William Morris will work to package the Distraction formats with production companies, talent and other necessary elements to secure distribution on American television.
Mark Itkin, WMA Worldwide head of syndication, cable and nonfiction programming, and Paul Bricault of William Morris Consulting will lead the team repping the company.
A “modular sitcom” concept called “Camera Cafe,” Distraction’s newest format, is among several shows Distraction founder-CEO Michel Rodrigue said he has high hopes for in the American marketplace.
WMA also will rep “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “In the Dark,” “Second Honeymoon” and “The Ugly Duckling,” among others.
Montreal-based Distraction reps more than 100 formats for gameshows, comedies, sitcoms, variety shows, magazines, dramas and kid/teen programs acquired from such territories as the U.K., France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Since the company was founded in 1997, it has opened additional offices in London, Paris and Budapest, selling these formats to local independent producers, providing the concept, the structure and the production bible and know-how to build programming that is adaptable to local needs.
The vast majority of the company’s sales are done in Europe.
Rodrigue said that for the past three years, he has been making monthly trips to the U.S, handling sales himself. During that process he discovered that the American format market is uniquely driven by the agencies.
“I’ve been fighting doing that — hiring an agency — because our company doesn’t produce anything,” Rodrigue told Daily Variety. “We’re a format distributor, so we’re sort of brokers, or agents, ourselves. I kept asking why I should put an agency fee on top of this until I really understood the market and understood the strength of the agents business in the United States.”
He added that he went to William Morris in part because of the agency’s successful track record in bringing European formats to the U.S.