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Trio betting on hi-definition hopes

Bennetts, Rich create HDTV distrib BMW

Three longtime business partners — Paul Rich, Bob Bennett and son Casey Bennett — have set up an HDTV distribution company called Bennett Media Worldwide (BMW) and will exhibit at the upcoming Mipcom trade show in Cannes for the first time.

BMW will both license shows from its sister company Bennett Prods., but also acquire and distribute programs focused on extreme sports, lifestyles, music — and beautiful women.

Rich is president/CEO and co-owner of BMW.

BMW joins a growing number of indie distribs setting up to license nonfiction and reality product in the newly reinvigorated foreign TV market.

Among BMW’s offerings will be “Bikini Destinations,” “The World of Music Concerts” series and “The Extremists in High Definition,” latter produced with Japan’s pubcaster NHK.

All Bennett’s programs are shot in HDTV; BMW will distribute those programs in HD and standard digital formats.

The shows, per the co-owners, all lend themselves to customization in each territory, where local talent can be inserted as hosts/commentators. Also, buyers can acquire simultaneously licenses for the standard def and high-def rights to all the company’s HD-originated programs, the latter of which they can exploit when HDTV emerges in their territories.

Bob Bennett and Rich, through Metromedia Producers Corp., produced and distributed 2000 hours of programming in the U.S. and foreign markets in the early ’80s, including “Dynasty” and “Charlie’s Angels.”

Rich served as exec VP of Metromedia Producers under Bennett, and then headed the TV division of DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group.

Casey Bennett, president-CEO of Bennett Prods., is a producer of extreme sports series and beauty pageants. He founded Bennett Prods. in Los Alamitos, Calif., 25 years ago.

Bennett pere was a general manager of TV stations in Washington, D.C., New York and Boston. He headed Metromedia Broadcasting for several years before acquiring the New World film library and converting it into Trans Atlantic Entertainment in 1991.

Bob Bennett is chairman of Bennett Prods. and BMW.

Joining the principals in BMW is reality program producer and exec VP Darren Chuckry.

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