Relativity, Forman form reality unit

Duo join forces to create production house

Relativity Media has joined forces with Tom Forman Prods., the producer behind “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” to form the backbone of a new reality shingle.

Forman has sealed a three-year deal with Relativity — worth $10 million-$15 million — to launch Relativity Real. Forman will serve as CEO, and his entire Tom Forman Prods. staff will make the transition to the new company, along with its development.

Simultaneously, Relativity has opened up a foreign sales division to sell Relativity Real’s formats and series internationally. Forman will oversee that group as well while running Relativity Real’s day-to-day operations and serving as an exec producer on its projects.

Forman’s deal with CBS Paramount Network TV recently expired, putting him on the market and spurring a bidding war among several suitors. Forman eventually chose to form a new company rather than move to another overall deal.

“We bought Tom Forman Prods. without having to buy a production company,” said Relativity principal Ryan Kavanaugh. “His deal with CBS was up, and virtually every studio was going after him. This was the perfect next step in his business, doing something not traditional.

“He’s someone with experience in running an unscripted company, and someone who could step right in and produce and oversee distribution,” Kavanaugh continued. “There are not that many people with that experience.”

Kavanaugh said Relativity had spent the last two or three years investigating how to get into the TV business before coming across Forman.

“We’ve been trying to come up with a comparable TV model to our film model, something that allows us to put a lot of capital to work,” he said. “But obviously TV and film have extremely different characteristics. It was a three-year evolution running and rerunning models, considering different formats, looking at scripted vs. unscripted.”

Relativity said it plans to commit eight figures to Relativity Real “to quickly establish the new company as a significant supplier of unscripted programming for networks, cable, syndication and the Web.”

Kavanaugh said the company is in talks with several foreign distribution companies to enter into long-term partnerships.

Kavanaugh said he’s interested in eventually tackling the scripted world as well but that his focus right now is to devise a new financial model for the nonscripted genre.

“There hasn’t been a new-media company focusing on unscripted that has the financial resources, the creative and the worldwide distribution platform,” he said. “That’s what our objective is. I do feel like aspects of it are broken, and I think we’ve figured out how to fix it.”

The 10 staffers moving from Tom Forman Prods. to Relativity Real include Jonathan Karsh, senior VP of creative affairs; Brad Bishop, exec VP of production; and Julie Link, VP of development.

At CBS Par, Forman’s credits included “Kid Nation” and “Armed & Famous.” Before that, Forman was set up under an overall deal at Endemol USA, where he launched “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Relativity’s “financial commitment to Relativity Real speaks for itself: A monster investment in a major new company that’s poised to reinvent unscripted television,” Forman said. “Relativity’s other commitments to Relativity Real are harder to quantify but equally important.”

Relativity’s deal with Forman comes as another shakeup is poised for the nonscripted world as Mark Burnett continues to hammer out a nine-figure deal with IMG to acquire his company. Earlier this year, Endemol USA purchased Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin’s 51 Minds Entertainment, while Shine acquired Reveille.

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