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Germans formatting TV landscape

'Light Entertainment' panel sez crude is out

COLOGNE — Viewers demand light and easy entertainment when times get tough, according to Teutonic format producers.

“What’s totally out are crude humor formats about eating worms in the outback, as nobody needs extra pain and repulsion these days,” said Grundy Light Entertainment’s Ute Biernat at a Cologne Conference panel titled ” Light Entertainment in Hard Times.”

She said that “Pop Idol” was a model for the current taste, but added that trends were moving towards more short and flexible formats.

Christof Post of Me Myself & Eye Productions noted that the UK has long been the favorite market for German creative players to pick up new ideas, especially when it comes to real-life formats such as “Faking It,” in which people train for a new skill.

Joerg Grabosch, head of comedy producer Brainpool and executive at music web Viva, added that interactivity has become more important to attract viewers, mostly in simple form such as entering a vote, as in “Pop Idol” or “Big Brother.”

“Revenues from phone calls are taking an increasing share these days,” he said, referring to Viva’s second channel, Viva Plus, which last year became a call-in music box.

Apart from adopting internationally established entertainment shows, producers prefer local comedians, and to cooperate with U.S. writers for sitcoms.

“We have some 25 writers here working with 15 writers based in the U.S.,” said Christiane Ruff of Sony Pictures Film und Fernseh Produktion, noting that ideas are developed in Germany, then refined in co-operation with American scribes.