Ad agency shows off doc at Mipdoc

'6 Billion Others' stands out at confab

One documentary stood out at Mipdoc 2008 by not standing out at all: “6 Billion Others.”

Recording people planetwide reflecting on common themes — anger, the afterlife — “Others” looked like a normal talking-heads compilation. But its producer is Gallic ad-agency Havas and it’s financed by bank BNP Paribas.

The focus of multiple panels, ad agency-brand involvement in TV production is the Next Big Question at the 45th Mip TV, which runs today through April 11, overshadowing VOD and mobile TV.

In all, 35 ad agency top execs are in Cannes — a first, said Paul Johnson, TV division director at Mip TV organizer Reed Midem.

Much of Mip, as with this weekend’s Mipdoc, will turn on bread-and-butter buy and sell, however. The mood of execs Sunday hardly seemed depressed. But with the U.S. economy bordering recession and international broadcasters losing market share, there was a new pragmatism and get-down-to-work feeling in the air.

At Mipdoc, this sobriety saw current affairs replace high-end historical docudramas as the No. 1 most-viewed docu category.

“There’s a greater interest nowadays in current events. Just look at the sheer weight of U.S. political coverage,” said AETN Intl. senior VP of international, Sean Cohen.

FTD green doc “Changing Climates” and Marathon’s germs-fight-back chronicle “The Antibiotic Adventure” were most buyers’ most-screened docs, Reed Midem announced Sunday. (Ranking third: Marathon’s decorous defecation doc, “The Fabulous Story of the Poop”).

Other buzz titles included the Vermeer-like lensed “The Nun,” from Sweden’s SVT, and the painterly but trenchant TF1-sold “Versailles, the Dream of a King,” both showcased by the Wit.

Mip TV has its own urgent issues. One, for buyers, is how many segs the Hollywood studios can deliver during a WGA-shortened season. Another: whether indies worldwide will steal the majors’ thunder, selling big on new series.

The studios are unveiling fare: Fox has three midseason skeins; NBC U the “Knight Rider” pilot, plus upcoming USA and Bravo shows; MGM soon-to-be-released movies.

But the biggest banner festooning Cannes’ Palais des Festivals Sunday featured Televisa telenovela, “Dumb Girls Don’t Go to Heaven.”

The U.S. did dominated eve-of-Mip news. In the biggest Riviera wave-mover, the Weinstein Co. announced the launch of an international TV distribution division.

Internet TV network Babelgum disclosed the first project from its $15 million Digital Studio Initiative: eco doc “Oil Sands.” AETN Intl. and Discovery inked strategic overseas partnerships — a docu biz trend — AETN with Korea Telecom for a History HD VOD service, Discovery a co-production-acquisition pact with U.K.’s Five.

Alchemy Television and TeleMunchen will co-distrib abroad upcoming CBS series “Flashpoint.” An emerging overseas heavyweight, Comcast Intl. announced sales of 900-plus TV hours to Asia Pacific over six months.

And FremantleMedia Enterprises and Singapore’s Media Development authority inked a multimedia production pact.

(Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.)

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