Reality factory punches it up

LMNO looking to enter new media, intl. arenas

Nonfiction program supplier LMNO Prods. is restructuring its operations and upping several key execs in a bid to move beyond its network and cable roots.

The company, which produces skeins such as “Kids Say the Darndest Things” and “Guinness World Records: Primetime,” is looking to expand into new media, bulk up its international output and make better use of its ever-growing library of programs.

“We’re trying to set up the company so that as we move forward … all our eggs aren’t in one basket,” LMNO prexy and CEO Eric Schotz told Daily Variety in an interview outlining the restructuring.

Changes afoot

Among the changes at LMNO:

  • In the wake of the company’s recent first-look deal with Warner Bros. Television, Schotz is creating a special projects unit charged with developing drama skeins and telepics based on themes and people found in LMNO’s nonfiction programs and pics. Greg Czech has been tapped to head the unit.

  • Joanna Lowry has been upped to veep of marketing and new business development, overseeing the newly created LMNO new-media division. Her main task will be to find ways to leverage LMNO’s production output with opportunities on the ‘Net and in the interactive television world. She’ll also continue to helm LMNO’s marketing and PR operations.

    Cable stepped up

  • LMNO will step up its efforts to sell to cable, whose appetite for new nonfiction programming continues to expand. To that end, Schotz has tapped Kathy Williamson, a supervising producer on LMNO’s “Behind Closed Doors With Joan Lunden” specs, to serve as VP of cable production. She’ll supervise development and production of all programming for the unit.

Schotz said the changes at LMNO in no way signal the company’s intent to get out of the business of producing reality programming for network television.

Goose safe

“We don’t want to kill the golden goose,” he insisted. “We want to be in the nonfiction arena.” Instead, Schotz said he’s simply positioning LMNO to survive the cyclical nature of network primetime, where a red-hot program genre can cool overnight.

“We want to be in a place where a single client can’t ding you,” he said.

LMNO is also stepping up its sales efforts in the international market, with Schotz making several overseas trips in recent months to meet with distributors.

Rather than limiting pitch and development meetings to marketplaces like MIP, “We went to visit people on their home turf,” Schotz explained.

Up with people

As part of LMNO’s restructuring, Schotz has made several other promotions within the company: Jeff Rice has been upped to veep of post-production; Ruth Rivin, who has been named senior producer of special projects, will work with Czech to develop dramas and telepics; and Hans Fischmann has been upped to director of the new-media division, where he’ll continue to oversee the LMNO Web site and work to increase interaction with viewers of LMNO programming. Schotz also tapped Eric Martin new-media coordinator and Scott Zeitlin new-media specialist.

In addition to “Kids Say,” “Guinness” and “Behind Closed Doors,” LMNO (whose name stands for Leave My Name Off) also produces spec franchises such as “World’s Funniest Pets,” “Incredible Medical Videos” and “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”

Cable productions include Lifetime’s “New Attitudes” and “Intimate Portraits” and TLC’s “The Greatest” and “Toughest People on Earth.”