Debmar-Mercury, ITV cooking up 'The Chefs'

Also acquires worldwide ownership rights to the series

Debmar-Mercury, the company behind the Tyler Perry franchise, has teamed with Britain's ITV Studios for a talk show called "The Chefs" and has acquired worldwide ownership rights to the ITV-produced series.

The distributor will likely offer a multiweek on-air test of the strip stateside this year or in 2011, before taking it into national distribution, said Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein.

Lonnie Burstein, executive vp programming, will oversee production for Debmar-Mercury.

ITV Studios, meanwhile, will handle international sales and produce all local formats outside of the U.S. of "The Chefs," which brings together four leading chefs. The U.S. version will be taped in New York and feature a daily roundtable discussion about food-related topics.

The deal marks the second original production pairing between Debmar-Mercury and ITV this year. The two companies are also collaborating on the launch of a U.S. version of the U.K. daytime talker, "The Jeremy Kyle Show."

Casting is about to get under way for the chef panel show; in addition to
preparing dishes, the chefs will tackle subjects ranging from what to pack in kids' lunches to improving kitchen skills.

Marcus said the project has "the ability to play across all daytime and early fringe time periods."

" 'The Chefs' takes a really fun approach to one of the cornerstones of all our lives: food and how we eat it," added Paul Buccieri, president/CEO of ITV Studios.

Repped by ICM, ITV Studios developed "The Chefs" in conjunction with Octagon's newly formed entertainment group.

ITV Studios is the company behind "Nanny 911" as well as "Hell's Kitchen."

Debmar-Mercury, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lionsgate, also is responsible for licensing "Are We There Yet?" and "Deadliest Catch."
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