Basketball franchise headed for small screen

The Harlem Globetrotters are partnering with “Hell’s Kitchen” producer A. Smith & Co., signing a deal with the company to develop smallscreen properties linked to the 81-year-old basketball franchise’s brand. While a reality show is an obvious possibility, pact covers a wide range of programming, including scripted, documentary, live events and animation.

TV deal is one of the first major moves by Kurt Schneider, the former Fox Sports Net and WWE exec who was tapped CEO of the Globetrotters in May. It also comes three years after the team was bought by the Shamrock Group, the investment entity founded by Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold.

“Our goal is to evolve the Globetrotters into a dynamic, unique experiential entertainment property,” Schneider said, adding that he believes A. Smith & Co. has the ability to make that happen “on a global basis.”

Schneider and A. Smith CEO Arthur Smith already have a working relationship. Duo worked together at FSN during the 1990s, when Smith ran programming and Schneider was a VP of marketing.

Smith said he believes the Globetrotters brand is one “with limitless potential.” Indeed, while the Globetrotters haven’t had much of TV presence as of late, the team was all over the smallscreen in the 1970s, when it was owned by Metromedia. One of its biggest breakthroughs was the Hanna-Barbera animated skein “Harlem Globetrotters,” which aired on CBS from 1970-73. It was one of the first toons to feature black male characters. Team appeared in several other animated projects and even hosted a live-action Saturday ayem variety skein in 1974. In 1981, team appeared in the live-action telepic “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”

The Globetrotters plan to embark on a 2008 world tour under the banner “Magic as Ever.” Team has notched more than 22,000 wins over its eight-decade history.

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