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Mipcom: IM Global Teams With British, Chinese Partners on Unscripted and Scripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

Phil Gurin has inked several development deals with U.K. producers as his Unscripted and Alternative division takes shape at IM Global Television, with a batch of programs coming to market, including a version of The CW format “Oh Sit!” IM Global is gearing up for Mipcom on several fronts and will also bring Chinese drama to Cannes, launching a slate of scripted series from Chinese Internet giant Tencent, one of its backers.

Gurin, an executive producer and creative on numerous series including “Shark Tank” and “The Singing Bee,” launched the reality and unscripted unit at IM Global Television last year to develop or co-develop new properties, acquire formats, and distribute. He has now partnered with independent British producers Spark Media, Double Yellow TV, and 3 Magic Monkies, and will work with them on documentaries and entertainment formats to take out internationally.

“They are U.K. production companies, and we thought we can invest in development and put content through our pipeline,” Gurin told Variety, adding that more producer deals are in the works in Europe, U.S. and internationally. “We want to access like-minded creatives all over the world and co-create so that we can exploit content in our territories and in theirs. We want things that are international in scope, for distribution or co-production.”

Gurin and the IM Global Television distribution team’s unscripted offering for Mipcom includes the reworked version of “Oh Sit!”, the musical-chairs-inspired game show that ran on The CW for two seasons. IM Global Television has taken the rights from Warner Bros. and will re-launch the show at the market. Gurin’s revamped version allows couples to compete. The company wants to set up a production-hub model for the format, with a base in Europe and another one elsewhere.

The other unscripted highlight is “Grudge Match,” in which people with problems to settle thrash out their issues in front of a packed arena, with a variety of things with which to hit each other. IM Global Television has also picked up the U.S. and Latin American rights to “Fittest Family,” a primetime family physical game show from Magnify Media.

On the drama front, IM Global Television is leveraging its Chinese connections. In the first deal of its kind for Tencent, the IM Global Television distribution team will give international launches to several of the Chinese Internet and streaming giant’s original dramas. “Ice Fantasy Destiny,” the sequel to one of Tencent’s most popular series, “Ice Fantasy,” is on the slate, alongside rom-com “Dating High,” family drama “Master Devil Do Not Kiss Me,” and “My Fairyland College.” Psychological thriller “Revive,” about an actor who wakes up from surgery with picture-perfect looks, rounds out the lineup.

“Our objective with the Tencent content is to begin to really create a global demand for Chinese drama,” Eli Shibley, IM Global Television’s president of International Distribution and Co-Productions, told Variety. “Our strategic relationships and partnerships in China made a venture into Chinese content make sense to us.”

Shibley said that the initial sales are likely to come from buyers in Asia or those targeting the Chinese diaspora, but IM Global Television hopes for crossover and more general interest over time. Chinese content companies are increasingly cognizant of the international market, he said. “With the number of channels and platforms in China investing in drama, there is an increased need for the content they create to be resonant outside of the country and to amortize the cost outside of China.”

IM Global Television has pushed into non-English-language drama with Arabic series “Justice” and several Scandinavian projects in the works. It will also launch a Spanish-language division, Mundial Television, at Mipcom, and has sealed a co-development deal with Mexican producer Lemon Studios. IM Global Television will launch three of Lemon’s shows in Cannes: half-hour comedy “Mujeres No Viejas,” thriller series “Day of the Dead,” and spy drama “La Otra Voz.”

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