Ron Devillier, president and CEO of D.C.-based producer/distributor Devillier Donegan Enterprises acknowledges that his company is in the market for a new partnership, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if a deal goes through within the next year.
Disney has been DDE’s primary investor since 1996, a result of Disney’s merger with U.S. network ABC that year; ABC had originally bought a majority stake in dde in 1994. Says Devillier, "Disney has been a great partner, [but] I think Disney is not committed to developing documentaries as a strand of their editorial life. They are basically movie industry. So, we are looking for another partner."
The buzz on the floor of the RealScreen Summit was that Granada in the U.K. and Alliance Atlantis Communications in Canada are currently the front runners, though Devillier neither confirms nor denies. "I’m going to decline to comment on that because the pace is too heated at the moment, and I can’t get into a discussion of those particulars."
Andy Thomson, AAC executive VP and head of the company’s non-fiction division (AAC Fact), says he hasn’t heard anything about his company’s interest in DDE, but adds that he wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility. A spokesperson for Granada likewise asserts that to the best of his knowledge nothing is in the works between his company and DDE.
Regardless of the entity that partners with DDE, says Devillier, the company will not change in essence. "We [Devillier and Brian Donegan] would be involved in a transition of the ownership, with us retaining control of the company. I think to the casual viewer, producer and broadcaster, nothing would change at DDE. It would almost be an invisible shift… Our production commitments are to stick with our blue-chip agenda."