Exec to expand presence at the conglom
“Wipeout” exec producer Matt Kunitz is staying put at Endemol, sealing a new deal to expand his presence at the conglom.
As part of his two-year, seven-figure pact with Endemol, Kunitz has hired Rebecca Shumsky (“Last Comic Standing”) to serve as his creative executive. Kunitz will also continue to oversee “Wipeout” while also developing new programming for both broadcast and cable.
“He’s been a part of some of the biggest successes that Endemol has had over the past nine years,” said Endemol North America chairman David Goldberg. “Moving forward into the future, we’re giving him some development resources so that he can expand the amount of content he’s behind — and hopefully benefit us as well.”
Kunitz’s history with Endemol goes back to 2001, when the European producer/distributor first opened its doors in the U.S. At the time, Kunitz was based at NBC, where he wound up exec producing Endemol’s “Fear Factor” for six years.
“I’ve seen Endemol in the U.S. start from a one-person operation into now several hundred people, and with a really significant presence in the U.S.,” Kunitz said.
Endemol has turned Kunitz’s “Wipeout” into a global hit, with 25 international versions — all shot in Argentina (only the U.S. edition is produced here). “Wipeout” is up for favorite reality show at this Saturday’s Kids’ Choice Awards.
The 19-episode third season of “Wipeout” bows on ABC on June 22.
Kunitz has had previous deals with Endemol, but he said this new pact — made by his reps at ICM — allows him “to really look at the bigger picture and not just focus 100 percent on one show.”
“You get so busy working on a show like ‘Wipeout,’ and that becomes a year-round job,” he said. “It’s hard to focus on building a brand. But having my own development executive will make it an easier thing to do.”
Kunitz has developed with Shumsky in the past as well. Her other credits include “Fear Factor,” “Shaq Vs.” and “Kid Nation.”
The producer said he’s eager to produce more cable fare in addition to network series. Kunitz originally hails from that world, having worked on the early years of “The Real World.” At NBC, he worked on multiple shows at once — including “Fear Factor,” “Dog Eat Dog” and “Late Friday.”
Although he’s known for big, physical shows like “Wipeout,” Kunitz said he’s not looking to be pigeonholed — and is just as interested in developing more character-driven unscripted fare as well. He also expects to develop both original content and adapt overseas formats.
“I look forward to developing the next big franchise (for Endemol),” he said.