worldwide’s Parade’s End.
all it the kaleidoscopic age of TV drama. Never before has there been such a range of colorful story lines, styles and sensibilities at work in the genre. One program producer enthuses that hour-long series are now indisputably “the jewel in the crown” of small-screen creativity. Inroads into schedules by reality fare during the last decade and a recent spate of sitcom successes notwithstanding, it is drama that still sets the tone for most broadcasters— and potentially returns the biggest rewards to its backers.
A prime-time U.S. network drama costs upwards of $60 million to produce 22 episodes, pulls in $1.5 million to $1.7 million an episode in domestic license fees and anywhere between $700,000 and $1.5 million per episode from foreign sales, leaving, on average, a $24-million deficit to make up from domestic syndication, new media and DVD deals. The good news: hours that do catch on with viewers (and run, say, to five years or 100-plus episodes) become prized assets, returning $8 million to $10 million a year to their producers and profit participants. “I would say we’ve never seen it quite like this,” says Bruce Rosenblum, the president of Warner Bros. Television Group, whose studio has for two decades been the number one supplier of dramas to the various U.S. broadcast and cable networks. “We are enjoying a golden age right now with so many things working both creatively and financially.” One of the biggest changes he points to is “the coming of age” of new media, whose top players (Netflix,Amazon, Hulu, etc.) now act for all intents and purposes like old media, effectively adding more outlets for content—and, increasingly, stepping up to the plate to pay sizable fees for the privilege. Rosenblum believes more thorough, expeditious measurement of viewership by Nielsen and others needs to become an industry priority. “Our biggest challenge is figuring out how to maximize the revenues for our content by windowing our product appropriately, making sure traditional outlets remain lucrative while newer ones are nurtured, as they catch on, into paying their fair share. I can tell you that digital distri4/12
bution deals—be they ones for our shows or those of some of our competitors—are starting to be quite healthy.” In fact, he adds, his company no longer distinguishes between old and new media: they’re all part of the same ever-expanding after-market, at home and abroad. Last fall,Warner Bros. and its partner in The CW, CBS Corporation, clinched a groundbreaking (and reportedly billion-dollar) deal with Netflix for dramas that air on their jointly owned netlet, including the freshman series The Secret Circle as well as mainstays The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. Other content providers, too, are eyeing the benefits of an expanded distribution field: Lionsgate, for example, raked in a stunning $800,000 an episode for Mad Men, also with Netflix, forgoing the more traditional local station syndie route for such repeats. However, not just any drama brings home the bacon. Today’s audiences in all territories expect more from their viewing experience—or they tune out and turn their attention to YouTube and Facebook. “We can’t just settle for the usual doctor, lawyer or cop show anymore,” says Robert Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment at NBCUniversal. “We have to be open to strange new worlds, arresting characters, fresh plotlines.Yes, dramas take longer to put together, they’re more involved and more expensive—but getting them right, that’s the thrill.” Reenergizing the genre didn’t happen overnight. Not only did Dick Wolf ’s Law & Order franchise consistently apply intellectual rigor to ripped-from-the-headlines plots and the juggernaut CSI subsequently revamp the template for procedurals, but abroad, Brits, Germans and Danes have recently raised the bar for themselves with engrossing mini-series, period pieces with fresh perspectives, and multi-year policiers. And while recognizing, and occasionally agonizing over, the challenges, most executives, from NBCUniversal’s Greenblatt and Lionsgate’s Kevin Beggs to hands-on producers like Tim Kring and Jan Mojto, all aver that it’s worth the candle when these creations catch fire. Not that it’s easy.The vast majority of new shows, in whatever format,
whatever territory, crash and burn before they can ignite or underperform just enough to wind up under the ax. Already this season in the U.S., newcomers Prime Suspect, Pan Am, The Playboy Club and several others have bitten the dust or disappointed such that their renewals are in jeopardy. Sometimes, their failure to perform well enough in the ratings can be explained rationally—the audience just didn’t respond to early 1960s camp or the show was one too many in the forensics field—or just summed up with a quip: Maria Bello’s fedora (in the Prime Suspect revamp) was too distracting. A SAFE BET
The challenges with drama begin, however, long before a series goes to air. Consolidation has encouraged networks to rely increasingly on their sister studios for projects, potentially, if not necessarily, settling for safer— some argue even stale—material rather than actively seeking adventurous pitches from outsiders. Such a contention is hard to prove, but there’s no doubt that the pay-TV services (HBO and Showtime) and latterly basic cable (AMC,TNT, FX, etc.) stole a march on the broadcast webs by putting on a number of buzzed-about dramas over the last decade, leaving the nets momentarily in the dust. Things may now have changed further. “In a vertically integrated world, the networks buy from their sister studios and (the practice) is creeping into cable as well,” says Kevin Beggs, the president of Lionsgate Television Group. “All of these cable groups now have their own in-house production units. Everyone has good intentions, but why wouldn’t you help the mother ship at all costs?” Another tendency is for commissioning executives to prefer what another indie producer, David Zucker, the president of television at Scott Free Productions, calls “the pre-packaged, formatted, branded” project, which could mean that untried and unheralded talent and unorthodox themes get overlooked or ignored. Once a show is up and running, its hurdles don’t end. That so many projects are vying for back-end play in secondary markets and on new platforms means that cutting
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American dramas will be on “characters that have a lot on their plates. It’s not unlike what’s going on in real life,” she explains. Characters may have multiple jobs and yet strive to be part of a family—be it extended, surrogate, dysfunctional. “At the end of the day, it’s about finding comfort within the unit of the family, however that group is defined by the creators of any particular show.” EYES ON THE PRIZE
Black widow: ABC’s fairy-tale-inspired Once Upon a Time was the top-rated new drama of the fall 2011 U.S. season.
through the noise is increasingly difficult. And with European territories in such economic straits, extracting healthy license fees from key foreign broadcasters is no cinch. In short, money is always an issue, which means that despite the renewed enthusiasm of viewers for drama on the small screen, a producer has to jump through a number of hoops. TIPPING THE SCALE
“Before we decide to go forward with something, every division of the company weighs in,” says Sandra Stern, COO of Lionsgate Television. “Is this something that’s likely to get a broad audience, that the international marketplace is likely to embrace, that can be monetized downstream with DVDs? Everybody weighs in, and it’s only when we have a consensus that this is a show that, if we don’t screw up, if we produce well, we will be able to find an audience for, [that we proceed]. We miss sometimes, everybody does. But it gives us a goal to strive for, and we have not missed much.”
For ambitious projects that demand financial and creative input from a multiplicity of sources, clarity of vision and creative control are key elements that can spell the difference between success and failure. No one wants to make plodding or muddled miniseries, but the risks with that genre are such that very few efforts ever make it to the screen.The good news is that there are now seasoned practitioners who are keen on and adept at avoiding the pitfalls of the past. Consider one of the companies behind the upcoming mini Titanic, which is being readied for ABC in the U.S. and ITV in the U.K. as well as a dozen presale buyers elsewhere in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the calamity at sea. Lookout Point, which operates out of London and Los Angeles to structure the financing for such projects, worked to bring in a Canadian and a Hungarian partner in support of the Brits and Americans. The multiparter’s credits boast the screenwriter Julian Fellowes and the producer Nigel Stafford-Clark, 108
whose involvement, in the words of Lookout Point’s chief executive, Simon Vaughan, “translates to one and one is three.” What they’ve managed, he says, is “a peek behind the doors of history. They pull back the curtains on what it was like to be onboard.” A crucial element in negotiating in the mini minefield,Vaughan adds, is settling on “the central conceit” of a project and being clear, no matter how many entities are involved, where “the editorial center of gravity” lies. If those elements can be aligned properly in a mini-series, then voilà, the end result is “a special treat for the audience,” he says. As for how to tap into the zeitgeist, different practitioners have different views and methods for scouring the landscape, but all insist they are constantly assessing what audiences are concerned with in their real lives— and, from there, what they might want to experience in their leisure time. Interestingly, these practitioners see a variety of themes that potentially resonate. Nina Tassler, the president of CBS Entertainment, believes one focus in
Others point to a potpourri of upcoming fictional series devoted to politics, not a surprising development given that the U.S. is arguably in a transformative election cycle. USA Network recently greenlit a drama about a former first family called Political Animals; HBO is prepping a show called Veep; NBC is readying a series entitled 1600 Penn. Tassler can reasonably claim that she herself belongs to a kind of family at CBS, which, among U.S. broadcast nets, has been singularly adept at commissioning and nurturing dramas into long-running assets, including not only the CSI and NCIS in-house franchises, but also Criminal Minds, The Mentalist and The Good Wife. She attributes that success partly to the fact that the top echelons at CBS have worked together for so many years that they share “community, mutual support and a shorthand” that management elsewhere may not benefit from. “Our international partners know that we’re in the business of longterm growth,” she says, pointing to CBS’s strategy with CSI as an example. “Part of the success of that series has to do with continuity of vision,” she says, referring to the executive producers’ ongoing involvement over many years and the relentless effort to bolster the writing staff and refresh the on-screen talent. “At CBS I’d say we’re in a golden age with respect to drama, our mature shows actually growing in popularity at home and abroad,” Tassler continues. “And with syndication, new viewers have actually been recruited to the current season of episodes.”
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Over at NBC, Greenblatt has a bigger nut to crack in trying to rev up the fourth-place broadcast network and crank a couple of projects into longrunning engines for his schedule. The afore-mentioned Smash is a potential contender. Brought over last year from Greenblatt’s ten-year stint at Showtime, the musicalinspired show has undergone tweaks that point out the differing approaches on broadcast and cable. “We lightened the tone and minimized the characters’ dark agendas,” Greenblatt explains. To attract a more mainstream, commercial audience, he continues, “we’ve made it less bitter, less cynical and a little more aspirational.” The retreat of the Hollywood studios from making edgy, iconoclastic or eyebrow-raising theatrical movies has ironically emboldened the other side of their business, encouraging the TV producers on the back lots and the TV suits in their corner offices to tackle more provocative material. Not surprisingly, a slew of cinema talent, eager to stretch them-
selves beyond the sequel-itis confines of studio moviedom, has followed: Martin Scorsese directing Boardwalk Empire, Claire Danes top-lining in Homeland and Dustin Hoffman in HBO’s Luck, Steven Spielberg exec producing Terra Nova, The River and Smash, just to name a few. Why else this explosion of visually stunning, viscerally appealing material? “It’s the by-product of several developments,” states Zucker at Scott Free, whose The Good Wife is among those series pushing the envelope at CBS. “Distribution models have changed, tastes have become both more eclectic and more global, and the broadcast landscape has expanded.” It used to be, he goes on to say, that there were just three or four places to take a project, but nowadays there are more ways to set up financing and more outlets to sell to. “The Walking Dead—zombies, after all—couldn’t have been sold just a few years ago,” is how Zucker sums up the difference.
Motoring along: Crime dramas have been hugely successful for ITV, which is rolling out the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour.
Producer Tim Kring, who is currently shooting Touch with Kiefer Sutherland for FOX, argues, “A person watching his big flat-screen TV doesn’t distinguish between film and television. If a show looks cheap and dumb and is just a click away, say, from a slick theatrical movie on HBO, it’s in trouble. We have to compete side by side.”
Fortunately, Kring points out, technology has come to the rescue, offsetting the fact that budgets to produce a show have not risen, nor have shooting schedules expanded commensurately. “We’re having to be ever more efficient on set,” Kring explains. The good news, he adds, is that lighting, for example, doesn’t take as long, and special effects that just a few years ago on his show Heroes took three weeks to put together can be done on Touch with his special-effects specialist seated at his side with a computer in his lap. HOME THEATER
Criminally good: After thrilling audiences in its native Denmark, The Killing notched up slots across Europe—including in the U.K.—and was subsequently remade for the U.S. market. 110
Another cue that small-screen producers have taken from the cinema playbook is getting their talent out on the road promoting these properties just as assiduously as stars are primed to do on the cinema circuit. A Mad Men junket to Cannes for MIPCOM 18 months ago arguably catapulted that series into its current cult status in several European territories. Not to mention Sutherland’s tireless efforts on behalf of the global hit 24 and now for Touch. “Kiefer [is] arguably the biggest international TV star in the world,” Kring says. “He’s a tremendous ambassador for the show.There’s not a baby he won’t kiss nor a hand he won’t shake.” (FOX International Channels premiered Touch day and date with the U.S. in March in a number of foreign territories.)
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Some like it hot: The list of executive producers on the new NBC series Smash includes feature-film heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
It’s not only the Yanks who are turning out drama for the ages. Those perennial ace practitioners the Brits continue to astonish, most notably this season with the ensemble period piece Downton Abbey. BRITISH REVOLUTION
This last is indicative of new dynamics shaping drama funding, production and distribution worldwide. First, it was produced under the auspices not of the usual classical drama mavens at the BBC but rather commissioned by the more commercially minded ITV network, which is best known for its cop shows. Second, the indie production company whose idea it was, Carnival, is actually owned by NBCUniversal, another example of transatlantic equity both financing and influencing the choices of material. “What I think Downton Abbey illustrates,” says Gareth Neame, the managing director of Carnival and of NBCU’s international TV production unit in the U.K., “is that you can do a contemporary-style period piece—and hoover up a broader audience than might be expected.” From the beginning, Neame goes on to explain, “we were convinced we had something special with the screenwriter Julian Fel-
lowes onboard to pen it.” At its heart, he adds, the idea was quite simple: “An episodic workplace drama, complete with soap elements.” As for how viewers are responding, he points out, “It’s on after The X Factor on ITV Sunday nights and it works.” A third season has been commissioned and NBCU has licensed the series across the globe. It remains to be seen if the Peacock will itself be less hesitant in tackling anything Stateside that smacks of “period” as a result of this unexpected global phenomenon. (For all its critical buzz, in the U.S. Downton Abbey airs on the narrowly targeted PBS.) Laura Mackie, ITV’s director of drama, says that despite the pitch coming right as the recession hit Britain, the fact that Fellowes and company outlined “a long-term vision with extended story arcs” for Downton gave the network confidence to go forward. Not only has it “earned its keep” on ITV, but it has helped change the perception of the network. “We’re in a much better place now,” Mackie says, describing ITV’s overall schedule. During her five-year tenure, several long-in-the-tooth series (think The Bill, London’s Burning and Heartbeat) have been retired and much of that cost-savings was subsequently earmarked for Downton 112
Abbey and a few contemporary dramas. “We’re not doing as many hour shows now but they’re performing better,” she says, citing Whitechapel, Vera and Appropriate Adult. “Four or five years ago, reality shows and U.S. imports seemed to dominate here, and there was a crisis of confidence as to what we were doing in drama,” Mackie continues. “Sherlock”—on the BBC—“and Downton have helped change that.” Indeed, the British pubcaster is also enjoying a “dramatic” resurgence. Ben Stephenson, BBC’s controller of drama commissioning, ticks off a number of recent highlights, including not only the “stunning reinvention” of a classic with Sherlock but the “phenomenal” ratings for Call the Midwife, set in London’s East End in the 1950s, and the corralling of A-listers from other media to work for the Beeb. The playwright Tom Stoppard is adapting Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, the film director Jane Campion is doing a mystery called Top of the Lake, and the prolific Abi Morgan is writing both Birdsong and The Hour. “I would say that writing, directing and producing talent is increasingly wherever the best project is, in whatever medium,” Stephenson says. “And there’s no doubt in my
mind that television is getting more ambitious year by year.” Over on the Continent, it is arguably Denmark and Germany that are making the most waves on the drama front. The Danes, for example, have nabbed four International Emmys for best drama over the last decade, a record only the Brits have bettered, and one of their latest efforts, The Killing, has scooped up kudos in both its original and its U.S. formatted versions. TEUTONIC TALENT
Meanwhile, the longtime Munichbased producer Jan Mojto, the head of EOS, chalks German prowess in the field up to three factors: a relatively healthy national TV system, no real distinction or snobbery between the film and TV realms, and an industry which has long been oriented toward U.S. production values. Something else may be at work as well, judging from several of Mojto’s own projects: more sophisticated ways of storytelling from more surprising perspectives. Take, for example, the ambitious Generation War, which takes a page out of the playbook of HBO’s Band of Brothers in that it focuses on the disparate fortunes of soldiers in World War II, in this case German recruits, letting the stories unfold from
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ners,” says Morayniss. “To a certain extent, the success of one show then results in more producers and writers, agents [coming to eOne]. We get more calls—networks coming to us not just with projects but coming to us as a layoff studio. All of that really comes from two sources. One is the evolution of eOne as a television business and also the willingness of the networks in the U.S. to work with independents. Until relatively recently, the U.S. cable network business was primarily a business of the studios, but now you’re seeing that a lot of independents have come into the fold. As we continue to develop shows and as they get renewals— which is key—we are attracting higher end talent, interesting properties, and we’re also able to be aggressive dealmakers with writers and showrunners.” Besides the best-selling author John Grisham for The Firm, eOne has also worked with Stephen King on Haven, a series for Syfy. CLUTTER CUTTER
Team to beat: From Warner Bros. Television, Person of Interest is executive produced by Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams for CBS.
their points of view. Or the upcoming TV movie Munich ’72, about the assassination of Israeli athletes during the Olympic Games. “Steven Spielberg’s Munich aside, what we’re trying to do in this piece is dramatize the end of the preterrorist world,” Mojto says, “and to do so we’re relying on the point of view of a particular fictional character, a policewoman who gets caught up in the mayhem.” As for the costs of these projects, Mojto says that budgets now approach or match those for theatrical movies in any given European market. His company’s four-hour mini Hindenburg:The Last Flight, for example, came in at about $13 million all told; a standalone TV movie can run upwards of $3.5 million. License fees from broadcasters have not, he points out, gone up as fast, but shorter windows are being negotiated and, as in the States, more outlets are opening up.
