You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Top Chef’ Producer Nears Sale to U.K.’s Tinopolis (Exclusive)

Prospective deal comes as larger congloms are scooping up unscripted production shops

Magical Elves, the prosperous reality TV shop behind “Top Chef” and other hits, is closing in on a deal to be acquired by U.K. production powerhouse Tinopolis Group.

Financial details of the pact remain murky. Reps for Magical Elves declined comment; execs at Tinopolis’ headquarters in Wales could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

L.A.-based Magical Elves, headed by highly regarded producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, began mulling sale options last fall, when the company retained European bank About Corporate Finance to evaluate possible transactions.

SEE ALSO: ‘Top Chef’ Company Explores Possible Sale

Sources close to the company have estimated the shingle to be worth more than $100 million, thanks to the volume of shows it handles and Cutforth and Lipsitz’s status as in-demand producers. But like most indie unscripted production companies, Magical Elves generally has little control over the rights to the shows it produces.

Magical Elves made its mark with stylish Bravo hits “Project Runway” and “Top Chef.” The company’s active roster includes TNT’s “Cold Justice,” We TV’s “Braxton Family Values” and “Tamar and Vince,” Esquire Network’s “Best Bars in America” and Showtime’s “Time of Death.” It also produces numerous spinoffs of “Top Chef,” including the upcoming Spanish-language spin for Telemundo, “Top Chef Estrellas.”

The sale to Tinopolis would continue the trend of cross-border consolidation among sizable reality players during the past few years. Endemol, FremantleMedia North America, ITV Group, Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group, Core Media Group and France’s Zodiak Media have been busy scooping up successful reality production shops in recent years. Time Warner and Sony Pictures Entertainment have also swooped in to buy such outfits as Shed Media and Left Bank Pictures, respectively.

Being part of a larger entity offers the producers easier access to capital and more clout at the negotiating table — although even the larger groups frequently struggle to retain the format and international rights that are key to big-time profitability for unscripted productions.

Tinopolis is a sizable U.K. media firm that houses a clutch of production imprints spanning scripted, unscripted, digital and sports programming. Tinopolis signaled its interest getting deeper into the U.S. market with its $100 million acquisition in 2011 of A. Smith & Co., the Los Angeles-based shop behind the U.S. rendition of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares.” Tinopolis’ U.K.-based imprints Pioneer Prods. and Mentorn produce for the U.S. market as well.

Tinopolis also owns the boutique management firm Braverman/Bloom Co., based in Sherman Oaks, which focuses on clients active in the unscripted arena.

More TV

  • Bob GreenblattCreating Great Characters: Dick Wolf

    Bob Greenblatt on WarnerMedia Streaming Strategy: 'The Assets are Undeniable'

    CANNES — AT&T is ready for battle in the streaming wars. The new parent company of HBO and Warner Bros. has moved quickly to respond to consumer demand by marshaling its forces behind the launch next spring of HBO Max, WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told a crowd of international TV and digital executives here [...]

  • Roberto Gomez Bolanos Mexican actor Roberto

    Chespirito Media Universe in Development from Grupo Chespirito, Thr3 Media Group

    Mexican production companies Grupo Chespirito and Thr3 Media Group have come to terms on a deal to co-produce multi-media content and create the Chespirito Media Universe based on the characters and world of Mexico and Latin America’s most iconic TV creator, director, producer and actor, Chespirito. Thr3 Media Group was launched in January 2018 by [...]

  • Bastian-and-Fabienne_2btube-Office-1

    2btube Adds Lacoproductora to Facebook, YouTube Originals Alliances

    CANNES —  Fast-driving from a huge digital media publishing base into the creation and production of premium content for global platforms and beyond, top Spanish-language digital native media group 2btube has clinched a wide-ranging production partnership with José Miguel Contreras’ Madrid-based Lacoproductora. The deal comes fast on the heels of 2btube’s production alliance with Facebook [...]


    Spain's Fasten Films Nabs Remake Rights to Argentine Series 'The Cleaning Lady' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Barcelona-based company Fasten Films has optioned Spanish and Portuguese adaptation rights to Argentine suspense series “La chica que limpia” (“The Cleaning Lady”). The deal was negotiated with Argentine distributors RM Vistar and GlowStar, who jointly handle the format’s international sales. A Mexican remake of the series is being produced by Turner Latin America, alongside BTF [...]

  • Motiv: Max ConzeFoto: © ProSiebenSat.1/Martin SaumweberDieses

    ProSiebenSat.1 Boss Max Conze Unfazed By the Invasion of the Digital Streaming Giants

    Max Conze, CEO of German broadcast company ProSiebenSat.1 since June last year, appeared relatively relaxed about the prospect of the coming invasion of new subscription streaming players like Disney Plus into his territory when speaking to journalists at TV market and conference Mipcom in Cannes Tuesday. “Disney will not lock away all their content,” he [...]

  • Irmaos Freitas

    Amazon Prime Video takes Turner’s ‘Freitas Brothers’

    CANNES — In yet another – and significant – Latin America distribution deal for the now highly active OTT giant, Amazon Prime Video has acquired Brazilian and pan-Spanish-speaking Latin American SVOD rights to Turner Latin America’s highly anticipated “Freitas Brothers.” The announcement was made late Tuesday by Turner Latin America at Cannes Mipcom TV and [...]

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    Nonsense Ellen DeGeneres Question Derails an Otherwise Substantive Democratic Debate (Column)

    The fourth Democratic debate was dangerously close to being substantive. For almost three (3!) hours, the twelve (12!) candidates onstage tackled questions on foreign policy, reproductive rights, health care, gun control, big tech, and the opioid crisis. While the other debates — and indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign — have been marked by meme-able [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content