Reality Check: Reality Bites – Upcoming reality-based shows

The Yearly Newsreel...
May 1, 1998

The Yearly Newsreel

Producer – Gaumont and Pathé

The oldest cinema organizations in the world, Paris-based Gaumont Television and London-based British Pathe have mined their extensive film archives, collaborating on The Yearly Newsreel, 32 hours chronicling the years 1933 through 1970. 60% of the footage in the series, which cost 8 million francs, was supplied by the two companies. Clips of Maria Callas, Queen Elizabeth, Charles de Gaulle, Grace Kelly and Martin Luther King, among other luminaries, comprise a video encyclopedia of politcs, sports, fashion, arts, entertainment and other news.

The Yearly Newsreel is geared for all audiences, says Jeanne Charuet, head of documentaries at Gaumont, adding that the program is right for the coming millennium and is suitable for many time slots. The series is produced with a voice-over that can be dubbed into any language. Gaumont and Pathé share the sales duties, and the series will be sold internationally, except for reserved territories granted to broadcasters that provided the original funding.

‘It is a unique reflection of the 20th Century through the real-life stories of the men and women who built and thus marked the great moments,’ says Charuet. ‘And this is is a first-time venture for Pathé and Gaumont, two majors that both contributed to the history of cinema.’

Speed Demons

Producer – Unapix International

For those who like life in the fast lane, Los Angeles-based distributor Unapix International and coproducer Termite Art Productions present Speed Demons, 3 x 1 hours.

Scheduled to air in the fourth quarter of 1998 on tlc in the u.s. the narrated series will tell the history of speed on land, sea and air, profiling the fearless men and women who risk their lives to push the boundaries of speed.

Speed Demons is geared for a worldwide, primarily male audience. International rights and syndication deals were open prior to L.A. Screenings. The budget per episode ranges from us$200,000 to us$2.5 million.

‘This mini-series, in the Fox-style of high-quality network specials, will deliver gripping and unbelievable footage of daredevils seeking to reach new levels of speed,’ says Unapix managing director, Scott Hancock. ‘Whether they succeed or crash, viewers will be kept glued to the edge of their chairs.’

ESU – Emergency Services Unit

Producer – Image Group Entertainment

Timothy Dalton hosts a 3 x 1-hour series called ESU – Emergency Services Unit, which offers an insider’s look at an elite law-enforcement team. The esu embraces five areas: the Tactical Team, Dive Team, Bomb Squad, K-9 Patrol and Aviation Unit.

Viewers join the dog squad as they search for a drunk driver, travel with the bomb squad as they transport explosives sent by mail to a safe location for detonation, and take part in a high-speed fugitive chase.

Made for us$300,000 per episode by the new production arm of Image Group Entertainment in New York (with MoPo Entertainment and Tapestry International Productions), esu premieres on tlc u.s. this fall. International rights and syndication deals were open prior to L.A. Screenings.

The series is designed to appeal to a male-dominated global demographic, aged 24 to 54. ‘There is a definite element of danger,’ says Michael Schlossman, Image Group vp, production and development. ‘Through these mini-series, we provide viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at what they do and how they do it. Without question, viewers will come away from these programs with a newfound respect for these individuals.’

European Zoological Gardens

Producer – Atol Media (Salsa Distribution)

Atol Media of Poznan, Poland, traces 17 European zoological gardens, which are more open than traditional zoos, with fewer cages. The series of half-hours explores the development of the gardens, breeding techniques of various species, and the characteristics that distinguish these zoological gardens, which are housed in cities such as Dvor Kralove, Helsinki and Rotterdam, from traditional zoos. Audiences will see free-roaming apes in Appeldron in Holland and Siberian snow sheep in the 18th century gardens of Dresden.

The narrated Zoological Gardens is geared for a general audience, says Lisa Hryniewicz, managing director of Salsa, the series distributor. ‘The series is clear and entertaining enough for children to appreciate, yet sophistciated enough for families as well.’ Prior to L.A. Screenings, the series, carrying a budget of us$10,000-$15,000 per episode, was still available worldwide.

‘Animals always attract and mesmerize viewers. They seem to have universal appeal,’ says Hryniewicz. ‘In Zoological Gardens, its best feature is the quality and quantity of information provided. The consultant and scriptwriter, Radoslaw Ratajszczak, director of the Poznan Soo, has a long history and vast international experience in the world of biology and zoology.’

Also see:

- Peep Show – America’s penchant for voyeurism gains ground as the reality-based genre gathers steam

-Peek Show – The Brits and their taste for soap

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.