“There is a renewed interest in high-quality international drama,” Mojto says, “and though there is a growing number of competitors in this arena, the most successful projects do make money.” Even in the difficult British market, where nonEnglish-language fare has rarely gained a foothold, Mojto says new, smaller outlets are showing interest in acquiring select Continental content. HOLLYWOOD NORTH
Another country with an eye longtrained on foreign markets is Canada, where top producers vie for local subsidies and exploit international treaties to get expensive fare before the cameras. One of these is Entertainment One Television (eOne). CEO John Morayniss says being flexible has been the key to eOne’s success. “When a producer or an agent comes to us and says, ‘We’re interested in doing a deal, we have a great 114
project, we’ve talked to the studios, now we’re talking to you, what can you do that the studios can’t?,’ basically our answer is we can do everything the studios can’t.We’re into partnerships, we’re into co-ownership, we’re into equity arrangements with third parties, we’re into preselling and bringing channel partners in early; we’re into doing Canadian content; we’re into doing notCanadian content; we’re into taking big risks; we’re into cobbling it together so that we minimize our risk. It really depends on the project and the people involved.” Entertainment One is the studio behind Hell on Wheels, a co-venture with Endemol for AMC, and The Firm, for NBC, Global and AXN. It is also producing Saving Hope, about a big-city hospital, for CTV in Canada and NBC in the U.S. “Our strategy is to grow the scripted area and to continue to develop with the best writers, the best showrunWorld Screen
At another Canadian company, Shaftesbury, CEO Christina Jennings says the biggest challenge is latching on to that “high-concept idea, one piece of top talent or preestablished brand” that will propel a project. “We have to be in search of what cuts through the clutter,” Jennings says, pointing to a mini like Titanic or The Borgias, starring Jeremy Irons, as the kind of cachet that can lock down commitments from prospective financiers. Her own company’s Murdoch Mysteries, now in its sixth season, has been such an international success, recently inspiring the outfit to open a Los Angeles office. “I don’t really think things are more challenging on the cost side than they were five years ago; if anything, technology is helping to bring costs down,” Jennings says. “The real challenge is the up-front development that drama requires and then facing the competition for eyeballs. Sometimes you have to twist yourself a little to get it done—but when it works...” Anna Carugati contributed to this report.
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Mad Men MATTHEW WEINER With historical authenticity and a distinct, polished visual style, Mad Men brings to life the world of advertising and the men and women who struggled to adapt to the changing mood and social mores of the 1960s. Created by Matthew Weiner, the series has redefined the drama genre and has won an unprecedented three consecutive Golden Globes and four consecutive Emmys for outstanding drama series.
WS: The show is set in the ’60s. It’s the past,
but it’s the recent past—we are all connected to it one way or another, either our parents lived it or older siblings lived it—and yet it infuses us today. WEINER: I was born in 1965 so I’m writing fiction. For me it’s the same as writing about the Civil War. I liked it because there is a sense of distance; there is a little bit of a fantasy element to that world. I’m creating all the details. I get to set it in a real environment and I get to base it on real people, but they are people that I know now. I believe that human behavior doesn’t change. Rules change and certainly society is capable of change, technology certainly changes, but human behavior itself—it is what it is.The Ten Commandments deal with
the same ten problems we try not to deal with now. There is a moment in one of the early episodes when they are complaining that children are rude and disrespectful and are not the way [they were when they were young]. Something as small as that is fascinating to me, and that hasn’t changed. In terms of human relations and male-female relations and what goes on in the bedroom, that is part of the fun of the show, to tell people this was what was going on in your parents’ bedroom and your grandparents’ bedroom. In terms of the workplace, a lot of that has [changed, I’m grateful to say]—because of
we are and how it is not satisfying. I’m not antimaterialist, but there was a story there that was basically about garbage. How do I know a detail like that? I don’t know. I don’t know how I know a lot of this. I have someone who works on my show as an advisor, named Bob Levinson, who worked at BBDO in the ’60s. He saw the pilot and called me and he said, You have a time machine. He worked on Lucky Strike in 1960. I just read a lot. I guess it’s disappointing to people on some level that my father is a scientist and is not in advertising. But there should be points given for imagination and the rest of it is some kind
DRAMATIC HIGH Mad Men put AMC on the original-series map in 2007 and has since garnered legions of fans across the globe. the law—but people know that [sexual harassment] is wrong. Race attitudes have changed. My children do not have any of the prejudices that [previous generations had]. My parents are great liberals and believe in [equality] but they did it because they thought it was right, I don’t know if they naturally didn’t see differences. My children do not see differences. My children have no reason to think that a woman anesthesiologist is going to make an operation dangerous, and I don’t know that my grandparents or my generation felt that way. WS: There was a scene when the family was on a picnic and they don’t throw away their trash. How did you get such specific details about how people behaved? WEINER: I was born in the age of littering. That was just something that I remember seeing people do. People used to literally eat a hamburger, crunch up the paper, throw it out the window. It’s hard to explain. It was like breathing. That episode was about a lot of what I am writing about, which is our material gratification and how insatiable 116
of cosmic luck. And then I work in television, and you’d better believe that the dynamic of being a creative person in television, which is my life, is very similar to the creatives working at an ad agency. WS: Interesting. How come? WEINER: Well, you are in a profession
where you are being creative and you can make money.This creates very unique problems because questions of your art come up immediately. It’s really just a battle between art and commerce. And you can’t have one without the other, and there are very few professions where you have to hire a creative person and tolerate what comes along with that. TV is one of them, which means, guess what? Creative people are not going to come in until 10 a.m.They may not do anything until 4 p.m.You will have to address an adult like a child, to get them to do their work—that is part of advertising and it’s part of TV production.You will eventually have to come in and say, Where is the work? That’s what it’s like—creative people can’t work under the gun and at the same time they can’t work without a gun at their heads. That was all part of the TV business because there are larger commercial concerns and art takes the backseat to that sometimes. So everyone feels that they are in some form of compromise.
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WS: As the show becomes more successful,
whether in ratings or in critical acclaim, do you feel added pressures? WEINER: Anyone who knows me knows this: Mad Men could not be more successful as far as I’m concerned.The idea that I got to make an episode after the pilot already exceeded my expectations! I’m not being modest. I just never expected that to happen. The other thing that anyone who knows me will tell you is that I live under pressure all the time. I am afraid of failing. I want the audience to like the show and at the same time I want to challenge them. I want to do what I like. No one should live by that. If you are just pleasing yourself you are basically making something bad—[a show] is an expression, there is an interaction. I live under a lot of pressure all the time. Once in a while it will hit me—what the show means to people—and that is the pressure I feel. The more people that have this emotional interaction with it, the more I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want them to suddenly point to it and say, Oh that was crap, or, I don’t like it anymore, or, Why did you do that? But they don’t always know what they like and the verbal expression of their response is not what is going on in their heart, because the truth is they keep watching it because they want to know what happens. So I feel the pressure to satisfy them. I’m accepting the fact now that with the fifth season we are becoming an older show and there is more of it behind us than there is ahead of us. I am prepared for the world to take an interest in other things as we become an older show. Novelty is always important but the real pressure I feel is just the pressure I’ve always felt of, Oh God, don’t be bad, don’t be boring, don’t repeat yourself—that would be most disappointing. If people think that we are doing the same thing we’ve always done, that would be very upsetting to me. I try very hard not to do that and it’s really the hardest part of my job. WS: The characters are very complex and very flawed. Is there a moral compass to the show? WEINER: The morality of their world is very much like our world. Part of why I am telling the story is because it is really hard to be a per-
son. We are all trying to be moral and we all have a kind of warped perception of what that is. Religion of any kind is based on sin and starting over, or having someone else help you start over or having it in your heart to start over. I really believe this—and I hope I am never proved wrong because it would be shocking—but even people who we perceive clearly to be bad or evil have a reason for what they are doing. They don’t see it as a chance to do evil, they see it as paying people back, or righting a wrong, or evening the score, or controlling someone who has wronged them. I feel that Don [Draper], in particular, is always doing the right thing, that Don is moral, but it’s very situational and these things conflict with each other. He has a good heart and is trying hard but he really doesn’t make it a lot of times. He feels bad about it, which helps, and he looks like Jon Hamm, which helps! But he is not really on any abstract scale an ethical or moral person. But he is trying really hard and there are people who are worse than him. That’s life. Betty Draper is really trying hard to be a good mother and to think of other people, but she is not great at it. She probably shouldn’t have been a mom and gets controlled by her vanity and becomes jealous. All these childish, embarrassing emotions that we want to hide, she has them and she expresses them. Is she an immoral person? No. It’s part of the story of the show and it’s part of that generation. How are you going to be judged as being moral when you are sent off to kill people by the government? Murder is wrong, but it’s not if you are in a war—well, that’s already very confusing, right? 4/12
WS: You know that the show will run seven seasons. Does that knowledge allow you to see where you are going to take these characters? WEINER: I will be honest about this sevenyear plan. It is how long I think the story can be sustained before the machinery that tells the story will be boring, before it will be so much effort for me not to repeat myself. But I still take the show one season at a time. I’ve never known before this whether it would be renewed—ever. I would write the season and the finale of the season would be the end of that story and perhaps of the entire story. I never left anything on the floor. I never said, Oh, we’ll deal with that next year, or that is a cliffhanger. I always said, This is the end of the story. I do think I know what the ending of the show is, but beyond that I’m not going to tell anything. I’m going to exhaust the story every season and hopefully tell each one of them as its own piece and they have different flavors. The most important thing for me—talking about pressure—is to not psychologically try to top the season before. I am always trying to move laterally, not to surpass it in any way, but just to do something different. That is less pressure to me than trying to make it bigger and better than last year. I just can’t do that. But I love the idea that there is an anticipation of [what’s coming next].The viewers will experience a chunk of time in these characters’ lives. In the smallest way, that is literally what inspired me to make the show: can I see 12 years in these people’s lives? It’s an exciting proposition. Maybe this is my life’s work. I never expect this to happen again.
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Homeland HOWARD GORDON & ALEX GANSA A Marine sergeant taken as a prisoner of war in Iraq returns home to a hero’s welcome, but a brilliant though troubled CIA agent suspects he has been turned by his Al Qaeda captors. This is the premise of Homeland, from showrunners Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, a gripping series whose raw emotion, psychological tension and singular acting won two Golden Globes. The show raises serious questions about patriotism and terrorism.
WS: Besides language, violence and sex scenes, what other creative freedoms do you enjoy working for Showtime, a pay-TV network? GORDON: What Alex and I appreciated, particularly with regard to this series, was what I’d call the rhythm, just the fact that we didn’t have to be interrupted by commercials. This show required what we hoped was a trancelike involvement or a spell—not to sound pretentious but for lack of a better word—and we knew commercials would disrupt that flow. So not having to write to those artificial breaks was very liberating and I think was part of the show’s success. Aside from the fact that on a broadcast network show, you probably couldn’t have a heroine who is bipolar.
WS: Did you have Claire Danes, who plays agent Carrie Mathison, in mind when you were initially writing the show? GANSA: We definitely had Claire in mind. The minute we actually began to speak of a female intelligence officer, she was the first actor that was in our minds. Temple Grandin had just aired [on HBO] and her performance in that film is just extraordinary. We thought that we were going to have a very complex, interesting character at the heart of this piece and Claire could be perfect to play it. She was also just the perfect age.There was a lot of discussion when we were casting this
GANSA: For example, we always knew that Carrie would have a manic breakdown at some point in the season. We sat down in the story room and at the beginning of every episode said, “Is this the one where she has the manic breakdown?” It turned out that we kept pushing it off and pushing it off, and ultimately found the right place for it, which was as close to the end of the [first season] as possible, because the more out of commission she was and the closer Brody was to his actual plot against America, that just seemed like the most opportune moment for her to be laying low.
DRAMATIC HIGH Adapted from an Israeli series for Showtime, Homeland received this year’s Golden Globe for best drama. role about how old this woman should be, and Showtime had a history of casting slightly older ladies than Claire in their shows— Mary-Louise Parker [Weeds] and Laura Linney [The Big C] and Edie Falco [Nurse Jackie]— and they were sort of pushing us in that direction, in more of the Robin Wright age range.We thought that our character should be younger than that, especially because she was so troubled and complex. You feel that the younger she is, the more hope there is that she could get over [her condition]. If there were a woman who was pushing 50 in the role, she would certainly be past the point of real redemption.
Alex Gansa (left) & Howard Gordon (right) 118
WS: Since Homeland was adapted from the Israeli series Prisoners of War, when you started writing, did you know what all 12 episodes would contain, or did the story evolve? GORDON: We sort of knew, but not in as linear a manner as that sounds. Alex and I did a lot of pre-writers’-room work in terms of where the story might take us, so we knew certain tent-pole ideas, but we didn’t quite know when they would happen. World Screen
WS: Was it also intentional to keep viewers questioning where Sergeant Brody’s true loyalties really lie? GORDON: We always knew that Brody [played by Damian Lewis] had been turned in captivity. The question became when we would reveal that to the audience. And that was another big difference between this show being on pay cable as opposed to a broadcast network. We were really getting the license to tell a story with two ambiguous protagonists and I just don’t think that would ever have flown on a broadcast network. You may get away with one, but I think for two protagonists both living in these ambiguous states would have been very, very hard to sell. But we did know that Brody had been turned and initially it was a very binary question: is he or isn’t he bad? But ultimately one of the things that came out of the story room was much more interesting, which is now that we know he’s been turned, will he go through with what he’s agreed to do? And that became the driving question for the second part of the season. WS: As a viewer, I found that my assump-
tions and beliefs about terrorism, Muslims and patriotism were all questioned. Was it intentional to present those themes and make the audience, in the U.S. and internationally, think about what we believe?
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GORDON: Yeah, there are things that interest Alex and me and questions we ask ourselves, so they naturally became the themes of the show. In our debates, we appreciated that the world is a very complex place. GANSA: What is interesting for an international audience is the idea of how America should project its power overseas and how that idea is changing in the U.S. ten years after 9/11. What is also interesting is what our role is in the Middle East and our preconceptions of Islam. All those issues are undergoing some serious examination in the U.S. right now and we were just very lucky to have appeared on the scene at the same time.We were able to parallel those questions that are being debated at the very highest levels of government. WS: In an interview you said, “If we get the audience to sympathize with a character who might be a terrorist, then we have succeeded.” Tell us about that. GANSA: That really was our goal.We wanted to create a “villain” whose motivation you could completely understand and possibly even root for against your own interests. If we could have pushed it that far, we knew we were in some nice complex gray areas, which is where we tried to live as much as we could in the series. A lot of the credit has to go to Damian Lewis as well, because there’s something so winning about him, and to portray a character that actually has some evil intent, but maintain that essential [human quality]—you kind of root for him in a strange way. He was able to walk that very fine line. WS: Characters in dramas nowadays are so much more complex than they were maybe 10, 20 years ago. That must give you amazing creative latitude? GANSA: There were some literary [influences] in this series.We looked to Graham Greene and John le Carré and those were our models.We started looking less to television models or to film models but really tried over the course of the season to tell a complex novel, as it were. And now it looks like we’re going to have the chance to tell a couple more over a couple more seasons and you just have so much more freedom to do that, especially in these serialized
shows, which often don’t get much purchase on broadcast networks but do on cable. WS: What is fueling this demand for really
great drama on television? GORDON: Someone told me they really
would rather not go to the movies because there’s so much good stuff on television. I think that just the ability to tell these kinds of stories, which in some ways are deeper than even the movie experience can be because of their length—you can tell eight or more stories on Starz or Showtime or on AMC—is just a great frame for a story. For writers [12 episodes are] a little bit more civilized than doing 22 or 24 episodes of a show about a cop or a lawyer or a doctor.You can tell these very novelistic, deep stories, and that’s a very attractive form for an audience and for an actor who really wants to get into a part. WS: Do you have CIA consultants on the show? GORDON: We have one person who was
really helpful to us—a female CIA agent, a pretty high-ranking person, and she was very, very helpful. One of the stories came out of a direct conversation she and Alex had. 4/12
GANSA: That was the story about the con-
sort to the Saudi prince. We got a lot of interesting details from this active intelligence officer who had experience running one of these girls and it’s fascinating. I’ll give you a great example: the detail that the Saudi prince liked his women without any hair at all on their bodies, that came right from this intelligence officer. WS: Any reaction to the show from govern-
ment officials or the military? GANSA: Apparently we are very popular at
the highest level from President Obama on down. A lot of national security people are watching the show now, a lot of generals. One of the most gratifying things that I’ve experienced is we’ve gotten a lot of letters from servicemen, and though some of them have taken issue with the idea that one or even two American Marines could ever have been turned against their country, there’s a sense of gratitude for our dramatization of what it’s like to return from those wars and how difficult it is to reintegrate into your family.We felt good that people were responding to how we were portraying that.
