Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hip in Hollywood

BBC America is opening up new opportunities for British drama and comedy (from commercial channels as well and the BBC) to sell in the USA, writes in Stephen Armstrong in MediaGuardian (free registration required).

He talks to the head of BBC America, Kathryn Mitchell, about her plans for growth and the elusive prize of a British-produced show getting a slot on a mainstream network or cable channel.
"The world is so much smaller, technology makes it easier to work internationally, and British TV is very hip in Hollywood," says Jane Featherstone, joint managing director of Kudos Film and Television, the company that makes Life On Mars. "Of course, a format deal doesn't make us huge amounts of money. What we've got is David Kelley working on a script for ABC, which is great, but the real Holy Grail is for a UK company to actually make a primetime show in America. That's where the money is."

Featherstone believes it will happen, probably via HBO, she is just not sure when. Mitchell agrees with her. After all, a long-form drama on network television can pay $3m an hour. "I'm not going to say who I think will win this race," says Mitchell, "but the Americans love our writers and our actors so much. There are some cultural considerations producers should remember, though," and she grins. "Like the drama Blackpool - I had to rename it Viva Blackpool because Americans thought it was about a deadly, haunted lake."

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