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U.K. vets taking a reality trip

Hat Trick, Young venture ready to tackle States

New British reality TV producers 12 Yard Prods., a joint venture between Hat Trick Prods. (“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) and former BBC exec David Young, has set its sights on this side of the pond.

Young, the former BBC head of light entertainment who helped create the quizzer “The Weakest Link,” ankled the Beeb this spring to set up 12 Yard. The company, a 50-50 collaboration between Young and Hat Trick, already has three pilots in the works at the BBC.

‘Link’ to U.S.

Having had success exporting “Weakest Link” to NBC, Young hopes to increase his presence in the U.S. The producer has signed Endeavor to start pitching 12 Yard’s wares in this country.

“We’ve always got our eyes on the States,” Young said. “Having a common language means our shows translate to American TV very easily.”

Projects in the works include a gamer tentatively titled “In the Money.”

Young had been a rising star at the BBC when he chose to exit the pubcaster, where he helped develop series such as “Dog Eat Dog” (which NBC has commissioned to develop), “Jet Set” and “Friends Like These.”

“I was looking at the opportunity to run my own company but not worry about the day-to-day aspects of it,” he said.

Two for Hat Trick

Enter Hat Trick toppers Jimmy Mulville and Denise O’Donoghue — who also boast experience on both sides of the Atlantic, having formatted “Whose Line” at Warner Bros. TV and ABC. The duo were interested in getting into the reality business and created 12 Yard to bring Young onboard.

“Hat Trick’s background and reputation are primarily as comedy producers,” Young said. “What I’m good at is devising and developing entertainment formats, quizshow, gameshow formats.”

Once at 12 Yard, Young brought over five of his BBC development deputies, all of whom had a hand in projects such as “Weakest Link.”

Young said he hopes to get at least one show off the ground before making the international trip to Hollywood.

“The best way of having a successful show in America is to have a successful show here,” Young said. “We will get them made here, then come to America armed with tapes, like we did with ‘Weakest Link.’

“A lot of British producers are buying expensive air tickets and flying to America to hold endless meetings,” he said. “But if you have to get on a plane to sell it, then (American execs) aren’t that interested.”

Blighty HQ

That means 12 Yard won’t be opening an office in the U.S. for now.

“Endless meetings with execs is not my cup of tea,” he said.

Endeavor partner Rick Rosen said the agency initially will focus on importing 12 Yard’s British formats to the U.S. before looking at creating shows specifically for America.

“This guy is the real deal,” Rosen said of Young. “He’s really smart and really brash. (12 Yard and Hat Trick) both have a young, indie spirit.”

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