Development deal to focus on 'uplifting' projects

The Assn. of National Advertisers Alliance for Family Entertainment has cut a deal with the Humanitas Prize org to establish a development fund for TV and digital projects with family-friendly or “uplifting” themes.

ANA members involved in the deal include such big-spending advertisers as Procter & Gamble, AT&T, FedEx, Wal-Mart and Nestle USA. The deal for the development fund comes on the heels of Humanitas’ launch of a production shingle, Humanitas Prods. (Daily Variety, June 3).

Humanitas org trustees will be involved in vetting projects considered for development through the fund. That list includes Humanitas prexy John Wells and such notable writer-producers as Neal Baer, Kirk Ellis, Bill Lawrence, Damon Lindelof, Carol Mendelsohn, Shonda Rhimes and David Shore.

The plan is to develop TV projects through Humanitas Prods. and then shop them to studio and network partners. The ANA coin will allow Humanitas to commission scripts or digital shorts directly from scribes and producers.

The ANA deal falls under the org’s Assn. of National Advertisers Alliance for Family Entertainment initiative, formerly known as the Family Friendly Programming Initiative.

When the Family Friendly initiative began 11 years ago, the ANA worked directly with broadcast networks, giving them seed money to develop scripts for family-appropriate shows. But late last year the org decided to broaden its scope beyond the major nets and to work more closely with writers and producers at the inception of their projects.

Barbara Bacci Mirque, exec veep of the ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment, would not specify how much coin will be devoted to the fund other than to say it would be “substantial.” During the run of the Family Friendly Programming Forum, the ANA provided seed money for the development of nearly two dozen primetime series, including “Gilmore Girls,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Mirque said the pact with Humanitas was one of several partnerships in the works with production entities.

“We realized we needed to go where our consumers are going, which meant working across multiple platforms,” Mirque said.

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