Talpa Media moves in on Bunim/Murray

Deal valued at around $50 million-$70 million

Call it "The Real World" meets "Big Brother."

John de Mol, the Dutch billionaire producer who created the globally successful format for "Big Brother," is acquiring Bunim/Murray Prods., the company behind MTV's groundbreaking reality series "Real World," through his Talpa Media company.

The parties involved declined comment, but sources peg the value of the deal at $50 million-$70 million -- considered a great price for a company that owns very few of its formats.

It speaks to the credentials of Jonathan Murray, who, along with his late partner, Mary-Ellis Bunim, singlehandedly createda genre of television with "Real World."

Bunim-Murray's series include E!'s "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," and the company also took over production on "Project Runway" when the show moved to Lifetime, as well as its spinoff, "Models on the Runway."

In 2007, Talpa Media launched Talpa Content USA, an U.S.-based outfit dedicated to developing new reality formats.

The company is producing with Endemol USA the upcoming ABC unscripted series "Dating in the Dark."

De Mol co-founded Endemol, the company behind such hits as "Fear Factor" and "Deal or No Deal." He sold his share in 2000 but continued as creative director until 2004. In 2007, de Mol took a stake in Endemol as part of an international consortium, but it is understood that he no longer is associated with the reality giant, instead focusing on expanding his own Talpa Media.

The acquisition of Bunim-Murray falls into Talpa's plans this year to open production subsidiaries in six countries: the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the U.K.

"We will continue to invest in the development of formats," de Mol said earlier this year. "It's not my ambition to become the biggest, but I do want to be the best."

It's been an active year and a half for acquisitions in the reality field, led by Shine Group's buy of Reveille and Endemol USA's purchase of a controlling stake in Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin's 51 Minds.

Additionally, FremantleMedia North America acquired a 75% stake in Thom Beers' Original Prods., Tom Forman joined Relativity Media and Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud dissolved their 11-year-old company Rocket Science to join French production powerhouse Banijay Entertainment in launching a stateside outpost.

Matthew Belloni contributed to this report.
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