By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
In the months leading up to MIPCOM, which will be held a somewhat late October 13-17, in Cannes, France, independents the world over have been readying their slates for an entertainment extravaganza that will cap off a rather irregular year in the industry. VideoAge spoke with a slew of indies to find out what product they’ll be bringing to the Palais, if the U.S. writers’ strike has affected them, and if MIPCOM is still the best place for TV executives to do global business.
“MIPCOM marks the beginning of the year-end frenzy for us,” said Oliver Kreuter, head of Distribution for Germany’s Bavaria Media, “Buyers come out of their summer break ready to make the last acquisitions for the current year.” This year, Bavaria will be launching Serralonga, a two-part adventure miniseries from Spain, as well as disaster movie White Menace-The Avalanche of the Century. “MIPCOM is a catalyst for the business we want to do during the second half of the year,” he said, before adding that Bavaria and TV3 de Catalunya will host a special event and cocktail on October 13 to celebrate the international launch of Serralonga.
Following Canada-based Cookie Jar Entertainment’s recent merger with U.S.-based DIC, MIPCOM will be the newly formed company’s coming out party. “This is the first show since combining our efforts,” said Cookie Jar’s Toper Taylor, noting that the firm now has over 6,000 hours of programming in its library — one of the largest in kids’ television. This year, Cookie Jar is bringing a number of new kiddie series, including Metajets, a co-production with Korea’s Sunwoo, and Noonbory and the Super 7, a co-pro with Korean partner Daewon Media. According to Taylor, the aftereffects of the U.S. writers’ strike will still be felt. “It’s still hurting the U.S., but it creates opportunities for international co-productions.”
Tobias de Graaff, svp, Sales, Europe, at the U.K.’s ITV Worldwide, the international distribution arm of ITV that combines the recently merged Granada International and Granada Ventures, concurred with Taylor that the strike is still on people’s minds. “Our buyers didn’t get the normal amount of scripted shows that they usually get,” he said. “Because of that shortfall, they’re looking for our stuff.” The company is bringing product galore in the hopes of filling that void. Scorched is a futuristic disaster movie about the effects of global warming that de Graaff hopes will strike a chord in this era of environmental awareness. But de Graaff is most excited about Britannia High, a musical drama series that is expected to soar. Besides the series, attendees will see a new booth for ITV, which better reflects its recent Granada acquisitions. “Expect prettiness,” de Graaff said cheekily.
Another U.K. company that will be on hand to meet, greet and do business at MIPCOM is Power, which will focus its market efforts on promoting Crusoe, its adaptation of the famed Daniel Defoe novel that airs this fall on NBC in the U.S. “We’ve pre-sold Crusoe in 43 territories,” said Power’s Chris Philip, noting that the family-friendly series will soon air on Canal Plus in France, Channel Nine in Australia and TV2 in Hungary, among other regions. “It’s an enormous accomplishment to get a scripted show on TV in the U.S.,” said Philip. “When we’re sitting at a table with a client and we tell them we have a U.S. network show, that gets their attention immediately. We’ve been able to capitalize on that with a number of long-term output deals.”
On the Spanish-language side, U.S.-based Telemundo is muy excited about the telenovelas it will be bringing to the market. Among the Spanish-language soaps to be showcased at MIPCOM will be Doña Bárbara, Without Breasts There is No Paradise and Marina. “MIPCOM has always been the most relevant market for us because while other markets are local, MIPCOM continues to be global,” said Telemundo’s Xavier Aristimuño. The company, which has a strong presence in Asia, will use the event to continue its focus on the region. “China is a huge market for us,” said Aristimuño, noting that Marina will soon be on the air there. The company also has soaps airing in the Philippines, Japan, and Korea, among other locales. Aristimuño believes that Telemundo’s novelas do so well in Asia because “they’re simple love stories and they have a beginning and an end. People can relate to them.”
MIPCOM 2007 drew a total of 13,371 participants, a seven percent increase over the previous year’s market. Some 4,585 companies from 105 countries were on hand. Reed Midem, organizers of the event, hope for an even higher numbers for MIPCOM 2008. For our part, we hope for business as usual and good weather.