Last week’s focus was on the Upfronts in New York City, but the big industry event this past week has been the annual screenings held in Los Angeles for international buyers. The big studios (and a number of independent distributors) host acquisitions executives from around the globe, screen for them the pilots of their new shows which have been picked up by the big five US networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC) for next season, all with the hope of securing those lucrative international sales.
Behind Canada, the UK is considered one of the most important markets and this past week executives from every major UK broadcaster (including the BBC, ITV, BSkyB, Comedy Central and UKTV) have been in attendance, trying to get an idea as to which new shows will be the best fit for their channels. It’s over the next couple of weeks that the picture will become clearer and the respective broadcasters will begin seriously bidding on the first window UK rights for certain shows. I should have a clearer read on which shows which UK broadcaster are eyeing within the next two weeks, but at this stage, which shows are looking strong on the international market? TVWise presents our run down of industry intel (from numerous sources) on which shows are hot and those which, frankly, are not.
In this first (of six) studio run down we take a look at Disney Media Distribution’s slate. DMD is shopping 9 new broadcast series this year including the vast majority of ABC’s new scripted line up – such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Lucky 7 (the US remake of BBC One’s The Syndicate) and the Once spin-off Once Upon A Time In Wonderland – as well as CBS’ new series Intelligence. Disney is feeling confident about this year’s slate and say that they have already had “substantial” discussions with buyers from a number of countries. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is certainly driving that confidence and following a less than stellar sell through rate in the UK last season (DMD sold 0 new shows from the 2012-2013 season to the UK), there is certainly a hope that this year will see strong sales figures. But which shows have international buyers talking?
One of 9 new shows that ABC Studios is producing for sister net ABC, Betrayal was penned by David Zabel and follows a beautiful but unhappily married female photographer who begins a torrid affair with a lawyer for a powerful family. When he turns out to be defending a murder suspect who is being prosecuted by her husband, the relationship and the case begin a spiraling series of betrayals with cataclysmic results for everyone involved. The drama series stars Hannah Ware, Stuart Townsend, Chris Johnson, Henry Thomas, James Cromwell and Wendy Moniz.
Betrayal is not one of the hot shows from this years screenings but it has still generated a decent amount of interest from international buyers. One source described it as “a soapy thriller”, while another described it as “a good pilot, but not one that had hit written on it”. On the whole the series seems to be generating the same level of interest as Missing and Red Widow did last season.
Intelligence is one of the few new drama series that CBS ordered for its 2013-2014 schedule (the network went heavily after comedy this year). Penned by Michael Seitzman, the drama follows a unit inside U.S. Cyber Command that has been created around one agent with a very special gift — a microchip that has been implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Intelligence is produced by ABC Studios and stars Meghan Ory, Josh Holloway, Marg Helgenberger, Michael Rady, James Martinez, PJ Byrne and John Billingsley. The pilot was directed by David Semel, with Seitzman, Semel, Tripp Vinson and Rene Echevarria serving as executive producers.
This drama is one that has generated some strong interest across the field. Between the star power of Lost alum Josh Holloway and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation veteran Marg Helgenberger and what I hear was a very strong pilot, Intelligence is one that played well at the screenings. This is definitely one of the hotter series that DMD is shopping this season.
This drama, again for ABC and produced by ABC Studios, was penned by Hannah Shakespeare follows Molly Parker, the only woman in the notoriously male Texas Rangers. She is a ballsy, beautiful badass who knows how to get to the truth and isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers along the way. The drama series stars Tricia Helfer, Marc Blucas, Marta Milans, Michael Trucco and Alex Fernandez.
Killer Women is one that it’s hard to get a clear read on. I hear that a number of execs went in with high hopes and were disappointed by what they saw. Others, on the other hand, were very impressed by the pilot. To sum up, in what is unfortunately a trend for a fair number of new shows for ABC, the drama is pegged as solid, but not one that has led to a lot of excitement this week.
The remake of British series The Syndicate, Lucky 7 follows seven employees at a service station in Queens whose lives are changed in many unexpected ways when they win a lottery jackpot. The drama series is produced by ABC Studios and stars Isiah Whitlock Jr, Stephen Louis Grush, Summer Bishil, Anastasia Phillips, Christine Evangelista, Lorraine Bruce, Luis Antonio Ramos and Matt Long.
