Disney unveils slate at L.A. Screenings

Foreign program buyers preview 10 new, nine returning series

Disney's international TV distribution arm on Sunday unveiled its fall primetime slate for foreign program buyers, including 10 new and nine returning scripted series, during the annual international upfront at Disney Studios in Burbank.

Hosted by Ben Pyne, president of global distribution at Disney Media Networks, the event kicks off the L.A. Screenings sales market for TV and digital-media buyers and executives around the world. It comes on the heels of last week's domestic upfronts in New York, where networks unveiled their fall schedules for advertisers.

Each of the major Hollywood studios will host similar events this week as buyers traipse from one studio lot to another to view, and perhaps buy, new series greenlighted last week by broadcast networks for the fall.

There are a little more than three dozen new series on offer from the six major studio suppliers as well as an array of product for cable outlets. In addition, several independent suppliers, including Lionsgate (with its first primetime broadcast series, "Running Wilde"), DreamWorks and MGM hope to attract buyers to their offices.

About 1,250 foreign program buyers spend upwards of $7 billion a year on U.S. shows, a hefty sum the studios depend on, especially as the DVD market has slumped during the past few years.

International clients caught an inside look Sunday at upcoming content from various Disney production entities including ABC Studios, ABC Family and Walt Disney Studios.

"Our priority remains to create the best entertainment content with connective storytelling and compelling characters, and to build on the strength of that content to globally deliver client and consumer value," Pyne said.

Launching during the evening was an exclusive prebroadcast screening of the "Lost" finale introduced by executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

"We wanted to show our appreciation to the international broadcasters who've been instrumental in the global success of the series," the producers said. "They've collaborated with Disney Media Distribution to create faster, more convenient opportunities to watch the show while promoting it with unique marketing campaigns. We've really enjoyed watching some of the great marketing creative that has come from the international distributors."

The "Lost" finale will air in 59 countries within 48 hours of Sunday's U.S. broadcast and includes simulcasts in Canada, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel and Turkey.

"Lost" is one of the key series that during the past decade has helped boost price-per-episode revenue to the Hollywood majors.

Joining the celebratory unveiling in Burbank were stars from new and returning ABC series including Courteney Cox, Dana Delany, Stana Katic, Joe Mantegna, Melissa Joan Hart, Michael Chiklis, Michael Imperioli and Virginia Madsen. Forest Whitaker also joined the proceedings to introduce a planned spinoff from "Criminal Minds," another show that airs widely in primetime abroad and in which he will star.
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