Industrial Revolution at FremantleMedia


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
traditional dramas.'

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
, 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.