Talpa, Mir Reality team up

John de Mol takes minority stake in Russian production co.

LONDON -- Dutch reality king John de Mol has taken a further step to building the kind of international network of production companies he first launched when he headed Endemol, this time taking a minority stake in Russian prodco Mir Reality through his fast-growing Talpa Media vehicle.

In the past six months Talpa has set up joint venture partnerships with local production companies in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, producing local versions of its format hits like "Dating in the Dark" and "I Love My Country."

The deal with Mir Reality gives Talpa an undisclosed minority stake in the Moscow-based format prodco co-owned by British TV exec Simon Tucker and Amber Films founder Vladimir Utin.

Mir currently makes such shows as "Top Gear" for the Russian market and has an exclusive first look deal with the BBC's program licensing arm BBC Worldwide.

"Next to the fact that Russia is the biggest country in the world, it's also Europe's fastest-growing media market," said de Mol. "For us the stake in Mir is a great way to establish a partnership with a top producer who already proves how to adapt BBC and other international
formats to the Russian taste."

Mir creative director Tucker said the deal was "a brilliant opportunity" to work with de Mol and his creative team.