Format nod set for Cologne TV confab


COLOGNE, Germany -- The Hollywood Reporter is sponsoring a new award honoring the best in international television formats at the international TV festival, the Cologne Conference, which takes place Sept. 26-Oct.2.

The 10,000 euro Hollywood Reporter Award, presented by Hollywood Reporter parent the Nielsen Co. and the Cologne Conference, will go to the best new television format, of German or international origin, introduced within the last year to the German market.

The Hollywood Reporter Award will be the first of its kind in Germany, a market where international formats have come to dominate television primetime. Local-language versions of hit formats including "Pop Idol," "Dancing With the Stars," "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" crowd out drama series and sitcoms on many channels.

"Formats are becoming increasingly important on the international television market -- whether it is 'American Idol' on ABC or 'Wer Wird Millionar?' (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) on RTL in Germany -- these are the shows that define a channel. They are also the ones that cross borders, the truly global programs," said Cologne Conference managing director Martina Richter.

A jury composed of members of the Cologne conference and Hollywood Reporter/Nielsen representatives will award the prize at a gala ceremony in Cologne Sept. 28.

In addition to presenting a who's-who of the German TV industry, the 17th edition of the Cologne Conference will include keynote speeches and panel discussions from some of the biggest names in the international business. This year's guests include Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, director and photographer Anton Corbijn ("Control"), Steve Morrison, CEO of leading U.K. indie production company All3Media and Colin Jarvis, director of international format production at BBC Worldwide.

The Cologne Conference unveiled its festival program on Monday (Sept. 3), including this year's Top 10 lineup of new international series.

This year's Top 10 includes NBC Universal's action drama "Heroes;" Granada Television/BBC kitchen sink drama "The Street," the ITV/Tiger Aspect comedy series "Benidorm" and FX Network's "The Riches" starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. Two German productions made the Top 10 cut: the family drama "Zeit zu leben" (Time To Live) from ZDF/Network Movie and the documentary "Spielverderber" (Spoilsport) about a soccer referee, from director Georg Nonnemacher. Rounding up the Top 10 are the Australian sitcom "Wilfred;" the Dutch series "Waltz" about a family circus business; the Danish documentary "Enemies of Happiness" about female Afghan politician Malalai Joya and the IdtV music documentary "Jimmy Rosenberg."

The 17th annual Cologne Conference will also include a new "Look" sidebar devoted to new productions with a distinctive, cutting-edge aesthetic. The selected shows include BBC/Discovery Channel documentary series "Fight for Life;" NBC Universal's "The Black Donnellys" and Showtime's "This American Life."