Foreign deals few at TV market

Canucks made purchases last weekend

Multiple bidders have surfaced on a number of new network series during the L.A. Screenings, which wraps today.

The two-week sales bazaar is the first opportunity for foreign TV buyers to view and perhaps purchase the new shows, which will air on the Big Six networks this fall. The Canadians, who are setting their own primetime schedules this week, made their purchases last weekend (Daily Variety, May 30).

None of the Hollywood majors would talk specifics Wednesday about other deals that were signed, sealed and delivered, however. And that’s largely because few deals were inked during the last two weeks.

Sony, for example, said that it has multiple offers for “Bette,” its upcoming comedy with Bette Midler, and for its drama “Young Americans,” among others, but that deals would not be sealed for several weeks.

CBS said it had “a lot of interest” in its drama, “The District,” while Disney said that it inked several deals in Latin America with niche cablers that are for the first time in the market for U.S. series.

Causes for pauses

In some cases, the lack of closure at the Screenings is because foreign buyers want to mull over their choices during the summer; in others cases, it’s because sellers want to assess which bid to accept for a particular show.

In still others, it’s because the Hollywood majors already have output deals in key territories and hence those foreign clients automatically will be picking up the series that major produces.

That, for example, is the instance with Warner Bros. and its hot series “The Fugitive.” The supplier has output deals in all the major Euro territories.

‘Higher’ buyer flurry

One of the more interesting flurries of last-minute interest at the Screenings is for Paramount’s series “On Higher Ground,” which is not even a network series, but rather a show that has been airing all year on the Fox Family Channel.

Among the show’s actors is Mark Christianson, who last week was plucked from obscurity to play Luke Skywalker in the upcoming “Star Wars” prequel. Several foreign buyers told Daily Variety that the casting has put that series in “a new light.”

And sometimes buyers are intrigued by pilots that didn’t get picked up by a network.

Such is the case with “Dog Years,” a quirky show about a talking dog that the Peacock network passed on. The pilot belongs to indie shop Carsey-Werner, the folks behind “3rd Rock From the Sun.” No word yet on whether that project will manage to come back to life thanks to foreign interest.

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