Endemol unveils major TV plans

Dozen scripted shows include HBO comedy

Endemol USA is looking to achieve in the scripted arena the kind of success it’s found in reality TV.

Under the oversight of senior VP Jeremy Gold, Endemol has set up a dozen drama and comedy projects at the broadcast and cable nets.

Scripts in the works include a Western at AMC, a family laffer at Fox, a femme-driven comedy at HBO, an animated skein at Comedy Central and a nanny-themed project at the CW.

“It was a big goal of ours to take a lot of shots, but calculated shots,” Gold said. “I still really believe in the power of great TV writing, and we’ve focused our energies on placing these projects at the right networks.”

Long a reality player thanks to hits such as “Deal or No Deal,” “Big Brother,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Wipeout,” Endemol has been expanding its scripted presence in several territories, including Italy and the Netherlands.

Here in the U.S., Endemol launched its scripted division two years ago by hiring former Fox comedy exec Gold.

Gold’s first round of development was affected by the Writers Guild strike, bringing him back to square one earlier this year. Since then, Gold has revived some of that previous development — and has sold several more projects, including a take on a successful Endemol Netherlands format.

Endemol USA is adapting that sudser, “Julia’s Tango,” for SoapNet. Project, to be adapted and run by scribe Jill Condon, centers on a lawyer who moves from Boston to run a B&B in her family’s native home in Buenos Aires.

If picked up, the series would be shot entirely in Argentina, where producers for other territories are already shooting their own versions (in conjunction with Endemol Argentina). SoapNet is expected to order 13 segs if it approves Condon’s rewrite of the original pilot.

Endemol employs a similar strategy with “Wipeout,” having built a central set in Argentina for producers for different territories to come in and shoot their own versions (except the U.S., which still produces its edition here).

Beyond “Julia’s Tango,” most of Gold’s development is homegrown, either from ideas generated by his team (which also includes Jordan Feiner), books to which they’ve acquired the rights or previous projects they’re redeveloping.

“Just 10% of what we’ve sold comes from (Endemol’s global scripted library),” Gold said. “But I anticipate that number to increase in the future as Endemol grows its scripted business.”

On the flip side, Gold has also sold a comedy project to Endemol Germany that had originally been developed here, by scribe Jared Stern, for NBC.

“That’s not necessarily my core business, however,” Gold said. “My core business is selling projects here and not forcing the tail to wag the dog.”

Other Endemol projects in development include the following:

  • “Manager/Husband,” a comedy for Fox about a talent manager and his 22-year-old pop-star wife. Jim O’Doherty and David Israel are writing the laffer, based on an idea by Andre Gurland. Twentieth Century Fox TV is also attached, along with Principato-Young.

Project was originally developed at FX; Fox’s Matt Cherniss, who moved from the cabler earlier this year, contacted Gold about reviving the comedy at the broadcast web.

  • “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” a single-camera comedy about a young urban woman and her relationships, is set up at HBO. Vic Levin is writing.

  • The CW’s nanny project, from scribes Veronica Becker and Sarah Kucserka (“Ugly Betty”), centers on four nannies and the families they work for in Dallas. Warner Bros. TV is producing.

Hourlong was originated by Joe Livecchi.

  • “Hell on Wheels,” being developed for AMC, centers on the Transcontinental Railroad’s construction. Tony and Joe Gayton are writing.

n Joe Shields’ animated website “Joe Cartoon” is being reworked as a half-hour animated series for Comedy Central. No writer has yet been attached.

“It’s a crucial time for us; now we need some series orders,” said Gold, who hoped to emulate Endemol’s reality strategy. “What (Endemol USA prexy) David Goldberg and his team have done quite well is to read the marketplace and deliver things before others do. … I’m studying that and hope to mirror that in my development.”

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