Banyan bows homevid unit

Ritter to direct division, scope out VOD opportunities

Aiming to grab more control of its content, reality producer Banyan Prods. has launched homevideo division Banyan Entertainment, which will roll out 10 titles of its own each year.

Under the direction of newly appointed VP Eric Ritter, formerly executive managing editor at “Inside Edition,” the unit also will scope out video-on-demand opportunities.

Philadelphia-based Banyan is best known as the creator of franchises such as “Trading Spaces.”

Banyan has five projects in pre-production and is negotiating distribution for them and other titles.

Among the projects in pre-production are “Are We There Yet?,” which Ritter believes will be the first DVD designed for the children’s travel market. Others are “Celeb Life,” which will provide how-to tips from various Hollywood stars; ghost-story-driven “Scared to Death: The Basics of Fear”; “Classic Carwash,” featuring hot rods and babes; and video gift card collection “Sweet Stories for Every Occasion.”

“Are We There Yet?” is slated for a second-quarter 2005 release to capitalize on the start of the summer vacation season. Prices and other street dates are being determined.

Banyan aims to develop innovative strategic partnerships with companies related to the program content, such as car dealerships, and push appropriate programs in grocery and drugstores.

“We want to turn the DVDs into impulse buys,” Ritter said.

(Susanne Ault is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication DVD Exclusive.)

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