×

Michael Uslan’s U2K Becomes Asia-Hollywood Formats Pipeline (EXCLUSIVE)

Michael and David Uslan, the father and son producing team with credits that include “The Dark Knight” and “Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch” have struck a cluster of deals that makes them a two-way conduit for TV formats between Hollywood and Asia.

U2K, a company that includes the Uslans and Jon Karas (“Believe in Me,” “Shadows” and “Checking Out”), has recently struck deals with top rights owners in China, India and South Korea to bring their content to Western audiences.

And, with the purpose of taking content from West to East, U2K has struck a first-look deal with Renegade 83. The Sherman Oaks-based company is one of the world’s top unscripted TV producers, and has credits including “Naked and Afraid,” “Smash Cuts,” and “Gone Country.” The company was recently acquired by eOne Entertainment.

The Uslans and Rengade 83 are both represented by William Morris Endeavor. And WME brokered the first-look agreement.

“With Renegade 83’s amazing ability to develop formats and produce successful shows, backed now by the strength of eOne, this is a win-win situation for all. We couldn’t be happier,” said David Uslan.

U2K has signed a deal with Chinese video streaming giant iQIYI for the Chinese company’s “Hot Blood Dance Crew.” The show, which is pitched as akin to “Lip Sync Battle” and “The Voice,” but based around dancing instead of singing, has a strong AI component. U2K is representing format rights to remake “Dance Crew” in English-speaking territories and India. The Chinese version was screened in international markets on streaming service Rakuten Viki.

In South Korea, which boasts a white-hot creative scene and which has shows watched all over Asia, U2K has licensed the rights to remake unscripted show “Crime Scene” in English-language territories. The show hails from JTBC, a free- and pay-TV company that has done format deals with EndemolShine and is producing “Max x Max,” one of the first Korean originals for Netflix. Now in its third season, “Crime Scene” requires contestants to solve problems in a manner somewhere between “CSI” and “Clue” (or board game “Cluedo”). Contestants in the first two seasons were members of the public. In the third season participants were local celebrities.

From Zee Studios International, part of India’s huge Zee group, U2K has picked up format rights to three popular unscripted shows, and format rights to one of the country’s biggest sitcoms, “Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain!.” In each case, the company has the right to set up shows in English-language territories, and China, where streaming services have by many measures overtaken traditional broadcast groups, and are competing vigorously with each other for new concepts.

The unscripted Zee shows are: “Saanp Seedi,” based on a children’s game; “Antakshari,” a musical game show with three two-person teams that ran for 15 years on Zee; “India’s Best Dramebaaz,” a reality show that aimed to find acting talent among kids under 15. “Bhabiji” which has been on air since 2015, has a title which translates approximately as “Is the woman of the house at Home?”. It features two neighboring couples where the husbands are each attracted to the other man’s wife.

The Uslans and Karas have spent more than four years criss-crossing the Pacific Ocean, to break in to Asian scene and get to this point. Over that period Asian streaming services have become global players and regulations in China have been changed. They have previously struck deals with Korea’s MBC and KBS, and now have offices in Los Angeles, Beijing and Hong Kong.

“As formats dry up in Europe, Latin and South America, and places like Israel, the content being generated in Asia keeps getting bigger and bigger, with more international themes and genres that can appeal to a wider, global audience,” David Uslan told Variety. “With the huge populations in Asia, particularly China and India, these are the biggest shows and formats in the world, with the biggest viewership and fanbases.”

The Uslans and Karas also have a separate company Strawberry Pictures Global Media, where they develop and produce film and TV co-productions.

More TV

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins

    'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins 'Arrow' Final Season

    “Russian Doll” standout Charlie Barnett is joining the “Arrowverse.” Barnett, who is having a busy year having also appeared in Netflix’s “Tales of the City,” comes on board in the series regular role of John Diggle, Jr., son of David Ramsey’s character. News of his casting was announced at the show’s farewell Comic-Con panel where things [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content