Davies has hold on French game

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"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" executive producer Michael Davies has snagged U.S. rights to a new foreign game show format from French TV production company Effervescence.

The deal for the project, whose tentative English title is "Hold Onto Your Seat," was negotiated during last week's MIPCOM market in Cannes. "Hold" was acquired through Davies' deal at Sony Pictures TV and will be developed by the producer's company, Embassy Row and SPT.

Davies plans to shop "Hold" as a half-hour strip to air in daytime or early fringe in syndication or on cable.

The original "Hold," which is hourlong, is a trivia quiz show in which five challengers try to unseat a reigning champion, who has a number of advantages in the game. The show's latest champion remained on the air for five weeks.

"He's no Ken Jennings, but he did manage to hold his spot on the air for 25 episodes," Effervescence co-managing director Romain Cousi said.

In France, the game show airs daily on national terrestrial channel France 2. It is the highest-rated program for the network, and on Tuesday, the show drew its highest audience share, 25.5.

Davies, an expert in the game show arena, having produced such series as "Millionaire" and CBS' "Power of 10," was immediately taken by "Hold."

"It is so rare to see something in the game show format that is so inherently stylish," Davies said. "This game show could only have been created in France; it's like the Chanel of daytime game shows."

In addition to the deal with Davies, Effervescence has sold the "Hold" format to Alchemy Reality for the U.K. and Australia and to Novem in Canada.

"It's easier to sell a game show in the U.S. than in France these days," Cousi said. "As soon as they see a good idea, they want to exploit it. It's great news for French productions."

Effervescence, founded two years ago by former Teleimages president Simone Harari, has sold several series to France 2 and France 3 and is building partnerships abroad.

Rebecca Leffler reported from Paris; Nellie Andreeva reported from Los Angeles.
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