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GRB Ent. launches scripted wing

Zuccarelli upped to head int'l; Olsson named VP of features

GRB Entertainment, which has exclusively produced and distributed nonfiction programming, is launching a scripted division.

Initially, the new division will acquire scripted films to be distributed internationally to both television and theatrical platforms. Later, GRB plans to produce its own films, said Marielle Zuccarelli, who has just been promoted to president of GRB’s international division.

“Going into scripted is very new for us,” said Zuccarelli, who has been acquiring and distributing nonfiction TV series — including Discovery’s “Auction Kings,” Animal Planet’s “Pit Boss,” WE’s “Braxton Family Values” and CNBC’s “American Greed” — internationally for GRB for more than eight years. Prior to that, Zuccarelli distributed scripted programming for New Films Intl. and Hypnotic.

To launch the new division, GRB has hired Todd Olsson, veteran of Disney and Sobini Films, as VP of feature films.

Olsson says that the made-for-TV movie market is heating up across the globe as the reality trend fades a bit.

“With the technology available now and the diversification of platforms, programming ends up being king,” Olsson said. “A lot of the films that were staples that they could run again and again, for which they may own the rights for the next 15 years, have become outdated. Channels want stuff that’s modern.””There’s a huge appetite out there for scripted programming and movies,” says Zuccarelli.

Both Zuccarelli and Olsson say that the markets are full of commercially-viable films that are priced right and still seeking international distribution.

“We are focusing on the things that appeal to networks around the world — action, adventure, thriller, mystery,” says Olsson. “These movies have to be smart, well-produced and yet made on a budget. We’re already talking with a handful of key producers, ones who have track records, about picking up some quality, made-for-TV films. As we’ve gone out there and looked at the marketplace, there’s a lot of product available.”

At launch, the division’s goal is to acquire 10 to 15 films per year. GRB is attending Toronto, but expects to be able to announce the first of these acquisitions at MIPCOM in Cannes next month.

By next year, GRB expects to be producing films, focusing on “disastertainment,” says Zuccarelli, a genre in which GRB has made its name with such programs as “Anatomy of a Disaster” and “Full Force Nature.”

“Broadcasters and producers already know our library well because of our disastertainment catalog, which is full of great life stories of survival and rescues,” says Zuccarelli. “We want to focus on developing those real-life stories and turning them into movies.”

GRB, launched 25 years ago by Benz, is best known for producing such unscripted shows as A&E’s “Intervention” and “Relapse,” Bio’s “Aftermath with William Shatner,” Animal Planet’s “Confession: Animal Hoarding,” TLC’s “Untold Stories of the ER,” and many others.

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