BBC’s heading ‘West’

Brits corral costly Spielberg six-part mini

LONDON — The BBC, criticized by rivals for forcing up the price of U.S. acquisitions, has snapped up Steven Spielberg’s latest miniseries, “Into the West,” for an undisclosed sum.

Execs hope the six-part Western, airing on TNT in the U.S., will repeat the success of DreamWorks’ “Band of Brothers,” a cult hit for BBC2, which will screen “Into the West” next year.

“Following on from ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘Taken,’ we’re really pleased to continue our relationship with DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg,” said BBC acquisitions topper George McGhee. “The scale and investment in this magnificent epic is something that we could not reproduce on the BBC.”

Produced by TNT in association with DreamWorks TV and exec produced by Spielberg, the Wild West saga recounts the story of two multi-generational families.

At the recent L.A. Screenings, Jane Lighting, chief exec of Beeb rival Five, slammed the BBC’s predatory approach to U.S. fare, which she said drove up prices.

“We thought we were bidding against a very aggressive commercial operation,” she said. “When we decided it had gone too far and the market could not stand it, it turned out to be the BBC,” she said.

The government has warned the BBC that it should buy U.S. material only when such programs are unlikely to find British buyers elsewhere or could not be made inhouse.

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