Davies offers new reality to studio
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” exec producer Michael Davies has set up shop at Sony Pictures TV, where he’ll develop a wide range of nonscripted skeins for broadcast, cable and syndication.
Three-year pact reps a new phase for Davies, who parted ways with former Embassy Row partners Chris Moore and Tera Hanks late last year. The trio are still working together on numerous projects, but the Sony deal is specifically with Davies.
Davies hit it big with gamers such as “Millionaire” but has also expanded to other portions of the alternative realm, having exec produced shows such as “Wife Swap” and “Iconoclasts.”
Zack Van Amburg, co-prexy of programming and production at Sony Pictures TV, said the studio was drawn to Davies’ success in tackling a wide range of reality and gamer series. “When you take a look at the number of reality producers who have had a number of shows that stuck, Michael is one of few,” he said.
Van Amburg added that the studio was also drawn to Davies’ experience with working in primetime, syndication and cable while owning his own shingle (Diplomatic, which was later absorbed by Embassy Row).
“Michael’s independence allows him to work in several different platforms,” said Van Amburg, who pointed to Sony’s status as the only major indie TV studio. “Our goal is to have multiple series on the air with him.”
Sony is especially keen on utilizing Davies’ gameshow expertise for GSN, the gamer cable net half-owned by the conglom. Beyond that, Sony has a major international infrastructure, which was also a draw for Davies, Van Amburg said.
“Michael saw a major opportunity at Sony” because of its global presence, he said.
Diplomatic was founded by Davies in 2000 through ABC and Disney. Beyond “Millionaire” and “Wife Swap,” his other credits include “My Kind of Town,” “Pepsi’s Play for a Billion,” “Studio 7,” “Perfect Match: New York,” “Smush,” “Two Minute Drill” and “Ultimate Reality.”
He initially launched “Millionaire” as exec VP of alternative series and specials at ABC; before that, he developed shows such as “Win Ben Stein’s Money” at Buena Vista Prods.