Silverman lands Japan's 'Library' rights


NEW YORK -- The Fred Silverman Co. has won the rights to "Silent Library," a comedy segment on a long-running Japanese TV show from Nippon Television that it has developed into a one-hour U.S. series now being shopped to networks.

In its Japanese version, "Silent Library" features a group of players pulling off a series of brief physical stunts in a library setting, with each stunt's "victim" being decided by the luck of the draw. As is fitting for the library environment, they must try to remain as quiet as possible.

The Silverman Co. said its U.S. show pitch uses the "Library" concept as its core and adds additional content around it. Overall, this makes for a one-hour "event comedy series" combining team challenge, competition and audience participation, the firm said.

Sources said that the auction for the rights was very competitive. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Library" videos on YouTube have attracted more than 3 million hits, with one particularly popular one drawing nearly 1.4 million views so far. It includes a stunt in which one protagonist's face is held up in front of a slapping machine and another one in which a man takes out his artificial teeth to bite a contestant.

"Library" is a segment in Nippon's "Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!" The creator of the concept is Japanese comedy legend Hitoshi Matsumoto, who came up with it in 1989.

Said Tim Crescenti, whose international format firm Small World IFT represents NTV's formats and brought "Master of Champions" to ABC last year: "In my 11 years of international television acquisition, never have I had such a demand for a program like 'Silent Library.' Competitors, networks, and production companies all over the world have been begging for this program, and we felt that FSC was the ideal home for the show's development."

Company founder Fred Silverman recently announced his return to production with a focus on comedy programming.

Randi Siegel, executive in charge of alternative programming, saw "Library" clips and brought it to Silverman's attention. "I heard Fred laughing so much in his office while watching it," she said.

Added Silverman: "You can't watch it and not laugh. It combines great fun and also a terrific competition."