Reality leaps across pond
British-based producer-distrib Alchemy Television is forming an international format unit, partnering, as a first step, with L.A.-based Rocket Science Laboratories to handle its upcoming unscripted formats worldwide.As part of its efforts to attract other such format specialists to its fold, Alchemy has tapped Mike Beale, co-founder and deputy managing director of Britain’s 12 Yard Prods., as managing director of the new unit. Beale will launch Alchemy Reality at Mip TV in mid-April and pitch original Rocket Science projects to broadcasters on the Cannes Croisette. The new partnership and appointment were unveiled Wednesday by recently hired Alchemy prexy-chief operating officers Edward Sabin and Rocket Science toppers Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud. Alchemy is among a host of indie producer-distribs that are goosing their operations in the hopes of capitalizing on the need for product from new and established outlets around the globe. “This deal with Rocket Sicence is just the first of several such partnerships that we’re currently working on to grow our business,” Sabin, who has been on the job for less than a month, told Daily Variety. Rocket Science formats include “Temptation Island,” “Joe Millionaire,” “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” and the soon-to-launch series “When Women Rule the World.” (These existing shows will continue to be distributed internationally by Fox Intl. TV.) “Considering the strength of Alchemy’s international pedigree, we’re confident that this unique venture will provide us with the direct access to the global market that we’ve been looking for,” Michenaud said. Alchemy Reality will be at Mip TV to further discussions, or unveil relationships, with several other U.K., U.S. and European producers. Prior to 12 Yard, Beale worked as a producer at the BBC, Hat Trick and Granada. He worked on “The Weakest Link,” “The National Lottery” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” as well as on the licensing of reality and game formats internationally. “Mike Beale’s experience in adapting, selling and executing on formats for international buyers demonstrates an invaluable ability to identify and create global successes. With Mike’s pedigree, we expect to attract other U.S. and international producing talent to the Alchemy Reality fold,” Sabin said. Alchemy lured Sabin from Fox Television Studios a month ago, having hired its Stateside CEO, Carrie Stein, away from ICM a year ago. Their charge: to beef up the company’s U.S. presence and help coordinate global growth in a variety of program genres. Company co-founders in Britain are David Wyler, Simon Vaughan and Nick Witkowski. Alchemy Reality will be based in London, adjacent to the international sales and production group of Alchemy Television, with offices in Los Angeles to include operations, business affairs and finance. The dual offices will provide Alchemy Reality and its clients a presence in the two most valuable reality markets. Alchemy’s roster includes “The Company,” a $35 million, six-hour miniseries from Ridley Scott that stars Michael Keaton, Chris O’Donnell and Alfred Molina, and “War and Peace,” starring Brenda Blethyn and Malcolm McDowell. Alchemy, which shares distribution chores on this longform, has already licensed the epic in the U.K. and Australia. As for Rocket Science, it completed an exclusive overall production deal last year with Fox. It is currently in production on “When Women Rule the World” and “Trading Spouses” for Fox and on “Bullrun” for Spike TV.