Upfront: News Briefs

New doc entrance...
February 1, 1998

New doc entrance

at ProSieben

Although the title may be misleading, ProSieben’s program-purchasing restructuring means that coproduction of documentaries, along with features and animation, will fall under the newly created division of International Fiction. Rola Zayed is executive vp of the division.

As part of the restructuring, ProSieben Home Entertainment will be largely discontinuing its video distribution, leaving the existing catalogue to other distributors and pairing up with ‘suitable partners’ on upcoming projects. Georg Kofler, chairman of ProSieben Media, says the German sell-through video market was ‘far beneath’ the company’s expectations.

Banff to honor historical/

biographical work

Canada-based Banff Television Festival has added a new history and biography category to the Rockie Award roster, bringing the number of documentary categories to six, including arts, information, popular science, social and politcal, and sports. The new category was designed in response to an increasing number of historical and biographical entries in all the doc categories. Deadline for submissions is February 23, 1998.


Ken Ferguson, former cfo at Dick Clark Productions, is the new cfo and chief administrative officer at Washington-based National Geographic Television.

Dallas-based The Image Bank has named Joe Knudson vp of information services, responsible for the design of information management technology at tib hq. Knudson will also guide the company’s website-distribution development.

At New York-based Sundance Channel, acting president Larry Aidem, former executive vp of business development at Showtime Networks, was confirmed channel president; Tom Harbeck, former senior vp at Nickelodeon marketing, became executive vp; Liz Manne, former Fine Line Features executive vp, marketing, became senior vp, programming, as well as executive vp, Sundance Channel Presents.

New York-based doc-makers scored top honors at the Sundance Film Festival as The Farm (produced by Liz Garbus and Jonathan Stack) and Frat House (produced by Todd Phillips and Andrew Gurland) shared the grand prize. Jeff Dupre’s Out of the Past took home the Audience Award in the doc category, and the Filmmakers’ Trophy for docs went to producer Steve Yeager’s Divine Trash, a microscopic look at John Waters’ cult classic Pink Flamingos.

With Divine Trash breeding a new obsession with underground films, Yeager is in the research stages of his next project, tentatively titled The Undergrounders. The program – either a two-hour one-off or a six-part series targeting pbs or a&e – will cover the underground-film-scene spectrum. A budget won’t be hammered out until research is completed.

Other Sundance contenders working on new pieces include Beautopia director/producer/screenwriter Katharina Otto who is focusing on Germany circa 1989, the year before The Wall came down. Otto has uncovered a steel worker who worked as a double agent for the cia in the 50s, and is willing tell the bigger story through his own experience. Fox Lorber is already on board with development funding and Otto is shopping the project as a potential feature film. allison vale

Also in Upfront:

-D Network to expand development and distribution

-Discovery goes local with new Eastern European producer fund

-CNN puts Perspectives on indie documentary production

-WGBH launches distribution arm.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.