ITV’s program buyers made generous use of the network checkbook on their annual shopping trip to Los Angeles last month.
The U.K. commercial web picked up November’s two big five-hour biopics, Warner Bros.’ “Sinatra” and Polygram’s “The Jacksons,” and bought three sitcoms–the first time in years that it has shown any interest in U.S. comedy.
ITV roped “Love and War,” the latest Diane English show, and two half-hours from Columbia: “Good Advice,” the midseason CBS-TriStar TV sitcom starring Shelley Long; and Col TV’s NBC comedy “The Powers That Be,” with John Forsythe.
Other pickups included “Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman,” a CBS in-house drama series starring Jane Seymour, and “Time Trax,” a one-hour syndicated action adventure series from Warner Bros.
Don Gale, ITV’s outgoing chief film buyer, confirmed that ITV “did buy more” on this L.A. trip than in recent years. This appears to reflect the structural changes which the ITV web is currently undergoing, with a shift to a more streamlined and more aggressively commercial scheduling system.
But ITV’s new network director, Marcus Plantin, a self-professed admirer of U.S. television, expressed concern at the level of violence in many Yank programs, which made them unsuitable for British TV. “I’m very worried that the Americans seem to be on a slippery slope with explicit violence on TV. It makes you wonder whether that society is so increasingly violent that they hardly notice it on TV any more,” he said.
In a separate development, ITV has lost Spelling’s “Beverly Hills, 90210” to its satellite rival Sky One. ITV has screened the show from the start, but Plantin said he did not want to pay the new asking price of $ 10 million for three years. “Our audiences for the show are very skewed towards children,” he said, “but the story lines are becoming very adult.” The show appeals primarily to teens and young adults in the U.S.
The BBC picked up Oliver Stone’s ABC miniseries “Wild Palms” along with the web’s in-house sitcom “Camp Wilder.” Channel 4, traditionally the largest British buyer of U.S. comedy, bought Lorimar’s “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.”