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Boardwalk Empire TERENCE WINTER After working as a writer and executive producer for The Sopranos, helping to make it the genrechanging drama that it was, Terence Winter was given the book Boardwalk Empire, a history of Atlantic City, and asked by HBO executives if it held the potential for a TV series. Indeed it did. Winter’s creation is a cinematic look at the Prohibition era and the gangsters it spawned.
WS: How difficult is it for you to get the
viewer to sympathize with gangsters? WINTER: If you are really honest about a
depiction of any human being and show every aspect of their personality, you’ll find something you can relate to even in the most evil person. Take a guy like Al Capone. Generally in movies you only have a limited amount of time to tell the story, so most of the time you see Al Capone depicted as the guy with the white fedora and the cigar and the machine guns and the violence. But on a TV show, we have the luxury of really spending a great deal of time with these people and digging really deep into character. So you’ll see those moments of Al Capone at home with his deaf son, and say, Wow, this guy really loves his kid. Some of the things that happened to him are informed by
events that have happened in his life and suddenly it gets a lot more complicated; how did this person become this gangster, this ruthless killer? And once you start to dig deeper, it takes the black and white and makes it gray and suddenly you’re not sure what you think. We went through the same thing on The Sopranos. People loved Tony and his relationship with his kids and his wife. They would get lulled into this sense that he was this big cuddly teddy bear and then suddenly he would engage in some horrific act of violence and you’d go, I thought I liked this guy! You are really conflicted and
that the people watching were smart and it didn’t talk down to the audience. It didn’t spoon-feed the audience every answer to every question, and didn’t necessarily make you feel good a lot of times. A lot of network TV is meant to make you feel like everything is going to be fine—we caught the killer and here’s the answer and buy this soap! The Sopranos didn’t make you feel that way. Often you would end an episode and think, Wow, everything is not fine, the world can be a screwed-up place, I didn’t get the answer I wanted, or I’m not sure how this ended, it’s subject to interpretation. For me that’s entertaining and much more inter-
DRAMATIC HIGH The lavishly produced Boardwalk Empire has won eight Emmys, including one for director Martin Scorsese. think, I do like him, but I don’t like certain things that he does. WS: Would you say that characters on TV are far more three-dimensional today? WINTER: Certainly on cable pay TV they are. I’m not really sure about network TV. I’m not sure how much latitude you have to really depict people honestly. It feels like you have to explain away a lot of behavior on network TV, whereas on cable you can explore more flawed characters or just more honest depictions of people. We are all flawed and cable allows you to explore those aspects of human nature that are not necessarily us at our best. WS: How important was The
Sopranos to the drama genre? WINTER: Tremendously impor-
tant. The Sopranos really gave birth to a slew of shows like The Shield, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and certainly my show. The idea that you can have, for lack of a better word, an antihero as the lead certainly opened up that avenue of exploration. The Sopranos was very different in its storytelling: it didn’t pander to the audience, it assumed 120
esting, but it also can be very disconcerting for people. The ending of the show sent people into a tailspin because they weren’t given a clean-cut answer of what happened. WS: How much research did you do before
Boardwalk Empire? WINTER: I probably researched six months solid before I put pen to paper or keystroke to computer screen, as it were! But once I knew what the show was and where it would be set, first and foremost I had to read about Atlantic City. The show has many different components to it. There is a political element, so I needed to know what was going on in politics—the Harding White House, the Prohibition angle, the women’s right to vote. There is a World War I component because Jimmy is a veteran, so I needed to research that. Pop culture: movies, books of the time, how people spoke, the colloquialisms. I read a lot of newspapers and novels of the period. Even though the show is set in 1920, not everybody was wearing fashions that came out in 1920. Much like today—I’m sure I’m wearing clothes today that are ten years old. And back then, people didn’t buy clothes off the rack, so in 1920, you’d have a guy wearing something from 1900. I was trying to immerse myself in every aspect of the culture or the time. Gangster history, of course, knowing that Arnold Rothstein, Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky were all
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going to be characters, I researched their lives to know, if I want to set something up—it’s not going to happen for four years in the show, but I need to know what’s coming in this person’s life because I might want to pepper in a little foreshadowing of where these guys are going. WS: Are the dealings between Al Capone,
Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein and Nucky based on real-life situations? WINTER: I try to be very accurate to the time line of history. I will never change world events or when they happened. I’m not going to rewrite history but I try to surround these guys with enough fictional people that it will keep the audience on its toes. [When I started writing] I was concerned that because the audience knows the history of Al Capone, Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein, or they can Google it very easily, they would be ahead of the story. Every time I put Arnold Rothstein in jeopardy, you know he’s not going to die until 1928. Now that Nucky is fictionalized, if he is in jeopardy, he’s really in jeopardy. Jimmy Darmody is fictional and as much as people couldn’t accept the idea that this character could get killed, because we are so trained from decades of television to think, “Oh, you can’t kill the second lead on your show,” he did. That sends the message that no one is really safe on this show. Again, it’s an accurate depiction of gangster life—the only gangsters who are safe are the ones who are historical figures and they are only safe until history catches up to them. WS: How important was it to build the set in
Brooklyn and what have been the challenges associated with re-creating Atlantic City? WINTER: The first place we looked to shoot the show was the actual Atlantic City, which makes the most sense if the show is set there. Unfortunately, 99 percent of what existed in 1920 doesn’t exist anymore.There may be three camera angles that you say, OK, yeah, that looks the way it was, but if you move the camera an inch to the right, it’s done. After looking high and low, we decided the thing that made the most sense was to shoot it right in NewYork City, and the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn is where we have our headquarters, our production offices, our writers’ offices
and our sets. Then the big challenge was the boardwalk.When I was writing the show and starting to do my research and looking at pictures of what the Atlantic City boardwalk looked like, I thought, there is no way we can do this show! This is cost prohibitive; this is impossible. When I turned in the script, [I described the boardwalk] as Times Square on the ocean, circa 1920: one massive hotel after another, Ferris wheels, just this huge carnival atmosphere and lights as far as the eyes can see. And to be crystal clear with HBO, when I handed in the pilot, I gave them 15 pages of photographs of Atlantic City, so that when I say the boardwalk, just to be clear, this is what I am talking about visually. And right around that time, HBO had run the mini-series John Adams that was really terrific.They aired a behind-the-scenes segment that showed all the digital work that they were able to do in visual effects. I was astounded. I had no idea that some of the things I had watched on the mini-series were done digitally: backdrops of the city of Boston from 1770 in the distance.There was a shot of Paul Giamatti walking up the staircase and suddenly behind him, the palace of Versailles appears digitally. And for the first time, I thought,Wow, we actually might be able to pull this off if we can do something like that.Then in the initial meetings we thought, if we build a big enough section of our boardwalk that is a practical set and then augment it with visual effects, we actually can create the illusion that we are on the ocean and that the boardwalk goes on for miles and the buildings all have height. And that is exactly what we did.We built a 300-foot replica of the 1920 Atlantic City boardwalk in a parking lot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, surrounded by shipping containers. And yet it’s massive, I still can’t believe that this is our set. That is then augmented and surrounded by green screens and a lot of our action takes place there, but you watch it on TV and suddenly the Atlantic Ocean is lapping its waves on the shore of this parking lot in Brooklyn! 4/12
WS: How did you collaborate with Martin Scorsese, who directed the pilot? WINTER: The collaboration came early on. It was really an idea of first settling on what the show would be and what era the show would take place in. The book Boardwalk Empire is essentially the history of Atlantic City and it runs from the mid-19th century, when it was literally a mosquito-infested swampland, up till the present day. HBO had given me the book and said, read it and see if there is a TV series in there and I zeroed in on the 1920s. So that is originally what I pitched Marty: prohibition and the birth of organized crime in America. Prohibition is what made millionaires out of gangsters and forced them to organize because they were killing each other over this. Marty was very interested in exploring that era and very interested in my idea of long-form storytelling that could go on hours and hours.We did 83 hours of The Sopranos, so you can really dig deep into these characters. I just went off and wrote the script. Early on he was just supposed to be involved as a producer, but he read my script and called me up and said, I think I might like to direct this. I was blown away! WS: How often does that happen? WINTER: Never! To have Marty say he
would do the TV pilot was a huge, huge thing, and for me, incredibly flattering. It’s not an exaggeration for me to say he is the reason why I got into this business in the first place. Taxi Driver was the first movie I ever saw that really made me sit up and pay attention to the process of moviemaking: who made this and why is this different from other movies. That is what started my journey into this business. So the idea of working with him and having Marty direct something I wrote and then being a business partner with him on this show was just mind-blowing to me. Marty took over, shot the pilot and developed the look for the show.
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Downton Abbey JULIAN FELLOWES As an actor, director and Academy Award– winning screenwriter—he won the Oscar for best original screenplay for Gosford Park—Julian Fellowes has worked in movies and in television. He created Downton Abbey, the British period piece that follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and the servants who work for them, which has dazzled audiences around the world and won critical acclaim and a slew of awards, including Emmys and Golden Globes.
and different chances of realizing them. But I suppose the conditioning of class where— not so much now, but it the old days—you were expected to define yourself and your hopes and dreams along class lines seems so extraordinary to our generation. It is rather interesting that so many men and women lived within that kind of confine.
WS: What intrigues you about the British class
FELLOWES: American television reinvented
system? You’ve written about it in the movie Gosford Park and now in Downton Abbey. FELLOWES: It’s hard to answer, but in a way it’s because in a drama you want to have a great variety of people who are believably in one place. That is why dramas about police departments and hospitals always go on because you can have all these different backgrounds and different age groups and different conditioning all in one place believably. I suppose that the class system is another version of that. You have all these people under one roof and yet they all have completely different expectations of life and different ambitions, maybe, or maybe not,
the concept of the drama series a few years ago with this layered, multistory, multinarra-
WS: I’ve read that you have been influenced
by some American TV shows.
the show is popular because it’s about] snobbery. But that is to miss the point completely. The reason the show is popular is precisely because it is not snobbish. It does not suggest that the upper-class characters are somehow more important or have more important lives. Everyone’s life in the show is important. The kitchen maid Daisy is just as important as Lady Edith. That egalitarianism of treatment probably appeals to an American audience. You can pick your favorite characters from whatever group.There are people upstairs and downstairs who are given the same screen time and all their fates are taken seriously.
DRAMATIC HIGH Breaking ratings records for ITV and PBS, Downton Abbey has picked up awards on both sides of the Atlantic. tive, very fast-paced movement. One thing we perhaps did do right with Downton is that although in one way it is a traditional period series, the kind British television was making 30 years ago—and some of them were marvelous—when you look at those shows, they are generally single narrative and, to our rhythm, quite slow. Instead of going back into that territory, we really modeled Downton more on a modern American show in the sense of having lots going on and getting involved with all sorts of characters simultaneously. In the old days, when you were watching one of those shows, you could go out and make a cup of tea, whereas now, if you are watching ER, you can’t go and make a cup of tea, unless you have a television in the kitchen, because you come back and you’ve missed the whole end of one story! That was the pattern we were looking at rather than traditional British television. WS: Why do you think Down-
ton struck a chord with American viewers? It truly represents a slice of British society. FELLOWES: It’s hard to say. So much has been written [saying 122
We’re not judgmental about who are the important characters and who are not; that’s for the audience to decide. I imagine that is a way of treating the class system that might appeal to an American audience, which has a kind of natural egalitarianism. WS: I read an article that claimed Americans
are living through a period of nostalgia. And not to take anything away from Downton, it has filled that need for nostalgia while Mad Men has been off the air! FELLOWES: Mad Men is wonderful and I can’t think of anything more flattering than being included in the same sentence! This is a sort of funny area, but the world at the moment is slightly unsure of itself. Our economy has gone AWOL and we don’t know what we are doing. I don’t think this is the end of anything. I just think we are moving from this period into the next.While you are going through a period of transition that can increase the sense of insecurity and it’s tempting to look at periods that appear to be more settled, when people were more secure in their own self-worth. Of course, if you were living in 1890 or 1920 or 1960— well, I was living in 1960—there was as much insecurity in people as there is today. But looked at from the outside, from a later period in time, people had more rules to hold on to. There was more of a shared knowledge of what
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you were supposed to be doing, of what you were supposed to be wearing, of what you were supposed to be saying. All of that gave society a kind of a framework to hold on to, and we have chosen to abolish our framework. We’ve moved into an era of “casual chic,” whatever that means, and we don’t have the rules that our forebears had. Of course, the other side of that is that we also have far more freedom. Whether or not we would want to go back into a world of rigid rules is quite a different matter, but television can give you the security of the rules without the difficulty in sustaining them. We enjoy a world where everyone knows what’s what but we don’t have to get up at four in the morning to go clean the grate! WS: There have been critics who have taken
issue with some of the historical details of Downton. How do you respond to them? FELLOWES: It’s two things. One, when they say that in one of our shots there is a television aerial in the skyline, either there is or there isn’t.You can’t get cross about that and if there is, we made a mistake. With regard to the other complaints, some were just wrong. There were complaints that some song hadn’t been released when it was sung, but it had been. Or that butlers should have been in livery when in fact butlers came out of livery during the Regency and that was 100 years before Downton started. There was another complaint regarding the First World War that said our officers were in the wrong uniform, and they hadn’t bothered to check that, in fact, in 1915, the officers stopped wearing officers’ uniforms in the trenches because they were being picked off as targets. It used to irritate me that the newspapers always assumed that the complaint was correct, when in nine cases out of ten it wasn’t. With the other complaints, when they say, Oh, everyone knows that all the upper classes were horrible and everyone treated their servants badly, this strikes me as [being as] silly as saying they were all lovely and everyone was in paradise. People are people and there is no such thing as class type when it comes to nastiness or niceness. There are nice or nasty to be found in every level of society, just as there are good looking and ugly. Those sorts
of criticisms have to do with a kind of irritation that [has been pervasive] for quite a long time now. It’s just been standard to treat anyone privileged as horrible or morally defective in some way. Of course we all know that it isn’t true.You meet people you like and you don’t like at every level of society. They would say I was naïve making Robert Crawley a nice man. I would say they were naïve in assuming everyone who is privileged is horrid. I think we probably break even there! [Laughs] WS: You have also written the ITV mini-
series Titanic. How did you tell this story differently and engage the audience in a story where they already know the outcome? FELLOWES: I was very interested in it. Like many other people, I’ve always found the story of Titanic terrible but curiously hypnotic. We were very keen to somehow give a sense of the whole ship. A Night to Remember, a marvelous film with Kenneth More, was really the story of the officers on the ship. Then you have [James] Cameron’s wonderful film, which is a great, great love story set against the context of the ship. But this is a portrait of the ship. So we have characters and narratives in first, second and third class. We have the officers, we have the boiler men, we have the stewards and stewardesses, we have the servants in first class and we have the deckhands. There are narratives, major and minor, woven in all of those, including second class, which the other films never touched. It’s always normally either the Irish immigrants or the [people] on the top, but we have them all. What I hope is that when people watch it, 4/12
they come away with a sense of what it must have been like to be on the ship.We’ve tried to observe the rules of the ship and how difficult it was to get from here to there, and that this door led you to this, all of that kind of detail. There are also many wonderful stories. One of the things that impress you when you study the Titanic is how well the vast majority of the people behaved. Now we always like to say, Oh they were all terrible, they were cowards, they were screaming. But it’s not true. Of course there were a few people who behaved badly, just as there always will be, but they were very few when you think of the numbers involved. In all parts of the ship, at every level of rank of the crew, every class, most of the people behaved with such bravery and courage, it really is heartbreaking. WS: You’ve done quite a bit of research; you
love history, don’t you? FELLOWES: I do like history and I’m
interested in the Titanic anyway. There are interesting things that have become clear since the discovery of the wreck. We know more about the actual collision and so on, but also when you read through the Mersey Report [from the official British inquiry into the disaster], there are curious details to the sinking. But what I don’t want to do is sound as if we are in competition with Cameron’s film, because obviously we are not. Of course our special effects couldn’t hope to rival what he achieved in that film. But I would say that people who enjoyed that film will enjoy our program. I don’t see us fighting it out on any level.
