'Hollyscoop' producers think big

What started out as a small-time blog launched by three L.A. women is now looking to morph into the next TV entertainment mag franchise.

“Hollyscoop” quietly premiered last month as a weekly entertainment show on Tribune’s L.A. outlet, KTLA. Now, having gone grassroots to get the show on the air, “Hollyscoop’s” producers are thinking big.

Producers Viardo Artists and Natural 9 Entertainment have sealed a deal with Shine Reveille to distribute the show internationally; “Hollyscoop” was among Shine’s offerings at the recent Mipcom confab.

Hosted by Diana Madison and Brian Corsetti, the show features celebrity, entertainment and fashion news. Madison created the original website with Nora Gasparian and Ani Esmailian, who also contribute to the show.

Right now, the show is completely self-funded, says Natural 9 production/development prexy Jeff Androsky — but it’s not a time buy. The deal with KTLA is a traditional barter deal, with “Hollyscoop” selling its ad time.

“We’re going it alone,” Androsky says. “We make the show we want to make — no network notes.”

That kind of do-it-yourself ethos used to be common in the syndication world — giants Michael and Roger King, for example, launched their empire by selling old “Little Rascals” films to stations, eventually turning their operation into King World, which they ultimately sold to CBS.

More recently, syndie vets Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus managed to launch a major distrib in Debmar-Mercury, which they later sold to Lionsgate. On a smaller scale, Byron Allen has managed to carve out a decent business in selling latenight low-budget fare to stations.

For “Hollyscoop,” Viardo and Natural 9 raised independent financing and shot several pilots before pitching the show to KTLA — where new general manager Don Corsini has been on the prowl for more original fare.

“The idea is we wanted to own more of the show,” says exec producer Phil Viardo. “The initial thought process was to gain footing internationally, then slowly self-syndicate here.”

That is changing, he says, as the folks behind “Hollyscoop” are now talking to several distributors about taking the show nationwide and perhaps even turning the weekly series into a weekday strip.

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