By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
Prior to MIP-TV, U.K.-based FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) scored a big get — securing the rights to Harpo Productions’ Oprah’s Big Give for international distribution. (FremantleMedia also represents the show’s format rights at the market.) Oprah’s Big Give is a unique reality show in which contestants travel the U.S. for eight weeks attempting to out-give each other and change people’s lives for the better. David Ellender, CEO of FremantleMedia Enterprises spoke to VideoAge about Oprah Winfrey’s worldwide appeal and why MIP-TV continues to be a must-attend market for the British firm.
VideoAge International: What makes Oprah’s Big Give (and Oprah herself) so appealing to an international audience?
David Ellender: Oprah’s positive message and strong history of giving are universally appealing themes and something that any network would be proud to have on the airwaves. She is an international icon. Oprah’s Big Give is also a totally unique concept — a competition to give rather than to get!
VAI: How did FremantleMedia manage to snag such a huge TV icon?
DE: The Harpo team recognized our strengths as the best people to spread Big Give worldwide because of our expertise in building global brands and our ability to successfully exploit both U.S. versions and localized formats on a territory-by-territory basis. They’ve also seen that we have strong partnerships and work effectively alongside other icons such as Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse, amongst others.
VAI: Will your big launch of the program be at MIP?
DE: It’s a key show for us. We have such a great brand to work with. You’ll see Oprah’s Big Give in the Palais, read about it in the press and experience it at our beachfront stand. Sadly, though, Oprah’s demanding schedule would not allow her the travel time to be here with us.
VAI: What other plans does FremantleMedia have for MIP-TV?
DE: As always, we’re launching a number of fantastic new titles stretching across the drama, comedy, factual and entertainment genres. Key new shows include Australian drama Satisfaction, the recently commissioned second season of which is now available for pre-sale. We also have returning series such as The Martha Stewart Show, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, Celebrity Apprentice, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Iconoclasts. Additionally, we’re offering new spins on reality programming, including She’s Got the Look, the search for the next new over-35 face in the fashion industry, and DEA, a show that invites viewers to go undercover with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
VAI: What do you expect MIP will be like for Fremantle this year?
DE: We are in love with Oprah’s Big Give! It’s infectious TV and it means so much to be a part of something new and important. With our biggest slate yet, this is going to be a very busy but very exciting market for us.