Lionsgate to Unveil Original Reality Fare to Foreign Buyers at NATPE
How well do sharp-angled reality shows like Sally Ann Salsano's Nail Files travel will become a little clearer next week when mini-major Lionsgate unveils that docu-soap and other edgy fare to foreign buyers at the NATPE trade show in Miami.
Salsano's Jersey Shore may be a pop culture phenom Stateside, but such series don't necessarily do the same job abroad, said one veteran observer of the international scene. "Foreign broadcasters often have their own homegrown reality fare, even of the outrageous kind, so parallels are not automatic in this business. On the other hand," he added, "Americans know how to produce top-quality product, so there very well may be enthusiastic takers for this stuff -- especially since the license fees are not as high as they are for network drama series and the like."
Lionsgate will be making a point at the Miami market of pushing shows from its TV Guide Channel, which it acquired two years ago, and the accent thus will be on nonfiction fare which currently airs on the cabler. In addition to Nail Files, set in a trendy Hollywood salon, the indie distributor will feature Girls Gone Wild: The Search for the Hottest Girl in America, which more or less speaks for itself.
"We're excited to be heading into Miami with such a potent lineup of original programming," said Peter Iacono, Lionsgate's managing director for international television, "and we anticipate international buyers will find the new programming from TV Guide Network extremely appealing."
Other TV Guide Network content to be offered include celebmag Red Carpet Coverage and newsmag Hollywood 411 as well as Lionsgate's upmarket drama series Mad Men and Weeds.
The distributor will also likely be fielding questions from clients about its new team leader, Jim Packer, who will be joining Lionsgate as head of worldwide distribution and digital operations next month. For the moment, Packer is still co-president (along with Gary Marenzi) of MGM's worldwide TV distribution operations and will be finishing up business on the domestic front for the recently revamped Lion.
Also at NATPE, Epix, a U.S. movie channel in which Lionsgate is a one-third owner, will take advantage of the trade show to tout its "television everywhere" initiative. The paybox's chief digital officer Emil Rensing will take the wraps off new features for Epix subscibers to its HD service online and unveil business plans for the coming year. Paramount and MGM are the other owners of three-year-old Epix.