Studio, shingle partner on reality TV
Lionsgate has formed a joint venture with Lost Marbles, the shingle recently launched by producer Marty Adelstein and former New Line TV exec Jon Kroll.
The Lionsgate-Lost Marbles partnership will focus on reality TV, as Kroll and Adelstein oversee the creation of new formats to export globally. The duo will work closely with Lionsgate TV programming and production prexy Kevin Beggs.
Under terms of the two-year deal, Lionsgate will provide financing and overhead for Lost Marbles, and will handle distribution of any series, at a reduced fee. Lionsgate will get a profit stake in whatever Lost Marbles produces and will be responsible for any deficits.
“We like the idea of building businesses with people as opposed to simply making a distribution deal,” said Sandra Stern, chief operating officer of Lionsgate TV, who negotiated the deal.
Pact reps Lionsgate’s second major pod deal with an unscripted producer; Lionsgate is also in the midst of a four-year deal with Ish Entertainment.
But while Ish has a first-look arrangement in the U.S. with MTV Networks, Lost Marbles is free to produce for anyone.
Kroll said he’s prepping to pitch the partnership’s first project, which will pit celebrities against competitors with disabilities in a series of challenges.
“We’re going to tackle disabilities in such a mind-blowing and provocative way that it will draw some fire,” he said. “It’s going to stir people up and make people think it’s something that it’s not.”
But, like “Amish in the City,” a show Kroll produced at New Line for UPN, he said the untitled disabilities project will ultimately surprise viewers in how it deftly deals with a controversial topic.
“Like ‘Amish,’ I’ve got some new shows that will get me in as much trouble,” he said. “The good thing is Lionsgate wants fewer projects, they just want the right projects, shows that will make noise and break through.”
Kroll is mum on other shows in the pipeline, but they range from docu series and event-style concepts to gamers.
Lost Marbles may also be called upon to develop series for the evolving TV Guide Network, which Lionsgate now co-owns.
“We didn’t bring them on to specifically produce for TV Guide, but there’s a receptive ear over there,” Stern said.
Beggs said he has known Kroll for at least a decade, from back when Kroll was a producer on “The Amazing Race” and “Big Brother.”
“We were looking for big ideas that are formattable, and when Jon and Marty laid out their slate, there were so many great ideas,” Beggs said.
Separately from the Lionsgate deal, Lost Marbles had already developed projects for MTV and Lifetime. The shingle also is looking to get into the scripted business (with Michael Thorn heading that division), having sold scripts to HBO, FX and Syfy.
“I’ve always wanted to take a swing at the reality business,” said Adelstein, whose recent exec producing credits include “Prison Break” and “Tru Calling.”
Adelstein said he was attracted to Lionsgate thanks to its growing library of series, such as “Mad Men,” which he believed demonstrated “a willingness to take chances.”
Stern also didn’t rule out the possibility of Lionsgate getting into business with a few more producers.
“We’re small and don’t have the capability of managing and working with a whole lot of people, but if we found another company that’s as good a fit for us as Ish has been and as Lost Marbles is, we’d be open,” Stern said.