MIPCOM: 'MasterChef' Judge Joe Bastianich Launches Italian Production Company

Shine International
Joe Bastianich

The famed restaurateur has partnered with 'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro on a reality series to shoot in Italy

Joe Bastianich, the restaurant owner and star of MasterChef and Restaurant Startup, is taking his business back to the old country with the launch of his new Italy-based production company.

Bastianich, who unveiled his venture to global broadcasters at international television market MIPCOM in Cannes this week, tellsTHR his goal with the new company is to use Italy as a platform to make content for the United States.

“There is just so much you can do in Italy and Italy is such a beautiful place and Americans love everything Italian,” says Bastianich, who speaks fluent Italian. “The idea is to use Italy as a backdrop, to use the Italian-ness of Italy, to make shows for America. And because Italy is open to dubbing and subtitling, good programming made there in English can then be sold back into the Italian market.”

Bastianich said Cake Boss baker Buddy Valastro has signed up to do an Italy-based show, though he declined to give details, saying the project was still in its early stages.

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In addition to English-language programs, Bastianich will produce Italian versions of international formats and has signed a deal with 21st Century Fox's Sky Italia to do an Italian take on Restaurant Startup, the investment reality show he hosts on CNBC. The show, in which Bastianich and fellow celebrity restaurateur Tim Love choose whether to invest their own money in eatery ideas pitched by restaurant teams, was a ratings hit for CNBC, which has already commissioned a second season. Shine International owns the Restaurant Startup format and has sold the original version of the show to Game TV in Canada and the LifeStyle Network in the Philippines.

Another hit format Bastianich is looking to take to Italy is the BBC's car show Top Gear. Bastianich has acquired Italian adaptation rights to Top Gear and plans to host an eventual local-language version of the show.

Bastianich on Wednesday took part in a MasterChef panel at MIPCOM, joining international Shine executives Mark Fennessy, Thierry Lachkar and Nadine Nohr to discuss the format's global success. The reality cooking show has now been adapted in more than 50 global territories and its spinoff show, MasterChef Junior is also a hit, with Fox renewing it for a third season.

Twitter: @sroxborough

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