Le ‘Survivor’ faire

France's TF1 announces its version of sizzling show

PARIS — Among the French, there continues to be widespread disapproval of voyeuristic reality shows like “Big Brother.”

But formats make money. And following the massive success of “Who wants to Be a Millionaire” (“Qui veut gagner des millions?”) — which drew huge audiences for TF1 in July — France’s No. 1 private network announced Wednesday that it is developing a French version of “Survivor.”

At a packed press conference unveiling TF1’s autumn lineup, there was an audible gasp as VP Etienne Mougeotte revealed that “Survivor” was coming to France, probably next summer.

Tailored for Gaul

But the show being developed by the production company Expand (maker of the adventure show “Fort Boyard”) and its subsidiary Adventure Line would be fashioned “a la francaise,” taking proper account of French sensibilities, Mougeotte promised. TF1 had no intention of buying the rights to “Big Brother,” he added.

In a very upbeat presentation, the VP said things were looking good for France’s networks, which were enjoying an “air of renewal,” thanks to popular new gameshows like “Millionaire.” TV viewing was on the increase, and ad coin was up.

Cash tumbling in

“Let’s say that advertising is doing very well,” Mougeotte said. In the first half of this year, TF1’s ad revenues were up 18.4%. Spending on programming was up slightly more than 2%.

TF1 was plowing $171 million into TV production, with heavy investment in costly miniseries like “Les Miserables,” which was bought earlier this year by Fox Family Channel. The much-awaited series, starring Gerard Depardieu, John Malkovich and Virginie Ledoyen starts airing in France this coming Monday.

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