1 item from 2008
If you thought the Academy Awards were dominated by foreigners, wait until you see this year's TV pilot season.
Of the five pilots ordered by the broadcast networks last week, four were based on international formats -- British drama Ny-Lon and Israeli drama Mythological X at CBS and British comedies Outnumbered and Spaced at Fox.
"I think the strike had a lot to do with it," said Dana Walden, chairman of 20th Century Fox TV, which produces Mythological X as well as the ABC pilot Life on Mars, based on the BBC series. "You had that incredibly speculative time in the production business when there was uncertainty if we would be working together again."
Walden and her team spent time during the strike-imposed hiatus watching the 11 completed episodes of Mythological.
"You get the great benefit of being able to see the great twists and turns the characters take (beyond the pilot)," she said. "The network also was excited to do a reasonably priced show that is still compelling and has a fantastic character at the center but doesn't have car chases and 85 scenes."
Most foreign series don't rely on big production values but on storytelling, which also proves attractive to U.S. studios that have been searching for ways to lower production costs in the wake of the writers strike.
Sparked by the success of The Office and Ugly Betty, the rise of foreign-scripted formats came into its own last year when a record eight broadcast pilots were based on British series. With the thick of pilot ordering still days away, that number already has been surpassed this year.
Nine pilots ordered by the broadcast networks so far -- Ny-Lon, Mythological X, Outnumbered, Spaced, Life on Mars, CBS drama Eleventh Hour and comedy Worst Week and NBC comedies Father Ted and "Kath & Kim" -- are based on international formats, as is Fox comedy Don't Bring Frank, which is close to a pilot order.
Additionally, Canadian imports The Listener and Flashpoint were picked up as series by NBC and CBS, respectively; the British-produced series Robinson Crusoe set sail at NBC; and NBC is doing a highly publicized adaptation of the 2006 Colombian telenovela Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso.
"It's like an ever-growing frontier where people are looking for the next big thing anywhere in the world," said Chris Coelen of Pangea, which co-produces Ny-Lon. The company is developing several series based on U.K. »
1 item from 2008
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