So, will it play in Potsdam?

Distribs bet on midseason fare to entice foreign buyers

The top Hollywood suppliers to the world market will all be on hand at the NATPE confab, bullish about both their midseason shows and about a relatively high-level attendance from the foreign contingent of program buyers.

The transatlantic traffic in reality formats and the global funding of programs have helped blur the distinction between the domestic and international businesses.

“There used to be two parallel markets that unspooled on the NATPE floor,” says Granada America prexy Stephen Davis, “but the businesses are now much more closely intertwined and interdependent.”

This change will be visible as the international divisions of the majors have matured into a sizable part of the overall booth structure and hotel space. The international divisions of Viacom and NBC Universal, for example, will be substantial parts of these congloms’ overall presence at the event.

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“We’re stepping up big time,” says Paramount Intl. TV prexy Armando Nunez, pointing to the fact that the Viacom banner now flies over Paramount Domestic TV, Paramount Intl. and CBS Intl., and over King World.

As for his own portfolio, Nunez says there should be action on every front, given that his conglom’s content ranges from firstrun gabbers and games to formats to Par movies to new primetime network midseasoners such as “Blind Justice” and “Numbers.”

“Problems that dogged the overall industry a few years ago have been largely resolved,” Nunez explains, “so I think NATPE will reflect this more positive landscape.”

Meanwhile, Fox has commandeered a raft of suites in Mandalay Bay to accommodate its various divisions. “We’re participating once again in a full-fledged way,” says Fox Intl. TV exec VP Marion Edwards. “We noticed that since the American Film Market has moved to November, a number of our clients have decided that NATPE makes more sense as their winter market of choice.”

By and large, she adds, “we’re enthusiastic that business meetings will be fruitful: We have a number of new shows or episodes of shows to interest clients from abroad.”

Edwards points to the quirky drama “Point Pleasant,” which she says has been snapped up widely, as well as a John Stamos comedy called “Jake’s Progress” and a raft of reality formats, from “Renovate My Family” to “Rebel Billionaire.”

Another behemoth supplier, Warner Bros. Intl. TV, will be housed on the convention floor, while its domestic counterpart under syndie prexy Dick Robertson continues to prefer working out of the adjoining hotel suites.

WBIT prexy Jeffrey Schlesinger says he expects the Latins, Canucks, Scandis and Chinese to field sizable high-level contingents, but he did not think it imperative to bring over his European sales team. Most of his key long-term deals in Europe are in place, though he has a number of newer series he’d like to place in the ever-difficult British market. These include midseason drama “Eyes” and HBO’s “Entourage.”

Schlesinger professes to be satisfied with an array of deals his division has done with various clients in another key market, Germany — with Herbert Kloiber, ProSieben and RTL.

“No one’s looking to overpay in Germany,” Schlesinger quips in reference to the fact that prices for American product, especially in the Teutonic territory, have dipped noticeably.

One good thing for the foreign contingent: Given the weakened dollar against the euro and pound, many European buyers are getting Yank product at a hefty discount.