By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
The 45th annual MIP-TV conference, which will be held next week in Cannes, France, is almost underway. As part of VideoAge’s continuing series of pre-MIP-TV Q&As, we spoke with Marion Edwards, president, International Television at Twentieth Century Fox, to find out why MIP-TV remains an important date on the studios’ schedules, how Twentieth Century Fox is bouncing back from the Writers Guild of America strike and, most importantly, why she’s not yet ready to give up on the pilot system.
VideoAge International: What are your plans for MIP-TV this year?
Marion Edwards: Usually, our focus at MIP is three-pronged. First, we bring our midseason shows, which we’re doing this year with such series as New Amsterdam and Unhitched. We’ll be watching to see if any of them get renewed. Second, we bring our new cable series. But because of the strike this year, we don’t have any information as far as they go. And third, we start gearing up for the L.A. Screenings, which could be fairly complicated this year, also as a result of the strike.
VAI: So it’s safe to say the strike is still affecting Twentieth Century Fox?
ME: It seems like we’re having two development seasons this year. At Twentieth Century Fox, a number of pilots were shot prior to the strike. A lot of the pilots that are getting picked up now, there’s no real time to cast and shoot them in a typical time frame. I foresee more midseason shows. Right now, everyone’s focusing on how to get their shows back on track. There is a huge argument to be made that pilot season is very wasteful. I think everyone’s struggling to see what might replace the system. But TV is a try and fail medium. It’s getting tougher and tougher to hold people’s attention.
VAI: What else are you focusing on at MIP?
ME: We’re focused on formats, in addition to our unscripted series. This year, everyone’s looking into their libraries for inspiration. Shooting a local version of say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, might be difficult. But Prison Break and Dharma and Greg might be a lot easier. So we’re exploring that.
VAI: Why does MIP-TV continue to be such an important market for you to attend?
ME: We attend because all of our clients are there, in addition to the other studios. It’s important for us to be there representing our products, and to be able to sit down with people and discuss those products. We are, in the end, a sales business, and to be able to be in direct contact with the people we’re licensing to is really important.
VAI: Do you ever get to attend any of the many sessions offered by Reed Midem at MIP-TV?
ME: No. The reality is that those sessions are great primer for issues, but they’re not as in-depth as I’d like for them to be. It’s kind of like taking “Intro to Digital Delivery” when what I really want is to be able to ask one-on-one questions of panel members. The sessions usually offer a good overview, but there’s no in-depth analysis.