By Leah Hochbaum

As MIP-TV draws near, distribution companies are doing their best to ensure that their new or unsold product will be front and center at the international TV market. So how are sellers hoping to ask buyers to open their wallets?

For small-to-medium companies, MIP-TV is a market full of opportunities, since studios and mini-majors are busy preparing for the L.A. Screenings. VideoAge spoke with a number of companies to find out what they’re bringing to Cannes and what they hope will get them noticed.

RHI Entertainment is bringing modernized versions of a number of classics to MIP, including an updated Dracula set in contemporary New York City, as well as Tin Man, a new take on Frank Baum’s book “The Wizard of Oz,” and Flash Gordon, a new rendering of the timeless superhero tale.

Flash Gordon is our big push at MIP,” said RHI’s Robert Halmi Sr. “We’re trying to recreate the excitement of a story that has been a great favorite of both young and old.” Halmi said that RHI opted for the updating route because “there is a reason why some of this stuff is around for a long time — it’s good — and it deserves to be presented to a new generation.”

While RHI is bringing oldies but goodies, other companies are aiming for all-new slates at MIP. Amsterdam-based Off the Fence, an independent production and distribution company, is coming to the market with a raft of timely factual programming, including Tragedy in Amish Country, a one-off documentary about the brutal killings of five Amish girls at a schoolhouse in October of 2006; The Secret Life of European Mammals, a one-hour show about the trials and tribulations faced by various animals, including squirrels and wolves; and Malaria-The Serial Killer, a one-hour health series that shows viewers just how dangerous the disease can be.

The company is coming to MIP with more than 30 factual programs for buyers, and according to Erik Schuit, head of sales for Off the Fence, “My days are fully booked up.” He’d like to attend some panels, but simply cannot carve out an hour to be there. “I am very interested in new media rights and would like to attend a panel about them. They’re getting increasingly difficult and you have to be very careful with them, but they’re the newest opportunity to make money.”

Nico Tanzi of Switzerland-based RTSI also wishes the sessions would be held at more convenient times for sellers. “We’re at our booth all day long,” said Tanzi simply, adding that RTSI’s main objectives for the market “are selling our shows and extending our contact lists.”

Tanzi continued: “MIP is a good venue to obtain a detailed picture on how new technologies impact the production and distribution of TV programs, and we are eager to see what’s out there.”

Brian Lacey, executive vice president, International of New York-based 4Kids Entertainment, is also looking forward to seeing what new technologies are out there, and is bringing Chaotic, a new animated action series that will be introduced on a number of platforms, to MIP.

Hundreds of distribution companies will be on hand at the market — each with its own unique way of grabbing buyers’ eyes: from flamboyant and intriguing trade ads to cocktail parties and press conferences to new programs and revitalized slates. As Off the Fence’s Schuit remarked, “we’re diversifying our catalog. We now offer science, technology and entertainment programs.” He and his fellow TV execs hope this wide array of offerings will be enough to make MIP a success.

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