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NCIS MARK HARMON & GARY GLASBERG Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs leads a team of agents who investigate crimes involving the Navy and Marine Corps. Mark Harmon, who has played Gibbs for nine seasons and has been voted America’s favorite TV star numerous times, heads a group of actors who have made NCIS the number one drama in the U.S. The ultimate team player, Harmon always acknowledges the talents of everyone on the program, including the showrunner, Gary Glasberg.
WS: When you first stepped into Gibbs’s shoes,
what appealed to you about his character? HARMON: The answer is the same for all of
us.There are four of us who are still here from the original group: myself, Michael Weatherly [Special Agent Tony DiNozzo], Pauley Perrette [Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto] and David McCallum [Chief M.E. Ducky Mallard]. One thing that attracted us right away to this material was that it was about characters, it had humor—that was always part of it—and then there was a case, but the case was not what drove the show. As an actor I jumped in because there was a character to play that was surprising to me. At the time, I was reading a bunch of different scripts, and when you read
a script, you try not to have any expectations. You just read the material and at the end when you turn the last page you have an idea and you try to keep that idea clear.This script was a surprise to me because this was plainly about character and there was humor, and that’s what made a difference. The name Leroy Jethro Gibbs stopped me—just the name, it makes you tilt your head to the side a little bit and go, “Huh, that’s different.” Then at some point, you embark, you commit and you throw your hat into the ring with others and then you go to work. Ten years down the line, there have been changes
ning, there were advantages of shooting way out there because it was a long drive.The network folks didn’t want to drive out there! We weren’t good enough to get tremendous notice and we weren’t bad enough to get canceled.We just held this mid line and we had the chance to develop. In the beginning, this was really work by fire. We developed slowly over the years and had a chance to build a work foundation from a commonality of people—in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. I said before you couldn’t do this show in the beginning unless you wanted to be there, it was too hard.
DRAMATIC HIGH In its ninth season, NCIS is the top-rated drama in the U.S., with its spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles, not far behind. in all directions and certainly individual developmental changes in all of our characters. I see it as a very different show from where it started. However, there are pieces of it that remain consistent. I always say that no actor on this show is confused by the role he or she plays. I don’t want to play Abby’s material, and she doesn’t want to play mine. Everybody is individual to the role they play and we all know our jobs. And we’ve done that from the beginning. Everybody has a voice; everybody speaks his or her mind. There are not a lot of secrets on this show. That’s the way the show has developed. If you had the chance to walk on the set, you’d see this is a very unusual workplace: it’s surrounded by people who love their job, they love coming to work and it keeps challenging them. And as long as that keeps happening, there is no reason why we can’t continue to grow. WS: What has given NCIS
such success and longevity? HARMON: We didn’t start that
Gary Glasberg (left) & Mark Harmon (right) 124
way. We shoot way out in Santa Clarita, California, which is outside Los Angeles. In the beginWorld Screen
WS: I have spoken to showrunners who have
said they wish they were working on a 13episode season as opposed to 24 episodes because it’s so hard to come up with fresh material.Where do you get ideas from? GLASBERG: I’m not going to argue with that. Twenty-four episodes, which is what we do, is a lot of television. But if we weren’t inspired by the characters that we are working with and by what we are doing, then it would be even harder. I can’t say that there is a specific source we go to for ideas. I’m blessed to have a really strong writing staff that is constantly looking into who our characters are and constantly coming up with clever ideas. We are all well versed in the world of television forensics and we have some fantastic consultants on the show, former NCIS agents, people with forensic backgrounds, as well as a lot of contacts at the Navy and at the Department of Defense. When you have that kind of access, the stories are a little easier to come up with. HARMON: We’ve had a man named Leon Carroll, Jr. He’s a 30-year NCIS veteran, originally at [the Naval Investigative Service] and before that a Marine Corps major. He’s been here from the very, very beginning, when we were all given different special agents to supervise us. Pauley had a forensic scientist. David had a coroner. I had a special agent and Michael had a special agent. Some actors used them and others didn’t use them at all, but there was
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always Leon. He’s been a huge help. To back up a step, even before that, from the very, very beginning, this show cared about NCIS as an agency and wanted to portray its work in the right way.That’s important because that feeling still exists. WS: The ratings of new episodes of
NCIS on CBS are stellar. Have the reruns on USA Network also broadened the audience? GLASBERG: There is a lot of theory and hypothesis that have gone into how USA Network and the cable industry have helped spur our continued ratings success. The belief is that people have found the show in reruns on USA, become addicted, and then felt compelled to see the new episodes on CBS. So we are actually pulling new audiences from the people who are viewing it in reruns on USA. I know that’s the case of adult and older demos and also among college kids. I recently met a kid who goes to a prominent university in Massachusetts and he said he has friends who literally run back to the dorms between classes to watch the show in reruns! WS: NCIS has sold phenomenally well around
the world, to some 200 countries, hasn’t it? HARMON: NCIS took off right away in some countries. In the U.S. it took years to build and everybody here is very aware of what it took to get to where we are now. And everyone is very aware of what it will take to stay here. As opposed to feeling that as a burden, this group enjoys that! This group has been extremely patient over the years and they have earned it. My favorite part is when a script comes down the line and you can hear people grumbling about it. We get scripts a week in advance and you hear the department heads start to say, “Wow, this is going to be tough!” [Laughs] Then they strap on a chinstrap and they go to work, and do what they have to do.That’s been the fun of it, to watch this develop into a place where extremely talented professionals are all asked to do the best of what they do without looking over their shoulder.
WS: Does the international audience in any
way inform or influence the type of stories you tell? GLASBERG: I absolutely feel like there is an international sensibility that we have to take into account when we are doing stories about a government agency that has an office in every major port in the world. And about how that agency interacts with people in each one of those countries. It’s not just war-torn areas, but every major port.We are constantly talking about story lines that very often take place in other countries and for us it’s just a matter of whether production-wise I can pull off turning Southern California into any one of those locales.That’s the tricky part. WS: Has playing Special Agent Gibbs deepened your appreciation of the work of real-life NCIS agents and of troops deployed to areas of conflict? HARMON: As an actor, you are playing a role and actors do that differently. Gibbs is based on three very real people I met and actors steal pieces of that, that’s how they compile what they hope to play. But you can’t have done this show for as long as we’ve done it and not have both stories and associations with so many of the agents who do this for real. And yes, I think there is a lot of respect there. And yes, going through Walter Reed National Military Medical Center offers some perspective that is important, not only for an actor in the show, but in truth, for all of us to understand. That weighs on us and that’s part of what we try to do every week, we just try to do good shows. 4/12
GLASBERG: I don’t come from much of a political or military background myself, but I have immersed myself tremendously into what I have had access to and really tried to learn as much as I can about the way things work and I feel the same way. It’s important for everyone to have as multidimensional a view of this world as they can because people are putting their lives on the line.We hear all the time that the troops overseas get great pleasure from watching the show, and that means more to me than anything. WS: Many people are saying that we are liv-
ing in the second golden age of television because of the quality of so many dramas. GLASBERG: I agree, I think it’s a phenomenal time to be in television. The market has certainly changed since I first joined it. Suddenly cable became a huge part of the options that viewers are given and specific types of programming found their way into cable outlets that wouldn’t necessarily have survived in network.What is wonderful about TV right now is there genuinely is a place for everything.You can have a very unique, daring idea and it will find a home somewhere on cable or on network. Every network has its own style and approach to the types of programming that they like to do. I’ve been very fortunate to be part of the CBS family for a while now. I have a lot of friends who have had prominent feature-film experience, and they all want to be in television right now, because the opportunities are there to try things and do things differently. And the movie business isn’t necessarily offering that.
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Touch TIM KRING & KIEFER SUTHERLAND Tim Kring, the creator of Heroes, and Kiefer Sutherland, the star of 24, have joined forces in Touch, a drama that blends science and spirituality with the premise that we are all interconnected. At the center is a single father, Martin Bohm, played by Sutherland. He is tormented by the fact that he cannot communicate with his severely autistic son, but discovers that the boy has an incredible gift—he sees patterns connecting people, places and events that no one else sees.
WS: When you read the script what appealed to you about the project? SUTHERLAND: There were so many things. I’ll break it down first as a person reading the script as opposed to what I thought as an actor. This story broke my heart. I am a parent and the idea of being in a position with a child, whether it’s a boy or a girl, that you can’t communicate [with] in a normal way, that you can’t hold in a normal way, is heartbreaking. My favorite time as a parent was in the evening, bathing the kids and getting them ready for bed, the giggles, the cuddling. Not being able to do that would leave a giant hole in you as a parent and as a person. Somehow you have to feel responsible for it because you are the par-
ent.These were things I really responded to as a reader. Subsequently, as an actor, that’s a huge field to plow, that’s endless, you can mine that for days. So that was very attractive. Then there are story lines that surround that [core relationship between father and son]. There is an Iraqi story line, an Irish story line, a Japanese story line, and then there is a traveling salesman going around the world desperately looking for his phone because it contains a picture of his daughter.You don’t know why he wants it back.You don’t know what happens to his daughter. These story lines were fantastic. And there is then this concept of
won’t let anybody touch him, the least communicative, the smallest creature on the planet. He is the one who possesses the most awareness of what is really going on. SUTHERLAND: He’s the butterfly. WS: Is there a lot of emotion in this show,
compared to 24? SUTHERLAND: 24 was an emotional show,
it was just a very different kind of emotion, it was much more aggressive. It was designed to push you back and this is designed to pull you in. It’s as opposite as that. The emotional requirements that I’ve experienced in mak-
DRAMATIC HIGH Marking Kiefer Sutherland’s return to series television, Touch premiered simultaneously in 100-plus markets in March.
interconnectivity. When you start to see how all these story lines converge because of what this boy is doing, in some cases 10,000 miles away, it’s just amazing. It’s the wonderful energy of the butterfly effect [from chaos theory, where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in huge change at another end]. The butterfly goes by an elephant and it makes the elephant sneeze and then the elephant starts a herd and the dust goes up and starts a storm, etc.To have this actually being done by this little 11-year-old messenger who can’t communicate with anybody, but is actually orchestrating all of this, there was something so hopeful in that to me. KRING: One of the original concepts when I started thinking about this idea of interconnectivity was who could embody that and be able to see it. I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if it were the most disenfranchised among us instead of someone who had a pulpit to do something? The most disenfranchised—who is that? A child—not only a child, but a child who is trapped in a universe that is perceived as being impenTim Kring (left) & Kiefer Sutherland (right) etrable, unable to articulate and 126
ing Touch are very common things between people—certainly as a parent but also trying to find out the right thing and the wrong thing to do. I believe that Martin has an unbelievably strong moral compass, with his child at the center of it, and I find it unbelievably relatable. But the emotional journey is very honest and very real, as opposed to the emotional journey on 24, which was based on truly heightened circumstances. Touch is grounded in a much firmer reality. WS: Series with stand-alone episodes are
great for broadcasters because they have more flexibility in how they can schedule them.What benefits do stand-alone episodes have from a creative point of view? KRING: It’s a very complex subject that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about: how to bring the audience along on a journey but not make it so impenetrable after a while that nobody new could jump on board.This show works in a stand-alone way but it rewards the loyal viewer because, if you watch the show over multiple episodes, you will see how stories or characters from two or three episodes will start to weave back in, in unexpected ways. If you’re just watching the show for the first time, that’s just a character in that story and he or she plays an important part. If you are a loyal viewer, you get a much deeper experience because you can say, I know everything about
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that character. I know their deepest secrets, and now they are getting in an elevator with another character, what does that mean? So you are getting a deeper experience if you are a loyal fan of the show—you are getting that sense of an almost serialized element—but you are not being punished if you missed an episode. SUTHERLAND: And each episode will have a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s great for the audience.They can watch them when they want and they can get everything. WS: And even as an actor that is a good thing? SUTHERLAND: To have an end to shoot
for? Absolutely, it makes all the difference in the world. If you know your trajectory, you can really map it out. I remember one of the things I would tell any actor who was coming on to 24 was, Don’t overcommit, give yourself room left or right, because you do not [know] what’s coming. I have gotten caught a couple of times where what the writers wrote was fantastic, but I had overcommitted to this thing episodes ago, and you’re screwed then! So you have to water down some things. If you actually know the trajectory that you have to go through from beginning, middle and end in each episode, you can actually watch that and then you can commit fully to moments that deserve it. KRING: And the truth is, when you are doing as many episodes as you did on 24, no matter how clever and brilliant the writing is, there is inevitably what we call the art of the stall. You end up having to play those story lines or scenes that are basically just carrying the water between something that is really compelling and something else that is compelling. And they have to be done because you need to carry the water, but they can start to weigh you down as a writer and as an actor, I’m sure. WS: What payoff are you going to give the
viewer at the end of the first season while still giving them something to wait for in season two? KRING: Clearly, this is not the kind of show that you need to tune in and say, “I am going to commit my life to watching this show because they are going to pay something off in five years.” By the same token, we have a
mythology around the show, with what’s happening with Kiefer’s son’s character: Why is it happening? Who may be interested in exploiting that? Those are bigger stories that will have that sense of movement to them so that we can end the season with a question mark that makes you want to come back. But again, as you’ve marched your way through the show, you will have seen in the first season that you walked away from each episode in the same way you did in the pilot. The pilot leaves you with a question mark of, “Oh my God, who am I calling, why am I connected to somebody else?” It pulls you forward definitely, but it completely wraps you up in a story. SUTHERLAND: And on a much simpler level, our credo is, we are going to move you. It might not necessarily always be where you want to be moved, but we will move you and I would just simply just watch for that. WS: As viewers become hooked onto a show, they want a lot more information. How are you going to satisfy that need online or on other platforms? KRING: That is a big part of what we want to do. Anybody who is making a show now that is not thinking about this is really missing a huge opportunity. So we are trying to bake it in from the very beginning, so that it’s not an afterthought.We had content that preceded the launch of the show, [have] content that runs concurrent with the show and then [will have] content that runs in between the seasons, to keep people interested.We are looking at all the different ways to do that. Rather than taking a big scatter shotgun approach, which we had really the luxury [to do] on Heroes—because we were, along with GE [then parent com4/12
pany of NBC] on an initiative to get into the digital space—to be the testing ground for all that. No idea was a bad idea; it was like the wild, wild West! We were just doing anything we wanted and it was very exciting, but I started to see that some things really worked and some things didn’t.We are taking a much more targeted approach with Touch, trying to make a central portal that you have to go to, that can aggregate and congregate everybody. All the content comes from the engine room of the show—from the writers’ room and the producers of the show—so there will always be an authentic tether.You won’t get anything that is from some marketing department or a promo department. It will always be from the engine room. WS: My husband is very scientific; he only believes what is proven, what can be seen. I’m more spiritual. The show blends both elements. KRING: I will secretly lean your way whenever I can because I feel that in that lies great potential to move humanity. WS: Those are universal themes that are
going to appeal to an international audience. KRING: Absolutely, and ultimately the goal
is to make you feel that you live on a very small and fragile planet that needs this theme [of interconnectivity] to be a big part of it. SUTHERLAND: And what the boy and Martin are dealing with in New York has a profound effect on the story line in Iraq, has a profound effect on the story line in Ireland, and Japan, and on the man who is just traveling the world selling stuff. How Tim brings them together with his writing is really kind of extraordinary.
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House DAVID SHORE House, one of the most critically acclaimed television dramas of the last decade, was created by David Shore and stars Hugh Laurie as the damaged but highly gifted doctor who is able, often through the most unorthodox means and with the worst bedside manner, to solve difficult medical cases. The show combines brilliant diagnoses, crazy antics and thought-provoking questions about human nature.
