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Real deal drives Fox to Scream

U.K. prod'n house to focus on reality skeins

Looking to expand its international presence, Fox Television Studios has acquired the U.K.-based production outfit Scream Films.

Scream, which produces programming for Britain’s Sky One, Living TV, BBC, Five and ITV networks, will operate as a development entity inside Fox TV Studios. Move reps one of the first major acquisitions under new studio prexy Angela Shapiro-Mathes, who announced the acquisition Wednesday.

Scream focuses on nonscripted (or, as they call it across the Pond, “factual”) series and documentaries, including the U.K. version of “Extreme Makeover,” as well as “Terror Alert,” “I’m Famous and Frightened” and “Dale’s Wedding,” which were developed inhouse.

Led by creative director Southan Morris, Scream execs will now work closely with Fox TV Studios alternative development exec VP Holly Jacobs to develop unscripted formats that could be distributed globally.

“Not only will we look at their library, but we’ll be collaborating on ideas in general,” Jacobs said. “They’re unique thinkers, rooted in filmmaking and journalism.”

Shapiro-Mathes said Fox TV Studios wasn’t looking to acquire an international production shingle when it stumbled upon Scream.

“When Holly and I were at Mipcom (last October), we met with 20 production companies for the purpose of getting a sense of who they were and identifying a handful we might want to be in business with. After we began meeting with everyone, Scream stood out from all the rest … If I were to go out and hire a creative team, I’d hire this one.”

Fox TV Studios will continue to look at striking partnerships with other global producers but isn’t planning on acquiring any more companies, Shapiro-Mathes said.

The Scream acquisition comes as FTVS begins to develop a global strategy inside the studio. All of the studio’s unscripted development, for example, is now overseen by Jacobs.

“We know we will ultimately make a lot of programs just for the U.S. marketplace, and others just for international, as we look to obtain the next big home run,” Shapiro-Mathes said.

Shapiro-Mathes continues to streamline the studio’s structure under a scripted division (led by David Madden), an unscripted division (headed by Jacobs) and an international arm (overseen by Daniela Welteke). Robin Schwartz, meanwhile, heads Regency TV, a partnership between the studio and New Regency.

“We’ve been slowly working more and more as one development team,” Shapiro-Mathes said.

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