You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Southern Star rising

Sydney sales and prod'n house surviving cutbacks

SYDNEY — Sales and production house Southern Star has survived the European cutbacks in Oz TV content by restructuring, cost-cutting and strapping itself to the Dutch Endemol reality juggernaut.

Until the late ’90s, Southern Star raked in cash from sales to the European TV market that evaporated in the wake of local production incentives and Hollywood output deals.

The company’s restructuring stemmed losses and was completed in July when it shuttered production of police drama “Water Rats.”

The bureaucracies inherited in acquisitions are gone, staff have been cut by 20% and all current and future productions are fully financed.

Things have gone particularly well since Southern Star and Endemol pacted to form the Southern Star Endemol (SSE) divison late last year to produce and sell formats to local networks.

Buoyed by sky-high ratings for “Big Brother,” broadcaster Canwest’s Network Ten is negotiating with SSE for a second season and an abridged celebrity version of the show.

However, despite Ten’s assurances that it had future series stitched up, Southern Star’s executive chairman Neil Balnaves says the deal is far from done and they could get more money elsewhere.

Going shopping

SSE is awaiting Ten’s offer before the series is shopped to other commercial webs, Kerry Stokes’ Seven and Kerry Packer’s Nine, ahead of a final bid from Ten.

Balnaves says, “We’ve been anxious to conclude negotiations because it gets the brand up and moving ahead of the next series.”

SSE also has two series in the works for Nine. “Chains of Love” is in production and about to launch; “Shafted,” a cross between “Weakest Link,” “The Price Is Right” and “Greed,” is at the pilot stage.

Adding to the good news at Southern Star, its sales division marketed sudser “Home and Away” to British broadcaster Channel 5 after rival ITV, which had broadcast it for around 10 years, tried to negotiate a lower license fee.

Southern Star Sales successfully brokered an in perpetuity deal for more money with Channel 5, a significant earner according to Balnaves. After a year in mothballs, “Home and Away” has relaunched on Brit TV to boffo ratings.

Still, Balnaves is cautious of signalling the company’s comeback despite the success of youth drama series “The Secret Life of Us” airing on Ten and British broadcaster Channel 4, and burgeoning profits from Southern Star Duplitek, its CD and cassette duplicating division.

More TV

  • The Play That Goes Wrong review

    BBC Orders Comedy Series Based on ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

    The BBC has greenlit “The Goes Wrong Show,” a new series based on Mischief Theatre’s popular “The Play That Goes Wrong” stage production about a troupe that puts on disastrous plays. The stage show has transferred from London’s West End to Broadway for a J.J. Abrams-produced version described by Variety as “a broad, silly and [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    Writers Guild Sends Hollywood Agents Proposed Code of Conduct

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent Hollywood talent agencies a proposed “Code of Conduct” with tough new restrictions on how they operate as agents for writer clients. The WGA made the disclosure Thursday night in an email to its 12,000 members, a day after announcing that it will hold a March 25 [...]

  • Jussie Smollett court

    Jussie Smollett's Attorneys Say He Was Victim of Police 'Spectacle'

    Jussie Smollett’s legal team issued a defiant statement on Thursday night, saying the “Empire” actor feels betrayed by the justice system and hinting at a political motive for his prosecution. Smollett was arrested early Thursday on a felony charge of filing a false police report. He was released after a court hearing on $100,000 bond, [...]

  • Carra Patterson Sarah Levy Paola Lazaro

    Fox Casts Four Leads in 'Patty's Auto' Pilot

    Fox has announced the casting of four lead characters for its multi-cam comedy pilot “Patty’s Auto,” including the eponymous Patty. Inspired by Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic, an auto repair shop with all female mechanics, the project centers on Patty, the intimidating owner of Patty’s Auto who will be played by “Straight Outta Compton” alumna [...]

  • Adam Pally Abby Elliott

    Adam Pally, Abby Elliott Join Cast of NBC Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured'

    NBC pilot “Uninsured” has cast four of its series regulars, with Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project,” “The President Show”) and Abby Elliott (“Saturday Night Live,” “Odd Mom Out”) playing the young married couple at the center of the show. Pally will play Dave, who is described as a “natural hype man with a good heart.” Elliott [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Appeared in Documentary on

    Jussie Smollett Recently Hosted Doc on Lynching, Filmmaker Talks 'Coincidence'

    In May 2018, Jussie Smollett appeared as the narrator and correspondent in an episode of the Epix documentary series “America Divided” that explored the subject of hate crimes, specifically lynching, in the state of Tennessee. Now that the “Empire” actor has been charged with filing a false police report and Chicago police are convinced he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content