WS: There have been some constant themes in House: people never change, people, or at least Dr. House, can’t really be happy, and people always lie.Why are these themes important to you? SHORE: Most movies and TV shows are naïve: there are major arcs that people have and they change dramatically. In one episode, House said that almost dying changes everything forever for two weeks! First of all, House is not quite as cynical as those themes would make him seem. Nobody changes, but it’s pretty clear watching the show that life is about striving to change.You may fail, but you’re doomed to fail and you’ll take steps backward if you don’t strive to change. We certainly see
that—striving. Even if you fail, it’s about striving. In terms of “everybody lies,” that’s a pithy little catchphrase. What it really means is that the truth is elusive and people’s views of the truth are often very, very wrong.We all look at the world through our own subjective lenses and our own subjective lenses distort the truth and House is striving to find an absolute truth. So it’s not so much that people say that something is white when they know it’s black, or vice versa, it’s when something is gray, some people will say it’s black and other people will say it’s white and truly believe that.
haven’t explored, the different ways of exploring your central character and all the characters around him. So it’s, What haven’t we done? and trying to find something that when you start talking you go, Oh, that’s cool.We haven’t done that. Let’s explore that. Let’s go deeper with that. WS: I’m speaking to a lot of showrunners working in pay TV who say they have so much creative freedom. Have you ever felt constrained writing for advertiser-supported TV? SHORE: For whatever reason, I really haven’t. I look at TV and I see that difference they’re
DRAMATIC HIGH House is ranked among the most well-distributed U.S. dramas, having been acquired in more than 200 markets. WS: Are others themes important to you? You have a great platform, don’t you? SHORE: It’s absolutely fantastic as a writer and as a person with a point of view on the world, to be able to spout off my own personal point of view and have millions and millions of people in countries all around the world watch it and respond. That’s what’s really gratifying—having people respond to the same things in all nations. In terms of other themes, emotion versus the intellect is a thing that we’ve constantly gone at, but that’s just another way of looking at that pursuit of truth, objective truth. WS: What have been your
major concerns at the beginning of each season in keeping the show interesting and fresh? SHORE: There’s a bit of a contradictory thing that happens at the beginning of every season, and in a sense, in every episode. What themes do we want to explore now? Specifically, what different stories do we want to tell? It’s got to be new and interesting.This is all very obvious and yet it’s very tricky as you’re going along. It’s finding the themes you 128
talking about, but I haven’t felt it for whatever reason, either because we were successful, though we weren’t successful right from the top, or just because I choose to deal with these issues when maybe other shows don’t. I don’t know how it slipped by, but there’s never been an issue that I decided to explore that the network said we’d rather you didn’t go there. Obviously there are limitations—I can’t swear, I can’t show nudity—but that’s fine; I don’t have a problem with that. That’s not what the show’s about. We have fun with working around that, actually. The constraints that are annoying are producing 22 episodes instead of 13—that can be very tiresome, but more is good, too. And having to write an episode that is exactly 42 minutes and 43 seconds, or whatever it is, that’s a nightmare! [Laughs] WS: It has been announced that this is the last season of House. Is there other subject matter that you would like to explore or are you going to take time off from TV? SHORE: I like TV. TV’s been good to me and I love that you can really explore characters, explore the human condition over extended periods of time in a different way. It’s wonderful. It allows for a much more nuanced approach to character. So I will probably come back to TV—in what form, I’m not sure. Hopefully I’ve got more to say.
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Person of Interest JONATHAN NOLAN A presumed dead former CIA officer teams up with a mysterious software genius who has invented a machine that uses pattern recognition to identify people about to be involved in violent crimes. This is the premise of Person of Interest, created by Jonathan Nolan, who raises provocative questions about video surveillance and online tracking systems that follow nearly every aspect of our lives.
WS: What served as inspiration for the show? NOLAN: I grew up in the U.K. My child-
hood was spent in London and during the ’70s and ’80s Scotland Yard started putting up cameras everywhere. Then I moved to the States and they didn’t have any cameras— none in public—they were only in private institutions. Since then, and obviously since September 11, we’ve seen a rise in these surveillance cameras all over America, but especially in lower Manhattan, which is the most surveilled place in the world. I was always wondering who is watching those cameras and why are they watching. To some extent they are overtaxed, underpaid police officers, but automation and technology have come online and the answer is something is watch-
ing those cameras, something is listening to us all the time. For a long time I have been fascinated by this concept of the panopticon [a round-the-clock surveillance machine]. But clearly the question I was always most interested in is not the bigticket items they were looking for with these cameras set up to prevent terrorist attacks. I was always fascinated by the smaller things that they would see, the everyday human behavior: the husband cheating on his wife, the neighbor scheming and plotting to kill his neighbor, the everyday smaller crimes and dramas that were out of sight of everyone else.
NOLAN: It’s actually great fun. On our show
we have a story-of-the-week format so we have to create a beginning, a middle and an end in each episode. But we also have this larger mythology, this larger story we are telling about the characters and their relationships, and about the machine: who knows about it, what they would do to protect it. Hopefully the relationship between the principal characters will change and grow and alter.We have to generate so much story it’s a wonderful challenge. What is sometimes frustrating about writing movies is that you only get two hours [in
DRAMATIC HIGH After cowriting The Dark Knight, Nolan teamed up with J.J. Abrams to develop Person of Interest for CBS. WS: I’ve read that the government actually has
developed a surveillance machine similar to the one in your show. NOLAN: Yes. The show is one firmware upgrade from reality and the reality is that the U.S. government has been actively trying to build exactly this machine portrayed in the show for at least 15 years. This is really based on what the government has been trying to do: datamining technology, which is really just software that analyzes images, that listens to all these phone calls, that reads all these e-mails and looks for patterns. They are looking for clues and for criminal intent. The question we had on the show was, to some degree people hope that the government has the capacity to stop largescale terrorist attacks, but what about all the other information that is generated by those machines? At what point do you stop watching, at what point do you stop listening? WS: What creative challenges
and freedoms do you have writing for television compared with writing feature films? 130
which to tell] that story and to explore that character. If you are lucky enough to be working on a set of characters that are compelling and fun, with actors that are extremely talented, you want to continue to explore those characters and that’s what television allows you to do. WS: As the series continues, will you reveal more about the relationship between the main characters and their backstories? NOLAN: Absolutely. One of the shows I really admired was Lost, and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to work with J.J. Abrams at Bad Robot. Lost explored characters forwards and backwards. It had the flashback structure that allows you to learn new things about the characters that you didn’t know until you looked into their past, but it also gave the wonderful opportunity to take you and drop you into a moment in that character’s life when they were in a very different circumstance. One of the fun things about a television show is that if you are interested in a character completely you have the ability to explore the different nuances completely. That is why the pilot had flashbacks— because we wanted to explore these characters going backwards. And there are compelling and fascinating questions that we’d like to answer not only about where they are going but where they came from.
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The Killing PIV BERNTH The Killing, the acclaimed Danish crime series, was not only a hit in its home country, but its investigation of a murder over the course of 20 episodes hooked viewers in Britain, Germany, Scandinavia and numerous other territories. Executive producer Piv Bernth, who is wrapping up the show’s third and last season, also served as a consultant to the American version that aired on AMC.
WS: How was The Killing different from
previous Danish drama series? BERNTH: It was the first show that wasn’t
episodic drama.This was an ongoing drama for 20 episodes, and that was something very new at the time. Not having a new murder case in every episode or in every other episode, it was the first time someone had done that, at least in Europe.We had some inspiration from Murder One and from 24 as well.Trying to go for one story about one killing in 20 episodes, you really need a lot of things to go on. WS: Is that one of the reasons why the show
has different plot lines? BERNTH: It’s not only a story about who
killed the young girl. It’s also a story about what happens to people who are somehow
influenced by this terrible act. Even though you haven’t got anything to do with it, you’ll be influenced by it. Because the tagline really is, We are all in this life together. You can’t really go on your own. WS: Everything is interconnected, right? BERNTH: Exactly, our destinies are as well,
because as something happens on the other side of town, it can influence your life. And that is very interesting.We really wanted to follow an investigation day by day. Nobody had ever done that. Previous series would only offer the highlights of crime stories. We
We have the same structure. We have three or four of the same actors, but everything else is new. We did the second season because we had just finished the first and after we broadcast the last episode we said, Wow, we have to do more of these. It’s good material, this is a wonderful character—Detective Sarah Lund—let’s do ten more episodes. We had the plot ready. We knew we were going to debate the Afghanistan war. When we finished that, we really discussed and decided we wanted to tell her story till the end with ten more episodes.We tried to clean the slate and start all over again. It’s been very chal-
DRAMATIC HIGH After scoring slots across Europe, The Killing became the first Danish drama to be remade for the U.S. wanted to see what is the influence on the relatives, the parents, the brothers, all of the family. What is the grief they go through, what are the states of grief? We really go into the feeling of what it is like to lose a daughter and your life is turned upside down like that. It is also a question of being able to take fate in your own hands. And in the end when the father kills the perpetrator, is that OK? You understand the feeling, but can you do that? WS: What have been some of the creative challenges in keeping the stories fresh and different? BERNTH: The more episodes we do the more difficult it is.We feel the third season is the most challenging we have ever done, because we are so concerned about not repeating ourselves and not being lazy artistically. We have a lot of good scenes we have been thinking about for the third season and we look at each other and say, No, we did this scene in the first season so we can’t do that. We have been trying not to repeat ourselves and that is very challenging. 132
lenging: shooting, writing, editing, we do all at the same time. WS: The American version remained fairly
faithful to the original. BERNTH: Yes, and we are very happy and
very proud of that because it’s a big thing for us in Denmark. We are a small country and we have gotten so much from America and now we can send something back. Last year in January I spent a week on the set of the American show and the respect they have for the original version is great. WS: What are some of the similarities? BERNTH: The visual concept, the way the
characters move through the series, what they do.They had to change [some elements] and they moved the scenes around from one episode to another, but they kept all the main things in the characters and the plot. WS: The U.S. version also respected the
same kind of pacing, which was a bit slower and a bit unusual for American television. BERNTH: Absolutely, that was great. I liked that AMC said to the producers, we want this and pointed to our series, we don’t want another American series with fast-paced tempo and a lot of crash-bang cars and a lot of shootings. It was really courageous that they wanted to do something different.
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Revenge MIKE KELLEY When ABC wanted to do a show based on Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo, set in the Hamptons with a female lead, Mike Kelley came up with Revenge. The prime-time series focuses on the time-tested theme of vengeance, but adds a modern twist: intertwining plot lines featuring love-to-hate characters, lavish lifestyles and high-octane drama.
ple had done to her family. It started out as a way to dole out information so that people could understand, but it’s become its own strain of story.We have a complete storyboard in the writers’ room about what we want to tell regarding Emily; regarding her father, David; regarding Victoria [who framed David]; and a few more secrets that we’re holding onto right now.
WS: The show blends two stories: one that
WS: Revenge has qualities of a soap opera, a melodrama and a thriller. KELLEY: It’s a combination of things. You try to embrace what’s working. I try to
moves forward with the lead character, Emily, taking down, one by one, the people who framed her dad, and in parallel another story that moves backward and through flashbacks shows why she’s doing it.Where did that dualstory-line idea come from? KELLEY: In The Count of Monte Cristo there is a linear story that takes place over decades, and you don’t have the luxury to begin the story at the beginning on television. So it was really important for me to give Emily proper motivation in an eye-for-an-eye sort of way.We had to understand what was driving her and get the audience on her side. It was really important to let them know exactly how damaged this little girl had been by what these peo-
We’re in the hands of a lot of really committed actors who are quite capable of going to a lot of different places. In the writers’ room we were surprised to learn that we could tell so many different kinds of stories, whether it’s a love story from the past between Victoria and David or whether it’s a really splashy takedown of a very terrible person or whether it’s a slow-burning arc of a guest star that reveals himself or herself to be a surprising character. Or whether it’s a romantic triangle between Emily and Jack and Daniel. The show lives in a lot of places, so we’re really lucky to have that broad canvas.
DRAMATIC HIGH Considered one of the best new shows of 2011, Revenge has frequently won its slot for ABC, outrating the juggernaut CSI. [blend] what people are enjoying and the kind of stories that I like to tell. What is so fun for us in the writers’ room was to discover that this show can be all those things. I had a funny experience when I was getting my hair cut and the guy who was cutting my hair said, “Oh, I’ve been watching your show. It’s such a guilty pleasure.” And I said, “Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” And he said, “All those bitchy people doing all those nasty things to each other.” And then the girl who was getting her hair cut next to me said, “Are you talking about Revenge?” And he said, “Yeah.” And she said, “That isn’t just a guilty pleasure, it’s a total pleasure and I’ll tell you why.” They had this big argument. What I took away from it was, well this is awesome! Two people are getting two completely different experiences out of it and enjoying it at the same time.You can see it for whatever you want. If you want to tune in for nasty people doing awful things to each other, great; if you want to tune in for the more emotional aspects of the show, you can because they’re certainly there. 134
WS: Will there be any forgiveness or redemp-
tion in the series? KELLEY: We’re finding that it’s a bit of a
roller coaster. There will be moments of redemption, there will be moments of clarity and forgiveness, but overall, we like the theme of revenge and what makes people go to that dark place, so a lot more people will be getting a lot more revenge; it’s not just Emily. We have a whole plan for a much larger mythology about the show and we’re holding back on it because we’re finding that what’s working on the show are the interpersonal relationships. So we’ve got a plan to draw this series out in a really good way for many seasons and hopefully the audience will continue to come along for the ride. But to answer your question, I started the show with a quote from Confucius that says, “When you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” And the voice over says, “This is not a story about forgiveness.” So there are two places we can end the show: one is with Emily having succeeded in destroying the people she set out to destroy, and destroying herself in the process, or there’s Victoria and Emily standing across the field of fallen bodies and forgiving one another. The only real way out of revenge is forgiveness, but that’s a long way off for everyone on the show.
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Borgia TOM FONTANA A prolific writer, Tom Fontana has been the creative voice behind a number of groundbreaking series, from the ’80s medical drama St. Elsewhere to HBO’s Oz, about life in a maximum security prison, and the cop series Homicide: Life on the Street, shot entirely on location with handheld cameras. He is currently working on Borgia and the new series Copper.
WS: What appealed to you about Borgia?
How did the series come about? FONTANA: Lagardère in Paris approached me, through Anne Thomopoulos, to see if I was interested in doing a series about the Borgias. Well, of course I was, because, being a Catholic, I have always been fascinated by the history of the papacy and the work done at the Vatican. The Catholic Church is an extraordinary institution, promoting many essential spiritual values. But sometimes the hierarchy is dominated by men whose agendas are quite different from the teachings of Christ. I think Borgia is a good opportunity to explore that theme—not just the Church, but an organization. How do we go off the track? And why? Also, the history has a lot of sex and humor and brutality, which is always fun to write.
WS: Borgia is an international co-production.
Is editorial control—script approval, casting, choice of directors, etc.—shared with the production and financing partners, and if so, how? FONTANA: Because Lagardère wanted to make Borgia using the American model, they hired me to be the showrunner. Basically that means I have the final say on scripts, casting, directors, editing, music, etc. But the people I’m producing this with (Lagardère, Beta Film/EOS, Canal+ and ZDF) as well as my creative partners, Anne Thomopoulos and Barry Levinson, are so talented, I’d be a fool not to listen to their advice.
ing at what we’re doing with Borgia and wondering how to duplicate the process. WS: Compared with the days of St. Elsewhere, how much more complex—in terms of production values, special effects, editing, etc.—has producing a drama series become today? FONTANA: Producing St. Elsewhere was a joy to do because I was learning from the best, Bruce Paltrow. The technology has gotten more complex, of course, as well as the means of distribution. But actually, making a series week after week is fundamentally the same.
DRAMATIC HIGH A French-German production commissioned by Canal+, Borgia was Netflix’s first major international series acquisition. WS: Are there more people involved in
providing notes for Borgia than you have experienced when writing a show for a U.S. network? FONTANA: In America, you get notes from the studio and the network. Here we have two studios and several networks. WS: What cost reductions did
you have producing Borgia in Europe, compared with producing a comparable series in the U.S.? FONTANA: The cost restrictions in Europe seem to be about the same. There’s no money anymore, so the task of producing a quality series is very hard, especially one set in a period like the Renaissance. WS: As audiences fragment, broadcasters are looking for signature, high-quality event series that will create a buzz and draw viewers. These series, of course, are expensive. Is an international co-production like Borgia a model to follow in the future when producing high-end series? FONTANA: In America, I can already see the executives look136
WS: What factors have elevated the cost of an
episode of a drama series to about $3 million? FONTANA: The costs of production have
increased because the world is a more expensive place to live and work. Everyone has to spend more wisely. WS: Tell us about Copper for BBC America. Where did the idea come from? FONTANA: Copper is a series that I have been developing with Will Rokos (who wrote the film Monster’s Ball ) for almost five years. We originally wrote the script for AMC and, after they passed, we shopped the material around. We had a lot of interest over the years, but the budgets never added up. Finally, Christina Wayne, who was shepherding us the entire time, convinced Cineflix to be the studio. When Perry Simon took over as general manager of channels at BBC America, he called my agent and asked if I had a passion project in the trunk. My agent, Peter Benedek, said, “Copper.” Perry read the script and said, “Let’s go!” WS: Are Netflix and other digital platforms friends or foes of television writers and producers? FONTANA: Borgia is the first original scripted series on Netflix. So I love them. Anytime the competition gets tougher, we all get better.
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Missing ASHLEY JUDD Ashley Judd makes her return to the small screen in the ABC drama Missing, as a former CIA officer searching for her kidnapped son. Featuring an international cast, including Cliff Curtis from New Zealand and Adriano Giannini from Italy, and shot in numerous locales around the world, Missing is an American-style action series intended for a global audience.
WS: This is your first TV role in some time.
