Oz’s Becker packs bags for Travel Channel series

Discovery goes to 'End of the Earth' for $3.6 mil

SYDNEY — The Travel Channel, a unit of Discovery Communications, has commissioned Australian film and TV producer-distribbery Becker Entertainment to produce what is believed to be Oz’s largest ever docu series.

Discovery, whose traditional Oz production ally is Beyond Intl., has ordered an A$5.5 million ($3.6 million), 13-hour exploration series called “Journeys to the End of the Earth.” Discovery has an option for an additional three 13-hour seasons of the show, bringing the potential production value of the deal to $14 million.

“This is a great result for us,” Becker TV development head Stuart Scowcroft told Daily Variety. “This could represent 10 years of production for us.”

Becker’s first production pact with Discovery is the latest turnaround for the struggling company. Once a solid performer, Becker was plunged into its first losses in its 33-year history when the Asian economic crisis dented its once-promising Asian TV biz, while a string of box office flops hit its Oz film distrib REP. But in the past few weeks, REP has taken a combined $2.6 million box office for “Arlington Road” and the local pic “Two Hands.”

Under terms of the Discovery deal, which was assembled by Scowcroft, Becker co-production head Charles Hannah and Discovery execs Mark Finkelpearl and Michael Lennon, Discovery has world cable rights, while Becker has all other world rights, excluding the U.S. and Germany.

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