Avalon TV builds L.A. nest

Martin to guide U.S. operations

U.K.-based Avalon Television has hired former Fox TV Studios exec David Martin to launch its U.S. operations.

As president of the new Avalon TV outpost in Los Angeles, Martin has been charged with developing original drama, comedy and alternative/reality series for the domestic market.

Martin will also tap into Avalon’s hefty library of British series formats, as well as the resources of sibling Avalon Management Group, one of the U.K.’s largest comedy rep firms.

“They’re considered the British equivalent of Brillstein-Grey,” Martin said. “I’ll be working with them to build Avalon up in this market.”

Martin had served as exec VP of alternative productions for Fox TV Studios since 2002, overseeing projects including FX’s hit drama “The Shield.”

But prior to that and a stint as head of TV for Fox Television Australia, Martin spent several years as a comedy manager, repping clients such as Caroline Rhea, Colin Quinn, Brett Butler, Jeff Garlin and Dana Gould.

Martin said he was drawn to Avalon in part to get back into the comedy business.

“Now’s a good time — (comedy) is going to come back strong, and Avalon has decided to invest in the future of comedy here,” he said. “I want to find and nurture some comics — people with strong points of view.”

Avalon has already gotten its feet wet, having recently produced (along with Grammnet Prods.) its first-ever U.S. series, Fox’s “Kelsey Grammer Presents The Sketch Show.” Show was based on Avalon’s successful U.K. skein “The Sketch Show.”

Avalon TV currently produces seven series in the U.K. and has sold its series and formats to more than 50 countries. Company’s roster spans from sketch shows and sitcoms to gameshows and reality formats.

Avalon employs a staff of around 40 in the U.K. and will hire a small development team in Los Angeles. Martin will work closely with Julie James, who heads up Avalon Management’s Los Angeles operations, and report to Avalon CEO Joe Thoday.

American talent repped by Avalon include comedian Paul F. Tompkins, “He’s Just Not That Into You” co-author Greg Behrendt and “The Joe Schmo Show” alum Brian Keith Etheridge.

“A few people who were clients of mine then are now clients of Avalon here in the States,” Martin said. “Their management company has been growing in the last couple of years, and their clients here in America are really starting to break out.”

Meanwhile, Avalon’s British clients include Lee Mack, Harry Hill and Al Murray. Martin said he sees potential in creating vehicles for some of those comedians across the pond, such as Murray.

“The response to him has been phenomenal,” Martin said.

Beyond comedy, Martin said Avalon will also focus on the nonscripted arena. Avalon co-owns (with Channel 4 Intl.) the reality format development company Tinderbox, which Martin hopes to tap for formats in the U.S.

In the U.K., Avalon also operates a live theater company, which produces the West End hit “Jerry Springer — the Opera,” and even runs a public relations firm.

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