By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
With the L.A. Screenings about to start, TV executives the world over are preparing for a TV market –– albeit an organic one –– unlike all other markets. In the aftermath of the U.S. writers’ strike, this year’s Screenings will feature fewer parties from the indies (none from the studios), and there will be fewer network pilots to be screened. VideoAge checked in with Comcast International Media Group svp Duccio Donati about his plans for the Screenings, why buyers will have more time on their hands than ever before, and whether he believes that all the excesses of Hollywood will be back come L.A. Screenings 2009.
VideoAge International: What product is Comcast International bringing to the L.A. Screenings?
Duccio Donati: This year, we’re all about our reality line-up at the Screenings. We have three great show — Living Lohan, Denise Richards: It’s Complicated and Pamela (working title). Plus, we’ve just announced a new series for G4, Hurl, a high-concept show in which guys go through a series of tests and the last one to, well, hurl, wins.
VAI: Will this year’s Screenings be particularly good for the indies?
DD: Absolutely. We’ve been talking to buyers and they’ve said they’re going to have a lot more time on their hands. They’re using it have more individual meetings while they’re in L.A. Which is good for us since we’re bringing finished episodes of both Living Lohan and Denise to the Screenings. We expect to be very busy this year.
VAI: Are you focusing on any particular territories?
DD: With our high profile shows this year, we’re looking at all the major English-speaking territories.
VAI: The Screenings are somewhat different this year as a result of the Writers Guild of America strike in the U.S. How exactly will they differ from past events?
DD: There will be lots more face time with buyers [for us]. Studios won’t be kidnapping them. They’ll definitely have lots of chances to meet with the indies. They often don’t have the time because the studios tend to monopolize their time.
VAI: Will things go back to normal next year?
DD: Things will go back to the norm with respect to pilot season, despite rumors of things continuing to change. Honestly, it really all depends on what happens this year with ad revenue. Personally, I agree with what Jeff Zucker said at NATPE, about the system being broken. But there’s still a lot of resistance to changing that. Unfortunately, the only thing that will break that resistance is the almighty dollar.