Granada in green

ITV unit gets go-ahead for 3 U.S. pilots

LONDON — The ITV company Granada has struck two more pilot deals, with CBS and Fox Broadcasting, to create American versions of its hit British shows.

This follows ABC’s decision to order another nine episodes of Granada’s “Cracker,” bringing the series to a full 22 episodes.

Granada Entertainment USA, the company’s American production arm headed by Scott Siegler, has pacted with CBS to shoot a pilot based on “Sunnyside Farm,” a culture-clash sitcom about rich yuppies moving into a rustic community.

It will be written by Hugh Wilson, best known for “The First Wives Club” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Granada has also signed a firm pilot commitment with Fox for an American version of “Holding the Baby,” a sitcom about the trials and tribulations of a single dad. Granada Entertainment will produce in conjunction with Twentieth Television. This pilot will be written by Howard Morris.

Another network is vying with a leading cable web to adapt a third Granada sitcom, “Cold Feet.”

As with the original “Cracker” deal, all of these pilot commitments were brokered for Granada by William Morris agents Ben Silverman, Greg Lipstone and Gerry Katzman.

ABC’s decision to renew “Cracker,” despite poor ratings, represents a major triumph for the British company. “Cracker” was the first British drama series to be commissioned by an American network, and the show is the spearhead for Granada’s drive into the U.S. market.

With the latest order, Granada will have produced more American episodes of “Cracker” for ABC in one year than the total number of British episodes it has made for ITV over six years.

The American show, retitled “Fitz” for the foreign market to avoid confusion with the British original, is already in profit for Granada, based on sales to more than 70 countries.

ABC was encouraged to renew the show, which has had some critical plaudits, on the strength of its demographics more than its ratings.

Andrea Wonfor, joint managing director of Granada Prods., said, “We are delighted that ABC have shown their commitment to the program and its high production values by giving us the greenlight for a further nine episodes. Research has shown that the series has got a very good viewer profile, particularly with the upper end of the market, so we have got much to celebrate.”

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