Lucky 7 is another series which seems to have failed to impress a great many. I hear that some execs had preconceived notions going in (owing to the fact that the series was based on a BBC series) and that the finished product didn’t live up to the hype. There is of course some keen interest in the show (largely from Canada). But the finished pilot has been called “weak” by one source and like Killer Women seems unlikely to lead to any serious bidding wars.
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Penned by Joss Whedon, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows the daily activities of the intelligence agency knows as Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistic Directorate (S.H.I.E.L.D.), which has appeared in numerous Marvel comics and feature films. The cast includes Ming-Na, Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge, Ian De Caestecker and Chloe Bennet. ABC Studios and Marvel TV are producing, with Whedon, Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey Bell, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen serving as executive producers.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of the only true standouts from Disney Media Distribution’s slate on the drama side (the other being Intelligence). This one was hot before the LA Screenings got under way and despite what one source described as “heavy confidentiality” surrounding this series that has not changed. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the hottest new series on DMD’s slate and (by the looks of it) of any major studio. Given the success of Marvel’s feature film business, there is little doubt that this series is going global….and soon.
One of ABC Studios few new comedy series, Mixology was written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore and is set in the world of a sexy Manhattan bar and chronicles the exploits of singles in search of love — all over the course of one night. The comedy series stars Ginger Gonzaga, Kate Simses, Sarah Bolger, Blake Lee, Andrew Santino and Alexis Carra.
Mixology is playing very well and has generated a lot of excitement. I hear that part of it is due to what one source called a “very funny” script and part is due to the show’s fairly unique format, in which one season take place over the course of one night. The unique nature of the format has been compared to just how unique the format of 24 was when it hit the international market over a decade ago.
Once Upon A Time In Wonderland
Once Upon A Time In Wonderland is a spin off of ABC’s hit series Once Upon A Time and follows Alice and Cyrus, Alice’s love interest, as the explore wonderland. The drama series is being produced by ABC Studios and stars Sophie Lowe, Peter Gadiot, Michael Socha and Emma Rigy.
This one is hard to get a clear read on because, at the moment, it’s not one that international television executives are talking about. That’s not to say that this one is a dud. In fact I hear that the reverse is true, but it’s not playing strongly withy buyers right now. Why? That’s down to the fact that ABC ordered a pilot presentation rather than a traditional pilot and based their pick up decision on that 10 minute presentation. I hear that some buyers will give it a few months until they can see a cut of a finished episode before deciding on this one. So, for now, international sales will be driven on the power of the parent series convincing international buyers to pick up the next entry in the franchise.
Resurrection was written by Aaron Zelman and asks what happens when the people you have mourned and buried suddenly appear on your doorstep as if not a day’s gone by? The lives of the people of Arcadia are forever changed when their deceased loved ones return. The drama series is produced by ABC Studios and stars Matt Craven, Devin Kelley, Frances Fisher, Samaire Armstrong, Sam Hazeldine, Nicholas Gonzalez, Omar Epps, Kurtwood Smith, Landan Gimenez and Mark Hildreth.
This series, another drama on tap for DMD’s corporate sibling ABC, has some mild buzz for it. It’s hard to tell if that’s down to the series itself or if its being overshadowed by stronger players such as S.H.I.E.L.D. One source called it a “well plotted thriller” and that combined with talent such as House alum Omar Epps has impressed a number of execs, but its not the hottest title on the slate.
Another comedy series being produced by ABC Studios for ABC is Trophy Wife. The comedy series was created by Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins and follows reformed party girl Kate who finds herself with an insta-family when she falls in love with a man with three manipulative kids and two judgmental ex-wives. The comedy series stars Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford, Marcia Gay Harden, Michaela Watkins, Natalie Morales and Ryan Lee.
Disney Media Distribution seems to be doing ok on the comedy side of their slate. Along with fellow comedy Mixology, Trophy Wife has some strong buzz. Again this one has been pegged as a mix between a great script and a well known cast – with Bradley Whitford’s performance pin pointed as being “something special.” So both of DMD’s new comedies are playing well at the screenings, the dramas are more of a mixed bag, but the field is being led by hot series Intelligence and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.