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Reality TV giant Endemol to make push into scripted fare in U.S.

August 17, 2011 |  7:53 am


The television production company best known for reality and game shows including "Big Brother" and "Wipeout" is making a big push into scripted programming in the United States.

Endemol USA, a unit of Dutch-based Endemol Group, plans to focus primarily on developing dramas for cable networks. The company has already had some success in that arena, successfully selling the series "Hell on Wheels" to AMC, the cable channel whose other shows include "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad."

The move echoes the strategy of its parent company, which has increased its scripted programming output by almost 50% in the last three years. Endemol Group produces scripted fare primarily in Holland, Italy, Spain and Australia. It also has a presence in Britain and in Argentina, where it makes telenovelas.

The push to broaden its presence here comes less than two months after the departure of Ynon Kreiz from his position of chairman and chief executive officer of the parent company, which has been going through a financial restructuring of its heavy debt load. Endemol's board appointed Marco Bassetti, the company's group president, and Just Spee, the group chief financial officer, to manage the company.

To oversee its scripted efforts, Endemol named Philippe Maigret, who had been the company's executive vice president in charge of programming acquisitions, chief executive officer of its TV studio unit. He will report to David Goldberg, chairman of Endemol North America. Jeremy Gold, who had helped launch Endemol's scripted efforts as senior vice president, has been named head of creative affairs. Prior to joining Endemol in 2008, Gold had been an executive at Fox.

“Endemol Studios represents a significant step in our ongoing strategy to expand and diversify our activities in North America [while] at the same time helping fuel our global growth," said Goldberg in a statement.

Endemol is owned by Goldman Sachs, Mediacinco and Cyrte.


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-- Joe Flint

Photo: A contestant tackles the obstacle course in "Wipeout." Adam Larkey / AP