Why did it appeal to you? JUDD: At the very beginning of my career,
while I was still studying acting at Playhouse West in North Hollywood, I had a recurring role on the NBC show Sisters. I haven’t done television with the exception of the HBO movie Norma Jean & Marilyn since then, and the appeal of doing Missing was manifold. Number one, after a period of five years of being basically retired, I was interested in acting again. Two, television is experiencing an incredible golden age—phenomenal producers, writers, actors, and the production values are outstanding.Whatever membrane there used to be that vaguely separated television and film is now completely gone. And three, Missing had the power of a network, ABC, with its tremendous
global presence, but was only ten episodes per season.That is more of a cable schedule, which was a necessity for me given the robustness of the other areas of my life, which are very important to me. And lastly, the premise: I am former CIA, devoutly retired, not totally proud of my past and former way of life, yet find myself, when the most important thing in the world to me—my son—is missing, reluctantly having to return to that world and those skills in order to restore my family. It was a very simple and powerful premise that had an extraordinary amount of depth and possibility for narrative exploration.
Some films have the ability to do that because they have the budget for multiple cameras and crew, but in TV it’s just de facto.There was just a speed and a dynamism to it that was amazing. There were times that at the end of the day, I would think, we only did one take on that—one take on four cameras—and I wish that I had not gotten caught up in the pace and said, Wait a minute, I’d like to go again. There’s a lot for a director to process with television and sometimes I found myself as an actor taking care of myself quite a lot.And saying, Can I try that a different way? So I had to be very mindful. I did enjoy the speed
DRAMATIC HIGH Shot in destinations across the globe with an international cast, Missing sold to 80-plus markets before its U.S. premiere. WS: What creative challenges does television offer, shooting multiple episodes, as opposed to doing feature films? JUDD: The thing that stunned me initially was the extraordinary speed with which television shoots. First of all, a lot has changed, even in the past few years, with regard to the technology. We were shooting in digital high def and so there’s a lack of lighting and lack of need for big equipment. As practical and perhaps boring as that sounds, there’s no longer a need to move lights and cables and equipment, so the speed with which the camera moves and turns around was absolutely head swiveling for me. There wasn’t even time to go back to one’s trailer. God forbid one hasn’t learned one’s lines! You really don’t have time to do that on the fly, shooting the television pace. I’ve forgotten the average number of pages of script per day a film typically shoots, but in TV there were days when we were shooting 10 and 12 pages a day. Having 70 to 75 camera setups a day and always shooting with multiple cameras has been a dream of mine my whole career. 138
though. It’s awfully rewarding to blow through that amount of material. WS: This is truly an international production because you’re shooting in many different cities. Is that an important element to you? JUDD: Missing is international through and through in every aspect of the production. We have tremendous diversity in our cast. We have incredible beauty and diversity of our locations, from Croatia to Italy to the Czech Republic.We have locations that take place in Turkey and Bulgaria and France, and also behind the scenes we had a very international roster of talent supporting the production. Hopefully it’ll be fun for Americans to see places to which they perhaps can’t travel. It’ll be helpful for the people of the world to see actors that they know and love in cities with which they may be familiar or in which they may live and also places that they too would like to travel to. We initially talked about a different continent for every season, should the show be continued. And acting in a different language. I admire that. That’s tough. I think I want to do that. I speak French, and as my husband says, I speak Spanish and pretend it’s Italian! I want to do that someday, but actually seeing [co-star Adriano Giannini] do it is something I really admire. It takes a lot of guts.
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Lilyhammer STEVEN VAN ZANDT Television audiences got to know Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano’s consigliere. In real life he is also a record producer, songwriter, musician and human rights activist. He returns to the small screen in Lilyhammer, a dramedy about a New York mobster who enters the witness-protection program and moves to Norway, but soon discovers that once a gangster, always a gangster.
the expression “fish out of water”—this is the ultimate fish out of water. He’s very, very American in the sense of not really following any rules and all of a sudden he’s in a society that does follow the rules. That conflict is what’s entertaining. WS: The show has so many more layers than
just culture shock. VAN ZANDT: True. First of all, it shouldn’t
WS: Tell us about the character that you play in Lilyhammer. VAN ZANDT: He’s known as Frankie the Fixer because he fixes people’s problems. Everybody likes him, he gets along with everybody, he’s an operator, he’s very comfortable with who he is. All of a sudden, his boss dies and the boss’s brother takes over and tries to have Frankie killed, which is a big shock to him because no one’s ever said a negative word to him, never mind try to kill him. Maybe he overreacts a little bit, but he decides to run away to Lillehammer in the witness-protection program, but of course there he just continues his criminal lifestyle. That’s all he really knows, so he’s forced to try and fit into that society.You always hear
really be thought of as a comedy because then the audience will be disappointed. It’s not people making jokes or being funny. The humor comes from the characters, from the circum-
are just not welcome: we don’t like subtitles, we don’t like dubbing that much. We’re weird in America. Of course, there’s always a cult group of people who love foreign films, but generally speaking, [they don’t have] mass [appeal]. I’m not sure where that comes from; I think we underestimate the intelligence of the audience, frankly.This innovation of having an American starring in a Norwegian show opens the door—Netflix bought it [to run as its first original series]. You can relate to the show enough where you’ll accept whatever foreign part comes with it, and that’s important because now people will be more under-
DRAMATIC HIGH Produced for NRK in Norway, Lilyhammer was picked up by Netflix for its U.S. and international streaming services. stances. Everyone’s playing it totally straight, so there’s humor in it, but it’s not a comedy. The layers had to do with the depth of the culture itself. I think there’s going to be a discovery of Norway with this show for almost everybody. Even people who go there occasionally don’t really know it, and I’ve learned so much about it myself during the course of being there. The depth of the show comes from the depth of Norwegian culture itself. That gets peeled like an onion as we see things through Frankie’s eyes and we’re all having the same discovery.There is some serious stuff that goes on. He has a girlfriend and there’s romantic stuff. She has a kid, which is another nice layer of it because he’s mentoring this kid in a questionable way [laughs], especially for that society. So there are a lot of fun things. WS: The series was made for
the Norwegian broadcaster NRK and yet it’s also a very international show. VAN ZANDT: Most of what we call foreign in America, films or TV shows, may fight their way into American society, but they 140
standing about the foreign part, which is actually quite cool. It’s innovative in that it’s a person from a different culture starring in a show and it’s innovative in the fact that we maintained the integrity of the origins of the show. America and every country, I hope, will see Norway, maybe for the first time. WS: Netflix must have seen the innovation in this show in order to pick it up. VAN ZANDT: Yeah, and very cool of them to do so, because in the next five years, you’re going to see a lot of new broadcasters and companies appearing, especially in the digital world. They’re going to be looking for the same content. But there will be somewhere between one and maybe ten shows that will be, in fact, the identity of a particular company and that is where it gets interesting. So in this case Netflix is a little bit ahead of everybody else in saying, You know what, we’re the most successful company at [streaming programming] but we can see a day where we’re going to need to strengthen our identity, and a wonderful way to do it [is by supporting] something really cool.You’re going to see this, I hope, with other companies as well, where they fund original programming for their own identity while [still providing third-party content]. It’s a very exciting time for us content creators to have this new influx of enthusiasm and it’s wonderful.
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one on one assionate engagement—that is what HBO wants from its subscribers. A key component in eliciting such viewer loyalty has been the variety of the slate of original programming the pay-TV company has had on offer. For nearly five years, Richard Plepler, HBO’s co-president, and Michael Lombardo, president of programming, have been partners in the search for shows their customers can’t do without. Launched as a satellite service in 1972 with the aim
The Wire or hilarious or bold like Curb Your Enthusiasm or Sex and the City. When The Sopranos ended, in 2007, there was much speculation about how HBO could match that level of success. But the channel had already become the first port of call for writers seeking to pursue their vision and Plepler and Lombardo had been courting talent and receiving pitches. The results of their efforts include True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and the recent Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman is not the only feature-film veteran to have crossed over to the small screen. Martin Scorsese directed the pilot of Boardwalk and serves as one of the series’ executive producers; Michael Mann directed Luck; and Aaron Sorkin penned the upcoming series Newsroom. HBO’s mini-series and movies are also attracting the likes of Kate Winslet, Michael Douglas and Nicole Kidman. New mini-series and TV movie highlights for the network include the Liberace bio-pic Behind the Candelabra and Game Change , based on the best-selling book Game
Richard Plepler & Michael Lombardo Home Box Office
of offering viewers at home theatrical films uninterrupted by commercials—with the apropos name of Home Box Office— HBO soon branched out into other genres. But management knew that whatever it offered had to be something viewers couldn’t get anywhere else, whether blockbuster Hollywood mo vies, sports or awardwinning documentaries. Yet, there was the need to provide more in order to brand HBO as a truly different service. Its tagline, after all, was: “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” The answer was original series. One of the first was the satirical sitcom The Larry Sanders Show, which premiered in 1992. Oz was the first original hour-long drama. It first aired in 1997 and was far from a traditional television series. It was a gritty, realistic depiction of life in a maximum-security prison. In 1999 came the debut of The Sopranos, the multiaward-winning series about mobsters in New Jersey that was widely credited as the watershed series that changed television dramas forever from formulaic, plot-driven medical, police or legal procedurals to shows that delved into characters—slowly peeling off layer after layer of human flaws, contradiction, conflicted intentions and questionable morality. No longer were viewers lulled into comfortable, stereotypical settings and situations. HBO series could be unsettling or disturbing like Six Feet Under or 4/12
Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. In 2011, HBO’s original productions won four Golden Globes and 19 Primetime Emmys. Plepler and Lombardo talk to World Screen about their continual search for distinctive and genre-defining programming.
Michael Lombardo 193
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one on one
Man of the hour: For his role as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson on HBO’s Prohibition-era drama Boardwalk Empire, Steve Buscemi picked up a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a TV series. WS: HBO has a relationship with
its subscribers, not with advertisers. How does that shape your original productions strategy? PLEPLER: You’ve put your finger on it very well—what we are selling to our subscribers is a brand. The key to our brand is to be distinctive, original, and to create programming that people feel they cannot get anywhere else, and which speaks to quality. We believe that if we can continue to deliver, across the original-programming landscape, those original voices, which come from the talent that we are fortunate enough to work with, we are going to continue to deliver on our brand promise to our customer—and that promise is you get something here that is special.That is our job each and every day, to wake up and say, How do we find the next piece of quality and deliver it to our subscribers? If we continue to do that, there will be, I think, continued response and excitement about our brand.
ular entertainment, but we are not looking to ever find the next Sopranos, there is no such thing. What we are looking for always is the next high-quality piece of programming and we believe, with gratitude, that Boardwalk Empire represents that, Game of Thrones represents that, Luck represents that and True Blood represents that. Aaron Sorkin’s new show Newsroom, Armando Iannucci’s new show, called Veep, Lena Dunham’s new show, called Girls, these are all, in our opinion, in the tradition of HBO high-quality programming. That is what we are selling. It’s very important that you define success correctly every day. And there is always the temptation to define success as your last success. And the truth is that success is really about original voices. And you never know when that original voice is going to come in the door. So you need to have a culture which is responsive and open to those original voices. WS: HBO is a place that allows writ-
WS: The Sopranos set the bar so
high. As a result of that success, what types of series do you look for—what fits the HBO brand? PLEPLER: The Sopranos was of course a transcendent piece of pop-
ers and showrunners to follow their vision. Would you give some examples of how you have done that? LOMBARDO: There are many. I can start with shows that are successful—for example, Boardwalk 194
Empire. Terry Winter decided what he wanted to write about, the 1920s, and about this character loosely based on a real character. The scope of it was something he believed in. It meant, for us, that the show was going to be more expensive than we would have hoped. It meant that it was a period piece. Initially, when we had talked about Atlantic City, we thought he might gravitate toward something modern, but this moment in history is what moved him. That’s the character of almost all of our shows. Take a show like Enlightened; it has a very specific tone.There are people who love that show and there are people who do not get that show. But it is absolutely true to the creator’s voice.You can feel that Enlightened is not a show that we manipulate or worry about getting the largest number of eyeballs [for]. When we sign on with a creator, our notes, at their best, should hopefully help them achieve what they set out to achieve. Our notes are not about changing the show into one that we think could be more successful by some metrics other than the happiness of the creator. You can see that very clearly in Enlightened, you can see that very clearly in Luck. If there is a way
to write a particular narrative from A to B, David Milch [the creator of Luck] is not necessarily interested in writing that way. He’s interested in the detours—the detours of human emotion, the detours in storytelling. Some of that makes for a more attenuated narrative. If you pull out a book on Television 101, that would not be something that they’d encourage you to do, yet there is such a beauty and such a power in his writing, that’s why we are in business with David Milch. We knew that going in. We’re not in business with David Milch to hope he writes like another writer—and part of that journey is that he takes his time in articulating the story and getting there. WS: Since you are not advertisersupported—you get income from subscribers—may I assume that with a fairly constant subscriber base, you have a better idea each year of what your programming budget will be than, say, Leslie Moonves does, as CBS depends on advertising? PLEPLER: The essential insight of your question is correct. We have a relatively predictable revenue stream. Obviously we seek to grow it every year. We are able to justify [our
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price increases] because we are not only giving our distributors more value, but through such technologies as HBO GO and HBO On Demand, we are giving them a variety of ways for their customers to watch our programming, which adds to value.We are growing internationally, which adds to our revenue. We’re selling into more markets. We are building more networks. All of these things contribute to our growth. We know and are able to plan, reasonably well, over three- to four-year cycles, and that is very, very helpful in enabling us to frame out what we want to do. What Mike and I have sought to do from the beginning,
four and a half years ago, is try to get about 100 hours of original series every year. We’re probably now somewhere in the low 80s, so we have a little bit more that we can still do.That doesn’t include our documentary programming, our sports programming, our specials, comedy or music, or our original movies. But in terms of the series genre, we are looking to do about 100 hours and we thankfully have the resources to be able to do that. WS: If a broadcast network has a
show whose ratings increase, it can charge advertisers more. Are there ways you can increase your revenues as a series becomes more successful?
PLEPLER: Not in the same way.
What enables us to continue to leverage our brand with our distributors and our customers is the quality and consistency of our programming. So as shows become more and more popular, whether it’s True Blood or Game of Thrones or Boardwalk, that creates a certain passionate engagement with our customers. As we create passionate engagement, obviously they become more addicted to our network and to our brand. The longer we can hold a subscriber, the more of that revenue flows into the bottom line and P&L of our company. So preserving subscriber life for two or three or four months longer has an immediate impact on our bottom line.We believe that the way to secure added addictive passionate engagement from our subscribers is more and more quality shows that they don’t want to miss. In that way there is a direct link between the extension of a series and the continued loyalty of our customers. WS: International sales also contribute to your revenues. PLEPLER: Charles Schreger [the president of programming sales] will tell you this in more detail than I can, but when Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones become major hits, and he is selling them internationally, he obviously can command higher dollars as he moves that deal further into a four- or five-year plan. [Our programming] does very well internationally and when Mike and I speak to international audiences we see that there is an appetite all over the world for quality programming, for our brand of original programming. And whether we are in London or Spain or talking to international buyers in Cannes, we hear over and over again that there is a real audience for what we do. WS: Since you aren’t driven by rat-
Captive audiences: The acclaimed Game of Thrones, returning for a second season this spring, is based on George R. R. Martin’s medieval fantasy novels. 4/12
ings the way broadcast and cable networks are, how do you decide when to cancel a show? LOMBARDO: It’s not correct to say we don’t care at all about ratings. It
is one of the things we look at, certainly.You want to know that your show is connecting with some group. I don’t think we’re making decisions based solely on the number of eyeballs.What we are looking for is, Does the show have places to go creatively? Are there places the creator still wants to take us and still feel vital and interesting? And it’s very important to us that the shows feel like there is passionate engagement by the consumer. Our shows don’t have to be everyone’s favorite, but they’d better be somebody’s favorite. When someone is making a decision every month, whether to continue paying for HBO, there has to be something on our service that they just can’t imagine not having every month. For some people that show is a mini-series like Mildred Pierce, an original film like Too Big to Fail, boxing or series like True Blood and Game of Thrones. In addition, right now, our resources dictate that we are programming original series one night a week: Sunday night. When we want to bring in new shows, there comes a point where those decisions become harder and harder. We tried this year to move a show from Sunday to Monday. That is very hard for us to do. We don’t have the marketing resources to compete with the networks and we can’t program another night for the entire year. It’s just not a successful way for us to launch a show. Limited shelf space is increasingly an issue for us. We make hard decisions on that basis. Our considerations are: Is the audience growing or is it declining? Is this a show that we are hearing is a must-have show for people? And we ask creators, Where do you want to go, what do you have to say? Those are hard decisions. WS: For a long time HBO has been attracting feature-film talent. What does HBO offer them? LOMBARDO: There are two things happening. One is a shift in the movie business where the kinds of movies that are getting made today
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one on one are very different from the movies that got made ten years ago. A lot of what I will call serious filmmakers, who are interested in adult stories, aren’t finding the opportunities at the studios that they found ten years ago. Second, and more important, a great script and great writing attract great directors. It’s as simple as that. There is nothing better to attract talent than to start with a great script. Being in a non-ad-supported environment is very important for directors to feel that their work will be seen in its continuity.They know we will give them the kind of support they need in terms of their own vision, in terms of casting and of the look and feel of a show.There is no conscious decision or effort to woo people from the feature-film world, because we have some excellent directors. Some of our most talented directors, in fact, have worked on the small screen only. The phenomenon of movie talent working in television [also applies to actors]. We are about to start shooting an HBO film [Behind the Candelabra] with Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, directed by Steven Soderbergh. We had one in March [Game Change] with Julianne Moore and Ed Harris. We have a very sexy romantic film [Hemingway & Gellhorn] later in the year with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. That is a paradigm shift. Ten years ago and even five years ago, there used to be a line that talent didn’t cross—they just did movies and didn’t do anything for the smaller screen. We are seeing that certainly in movies and in series it’s all about the material. With a good script on HBO, we can have a conversation with anybody, and that is exciting. WS: They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.There are a number of other channels that are going after high-quality, event original productions, such as Showtime, Starz, AMC, IFC, FX. Is this taking potential talent away from HBO? PLEPLER: The answer is unequivocally no.We hear over and over again
First lady: Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in Veep, HBO’s new comedy from Armando Iannucci about a fictional U.S. Vice President.
