De Mol sets up shop in the U.S.

New reality: Exporting American ideas

John de Mol is setting up shop in the States, seeking new concepts for reality and gameshows from American producers.

But in a twist, de Mol — co-founder and former chief of unscripted factory Endemol — won’t look to jump immediately into the U.S. production biz.

Instead, he wants to take American ideas and produce them in Holland, airing the best on his Dutch TV networks. He’ll then adapt the successful formats and shop them to broadcasters in other countries, including the U.S.

Talpa Content USA shingle will be overseen by Stefanie Gelinas, a Canadian-born TV exec who’s worked with de Mol in Germany and other European markets. Gelinas will be based in Santa Monica.

According to de Mol, the U.S. has one of the richest producer bases in the world. But, he said, the “barriers to access” makes it difficult for most producers to get their ideas noticed.

“A lot of people are frustrated in getting their ideas to the network because there’s so much red tape,” de Mol said. “By opening an office in L.A., all the creatives in the U.S. market can come to us and we can make decisions in one or two weeks. If we like an idea, we can bring it back to Holland and produce it.”

In keeping with the bureaucracy-free model, company is also launching a Web site, Talpausa.com, that will accept reality pitches and user-generated content from anyone.

“We’re looking to talk to everybody, whether they’re repped by an agent or not,” he said.

Despite a recent drought in new reality hits, de Mol said American nets remain cautious about attempting game-changing ideas.

“The market is so big, nobody really dares take a chance,” he said. “One or two failures means you have to look for a new job. The networks would rather pay for proven content than invest in something new.”

By contrast, by year’s end, de Mol will have two full-time broadcast nets in Holland that, combined, will need dozens of hours of original content.

There’s also a chance de Mol could return to Endemol. Company is for sale, and de Mol has thrown his hat in the ring as a potential buyer.

“It’s not impossible that, directly or indirectly, I’ll get involved again,” he said.

Separate from Talpa Content USA, de Mol is also developing a U.S. version of his “Golden Cage” format for ABC (Daily Variety, Feb. 2).

As for Gelinas, exec comes to Endemol from “American Idol” producer FremantleMedia North America, where she was VP of development strategy. She’s also worked as creative director for Endemol Germany and for ProSieben.

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