Docu development

Brit outfit Diverse links up with cabler TLC

LONDON — Looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow U.K. independent producers Wall to Wall and RDF, docu outfit Diverse has set up shop in New York and secured its first Stateside commissions with cable network TLC.

The channel, which enjoyed success with Brit format “Trading Spaces” until a recent ratings slide, has greenlit “Parent Coach,” based on a pilot produced for U.K. commercial web Five.

Commissioned by TLC topper David Abraham, himself a recent arrival from the U.K., and Sean Gallagher, senior VP of production and development, the series features an American parenting expert dishing out advice on how to raise children.

“That’s the start of our American operation,” said Diverse managing director Paul Sowerbutts, who has been focused on entering the U.S. market since joining the company from Channel 4’s distribution arm at the end of last year. The second order, also for TLC, is for “Who Are You Calling Stupid,” a two-hour pilot. “It’s looking at the links between stupidity and intelligence, and the decisions people make,” is all Sowerbutts would say. “It will be fun.”

Both series will be exec produced by Diverse creative director Roy Ackerman, with “Parent Coach” due for delivery in the first quarter of 2006.

A third pilot is in development, for Discovery, and Diverse is looking to appoint a development exec to head up the Gotham office.

Established in 1982, the independent producer is also behind Channel 4 reality hit “Operatunity,” which bowed on PBS this month. Diverse has been expanding since it was acquired in September by Anglo-Italian company Fact Based Communications, which specializes in advertiser-funded programming and branded entertainment.

Also on the radar is the booming feature doc market and Diverse has three projects in development. Earlier this year, the Ackerman exec produced-doc “Why We Fight” took the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

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