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The prolific creator behind the Law & Order, Chicago and FBI franchises and his Wolf Entertainment banner are teaming with Universal Studio Group to create a new sales division focused on selling his popular procedurals as international formats.
Leslie Jones, a veteran executive from NBCUniversal’s international sales division, has been tapped to oversee the sales boutique. The division is a joint venture between Wolf Entertainment and Universal Studio Group, where the mega-producer has been based with a rich overall deal for decades.
“We are getting back into the format business, and I am thrilled that Leslie is back doing what she does best … selling international formats of our shows,” Wolf said in a statement Wednesday. “As our company grows and our brands expand, Leslie is the ideal partner to reignite the business.”
Jones made the first scripted format deals for NBCU and the first international format deal for any U.S. procedural for the Wolf’s original Law & Order, resulting in Law & Order: UK and Russian versions of Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent as well as a French version of Criminal Intent.
During her career, she’s also overseen worldwide format sales of NBCU unscripted shows, game shows, documentaries, Olympics and late-night. She most recently founded a consulting firm that provides management and strategic consulting for companies ranging from international distributors and foreign broadcasters to independent production companies and U.S. broadcasters.
“I am honored and energized to be entrusted with the best written formats in the world and I look forward to working with Universal Studio Group and Wolf Entertainment to maximize the potential of these iconic series,” Jones said. “It will be advantageous for clients to have direct contact with the Wolf team to produce these universally appealing shows with world-class writing and production values and we look forward to working with our partners to culturally adapt these treasures. Scripted formats offer a shorter development process thus saving broadcasters time and money while preserving their localism.”
The international format expansion comes on top of two different nine-figure pacts Wolf recently made with NBCUniversal that covered streaming rights to a number of his shows for Peacock as well as a renewal of his longtime overall deal. The international sales unit will further monetize the IP that has led to numerous spinoffs across all three franchises for NBC and CBS, all of which are owned or co-owned by Universal Studio Group’s Universal Television and Wolf Entertainment.
“While the majority of Universal Studio Group content will continue to be sold through the NBCUniversal Formats team, we believe this targeted approach to our Wolf product will yield significant results,” Universal Studio Group president Pearlena Igbokwe said.
Wolf’s current scripted roster includes season 23 of L&O: SVU, L&O: Organized Crime (in its second season), the upcoming return (billed as the 21st season) of the flagship L&O, Chicago Fire (season 10), Chicago PD (season nine), Chicago Med (season seven), CBS’ FBI (season four), FBI: Most Wanted (season three) and rookie FBI: International. He also has a scripted show in the works for IMDb TV.
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