Shine Intl. is going global with ABC’s upcoming gameshow “Million Dollar Mind Game.”
This summer, Merv Griffin Entertainment shot six episodes of the gamer, originally titled “The Six,” with host Vernon Kay (“Hit Me Baby One More Time”). Alphabet series is based on the long-running Russian franchise “What? Where? When?”
Shine has acquired the formats of “What? Where? When?” and “Million Dollar Mind Game,” which was tweaked for U.S. audiences. The company will bring both variations of the gamer to next month’s Mipcom confab.
“This show has been a hugely successful phenomenon in Russia for the past quarter century,” Shine Intl. prexy Chris Grant said. “The opportunity to bring that show to the international market, with the backing of an ABC launch in primetime, is huge.”
A phenomenon in Russia since 1975, “What? Where? When?” hasn’t been adapted in other markets until now. But Merv Griffin, which is producing “Million Dollar Mind Game,” was able to secure the rights to the Russian show through Alex Reznik, who was instrumental in securing the show for the U.S. market through the skein’s owner, Natalia Stetsenko, and exec producer Boris Kryuk.
Russian TV host Vladimir Voroshilov and Natalia Stetsenko created “What? Where? When?” and Voroshilov hosted the gameshow until his death in 2001.
Shine put together its distribution deal through Stetsenko and Reznik as well as Merv Griffin Entertainment TV prexy Roy Bank. Bank and Reznik are exec producers on “Million Dollar Mind Game.”
Bank has a longstanding relationship with Shine’s Grant; Shine picked up the international rights to “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” from Bank back when he ran that gamer’s production shingle, Mark Burnett Prods.
Grant noted that it’s rare to find a popular, long-running international series that hasn’t already been mined for format rights.
“That’s why this has been a long, hard negotiation,” Grant said. “To find a jewel like this that is untapped, that to me is extremely gratifying. The world is primed for a new gameshow, a different kind of gameshow.”
Shine, as a third-party supplier, has few chances to bring a major network format to market, Grant said.
“These opportunities are far and few between,” he said.
“Million Dollar Mind Game” centers on six players who must work together to answer unusual, logic-based questions in 60 seconds.
“This is as unique and special a format as I have seen in a long time from any territory,” Bank said.
Shine Intl. has sold local versions of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” to 50 territories; as well as “The Moment of Truth” to 37 local broadcasters. Shine handles international rights to “Masterchef,” which airs in 15 territories, including the U.S.
Besides hosting both the U.S. and U.K. versions of “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” Kay is a well-known presenter in Britain, having hosted shows such as “The Whole 19 Yards,” “Beat the Star” and “Family Fortunes.”