British TV Briefs

Cool Hand Sets Up Television Division
I’ve learned that young film company Cool Hand based in London and Los Angeles has set up a West Coast TV production office. It’s trying to capitalize on the craze for all things British when it comes to unscripted television. Former ESPN exec Anna Gardner has been hired to run CHI TV, which is developing two reality shows set in Los Angeles. “The British are very good at unscripted at the moment and it’s a space we want to get into,” founding partner Luke G Jones told me.

ITV Studios Opens French office
The broadcaster’s in-house production arm has established a 6th regional outpost as it tries to make more coin from overseas. At home its revenues for the past nine months have been flat at £405 million. And its share of network output has fallen from around 65% five years ago to around 40% today. It makes soap opera mainstays Coronation Street and Emmerdale but none of ITV’s big ticket shows like The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent which come from indie producers. So selling formats overseas is one ray of light in a pretty overcast picture. Now, ITV has expanded into France partly because of the success of unscripted shows it’s already sold to broadcasters there. M6 is showing ITV’s format Come Dine With Me (Un Diner Presque Parfait) every day, carving out an 18% viewer share. And France’s most popular network TF1 has the rights to ITV’s I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! ITV Studios France will be run by unscripted TV producer Francois Florentiny whose production company Flow Productions recommended Scandinavian Reality TV show Single Moms to U.S. cable channel TLC. (Florentiny’s other clients have included Franco/German arts channel ARTE and Scandinavian television producer Nordisk.) This is the 6th regional outpost ITV Studios has established outside of London. Its Madrid office, which opened last October, recently announced a two-pilot commission for Spanish commercial broadcaster Telecinco. Other satellite offices are in Cologne, Los Angeles, Madrid, Stockholm and Sydney.

DRG Creates Script Fund For U.S. TV Producer
Digital Rights Group, the British TV distributor, has created a development fund for Los Angeles-based program-maker 44 Blue Productions. This kind of development money is the hardest to find. Developing shows is the riskiest and most cash intensive bit of the biz. The distributor has signed 44 Blue to a 2-year first-look deal. In exchange it gets exclusive overseas rights to 44 Blue’s output, and DRG America will distribute everything that comes through the deal. The two are already collaborating on two new projects being piloted for US cable channel Tru TV. 44 Blue creates 150 hours of programming a year for networks including CBS, HBO, Discovery Channel, and ESPN. Isabella Zoltwoski of WME Entertainment in London brokered the deal on behalf of DRG.

UK TV Hit Coming To U.S. Daytime
For years America has sent Britain stupid stuff like The Jerry Springer Show. Well, get ready for the UK’s own contribution to the dumbing down of U.S. daytime television with The Jeremy Kyle Show. Debmar-Mercury is partnering with ITV Studios on the U.S. version of the UK’s highest-rating daytime series for syndication in 2011. The Kyle Show consists of episode titles like, “My Husband Forced Me to Sleep With His Dad,” “My Husband Slept With My Daughter,” and “If I Stopped Hitting You, Will You Take Me Back?” One British judge compared the program to a “human form of bear-baiting” after a studio guest headbutted another during filming. You’re welcome.

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