from producers, agents, managers and actors who want to be at HBO. I say over and over again, and it’s true, this is not a zero-sum game. It does not hurt HBO if there is a good show on AMC or a good show on Showtime. All that would hurt HBO is if we somehow stopped playing our game as we are capable of playing it. As long as we do that, we have a line at the door of showrunners, writers and producers and auteurs who want to work with us. Our challenge, quite frankly, is figuring out a way to do all the things we want to do, it’s not making sure we have enough talent at the door to do them. WS: BSkyB’s Sky Atlantic is the
home of HBO in the U.K. Are there plans to make similar deals with other media companies? PLEPLER: This is a question of the market dictating what makes sense, and if the market dictates that something makes sense, Simon [Sutton, the president of HBO International and Content Distribution] and Charles [Schreger] will make that happen. If selling programming into a particular market is what makes sense for HBO’s expansion in that region, that is what we’ll do. If doing a BSkyB deal makes more sense in the U.K., that is what we’ll do.We are looking to let the market define where our brand resonates best and then go from there. 196
WS: HBO also produces original
productions in Latin America and Central Europe.What is the strategy for locally produced series or movies or minis? PLEPLER: Same answer: it’s a market-based question. We give great leeway to the individuals running those networks in those regions. If they think that the format rights to a show like In Treatment will work in Hungary, then they should do it. If in Latin America they think that there are shows that are particular to that region, and that make business sense, they should do that. We give a very decentralized embrace to our local managers to either look at format rights or originals that may make sense in their territories or countries, and let them decide, on top of using our own library of programs. WS: In the many years you have
been involved with HBO’s original programming, what have been the biggest surprises and the biggest satisfactions? PLEPLER: I must say that the biggest satisfaction, to be honest, has been the rejuvenation of our creative culture that Mike and I have been so proud to lead in the last four and a half years. After the success we had with The Sopranos
and Sex and the City, people forgot what it is that brought us to the dance in the first place, which was listening for original voices, being brave enough to trust those voices, not looking for success but looking for quality and knowing that quality would eventually bring us success. We were very disciplined in returning to that core ideology together and embracing people in the creative community who, after all, are the way you get there. It’s been an enormously rewarding partnership for me with Mike, and our partnership with showrunners and talent, from Alan Ball (True Blood ) to Terry Winter and Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire) and all the teams. It’s enormously gratifying. I think the surprise—I wouldn’t even use that word—the joy is in rediscovering that if you trust the artistic vision that brought us here in the first place, which we have done in the last four and a half years, the audience will be there for you, the market will respond to excellence.You do not have to make television for the lowest common denominator either here or anywhere in the world. You can make quality television and there is a huge market for it and it’s deeply appreciated in the culture.
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on the record ast year, when the Fox Networks Group (FNG) was restructured, David Haslingden was tapped as president and COO of this unit of News Corporation, which has valuable broadcast and cable assets in the U.S. and throughout the world, including Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX), FOX Sports Media Group, the company’s national and regional cable programming services, FOX International Channels, and Fox Networks Engineering & Operations. Besides the FOX network, FNG’s holdings in the U.S. include FX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Speed and a portfolio of Fox Sports Channels, for a total of 43 services that reach more than 550 million subscribing homes. Around the world, FNG’s assets have a very broad footprint comprised of the FOX International Channels (FIC), which include more than 350 networks delivered in 35 languages across Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as the STAR channels. Prior to joining FNG, Haslingden was the CEO of FIC and National Geographic Channels Worldwide for more than ten years. Responsible for the fastest-growing group of channels in the world, he acquired extensive experience working with cable operators and satellite platforms in various
countries, identifying niche opportunities and underserved audiences. He also encouraged substantial investment in original programming in an effort to make the channels unique in their markets. Haslingden leveraged the strength and reach of FIC’s bouquet to make it a viable and desirable programming partner. One example was The Walking Dead, the hit sci-fi series that first aired on AMC in the U.S. in the fall of 2010. FIC, which owns all international rights to the series outside of North America, premiered it on its channels across 120 countries one week after AMC. FIC and AMC joined forces again for the launch of season two last November, with FIC delivering more than 10 million viewers. FNG took this model for premiering shows across multiple territories and used it for Touch, the new drama from Tim Kring (Heroes) and Kiefer Sutherland (24). FNG reached out to its sister companies and in a television first, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, FOX Broadcasting Company, FOX One, 20th Century Fox Television and FOX International Channels collaborated to premiere Touch simultaneously in more than 100 countries in March. And Unilever signed on as global sponsor in an unprecedented media partnership. News Corp. is widely considered the most international of all the major media companies and Haslingden, who first joined News Corporation in 1993 and over his career has been based in Australia, Asia, Europe and the U.S., is making sure FNG smartly takes advantage of the business opportunities its sister companies can offer. He talks to World Screen about profitable and innovative initiatives at FNG.
David Haslingden Fox Networks Group
WS: As president and COO of the Fox
Networks Group, what are some of your priorities? HASLINGDEN: My job overseeing FOX International Channels has not changed, but now I also look after the U.S. cable television group alongside David Hill [chairman and CEO of Fox Sports Media Group] and Peter Rice [chairman of entertainment for Fox Networks Group]. I’m responsible for the corporate functions for the Fox Networks Group: strategic business development, finance, legal, advertising sales, network engineering and operations, and corporate communications. WS: Many in the television industry believe that cable and satellite channels, with their dual revenue streams of adver4/12
tising and subscriber fees, are better suited to withstand future fragmentation of the audiences and advertising. And yet, FOX has negotiated some groundbreaking re trans mission deals with major cable companies in the U.S. Why were these deals important and how do they help ensure the financial viability of FOX? HASLINGDEN: First I’d like to give a shout-out to Mike Hopkins [the president of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox Networks] and his group, who run affiliate distribution and have really done a fantastic job, as you say, in securing groundbreaking retransmission consent deals. We have not completed all of them; we are still in the middle of this process, but there is no question we’ve set the bar for the rest of the networks. I won’t mention spe-
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on the record
WE WANT TO BE A ONE-STOP SHOP THAT CAN LEAD
PROJECTS FROM INITIAL STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT TO THEIR INTERNATIONAL LAUNCH ACROSS OUR NETWORKS.
cific dollar amounts…there is a lot of information in the market already…but everyone knows we are talking about a transforming number—hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. It really transforms the economics of the broadcast business, which was dependent on advertising alone and competing with cable networks that have always had two revenue streams. Retransmission consent deals bring to an end an idiosyncratic structure in this market where the leading channels in the U.S. were under a significant economic disadvantage to the smaller channels and in fact were substantially less profitable than much smaller channels. If you look at FOX—which is the number one broadcast network in the U.S.—until we negotiated these retransmission deals it was considered a challenged business. It’s now going to end up being a business that is as profitable
(or more so) as the most profitable cable networks.That’s logical when you consider that it is the number one network in television. WS: Do you see the day (or has it arrived already?) when cable operators will value FOX as highly as a USA Network or a TNT or an FX? HASLINGDEN: Yes, I would say that day has arrived. As soon as you normalize the economic model that all of those networks are working under, then the value goes to the networks that are most popular and powerful, and as I said, FOX is the leading network in the U.S. USA Network is far down that list, so you would expect that FOX will be a much more profitable asset. And I think it is substantially more valuable as a property now. WS: What opportunities for growth do you see in the U.S. for the Fox portfolio of channels?
HASLINGDEN: I’ll start by giving
another shout-out, this one to FX, which has had an amazing two years. At the beginning of 2011 it became a fully distributed network, reaching over 100 million homes, and was therefore put on a level playing field with its principal competitors, TNT, TBS and USA Network. And its success in terms of delivering ratings since then has been fantastic. 2011 was the most-watched year in FX’s history. It was up 21 percent in total viewers, and 22 percent in viewers 18 to 49. It became basic cable’s number two network in prime time reach in the 18-to-49 demographic. And most importantly, it had continued momentum in the ratings and the passion of our viewers in our original series Justified, which won a Peabody in 2011 and has been hugely critically acclaimed. Its third season premiere this past January was up considerably over the first two seasons. Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia also broke previous records we’ve had for original series on the channel. And our off-network series, Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother, also grew in ratings significantly. I look at FOX as being in another category compared with USA or TBS and is a significantly more valuable asset than those cable networks. I think FX is the real challenger to USA Network or to TBS and should be viewed as [being as] valuable as they are, and its ability to generate profits [is] as significant. WS: And you recently announced
Three’s a crowd: The Walking Dead was FIC’s first global co-production, allowing the group to premiere the series in more than 120 international markets shortly after the U.S. debut on AMC. 246
MundoFox, which will target the U.S. Hispanic market. HASLINGDEN: That is another broadcast network, so it shows our faith in that business. This is really a programming-led play, as we believe there is a very underserved audience for the type of highquality, fast-paced action dramas and original series in the U.S. Hispanic market and that we can build
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House of secrets: The Ryan Murphy series American Horror Story is part of a strong slate of originals at U.S. cable channel FX, which had its best-ever ratings year in 2011, particularly in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic.
share and become a competitor to Univision and Telemundo very rapidly. There is a very substantial ad market for U.S. Hispanics; its total is approaching $2 billion and when it’s dominated as dramatically as it has been by one player, we think there is plenty of opportunity to move in and shake things up and create a very profitable business. WS: And you believe that as successful as telenovelas are, the Hispanic audience wants to see other genres as well? HASLINGDEN: That is right, and advertisers who want to reach the Hispanic audience would also like different type of content to run their ads in.
WS: In the channel business, do you continue to see more growth potential in international markets than in the U.S.? HASLINGDEN: Our U.S. business is growing impressively. We have critical mass and we have premium products and we are very optimistic about the United States. International, though, is showing enormous growth and many of the markets we are in are not nearly at the same level of maturity as the U.S. market is. There is much greater opportunity internationally. The FOX International Channels (FIC) and STAR businesses have grown to revenues in the range of $2 billion. They are very substantial businesses and they have grown at a pace of over 30 4/12
percent since 2003. We are far and away the largest international telev ision operation when you look at our assets in totality. In our financials, sometimes we have broken these out into different segments, so it’s difficult to see it, but when you look at STAR India and the FIC channels in total, they far exceed the businesses of Discovery, or Turner Broadcasting, or Viacom around the world, and we have substantially more momentum. We continue to see very significant growth and we continue to invest. We recently expanded our stake in the Fox Sports Latin America business to own it outright, which is a testament to our confidence in the international markets.
WS: Certainly distribution is key, but one huge engine in the channel business is original programming. How important have original series been in branding your channels and creating awareness not only with the audience but also with advertisers? HASLINGDEN: It’s vitally important to create unique and highquality content. If you don’t provide original differentiated programming, you will inevitably lose viewers and your programming and channels will be less valuable to platforms that are trying to win new subscribers and retain existing subscribers. Our business is all about having fans that are passionate and there is no better way of generating fans and making them
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on the record that is why we believe that authentication [the process by which consumers verify or “authenticate” that they have a subscription to a cable or satellite provider] is a key tool in linking TV Everywhere to the way that most people, by far the majority of people, access our television programming, mainly through their MVPDs [multichannel video programming distributors, or cable or satellite operators]. WS: How have you seen, through
Doomed voyage: Set to premiere in time for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the infamous ship, Save the Titanic with Bob Ballard will roll out on National Geographic Channels in 165 countries this April.
passionate than having unique and high-quality product. Any time we improve our programming or invest more in programming, we believe we are adding value, so it is our number one priority. WS: Can the partnership between FOX International Channels (FIC) and AMC on The Walking Dead serve as a model for other shows? HASLINGDEN: Absolutely. The Walking Dead has been an unmitigated success story for us. It’s a model we believe we can duplicate over and over again. We recently had our global launch of Touch, which is a slightly different model because we launched that show actually day and date with [FOX in the U.S.] and used all of our FOX International Channels as well as a number of networks owned by third parties—networks that have output deals with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. The Touch global launch was a variant of the Walking Dead model, and that is a key point. FIC has the flexibility to adapt to a variety of development, financing and production models. We want to be a one-stop shop that can
lead projects from initial stages of development to their international launch across our networks and we understand that being flexible and being able to move with alacrity is key to being an effective partner in this area. WS: Viewers no longer just go to the TV screen to enjoy programming. They have a number of screens and devices at their disposal. What have you learned about viewing preferences from streaming shows on your own websites? HASLINGDEN: Firstly, we’ve learned that being able to allow viewers to experience our content on different types of screens, and at any location and at any time, is an incredibly powerful tool and one that leads to significant increased viewership and enjoyment of those shows. We’ve learned that really the Internet is proving to [have the biggest impact] in making our oldest and most conventional product, namely long-form television series, a much more powerful product for our viewers. And, of course, this is particularly the case with younger viewers, who are 248
more likely to have a large number of these devices and use them more frequently. We have learned that this is an absolutely tremendous opportunity and one that we have to fully embrace; it’s a huge priority for us. It’s really TV Everywhere for our long-form content.This is going to show that those organizations that are able to produce premium content are going to progressively win greater viewership than they have in the past, simply because the number of opportunities for people to experience that content has increased so dramatically through this expansion of devices that can receive it. WS: What is Fox Networks Group’s general strategy for making shows available on third-party digital platforms? HASLINGDEN: Obviously, if we embrace TV Everywhere, we are going to have our shows on a number of platforms. But one comment I would make is that we understand the importance of the current ecosystem and the value to us and to that ecosystem of our existing distribution partners. And
your own websites, advertisers’ willingness to move online? Is that still a difficult conversation or has it become easier? HASLINGDEN: Let me start out by saying something general, and that is that advertisers assume, and want, a gradual evolution of television as being something more than a one-to-many distribution model. They understand that there is enormous value in reach and scale and that the ability of networks to deliver their programming and have their programming enjoyed by a mass audience is uniquely valuable. But they do want those one-to-many distribution models to be enhanced by one-to-one messaging through addressable technologies that are made available by the Internet. Advertisers want interactivity and consumer engagement to become a key element in their advertising campaigns and they want to be able to become progressively more granular in the way they evaluate their effective reach and engagement. So advertisers are supporting our moves to extend their campaigns beyond our traditional broadcast of shows, into all of the other ways that we make those shows available to consumers. This is a sales product that we loosely called Fluidity in last year’s Upfront presentation. So we are working very closely with our key advertising partners and we see this as a very large and important opportunity for us.
