CBS dramas localized

'Case,' 'Trace' set for int'l mart

Tough-guy special agent Jack Malone of "Without a Trace" and detective Lilly Rush of "Cold Case" will soon be reincarnated in the global TV marketplace in local versions of both CBS dramas.

In a major international television initiative, Warner Bros. International Television is teaming with international producers and broadcasters to create versions of both of the global hit drama series, both from Jerry Bruckheimer Television, in territories worldwide.

This will mark the first time that WBITV has offered international format rights to series being produced by the studio for broadcast in the U.S., WBITV president Jeffrey Schlesinger said Monday.

"These shows are compelling procedural dramas with interesting human characters who work tirelessly to unravel mysteries and find the truth," Schlesinger said. "These stories are some of the most widely accessible in the world, and we look forward to working with local partners to create successful adaptations around the globe."

He added in an interview, "Procedural shows are working well around the world. We are taking them out (for global formatting) at a time when broadcasters are looking to piggyback locally on already existing successful shows with proven story structure and character."

Jerry Bruckheimer, executive producer of "Trace" and "Case," added in a statement: "This creates exciting possibilities for our series that previously did not exist and is a testament to the uniqueness of what Hank Steinberg and Meredith Stiehm created that this interest exists."

"Trace" was created by Steinberg and is executive produced by Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Hank Steinberg, Jan Nash and Greg Walker. The series is from Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with CBS Prods. and Warner Bros. Television. "Case" was created by Stiehm and is executive produced by Bruckheimer, Littman, Stiehm and Veena Sud. The series is from Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with CBS Prods. and Warner Bros. Television.

"Trace," starring Anthony LaPaglia, centers on the New York Missing Persons Squad of the FBI. Kathryn Morris stars in "Case," about a dedicated cop who solves crimes that have never been resolved.

The development and eventual production of the international versions of the series will be supervised for WBITV by Denis Leroy, vp format licensing and production, who serves as the studio's point person on the formats initiative.

Schlesinger noted that though Bruckheimer will not supervise the international productions, the sheer weight of the producer's name and the blue-chip status of his shows internationally will be a major driving force with broadcasters around the world.

Until a few years ago, hit U.S. dramas were seriously challenged by locally made series. The pace of local production has since slowed down as broadcasters in the international markets took the high cost of producing top-grade product into account. "I don't think they stopped producing high-profile product, but they found that the hit-to-miss ratio is high, and when you are coming out of the box with new concepts and new formats it takes time to get one that really works," Schlesinger said. "So definitely there is an interest in format that are proven, and there is activity in terms of high-budget drama, especially throughout France, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and other territories."

He added that WBITV will probably look to get local versions of the two Bruckheimer dramas up and running in "one or two" of the larger markets to begin with. "We need to protect the integrity of the product," Schlesinger added.