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Fox TV hits German ‘Street’ for laffs

Rights picked up for U.S., U.K., Oz, New Zealand, Canada

In a first for a German format, Rose d’Or winner “Schiller Street” has been snapped up by Fox Television Studios and looks set to be remade for U.S. and U.K. audiences.

The improv comedy format, now in its fourth season on Haim Saban’s German net Sat 1, has been averaging a 17% share in the key 14-49 demo and scooped the press award at May’s Rose d’Or Festival.

Fox World, the studio’s format production unit, is preparing to pitch “Schiller Street” to Fox reality guru Mike Darnell as well as other broadcast and cable nets.

“I knew this could be something really terrific for our studio here in the U.S., and where we have production companies in other English-speaking territories,” said Hayley Babcock, Fox World’s senior VP of production, who first got wind of positive buzz for the show in February.

“We got in under the gun before everybody else. I brought it back to the U.S., the team here really loved it, and we went for a deal.”

Fox has picked up rights to the format for the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada

Seven One Intl., a distribution arm set up by ProSieben Sat 1 last year, has struck deals in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Romania, Hungary and Israel.

Produced by Cologne-based Hurricane, the show is set in an apartment and focuses on a single woman and her friends, who are all played by comedians. In each episode they are given a general idea of the plot, but the director then communicates bizarre instructions via earphones to the cast members one at a time, such as “confess you’ve been kidnapped by aliens” or “talk in a language no one can understand.”

“There is nothing comparable,” said Jens Richter, managing director of SevenOne Intl. “The problem with improvisational comedy is very often it’s only funny for 10 minutes. Here the director can control the flow of the story, but it’s still improvised.”

The deal comes on the back of a string of recent successes for Fox World. Last week it launched the fourth season of “Temptation Island” and the first season of “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” on French commercial broadcaster TF1. The latter debuted July 15 to an impressive 55.6% share of the 15-24 demo, 35.5% among all viewers.

Also in the works are a number of local versions of “Beauty and the Geek,” a Brazilian adaptation of “Trading Spouses” and new productions in the Netherlands and the U.K., although Babcock is keeping these under wraps for now.

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