Brandon Tartikoff has inked a deal with cable network E! Entertainment Television that gives the former Paramount Pictures and NBC Entertainment topper use of E!’s production facilities as a laboratory, and provides E! with at least one new show.
So far, Tartikoff’s Moving Target Prods. has committed to producing a half-hour weekly series for E!.
The series — tentatively titled “Q and E!”– will likely launch in July. It’s a question and answer format with celebrities, but will not be a one-on-one interview show; Tartikoff said the idea is to come up with 20 questions to ask 20 celebrities.
“Much like E!’s ‘Talk Soup’ takes the best part of the talkshows so you don’t have to watch the whole show, ‘Q and E!’ will ask 20 great questions,” Tartikoff said. The show, he added, won’t be limited to figures in the entertainment industry. Athletes and politicians will also figure into the mix.
Cutting the deal
As part of the deal, Tartikoff can also produce for other distributors and use the cable web’s facilities for a Los Angeles base.
“I can use E! as a laboratory to take my ideas and work them much like I do in New Orleans,” Tartikoff said. But he added that he won’t use E! solely as a testing ground for other companies.
“It is not my intent to yank a show just after it starts to work for E!,” Tartikoff said.
For E!, which has seen its cable subscriber base rise significantly over the last year to 27 million, the association with Tartikoff gives the cable web another selling point. “‘Q and E!’ fits our genre and we get to trade off his name for new subscribers,” said Fran Shea, E!’s senior vice president of programming.
Tartikoff’s deal also helps E! in its efforts to become a program producer for more than its own cable network.
“If his shows go somewhere else besides E!, we both win. It will further the image of E! as a production company that can produce for anyone. It’s a perfect marriage of needs and strengths,” Shea said.
E! first approached Tartikoff about forming a venture at the National Assn. of Television Programming Executives convention in January.
“I had the show on my drawing board,” Tartikoff said, “when Fran Shea said, ‘What if we came to you with propositions.’ That’s what I am trained to do — solve programming problems.”
Since relocating to New Orleans and launched Moving Target Prods., Tartikoff has acquired deals to produce five TV pilots for next season.
He is also launching the firstrun latenight series “Last Call,” with MCA as distributor. On the motion picture side, Tartikoff is involved in a dozen projects with several studios, including Tom Clancy’s bestseller “Without Remorse,” at Savoy Pictures.