Wong wooing international producers, talent

Femme-centric U.S. network Lifetime is looking to ramp up international co-productions.

Prexy-CEO Andrea Wong and Tanya Lopez, senior veep in charge of original movies at Lifetime Movie Network, have been at Mipcom this week talking to existing production partners, such as France’s TF1.

Wong said she had met many of the producers she knew when she was in charge of unscripted fare at ABC.

Wong said Lifetime was open to engaging in a broad range of deals. “We need to push the boundaries and try different financial models,” she said.

Lifetime has moved away from the women-in-jeopardy movies that it had become associated with and was seeking a fresh approach to TV films for women, she said.

“It is really important for us to evolve the brand into a much more relevant, contemporary and optimistic place,” Wong said. “The genre is ripe for reinvention both creatively and businesswise.”

The pair point to Lifetime original movies like “Living Proof,” “Coco Chanel” and “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” as the kinds of films they are looking to make, and which have a global appeal.

“None of the big studios are making female-driven movies anymore. They are making these four-quadrant movies, and (producers) have got all these great scripts lying around that are targeted at women, so we are saying: Come make them with us,” she added.

Rather than just inking single picture sales, Wong said she would prefer to develop more long-term relationships with foreign broadcasters, distributors and producers.

“We are thinking that we could put together a group of buyers that we could make a multipicture deal with,” she said.

Lopez added, “We stuck our toe in the water with the TF1 deal and we saw that it worked, and so now we can expand.”

Wong was in London last week for the U.K. premiere of Lifetime movie “Living Proof,” which stars Harry Connick Jr., Angie Harmon and Trudie Styler, and centers on Dennis Slamon, the UCLA doctor who developed the breast cancer drug Herceptin.

“It was a good way to say to the creative community around the world: Lifetime is a good place to be in business with; that we make high-quality films; that your talent will be protected within these films, and perhaps we can provide award-winning vehicles for them,” she said.

Wong also said that it is possible that at some stage Lifetime would launch channels in territories outside North America.

“That’s a long-term opportunity,” she said.

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