Monte Carlo Mart works on its image

It was Jim Gianopulos’ first visit to the Monte Carlo TV Market as prexy of Twentieth TV Intl., and he didn’t seem convinced it was worth it.

Maybe it was jet lag, but having just arrived in Monaco, Gianopulos was having difficulty understanding why he needed to travel halfway across the globe to sell programs to the same European buyers he had seen at NATPE in S.F. only days before.

“We need a reassessment of the market year,” he said.

“Too many markets too close together diffuses the focus.”

He promised that Twentieth would be boosting its international efforts at NATPE next year, and he indicated that he’d be thinking twice about making the trip to Monte Carlo, a sentiment echoed by a growing number of sellers at the Feb. 8-12 event.

“In the past we did not bring all our international sales offices to NATPE, but this year we found all our overseas buyers were there,” Gianopulos explained. “So next year we will definitely bring all our people to NATPE.”

That’s alarming talk for Monte Carlo director Andre Asseo, and he moved quickly to counter it. He and the duchy’s Prince Albert held an hourlong meeting with Gianopulos later in the week to seek his support. Asseo emerged content that his diplomatic efforts had worked, predicting that Twentieth TV would be back next year.

Asseo was in an upbeat mood about this year’s market as a whole.

“The atmosphere was much better this year,” Asseo said. “All the big majors, such as MCA and Paramount, seemed very happy. The buyers were of a very good quality.” He promised that in 1994 he would be making a special effort to ship in more Asian buyers.

While some experienced British sellers estimated there were no more than 350 buyers in the airless blue corridors of the Loews Hotel (50% down on previous years, and fewer than attended the London Screenings last November), Asseo insisted the real number was 800.

But reports from the distributors themselves were mixed, with negative verdicts seeming to outweigh the positive ones.

CBS’s Joe di Certo suggested that Asseo was “cutting his own throat” by keeping the event small and “exclusive.”

But a spokesperson for Germany’s Beta Film said, “We’ve had a really terrific market, though there do seem to be fewer people here.” Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi Communications also declared itself “very happy” with its sales.

Monte Carlo’s most ardent fan remains Worldvision’s Bert Cohen, who argues that NATPE would become unmanageable for distrib if they had to deal with Euro buyers, as well as the Latin Americans and Asians, which currently make up NATPE’s main international contingent.

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