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Int’l buyers taking NBC U’s ‘Raines’

Buyers eye Goldblum P.I. show

Tickling the ivories may have helped, but one way or another, Jeff Goldblum as an eccentric private eye is hitting a high note with international TV buyers.

That was the word from the NBC Universal lot Wednesday as the L.A. Screenings segued toward its finale Friday.

Goldblum was among a number of stars and producers who have been wining and dining foreign buyers this week. The actor regaled guests with his playing at a private dinner at the home of NBC U Intl. TV prexy Belinda Menendez Tuesday night.

Aside from Goldblum’s cop drama “Raines,” the studio is licensing three other hours and two sitcoms as well as series from the USA net and Sci Fi Channel, which include “Psych,” a companion series for “Monk.”

Sales execs on the lot Wednesday morning were quick to say that different buyers had found things to like in most all the studio’s latest output.

“We have a great lineup for international this year, and the buyers have been very receptive,” Menendez told Daily Variety. “There seems to be universal appeal in all our shows. In “Heroes,’ for example, a main character is Indian and another is Japanese. It, too, seems to be going over well.”

She also said that the talent connected to the new shows are increasingly getting what the international biz is all about. Many, Menendez said, have been available all week to talk to clients about everything from story arcs to possible promo tours abroad. Among them: Goldblum; Paul Haggis and Jonathan Tucker (exec producer and star of “The Black Donnellys”); Andy Richter (“Andy Barker”); and exec producer David Shore (“House”).

Sitcoms also are getting a look-see at all the studios, perhaps because there’s been such a dearth of good ones Stateside and some reality shows abroad are on the wane.

One buyer from Western Europe said Wednesday that he found NBC U’s Tina Fey laffer “30 Rock” “a hoot,” while another said he was “surprisingly amused” by Disney’s “Let’s Rob …,” which is about a group of working-class guys who try to rip off Mick Jagger’s apartment.

NBC U’s “Friday Night Lights” will, by general consensus, have a tough time with international buyers, as it’s set in a small Texas town obsessed with football — the American kind, not soccer.

Buyers questioned on the Universal lot and later by phone continued to insist that they had not yet finalized their buying plans and had, in any case, not yet seen every studio’s output. None pointed to a standout show, but most praised the production qualities of just about everything.

The 1,500 buyers are in town this week to assess, and perhaps buy some of, the primetime series that will debut in fall on the five U.S. broadcast networks.

Meanwhile, on the Sony lot, a number of buyers have been giving a thumbs-up to action drama “Kidnapped,” which sales execs described as “24” crossed with “Man on Fire.”

Sony has its largest batch of network-bound shows in several years, including not only “Kidnapped” but also “Runaway” for the CW and sitcoms “‘Til Death” and “Big Day.”

Sony Intl. TV exec VP Keith LeGoy said Sony was avoiding the so-called “Fugitive” syndrome — making sure money is spent not just on the pilot but also on all the episodes of “Kidnapped.” (A series version of “The Fugitive” was launched several years ago by Warners, with a hugely expensive pilot but disappointing episodes thereafter. It quickly fizzled upon its U.S. debut.)

LeGoy also said buyers were responding well to the premise and star of “‘Til Death.”

“It is what it is,” LeGoy told Daily Variety: “a classic sitcom with a well-known star (Brad Garrett) and a universal concept (love and marriage). It could easily play a role filling a slot around 6 p.m. on many stations.”

Among the Latin buyers, Sony’s recently announced Spanish-language telenovela for Telemundo, “Zorro,” seems to have scored high marks.

Finally, rival clutches of Canuck buyers continued to trawl through the 40-odd new series on offer from the six major studios and set Thursday evening as the cutoff time for making their deals. Because of spillover signals from the U.S., rivals Global, CTV and Chum buy between them almost all the new U.S. shows. They officially set their own fall skeds in 10 days.

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