FremantleMedia Ltd. -- the production company with a role in A&E
Network's canceled 100 Centre Street and Nero Wolfe drama series
-- is now talking with that channel and other cable services about launching
new, inexpensive programming in a genre company executives labeled 'industrial
David Lyle, FremantleMedia's U.S. entertainment president, said A&E
expressed interest in the pitch, covering five-day/night-per-week dramas
produced in high-definition video 'for one-third to one-half less than
Such series have worked well, economically and in viewership, with networks
overseas, such as the long-running Prisoner: Cell Block H and
Neighbours in Australia. 'There's no reason why those shows can't be as
competitive here,' Lyle said.
Lyle and other senior company executives elaborated on the initiative during
a press briefing Thursday morning in Los Angeles, outlining FremantleMedia's
programming course, current and future, for cable, broadcast-network TV and
Women Behind Bars, a proposed U.S. adaptation of Prisoner (which
was syndicated domestically more than two decades ago), is the first
'industrial' project in play for A&E or other cable networks. Jason Daniel,
the company's new head of U.S. drama development, will lead the charge.
Despite A&E's termination of Nero Wolfe last month and of 100
Centre Street earlier this year -- plus the recent ouster of Allen Sabinson,
the channel's senior programming vice president -- FremantleMedia has a sound
relationship there, company executives maintained.
The management change 'offers the opportunity to come with another economic
programming model,' said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, executive VP of U.S. commercial
ventures and operations.
In other developments, FremantleMedia announced several series projects
targeted for various cable networks, a number of them based on British hits.
On Home Box Office's hopper is Ally Gee, a British import where an
'idiot savant' does irreverent interviews with common people.
Up for consideration at MTV: Music Television is Real Life Adventures,
a weekly reality program featuring people hurdled into a week of surprise
adventure and romance, tracked with hidden cameras.
Popular BBC2 housemaker show Life Laundry, a development project
announced last spring, is still on Discovery Channel's burner.
Lyle also disclosed that To Tell the Truth -- the Goodson-Todman
classic remake starring John O'Hurley, which left syndication this winter after
two seasons -- will return via cable in a late-night, 'provocative' format.
Premiere date and channel will be named soon, he said. O'Hurley will not host
the latest version.
Other projects going either cable or broadcast include House Guest with
Kato, featuring O.J. Simpson house guest turned TV personality Kato Kaelin;
Date Squad, a love-life-makeover show running on BBC2's primetime lineup;
and Goodson-Todman panel favorite The Match Game.