ITV Studios, 19 Entertainment join forces

Co-producing unscripted projects for the U.K. and abroad

LONDON -- ITV Studios managing director Lee Bartlett and 19 Entertainment founder and chief executive Simon Fuller inked a co-production deal Tuesday to co-create six unscripted projects to sell to broadcasters here and abroad.

The deal marks the latest peg in Bartlett's reimagining of ITV's production and sales arm ITV Global Content, which has already seen the former Fox Networks and ABC exec rebrand the company ITV Studios.

He might not like the "shitty" weather, the bureaucratic complexities of ITV and having to learn the art of British understatement, but Bartlett said his goal of turning ITV Studios into a place generating global rather than local hits is alive and well.

The deal with Fuller will help realize that goal, Bartlett said.

"The idea is to put together our own hugely talented production capabilities alongside Simon's incredible expertise creating and selling worldwide hits to produce a range of new successful programming that can work not only in their home country but internationally as well," Bartlett said.

The pair worked together on "American Idol" when Bartlett was at Fox.

Bartlett, talking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch in London, said the deal with Fuller was a good example of how the production and distribution business should be run going forward.

"My mantra is if you give me a hit, I promise I'll sell it," Bartlett said.

He said both his "working and personal" relationship with ITV director of television Peter Fincham -- who may or may not ultimately order the shows birthed from the Fuller pact -- was a good one.

ITV Studios and 19 Entertainment said the shows would be developed with Fincham's input and "a number of ideas are already in the early stages of development."

Fuller said in a statement he was looking forward to working with Bartlett through the deal.

Bartlett declined to talk about the cash implications in the Fuller deal and the financial constraints being felt by the publicly listed parent company ITV. The company is due to announce its financials to the stock exchange in two weeks, so execs find themselves in a closed period, unable to comment on cash inquiries.

It mirrors the deal ITV Studios struck with Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine to develop formats for ITV and the international market.

Bartlett said ITV Studios has three shows on the option table with Fox in the U.S., has "Eleventh Hour" currently on CBS and is about to put into production "Identity," a show he describes as a fast-paced, character driven six-parter which is "not U.K. centric."