MIPCOM Draws Top TV/Film Talent, Optimism and Glamour to Cannes

12:16 PM PST 10/02/2011 by Mimi Turner, Rebecca Leffler
NBC

The Riviera-side confab is the must-attend launch pad for a parade of global shows.

CANNES – From the Palais de Festivals to the Martinez at the other end of the historic Croisette, there's a mood of optimism in the air as MIPCOM delegates descend on the Riviera coast.

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As five hectic days of program buying and selling get underway, not only is Europe experiencing an unseasonably warm late Fall that has Cannes basking in near-thirty-degree temperatures, but for the first time in a number of years, the temperature of the entertainment business is also on the up.

Billboards for RHI Entertainment’s Treasure Island, NBCUniversal’s Smash, Steve Van Zandt in Lillyhammer and Entertainment One’s The Firm line the quarter mile Riviera-side strip that for this week is home to the international television industry.

For all the ongoing pressure on economies in the Eurozone, which periodically threaten to spill over into the global economy, the metrics in the entertainment market seem to be positive.

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One reason this year feels to have more confidence and flair is the sheer quantity of high-end drama vying for slots on primetime TV. After years where formats and gameshows were a broadcaster’s designated safe choice, hour-long drama is truly back.

Whether it is the US/UK coproduction model that has given birth to the likes the HBO/BBC period drama Parade's End, being launched at this year's market, or the traditional all-American studio financing behind the Disney-produced Ashley Judd drama Missing, hour-long drama has made a return courtesy of a range of new financing options on the table.

“I think every broadcaster in Europe and the US is looking at new business models to achieve budgets,” says Disney’s European distribution head Catherine Powell, SVP media distribution.

Although co-productions aren’t a model Disney itself uses, the co-financing and deficit-financing deals that have produced the likes of The Tudors, The Borgias and Camelot are here to stay.

BBC Worldwide’s executive producer for international drama, Ben Donald, says that with the right project, co-financing can totally transform the feel of a show.

For its crime series Death In Paradise, which BBC Worldwide is launching in Cannes, the BBC partnered with France Television and used regional production tax breaks from the former French-owned territory of Guadeloupe, to build a much more global feel.

“It was already in production as a crime drama with a very British feel but now its is much more culturally rich and has a great Creole setting.”

At this year’s market Mipcom organizers Reed Midem have sold out their exhibition space completely for the first time since a big expansion of floor space some years ago, which in the past has left large empty spaces where booth space was not taken.

And MipJnr, the preceding two-day children’s market has also seen record attendance for the first time, with over 1000 participants registered.

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Licensing deals, new collaborations between book publishers and TV companies and multiplatform content for the youngest demographics were all put under the spotlight at the kids TV market that wound down Sunday.

“It is totally buzzing,” says Laurine Garaude, Reed Midem director of television. “Our numbers are higher than last year, there’s lots of confidence, the exhibition space has been sold out for several months now and the area is bigger than 2008,” she said.

Over 100 first-time exhibitors at Mipcom show that there is still room for expansion, with heavy hitters like Hasbro and Miramax taking booth space for the first time and new regional pavilions from Turkey, India and Indonesia adding to the volume.

China and Russia are also growth areas, with a focus on Russia forming part of this year’s series of panels and keynotes.

The buzz around a talent roster that includes Kiefer Sutherland, Tim Kring, Ashley Judd, Eddie Izzard and longtime movie directors Paul Verhoeven and Werner Herzog has also added to the sense of excitement and anticipation.

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“It really creates a buzz beyond the market for the consumer and that is more and more important because the sooner the consumer hears about these programs, the more anticipation it creates for the shows,” notes Garaude.

“We also see a growing trend that is more and more this link between film and TV in all its forms across all screens. Miramax is here for the first time and there are also executive producers and film directors here like Paul Verhoeven and Wernor Herzog. We are seeing more and more this cross between film and TV. Overall I see this as a very optimistic market.” 

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