MIPCOM: 10 Shows That Could Be the Next 'Breaking Bad'
This story first appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
There was a time when MIPCOM was an insider's game. The international TV conference used to be a bread-and-butter market for execs looking to close that licensing deal for Bulgaria. The top brass -- and biggest stars -- stayed home.
Now, no one who counts in the global TV biz can afford not to come and risk missing out on discovering the next crossover hit such as Breaking Bad or CSI (sold in more than 170 and 200-plus territories, respectively). Alongside the networks' top-tier execs, that also includes Hollywood's elite as big-screen producers expand into TV and tentpole talent pick up series deals.
So, MIPCOM is where the world will see the premiere of Michael Bay's Starz pirate series Black Sails. It's where supermodel Naomi Campbell will woo broadcasters with a pitch for her new fashion reality show, The Face. And it's where DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg will make his first appearance, presenting a keynote, receiving the personality of the year honor and highlighting his company's recent push into TV production and distribution.
But while MIPCOM is now high-profile and Hollywood glam, its DNA remains that of the TV insider. These 10 shows are generating plenty of premarket buzz among those in the know:
SALES: Starz Worldwide Distribution
The action series, from Jericho creator Jon Steinberg and Touch writer Robert Levine, will premiere for global buyers at MIPCOM ahead of its U.S. debut in January. With Bay as executive producer, this Treasure Island prequel, starring Brit Toby Stephens as the notorious Captain Flint, has its sights on becoming the small-screen equivalent of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Murder in the First
SALES: TBS International
Crime procedurals are the closest thing to a sure bet going on in the global TV market, and TNT's new cop drama from NYPD Blue creator Steven Bochco could be the next murder and justice juggernaut. The twist to the series, which stars Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson, is that two seemingly unrelated high-profile murder cases entwine and are eventually resolved during the 10-episode first season.
SALES: BBC Worldwide
From Doctor Who to Merlin and Being Human, the BBC has carved out a healthy niche in fantasy and sci-fi serials. Atlantis, its new effects-heavy drama set in the mythical city before the flood, already has sold to Canal Plus and Canadian cable network Space and is betting on a stack of new deal memos post-MIPCOM.
SALES: Keshet International
Successfully merging live-event broadcasting with social media is the holy grail of TV, and Israel's Keshet might have cracked the code with its new music-competition format, which debuted to an absurd 44.7 percent share in its home market. Rising Star integrates viewing voting into the show's live-performance element via a free app and a floor-to-ceiling screen displaying pictures of viewers live as they vote. An innovation that has to be seen to be believed, it has all the makings of the next game changer.
Billy Bob Thornton's starring role gives MGM's small-screen take on the Coen brothers' classic Minnesota noir the requisite Hollywood cachet. With Joel and Ethan Coen on board as executive producers and Englishman Martin Freeman just cast for William H. Macy's role, the one-hour crime drama, which FX will air in the States starting in the spring, seems tailor-made for premium networks worldwide.
Sex, Lies and Handwriting
SALES: Tandem Communications
Canadian mini-major Lionsgate and French powerhouse StudioCanal -- via its Germany-based TV production arm Tandem Communications -- have picked this crime series as the first in their ambitious development/production joint venture. Inspired by Michelle Dresbold's 2006 best-selling nonfiction book of the same name, the procedural follows a handwriting expert who helps the cops solve crimes and hopes to do for graphology what Bones has done for forensic anthropology.
Milky Way Mission
SALES: Sony Pictures Television
Sony is shooting celebrities into space with its new reality format, the result of a cooperation with Dutch shingles Tuvalu and Simpel Media and Amsterdam-based commercial space flight startup SXC. Dutch public broadcaster Nederland 1 has commissioned the first season of eight hours in which VIPs take astronaut training for the chance to get shot into orbit. Out of this world. Like literally.
Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs
SALES: ZDF Enterprises
It was inevitable that someone would think to combine two of kids' favorite things -- pirates and dinosaurs -- into a single series. This cartoon from Australia's SLR Productions, based on the best-selling books by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto, combines retro animation with tongue-in-cheek humor for a mix aimed squarely at child-friendly public broadcasters worldwide.
SALES: Red Arrow Entertainment
NBC put in a pilot order for this conspiracy thriller -- billed as Traffic with the military-industrial complex in place of the global drugs trade -- from The Following writers Adam Armus and Kay Foster and Grey's Anatomy's Peter Horton. German group Red Arrow, which is producing via U.K. and L.A. subsidiaries, is counting on international broadcasters buying into the paranoia.
SALES: Sony Pictures Television
The latest entry from Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ron D. Moore follows a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control that travels to an Arctic research facility to investigate a possible disease outbreak that could mean the end of mankind. Executive produced by Steven Maeda (The X-Files), Lynda Obst (Contact) and Cameron Porsandeh, Helix received a 13-episode straight-to-series order from Syfy, and the show already is generating major buzz among geek-friendly networks worldwide.