Dream team

NRW taps the International Emmys

COLOGNE, Germany -- Everybody in Germany talks about building bridges to the U.S. industry, but NRW is doing something about it.

With a five-year initiative, launched in 2008, the state government, regional media authority the LfM and the NRW Film Board are teaming the area's best TV production talent with some of America's top small-screen execs.

Centered around the International Emmy Awards in New York in November, last year's NRW event brought together the likes of A&E president Bob DeBitetto, History Channel GM Nancy Debuc, RHI Entertainment boss Robert Halmi Jr. and International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences president Bruce Paisner with German production talents like Leopold Hoesch of Broadview TV and Ufa Film & TV head Wolf Bauer.

The series of workshops and a NRW-sponsored post-Emmy brunch aims to encourage networking between producers and networks on both sides of the pond.

"The idea is first to fall in love before we get married," says Hoesch, an international Emmy winner for the documentary "Dresden" (2005) and an ambassador for the Emmys in Germany. "We have to get to know each other, and each other's systems, before we can start to work together."

Hoesch points to the huge untapped potential in Germany, particularly in NRW, for U.S. producers.

"German broadcasters spend something like $16 billion annually on production, of which probably only $100 million-$200 million goes to the U.S.," Hoesch says. "Because of the financing and experience available, German producers can deliver not just the money but also the top quality that U.S. broadcasters expect."

The bulk of that experience is in NRW. Thanks to local pubweb giant WDR and commercial networks including RTL, Vox and Super RTL, the region has the highest concentration of TV production in Germany. About 35% of all German TV is shot in NRW.

Several international powerhouses have already discovered the region: Sony Pictures Television, Endemol, Granada and Eyeworks all have their German headquarters in NRW, as does Shine Group, which just launched Shine Germany in Cologne.

"We see the Academy (of Television Arts & Sciences) as our best possible partner for further internationalizing the television business in NRW," says Andreas Krautscheid, NRW's minister for the media, European and federal affairs. "Both to bring U.S. producers over here and also to open up the U.S. market to productions from NRW."

But first, American producers have to fall in love with NRW. Last year were the introductions. This November will be the first formal date.