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in conversation fter serving as the president and COO of News Corporation for 13 years, Peter Chernin stepped down in 2009 to start a new life as an entrepreneur creating premium content as well as building and investing in media-related highgrowth companies. He founded Chernin Entertainment, which focuses on feature films and high-quality programming for television. Leaving News Corp., he cemented production deals with Twentieth Century Fox, and Chernin Entertainment has already produced the sci-fi series Terra Nova, the breakout comedy New Girl and the new drama series from Tim Kring and Keifer Sutherland, Touch. The company’s first feature film was the critically acclaimed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was released in August 2011 and earned upwards of $430 million at the box office. Upcoming movies include Parental Guidance, starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, and Oblivion, a sci-fi movie starring Tom Cruise. Chernin also set up The Chernin Group, a company that manages, operates and invests in media, entertainment and technology companies. To date, those include Flipboard, Pandora, Fullscreen and Tumblr. In 2010, The
Chernin Group also set up CA Media, a company that focuses on investments in Asia, in particular India, China and Indonesia. In July 2011, CA Media invested in the Hong Kong–based mixed-martial-arts promoter Legend Fighting Championship. Certainly, Chernin Entertainment and The Chernin Group reflect their founder’s strengths and interests. He is one of the most respected executives in Hollywood, precisely because he has not only well-honed business acumen, but also a deep-seated understanding of the creative process and what makes a good TV show or movie—which gives him a special affinity with writers, producers and actors. He was, in fact, instrumental in negotiating a settlement to end the Writers Guild strike in 2007. His understanding of storytelling dates back to his college days, when he earned a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. He then worked at St. Martin’s Press, Warner Books, Showtime/The Movie Channel and Lorimar before joining News Corp., where he held a number of positions, eventually being named president and COO as well as chairman and CEO of the Fox Entertainment Group. Chernin belongs to a rare breed: a Hollywood executive who appreciates and embraces digital platforms. He was one of the architects of Hulu and continues to value new media’s ability to provide wider audiences for programming. He is also quick to admit that those very platforms are wreaking havoc on traditional-media business models. He shares with World Screen his views of his businesses and the media industry at large.
Chernin Entertainment & The Chernin Group
WS: What do you look for in a script or in a pitch? CHERNIN: I look for originality. I look for emotion. I look for something that feels emotionally satisfying. I care deeply about characters. I think that more than anything, if you look at the big hits, they tend to be generally quite original. They tend to feel unique and I think audiences look at them as something they haven’t seen before. WS: Is that getting more and more dif-
ficult to do nowadays as there is more and more content out there? CHERNIN: It’s always difficult to do! [Laughs] So many things have been done, so in that sense it’s more difficult. The other issue is talent, as they’re consistently spread more thinly. Someone was telling me that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 scripted series on basic cable in the U.S. Ten years ago, 4/12
when we put The Shield on FX, I think there were ten scripted series. There’s been an increase of 100 series on basic cable in ten years. WS: Good shows have a certain alchemy
that is hard to describe. When do you usually see if a show has it? Is it usually seen in the pilot? Does it come through a few episodes later? CHERNIN: I guess I’d say in some ways these things are ongoing opportunities to get things wrong! [Laughs] It’s pretty easy to go wrong in a pilot, and 80 percent of the pilots that are made never get on the air and clearly don’t achieve that alchemy. If you have a good pilot you are way ahead of the game, and if you have a great pilot, it’s a pretty good start.That being said, there is a huge difference between a lot of these pilots, which are really designed to introduce the characters and the setting, and
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GROWTH IS GOING TO OCCUR IN
THREE AREAS: IN PREMIUM CONTENT, IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, PARTICULARLY ASIA, AND IN DIGITAL DELIVERY PLATFORMS.
your ability to then go and tell 30, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200 stories around those characters. These series are in many regards ongoing opportunities to get things wrong. You start off early in the process with what you think is a great idea.You hopefully turn that into a great script, but you can get a script wrong and then it goes away.You can get a great script and cast it well and you cast one person wrong and it goes away. You hopefully hire the right director and shoot a great pilot. But if you can hire the right director and the music is off, or there is bad chemistry between two actors, you end up with a bad pilot, and so on and so forth. So at each step you are trying to both overcome and avoid problems because, in general, at the point at which people go and pitch an idea to networks and studios, they are all great. Everybody is excited; there is nothing wrong with them yet. And the process begins to either expose the flaws or create its own flaws. WS: Tell us about Terra Nova. What
originally attracted you to the project?
CHERNIN: It appealed to me because I liked the concept a lot. I found the concept of people going back into the past to start over, particularly to a past where there are dinosaurs, to be unique and interesting. I believe that in a world in which it is really, really hard to launch network dramas, something of that size and scale becomes even more meaningful. WS: Are we getting to the point where pay television is a better home for projects of this scale and this budget? CHERNIN: I’m not sure I would say that. On television right now, only Game of Thrones is of this scale and this budget. The rest of the shows on HBO aren’t particularly distinguished by their scale and budget; they may or may not be distinguished by other things. Certainly that is true of Showtime. Showtime is not trying to distinguish itself by scale and budget. Kevin Reilly [FOX’s president of entertainment] has said that from his perspective, Terra Nova is profitable. Had it got
Ape misbehaving: The first feature film from Chernin Entertainment, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, was a huge hit in the summer of 2011, topping $400 million at the box office. 310
higher ratings obviously it would have been more profitable, but it was still the number two drama on TV and a viable economic proposition. In some ways what is more relevant to this is international. The potential international appeal of a show like this, or lack thereof, is frankly much more meaningful in terms of being able to afford the budget than being on pay cable versus broadcast television. WS: How do you make sure that
your shows get exposed to the widest audience possible? CHERNIN: Marketing is extraordinarily important. I do think one of the roles that a number of producers don’t pay enough attention to is the marketing of their shows and movies. It’s something I spend a lot of attention and time on because if I go through the trouble of making one of these shows or movies, I want to be sure it gets seen and it’s as successful as possible. WS: Why should the studios support Hulu? What benefits does it offer? CHERNIN: It involves a whole range of benefits. First and foremost, everything that has ever been made is available to be pirated. I am a huge believer that the really effective way to stop piracy is less about legal action than it is about making your goods available to consumers at an appropriate price in a convenient manner. The ability to monetize content on Hulu is enormous. Anybody in their right mind who wants to watch an old episode will watch it on Hulu rather than pirate it. It’s free and it’s a better experience. So first and foremost, you have to make things digitally available just to combat piracy. Secondly, one of the things we looked at very closely when we started Hulu was we moved as a hedge against DVRs. So many viewers were recording shows on DVRs and in those days we weren’t getting any benefits in the ratings. So we felt we’d much
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ignore the new models. On the other hand, don’t commit suicide. These are very lucrative existing businesses and you certainly don’t want to encourage their demise. You have to be very close to consumers, you have to experiment and you have to look for ways that you think are likely to build new businesses.
Funny girl: The first new series of the 2011–2012 season to receive a full-season order, New Girl with Zooey Deschanel has delivered big ratings for FOX.
rather have people watching things on Hulu than recording them on DVRs and getting no credit for it. Third, the Hulu subscription service, Hulu Plus, has actually been quite successful, and if I am a studio, which I am not right now, but if I were, I would feel very strongly that I want there to be multiple players in the digital distribution world. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where there is just Netflix. I happen to have a lot of respect for Netflix, but where the content community does very well is where there are multiple players distributing content. WS: Is my perception correct that the studios are still uncomfortable with digital platforms? CHERNIN: To be fair to them, it’s an extraordinarily complicated and challenging issue. If you are running one of those companies, you clearly want to protect your established business model and there is a balancing act you have to do: you want to protect your established business model but you don’t want to put your head in the sand and not pay attention to where things are going. At the same time, you also want to build new sources of
WS: Tell me about some of the businesses you are building. What are you looking for? CHERNIN: We have done two separate things. When I left News Corp. and I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I wanted to build a company that focuses on where growth is going to occur in the media business. I think that growth is going to occur in three areas: in premium content, in the developing world, particularly Asia, and in digital delivery platforms. I had production deals [with Twentieth Century Fox] and started building out the production side of the company through premium
content. I then established a company called CA Media to buy, build and create media assets in India, China and Indonesia. I also started making a series of digital investments and they were all platforms that I feel have huge upside opportunities. We’ve made investments in four companies so far: Pandora, Flipboard, Tumblr and Fullscreen. Pandora is essentially the largest radio business in the U.S. right now. It controls about 5 percent of the radio listening and is arguably the number one or number two mobile app. It was a really interesting way of looking at streaming distribution of product and also next-generation mobile content, which I think is a very, very important issue. Flipboard is a next-generation content-delivery platform and you’re going to see a lot of people trying to copy it. It’s a way to deliver essentially print content in a much more elegant and much more user-friendly way. The notion that it is tied into your social graph and begins to push
revenue and you want to build new platforms, which you can own. One of the things I always used to say when I was running News Corp. was that our job isn’t to protect things, because ultimately you can’t protect them. Our job is to do the best possible job we can in maximizing the amount of revenue we get out of the existing businesses. But at that same time, we need to build new business models faster as the old ones may or may not decay. It’s a very complex equation because we all have a pretty good poster boy for how not to do it, and that’s the music business. They did everything they could to avoid new business models and it’s taken away 50 to 60 percent of their business, probably on a permanent basis. That’s a pretty good Time traveling: Terra Nova, a big-budget, CGI-laden drama executive produced by Steven cautionary tale—don’t Spielberg, is being shopped to other networks following its cancellation by FOX. 4/12
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in conversation you content that your friends like is an innovation. And its elegance and beauty as a platform for advertising is really interesting. Tumblr more than anything is a pure growth platform. It is personalized content, a sharing service, and it’s a way for people to share blogs and reblog them and resend them to different friends, but it’s a different kind of content consumption. We’ve also made an investment in a company called Fullscreen, which was started by [George Strompolos], who had been head of all the content partnerships at YouTube. Fullscreen is a way of aggregating the top content players on YouTube, a lot of whom are young people with millions and millions of hits on fairly cheap, low-budget content, but interesting stuff that they are producing. So it’s a way of trying to play in this YouTube distribution platform. WS: CA Media is looking at India. Are broadband and mobile two areas of big potential growth there? CHERNIN: There are already some 600 million-plus mobile customers in India. That is already pretty big, but first 3G broadband and then 4G are about to be rolled out. There are about 125 million pay-television customers in India and there is generally one television set per household. They have just announced a $60 tablet that they are going to start selling in India—$40 to students. What is the opportunity if you can deliver a 4G signal to a $60 tablet for a country that has, on the one hand, 600 million mobile customers, but only about 125 million cable customers? That is a big opportunity. But I think there are enormous opportunities throughout the region. WS: What feature-film projects do
you have coming up? CHERNIN: We just finished a film
called Parental Guidance. It’s a family comedy starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, which will come out at the end of the year. I have yet to see the cut, but the dailies were quite
good. We just started a really exciting Tom Cruise movie for Universal called Oblivion. I have about 30 to 35 projects in various stages of development, and we hope to get another two or three of them greenlit to enter production this year. WS: As many studios have somewhat of a reliance on sequels and franchises, is it more difficult to get an original idea into the movie theater? CHERNIN: The economic pressures on bigTablet trends: The Chernin Group’s digital-media investments include Flipboard, which budget movies are aston- collects social-networking content and presents it in a magazine format. ishing and it’s a lot less have seemingly enormous power, the best business ideas and the scary to do a sequel because you can etc. But at the end of the day they best business models. gauge that there is clearly audience appeal, you know that people will are very similar jobs.These jobs are have heard of it, etc. In that sense it’s about creativity and strategy—cre- WS: The important thing—are understandable why studios want to ativity in terms of trying to find you still enjoying yourself? make sequels. Conversely, if you and attract the best people, identify CHERNIN: Yes, I’m actually enlook back over time, the big breakgood ideas, etc. And from a distrijoying myself a lot. I loved News through movies are always wildly bution perspective they are about Corp. I loved that job. I was treated risky and wildly original. Avatar is being thoughtful and smart about extraordinarily well. I loved the best example of that—an the strategic opportunities. What Rupert [Murdoch]. I have nothexceedingly risky move. To his do you want to do with a Hulu? ing but wonderful thoughts and credit, Jim Cameron is taking huge How do you want to handle Net- fondness about News Corp. I had risks. He has a better track record flix? What are the international been president of the company than anybody and it becomes easy opportunities? How do you grow for 13 years and I wanted to try for a studio to bet on Jim Cameron. an international cable business? something new. I’m having a But who is the next Jim Cameron How do you grow, in my case, an good time doing a whole set of and how do you bet on that? These Asian business? The scale is differ- different things. are issues you constantly have to ent and the trappings are different. But I don’t think that the fundaWS: Anything in particular that grapple with. mental intellectual challenges are you learned from Rupert that you WS: How has it been running overwhelmingly different. carry through today or any lasting your own company compared to One of the things I always used impression of him? working for a studio? to say to the people who worked CHERNIN: First of all, I have hunCHERNIN: It’s a lot smaller! for me was, if you think you are a dreds of things that I learned from [Laughs] There were somewhere buyer—because everybody differRupert. I would say in general there between 5,000 and 10,000 ementiates between buyers and sellis a constellation of things: being ployees at Fox and 50,000 at News ers—you are absolutely wrong. willing to take chances, willing to Corp. So on the one hand you Your real job is to be a salesman.Your bet on your gut instincts, willing to have these big systems and huge real job is to go out and find the be very aggressive at what you resources at your disposal and any- best talent, the best ideas, and believe in, but those all revolve time you need something you just convince people that you offer around the area of being bold, being press a button and you call the the best place for them. Everydetermined. I worked hand in hand legal department, or the facilities body is a seller in some ways. with Rupert for 20 years and [those department, or the IT department years] had an enormous impact on Everyone is hustling to find the and things get done for you. You my life and career. best projects, the best materials, 312
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IN THE STARS
Almost every national constitution forbids the establishment of an official state religion. But this secular bent doesn’t stop people from looking to the heavens for answers to life’s most troublesome questions: Will I succeed? Will I find love? Will I be the godparent of Snooki’s child? Every day, papers and magazines worldwide print horoscopes—projections for people born in a specific month, based on the positions of the stars and planets. While many people rely on these daily, weekly or monthly messages for guidance in their lives, some readers skip over them entirely. The editors of WS recognize that these little pearls of random foresight occasionally prove prophetic. But rather than poring over charts of the zodiac to predict world events, our staff prefers to use past horoscopes in an attempt to legitimate the science. As you can see here, had some of these media figures remembered to consult their horoscopes on signif-
Global distinction: High School Musical heartthrob. Sign: Libra (b. October 18, 1987) Significant date: February 22, 2012 Noteworthy activity: While attending the premiere
Global distinction: Busty star of Mad Men. Sign: Taurus (b. May 3, 1975) Significant date: March 4, 2012 Noteworthy activity: A set of pictures surface online
of the family film Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the star causes quite a stir when he pulls his hands out of his pants pockets and accidentally drops a condom on the red carpet. The young actor blushes over the incident days later on the Today show. Horoscope: “Your self-confidence may be a little out of control today, so slam on the brakes if you want to maintain your image.” (thirdage.com)
showing what appears to be a topless Hendricks. Her rep says that the voluptuous star’s phone was in fact hacked recently, but not all of the images are totally legitimate. “Photos were stolen,” her rep reports. “The proper authorities have been contacted in hopes of rectifying this situation. The topless image is fake and [is] not an image of Christina.” Horoscope: “Don’t be too eager to let others in on your personal secrets. Rumors or lapses in judgment will lead to a poor reputation.” (0800-horoscope.com)
Marc Cherry Global distinction: Desperate Housewives creator. Sign: Aries (b. March 23, 1962) Significant date: March 9, 2012 Noteworthy activity: The creator of the ABC drama
Desperate Housewives, now in its last season, is facing a wrongful termination case brought against him by one of the series’ former stars, Nicollette Sheridan. When executive producer George Perkins takes the stand to testify, a major spoiler about a character’s death from a then-unaired episode is accidently revealed to the court. Horoscope: “Your need for secrecy can be isolating. Learn to balance that while still keeping certain private matters closely guarded.” (gotohoroscope.com)
icant days, they could have avoided a few surprises.
Madonna Global distinction: Trend-setting music icon. Sign: Leo (b. August 16, 1958) Significant date: February 27, 2012 Noteworthy activity: The singer receives legal
threats from Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, asking her to change the title and lyrics of her new song “Girls Gone Wild.” The track has been changed to “Girl Gone Wild,” though her manager says the name was changed because that’s the way Madonna sings it. Horoscope: “Choose your battles wisely and handle your situations with integrity and finesse. For this is the Leo way.” (amestrib.com)
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi Global distinction: Jersey Shore guidette. Sign: Sagittarius (b. November 23, 1987) Significant date: March 5, 2012 Noteworthy activity: Rumors swirl that the pint-
sized party girl, who recently landed her own spin-off reality show, is with child. Snooki denies the pregnancy rumors at first, but later confirms that she is having a baby and is engaged. Her fate at the Jersey Shore house remains up in the air. Horoscope: “Always the life of the party, you can count on Sagittarius for some good old-fashioned fun. They demonstrate good reasoning, judgment and perception in most matters, except when it comes to their own personal life.” (astrology-insight.com) 464
Jennifer Lopez Global distinction: Fashion-forward pop diva. Sign: Leo (b. July 24, 1969) Significant date: February 26, 2012 Noteworthy activity: The always-in-style Latina
takes the stage as a presenter at this year’s Oscars in a dress with a plunging neckline. The Internet starts buzzing that the star has suffered a wardrobe malfunction, saying that her nipple is partially exposed. J.Lo’s personal stylist releases a statement that what people were seeing was a shadow, nothing more. Horoscope: “Your natural modesty is showing today—and at least one person really likes what they see.” (ask-tarot.com)
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