The pact with Barbini reps the first of several producer deals Discovery Studios plans to make in the coming months.
It’s a strategy shift for Discovery Studios, which launched in 2007.
Under president Carole Tomko, the shingle has mostly focused on specials and events for the Discovery channels. But Tomko said she’s eager to get more active in the series realm. To kick things off, Tomko turned her attention toward aligning with Barbini, who has produced shows for several Discovery nets at his previous home, Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Films and TV.
“He’s one of those rare exec producers who not only has a fantastic eye for stories and characters, but who also completely gets the Discovery brands,” Tomko said.
For Barbini, the allure of having a direct pipeline to the Discovery channels was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“I’m excited about the possibility of having all of those networks at my disposal,” he said. “Discovery Studios is going to become a great creative place.”
Barbini, whose deal starts on Dec. 1, said he’s kicking around series ideas in several fields.
“It may be in a tech-y world or in a crime world, or maybe in a ‘Dirty Jobs’-style world,” he said. “I love great stories and great characters.”
As part of his new exclusive Discovery deal, Barbini has departed “Dirty Jobs” — but he said he hoped to work again with Piligian and “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe on other projects.
“Mike Rowe is a good friend of mine and an amazing talent, and Craig and I go back 20 years,” he said. “It’s not easy to walk away from old friends and projects.”
As for the evolution of Discovery Studios, Tomko said she’s spent much of the last year enhancing her development team — with the idea of developing projects and pitching them to Discovery’s outlets, rather than simply producing shows that were requested by the channels.
Tomko said she would like to follow the model of the BBC’s production arm, BBC Worldwide. Discovery Studios will continue its priority as the in-house producer for Discovery cabler product, but may even start producing for other outlets should a project not ultimately fit inside any of the company’s channels.