“Deal or No Deal” producer Endemol USA is acquiring a controlling interest in producer Charlie Corwin’s Gotham-based Original Media — a move that gives the reality powerhouse a presence in the feature film and scripted TV businesses.
Neither side would discuss specifics, but the total value of the deal is estimated to be in the ballpark of $50 million, according to people familiar with the situation.
On the feature front, Original has produced arthouse faves “Half Nelson” and “The Squid & the Whale.” Its reality successes include TLC’s “Miami Ink” and “L.A. Ink” and Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers.”
Over the summer, NBC U entertainment co-chief Ben Silverman signed Original to a first-look deal for scripted series. That pact has already yielded a 13-seg order for “The Philanthropist,” a drama from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson.
“One of the appeals of this deal was that it instantly diversifies us and gets us into some businesses we just weren’t in,” Endemol USA CEO David Goldberg told Daily Variety.
“We see ourselves as an independent studio. We just can’t sit back and be a nonscripted production company if we’re interested in dramatically expanding our U.S. imprint and our global imprint.”
Goldberg and Corwin said Original would continue to operate on a day-to-day basis as an indie production company.
“But now it will be with the added leverage, capital, infrastructure and entry into foreign markets that Endemol brings,” Corwin said. “It’s about them facilitating the growth of my business because it’s now our business.”
Corwin said Original would continue to work in both film and TV, with Endemol’s leverage and cash flow being particularly useful on the feature side.
“I’ll be able to make bigger movies that have broader distribution,” he said.
Goldberg said Original will remain Gotham-based but will increase its Los Angeles presence. “There will be things we do strategically to fold them into the Endemol family … but it’s important that these companies retain their identity.”
Original will maintain a small office in Miami.
Endemol’s purchase of Original marks the company’s first big buy since hiring A. Ron Milkes to serve as senior VP of acquisitions (Daily Variety, April 24). Goldberg said he and Milkes already are looking at other companies and may snap one up by year’s end.
“Our philosophy is to acquire companies where we have tremednous faith in the management and creative skills of the owners, and then to encourage them to function autonomously,” Goldberg said. “They are in no ways takeovers.”
In addition to “Deal,” Endemol USA produces “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for ABC, “Big Brother” for CBS (with Allison Grodner Prods.) and “1 vs. 100” for NBC.