Granada gets cracking

Stateside 'Cracker' barrels onto ABC sked

LONDON — Granada TV has become the first British company to break into the U.S. network production business, with the announcement that ABC has ordered 13 episodes of “Cracker” for its fall schedule.

The American “Cracker” is adapted by Granada from its own hit British series of the same name, about a brilliant but flawed criminal psychologist with a problematic personal life.

British ITV producers have tried previously to break into the U.S. network business by buying Stateside companies, as TVS did with MTM and Thames with Reeves. But this is the first time a British company has succeeded in securing a network deal directly.

Granada announced last week that it is opening its own Los Angeles production office under the direction of Scott Siegler, former president of Columbia Pictures TV.

The American pilot for “Cracker” was adapted from Paul Abbott’s British script by U.S. writer James Sadwith and stars Robert Pastorelli. Production was overseen by Gub Neal, Granada’s fast-rising controller of drama.

“It’s been a steep learning curve for us, as this was something none of us had ever done before,” Neal commented. “We had such faith in the project that it is great to see it now all pay off.”

ABC is understood to be paying $1 million an episode, leaving Granada to pick up a deficit of around $200,000.

ABC’s decision to pick up the series is also a triumph for Ben Silverman of the William Morris Agency’s London office, who with U.S. colleague Greg Lipstone brokered the pioneering pilot deal for Granada.

Jules Burns and Andrea Wonfor, joint managing directors of Granada Prods., said in a joint statement, “This is great news — not just for Granada, but for the reputation of British TV talent as a whole. The quality of British television has long been respected the world over, and now our production skills can truly be recognized as world class.”

Steve Morrison, chief exec of Granada Media Group, said, “I look forward to seeing more Granada programs made especially for America and for the rest of the world.

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