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Shine America polishes content strategy

Transition from Reveille era puts focus on prod'n, global siblings

The transformation of Reveille into Shine America during the past 14 months involves more than a new name, logo and CEO.

The focus at Elisabeth Murdoch’s U.S. outpost has shifted to keeping productions inhouse rather than partnering with outside entities to execute projects. It’s a change that reflects the skill sets of the new leaders, who come from a production background, compared to the packaging-centric Reveille regime, a group of WMA alums who were schooled by company founder Ben Silverman.

Shine Group acquired Reveille in 2008, after Silverman exited for NBC. The decision earlier this year to retire the Reveille name in favor of Shine America was spurred by the parent company’s success during the past three years of expanding from its U.K. base with Shine Group production imprints in Australia, Germany and 10 other international territories.

The Shine Australia startup has done so well since 2010 under the direction of brothers Mark and Carl Fennessy that Murdoch tapped Carl to move into the Shine America CEO role last year.

The Fennessy brothers made their mark in the 1990s as indie producers with a company, Crackerjack, that was eventually acquired by FremantleMedia. The brothers led Fremantle’s Oz division before moving to Shine Australia, where Mark remains CEO.

Part of the change at Shine America has been take control of production duties on existing shows like NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” which had been handled since its inception in 2004 by 3 Ball Prods. Those kinds of shifts on a long-running show are never easy, but it was an important move for Shine America.

“We want to be regarded as best-in-class producers,” Fennessy said. “There’s very much a focus on being strong in the creation and execution of programming.”

Like the rest of Shine Group, the Yankee wing still operates autonomously despite its acquisition by News Corp. last year. Shine America’s offices are near Hollywood and Vine, far removed from other Fox facilities.

Eden Gaha is another Aussie producer who was recruited as prexy of Shine America at the same time Fennessy came aboard. He has a deep TV background in everything from hosting kids shows to serving as a producer and showrunner on unscripted shows in Oz and the U.S.

“It’s not so much a shift in focus as a shift in culture,” Gaha said of the changes at the company. “More of the people at the company have come (from creative backgrounds) than before. … When we came in we decided that the best way to start was to work on the shows we already had, bring them inhouse and make the as good as they can be. We want to make more sure we’re proud of the TV we’re making.”

Shine America’s energies are directed in five distinct areas: scripted and unscripted programming, Spanish-lingo production, digital content and branded entertainment — meaning ancillary businesses derived from Shine America franchises like “Biggest Loser,” Fox’s “MasterChef” and Bravo’s “Shear Genius.”

For the U.S. market, devoting resources to Spanish-language production is a no-brainer, given the Hispanic demographic explosion and the wealth of formats in the Shine group of companies. Shine America’s first such program series bowed this week as a primetime strip on Fox’s startup MundoFox network, an Espanol spin on the NBC gameshow “Minute to Win It.”

On the scripted side, Shine America is honing its focus to scouting and adapting series formats from its overseas sibling companies. For Carolyn Bernstein, Shine America’s exec veep of scripted TV, it’s a welcome return to form.

Bernstein, a WB Network and Columbia TV alum, was hired in October 2007 by Murdoch to shepherd U.S. adaptations of Shine shows from its boutique U.K. production banners. A few weeks after she started, Shine began the Reveille acquisition process, which changed Bernstein’s job description.

A prime example of Bernstein’s redefined mandate is the pilot pact Shine America set up earlier this month at FX for edgy serial killer drama “The Bridge,” based on a show produced by Shine’s banner in Sweden. She’s worked closely with the Swedish creators in developing the U.S. rendition — learning what worked and what didn’t with the original series.

“Ultimately at Shine our mantra is that we’re stronger together,” Fennessy said of the importance of collaborating with other Shine companies. “We want to be both importers and exporters of intellectual property.”

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