You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Global TV Sales Get Serious With L.A. Screenings

Dramas of all stripes dominate conversation

Drama is taking centerstage at this year’s L.A. Screenings.

Most of the big TV stories of the past season were about dramas old and new breaking out (to various degrees) — whether the CW’s “Arrow,” NBC’s “Revolution,” PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead” or History miniseries “The Bible.” Networks both here and abroad are looking for ways to duplicate that success for themselves.

“The shows that work best internationally are episodic procedurals with interesting lead characters,” says Jeffrey Schlesinger, who last week was promoted to prexy of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution.

That said, with more channels to fill, international buyers are just as interested in all different sorts of shows — from broad comedy to intense action — as domestic buyers. But the drama market looks particularly fertile.

Genre dramas remain popular this season, with networks picking up several series with sci-fi or fantastical premises.

“That whole mashup of reality and fantasy seems to be really resonating with audiences right now,” says Marion Edwards, prexy of international television for 20th Century Fox.

This year, studios are offering such high-profile genre shows as 20th’s “Sleepy Hollow,” produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (“Fringe”); ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” spinoff entitled “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” Universal’s “Dracula” (starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers), which comes from NBCUniversal’s London-based Carnival Films, producer of “Downton Abbey”; and the CW’s “Vampire Diaries” spinoff “The Originals.”

Last season’s surprise success of “Revolution” on NBC caused international buyers to warm to the show after initially approaching it with hesitation, Schlesinger says.

“Last year, that show was pretty much rejected by international broadcasters,” he says. “It was looked at like all of those other post-apocalyptic serialized shows that failed, such as “Flash Forward,” “Alcatraz,” “The Event” and “Terra Nova.”

“But to everyone’s surprise, when ‘Revolution’ came on the air, it was successful. ‘Revolution’ then generated traction and moved up on everyone’s list. Now we have sold it everywhere,” he says.

Other key genre shows on networks’ slates next season included three produced or co-produced by Warner Bros.: “The 100,” about 100 juvenile delinquents who return to settle a post-apocalyptic Earth, “The Tomorrow People,” a sort of “X-Men” for the young adult set, and “Star-Crossed,” a “Romeo and Juliet” take-off about a human girl who falls in love with an alien boy.

Warner Bros. also has two new genre shows from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot: “Almost Human,” starring Karl Urban as a cop with an android for a partner; and “Believe,” about a girl with special powers.

Next season isn’t all sci-fi and fantasy though. In the wake of House, which has been a huge international performer, anti-heroes remain a popular go-to.

Sony is offering both “Rake,” starring Greg Kinnear as a defense attorney with a lot of bad habits, and “The Blacklist,” starring James Spader as a Hannibal Lecter-like convicted criminal who will only work with one rookie federal agent to solve serious crimes.

“’The Blacklist’ is the show that’s getting the most buzz right now,” says Keith LeGoy, prexy of international distribution at Sony Pictures Television. “NBC has given it their most precious timeslot right after “The Voice” on Monday nights.”

Universal also has a new version of “Ironside,” starring Blair Underwood as the crippled and crotchety policeman that Raymond Burr first made famous.

“’Ironside’ is not about remaking that show but about telling a story with a flawed character that’s interesting in the way that House was interesting,” says Don McGregor, executive veep of NBCUniversal Intl. Television.

Even though procedurals work so well internationally, there are only a few of them in the mix next year: Universal’s “Chicago Fire” spinoff, “Chicago P.D.”, and ABC Studios and Electus’ “Killer Women,” starring Tricia Helfer and exec produced by Sofia Vergara. “The Blacklist,” “Rake” and “Ironside” also will play like procedurals, with a new case to follow each week in addition to a compelling main character.

Today’s international markets are much more about territories picking and choosing their products than just receiving a package of programming from the studios, like they once did, so shows need to play well at the L.A. Screenings.

“Buyers from international markets sometimes come here and pick up on something and turn it into a hit abroad while we limp along for a while,” says 20th’s Edwards. “International markets are having so much success with their own local programming these days that they won’t be forced into accepting programming unless they think it will work in their markets.”

More TV

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police Want to Talk to Jussie Smollett as New Evidence Emerges

    Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault. Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said [...]

  • Five Takes on Canal Plus, Federation’s

    Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF

    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content