Show's creator Stephen Lambert with Chris Castallo, CBS' exec VP alternative programming
During the Mipcom TV market, All3Media Intl. and Variety feted the success of reality show “Undercover Boss” at a party on the Najade, a boat in Cannes harbor.
The show, which is produced by Studio Lambert, is celebrating its fifth anniversary on CBS. There are 20 localized versions of the show around the globe, and the American and British iterations appear in more than 250 territories.
Attending the party were the show’s creator Stephen Lambert, Studio Lambert’s chief executive and chairman of All3Media America; Greg Goldman, president of Studio Lambert USA; Tim Harcourt, creative director at Studio Lambert; and Jane Turton, managing director of parent company All3Media.
They were joined by Chris Castallo, CBS’ exec VP alternative programming; Greg Lipstone, a partner of ICM Partners;and Arne Kreutzfeldt, head of factual entertainment at MME, which produces the German version.
Among the All3Media Intl. distribution team attending were Louise Pedersen, managing director; Stephen Driscoll, senior VP international sales; and Gordon Synn, senior VP digital and business development.
Variety was represented by associate publisher Donna Pennestri and Celine Rotterman among others.
Recalling the show’s initial success on CBS, Lambert said: “We were delighted by the fact that CBS engaged with the idea so strongly. (CBS Entertainment chairman) Nina Tassler watched a little sizzle that we created from the first British episode, and she was almost moved to tears.”
Tassler ordered a pilot and had it tested. “They said these can’t possibly be right. They are so positive,” Lambert said. “So they tested it again, and it was even more positive.”
“So that’s what gave them the courage, but it still took a lot of bravery to launch the show in February 2010 immediately after the Super Bowl. The only thing I said was, ‘That’s great but I hope you don’t expect us to build on the lead in’,” he said.
The show launched with 38 million viewers.
“What everybody was so excited about was that we lost a little bit in the first 10 minutes. Then we were rock solid for the rest of the hour. That was what made CBS realize that there was something special here.”
“The first season of the show ended up being the most popular new show in any genre, beating both ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Glee,’ which also launched that year,” Lambert said.