TV

Format Focus: FremantleMedia goes for dancing and dating

When realscreen last met FremantleMedia's then-VP of format acquisitions Vasha Wallace, she was excitedly talking up the company's then-new format Hole in the Wall. That program is now in 41 countries, with more to come. We caught up with Wallace, now SVP format acquisitions, at MIPCOM to discuss bringing that Japanese format and others to the world market, and how Fremantle is filling broadcasters' dating show demands.
October 22, 2009

When realscreen last met FremantleMedia’s then-VP of format acquisitions Vasha Wallace, she was excitedly talking up the company’s then-new format Hole in the Wall. That program is now in 41 countries, with more to come. We caught up with Wallace, now SVP format acquisitions, at MIPCOM to discuss bringing that Japanese format and others to the world market, and how Fremantle is filling broadcasters’ dating show demands.

Of Hole in the Wall, Wallace says that around the time FremantleMedia acquired the show clips were going viral on YouTube and ‘it really caught the imagination of the people who watched it… Broadcasters chased me down the Croisette saying they wanted it.’

Wallace says FremantleMedia and those broadcasters, including BBC1 and Fox in the U.S. (who canceled the American version in May of this year), felt that the Japanese game show, where contestants in sleek one-piece outfits would endeavor to fit through an oddly shaped hole in the moving wall, was ‘zeitgeisty.’

Hoping for another Japanese hit, Fremantle has acquired Batsu Bidding, a fast-paced auction with comedians and TV personalities, from Tokyo Broadcasting System Television. And another game show in Fremantle’s roster is 5 Against the Quizmaster from I&U TV Produktion, which turns the tables on the show’s host and makes him answer the questions. It’s currently rating very well on Germany’s RTL.

Wallace is also excited about Let’s Dance, a BBC1 production with a good track record not only in the UK, but also Holland and Germany, that has been sold to ABC in the U.S. In the format, celebrities recreate iconic dances, such as Jennifer Beals’ Flashdance number.

Wallace reports that broadcasters are asking for fresh dating shows, and FremantleMedia has two new dating formats. In one, Fine Living Network’s Love Taxi, a cab driver takes a single lady around New York City looking for a date, while in another, Take Me Out, the studio-based show sees 30 women approving a male entirely based on first impressions. Each woman stands at a podium affixed with a light; women who like the suitor leave their lights on, while for those that don’t, lights out. The program has sold to ITV and Japanese net TBS, with the Japanese deal marking it as the first international format to air as a weekly show on a Japanese broadcaster in over three years.

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