Taps WMA U.S. rep, inks telepic deal

CANNES — Endemol Entertainment, the rapidly expanding Dutch-based indie production company, has launched a two-pronged attack to enter the U.S. market while also accessing American product for its developing international distribution business.

Endemol has signed an exclusive deal with the William Morris Agency for the agency to represent the production house Stateside. Endemol wants to bring its successful formats into the States and is hoping that William Morris will help find producers capable of overseeing the projects for the U.S. market.

In a separate deal, Pim Van Collem, president of Endemol Entertainment Intl., has signed a four-year output agreement with Larry Gershman’s World Intl. Network for WIN to provide up to 20 U.S. telepics per year. Endemol holds rights to 11 territories including France, Italy, Scandinavia, Africa, Turkey and Eastern Europe. The deal marks a significant boost to Endemol’s ambitions to become a key international distribution player.

In the U.S., Endemol has identified five formats that it believes have a chance either in syndication or as network product. According to Van Collem, the most likely to get the first American makeover is popular talent program “The Soundmix Show.”

Endemol is also looking for William Morris to open doors to creating strategic alliances with light entertainment producers in the U.S., in the hope that the Dutch company can co-finance projects, primarily against international rights outside North America. “We are committed to distribution and we want to get involved in drama, television movies and action-adventure as early in the production process as possible,” said Van Collem.

In the medium term, expansionist Endemol is also tipped to take equity stakes in English-speaking television and film production companies, once again in order to obtain product for its distribution arm. Van Collem admitted that several investment opportunities in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia are currently under discussion, but would not name names. Endemol already has a production joint venture in France with respected TeleImages.

If the Dutch company does take a slice of a film production outfit it will be to get television and video rights, with Endemol laying off theatrical in each territory.

Outside the U.S., Endemol’s newly signed output agreement with WIN gives Van Collem access to much-needed American product.

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