The Japanese TV market has been a tough nut for Hollywood to crack, with broadcasters there generally not interested in airing American shows or repurposing their own programming for Stateside auds.
But there are signs that’s starting to change, with Japanese entertainment conglom Yoshimoto Kogyo inking with Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Intl. to develop, produce and distribute TV shows for local, U.S. and foreign markets.
Shine’s U.S. shingle Reveille and Yoshimoto Kogyo will initially focus on creating original unscripted formats for Shine Intl. to distribute.
First project will be “Spice of Life,” described as a variety-reality hybrid created and executive produced by Masi Oka, who starred in NBC’s “Heroes” and now appears in CBS’ reboot of “Hawaii 5-0.”
Japanese broadcaster Tokyo Broadcasting System will air the show, starting in February. Shine Intl. prexy Chris Grant will exec produce, along with Reveille managing director Howard T. Owens, and Aki Yorihiro, CEO of Yoshimoto Kogyosubsid Yoshimoto Entertainment.
Yoshimoto Kogyo, based in Tokyo and Osaka, is a 99-year-old indie TV production and talent management shingle under prexy Hiroshi Osaki. Former Sony chairman Nobuyuki Idei is a board member.
Backers include Japanese broadcasters Fuji TV, Nippon Television, TV Asahi, Tokyo Broadcasting System, TV Tokyo and Asahi Broadcasting, advertisement agencies Dentsu and Hakuhodo, mobile and Internet providers Yahoo! Japan, KDDI and Softbank, film studios Toho, Kadokawa and Shochiku, and financial institutions Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho.
Its more successful series include NTV’s “Silent Library,” “Lincoln” (TBS) and Yomiuri TV’s “Downtown DX,” hosted by comedy duo Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada.
“We hope this deal opens the door to further collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese formats market,” Grant said. “We also hope to capitalize on the global potential of this deal, which will take advantage of Shine’s distribution and production assets in close coordination with Yoshimoto’s incredible wealth of knowledge and experience outside of Japan.”
Yoshimoto Kogyo has spent several years discussing similar pacts with other production partners, including heavyweights like Endemol and FremantleMedia.
But until now, Japanese broadcasters have been mostly unsuccessful in packaging their shows to sell at markets like Mip and NATPE, primarily because most of their formats are specifically created for Japanese auds.
Yoshimoto sparked to Shine and Reveille’s ability to turn “The Office,” “Ugly Betty,” “The Tudors” and non-scripted shows like “The Biggest Loser,” “MasterChef,” “The Buried Life” and “Parental Control” into global hits.