Granada locks in on celebrity yuks

Firm shooting 'Poms,' planning more 'Celebrity' shows

SYDNEY — Granada Prods., the Australian offshoot of the British media giant, is cashing in on the reality craze and a resurgence of interest in comedy.

Granada produced “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!,” which aired Stateside February-March on ABC, and later this month it’s cranking up a second series of the show for Blighty commercial broadcaster ITV.

Managing director Peter Davey says he’s in advanced negotiations with broadcasters in Australia, France and Germany for customized versions of “Celebrity,” and he hopes all will happen in the second half of this year.

“Fortuitously, the U.K. has discovered Australia is a good place to produce for cost and content (value), and we’re talking to U.S. broadcasters about a range of projects,” he says.

The firm is shooting “At Home With the Poms,” a reality show following English families who have moved Down Under, for the U.K.’s Channel 4.

Davey credits the upswing in Granada’s output partly to a strengthening of his management team in the past 12 months. Rory O’Callaghan (formerly with the Nine Network) came aboard as director of programs, Leonie Lowe (ex-Seven Network) joined as head of production, and Granada bought a stake in publicist Richard Squire’s PR company Ultra Communications.

Riding the comedy boom, Granada last month made “World Comedy Unplugged,” featuring 17 comedians from around the world for Oz’s Nine Network and comedychannel Australia, Comedy Central in the U.S. and the U.K. Comedy Channel.

In the same vein, it’s producing “Hit & Run,” a series that puts stand-up comics in unfamiliar situations for comedychannel.

Granada is tapping into local dramas via its alliance with CoxKnight Prods., which is doing “After the Deluge,” a miniseries for the Ten web, toplining David Wenham, Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths; and “CrashBurn,” a series on surviving long-term relationships, also for Ten.

Recognizing it’s often tough to sell Oz dramas internationally, Davey is looking at the possibility of remaking or reversioning “CrashBurn” for the U.S. and the U.K.

Davey oversees Granada’s 10% stake in the Seven Network and its 18% interest in Village Roadshow.

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