UK talent agency James Grant Group is looking for U.S. as well as Brit TV pilots to fund. The agency, which represents Piers Morgan as well as ABC’s Skating With the Stars host Vernon Kay, wants to fund TV pilots as part of its drive to own unscripted format rights – although it is also open to drama. Holly Pye, head of TV, tells me that broadcasters increasingly want to see finished pilots, not just ideas on paper. “Network commissioners are looking at tape much more,” she says.
The agency has £250,000 ($400,000) to invest initially, which would pay for one primetime studio pilot or a few lower-cost daytime pilots. James Grant is putting its own money into the piloting scheme. If the project’s green-lit, then James Grant would own a share of the format and some equity. The agency has not found any projects yet as it is just putting out feelers to producers. Nor, if successful, does it have a set number it wants to do each year. And pilots do not have to involve James Grant clients, who also include ITV mainstay presenters Ant & Dec, “although it would be nice,” says Pye. “We acknowledge the difficulty in securing capital in order to develop pilot shows to a sufficient standard and the Catch 22 for networks in commissioning formats in the absence of a well conceived, planned and piloted show.” Michael Grade, chairman of James Grant, has helped devise the agency’s pilot investment strategy. Pye used to be a reality TV agent at WME in London before she joined James Grant.