Established French media group Kabo Family is taking its hybrid comedy formats to the global market for the first time. TBI speaks with Kabo International managing director Arabelle Pouliot-Di Crescenzo as she launches the firm’s debut slate at NATPE
In French TV circles, Kabo is an established industry brand. Internationally, however, it is not. Yet, at least. In November, Kabo’s owners announced they had hired television distribution veteran Arabelle Pouliot-Di Crescenzo to run the market’s newest sales house, Kabo International, as managing director.
“Over the years, Kabo has received calls from all over the world,” Pouliot-Di Crescenzo says. “Like most producers, they are so focused on the core business that they did not know what to do. Eventually, there were so many calls that they launched Kabo International and brought me in.”
Pouliot-Di Crescenzo first came across Kabo Family co-founder Alain Kappauf when distributing his Caméra Café format while at the now-defunct Distraction Formats. She went on to work at Zodiak Entertainment (now Zodiak Media) and A+E Networks, and consulted for the likes of Oxygen Media before launching her own business, APDC & SR Media Consultants, which she still owns. Having worked in Canada, the UK and France, she is based out of New York in the new role.
Kappauf and Kabo Family co-founder Christian Baumard, meanwhile, launched Kabo Family in 2005, and have built it into a multi-medium production group that creates miniseries, dramas and comedies for French networks through its various labels. It now has thousands of hours of scripts for the market, and also owns theatre and film production arms. The privately-owned firm has around 150 full-time staff, with Kappauf and Baumard majority shareholders with CM-CIC Capital Finance, the equity financing arm of French bank Crédit Mutuel-CIC, a minority investor.
The critical mass built in France lead to Kabo International’s birth. “It’s interesting that in the age of consolidation, this very successful independent production company is coming to the forefront,” says Pouliot-Di Crescenzo. The firm makes its international debut at NATPE, where it will be selling its unusual ‘hybrid’ comedy formats, collectively grouped as part of a ‘Pick’n Mix’ brand. This is effectively a group of comedy series shorts that can be packaged together to create half-hours or even shows of up to 52 minutes.
“Kabo has developed a signature style that is quite universal. They have taken the sitcom format and modified it,” says Pouliot-Di Crescenzo. Among the debut brands is Our Crazy Family (pictured below), a daily access primetime comedy that has run on M6 for four seasons, or 152 26-minute episodes. A 6x52mins primetime version is also in the works.
The show’s 60-90-second scenes follow a multi-generational family comprising grandparents, their two daughters – one a married over-achiever and the other an insecure divorcee – and grandchildren.
Buyers seeking scripted comedy formats can slice and dice the scripts, says Pouliot-Di Crescenzo – for example, a territory that does not have a culture of nursing homes for the elderly can simply cut those scenes from their show. “You can imagine them like Lego blocks – you can stack them in any order and they work,” says Pouliot-Di Crescenzo.
Also on the slate is wacky gameshow Cash or Splash, in which trios of stay-at-home mothers or transvestites, for example, take on teams of police or glamour models in order to win cash or get splashed with water.
“We’re also acquiring some third-party formats,” says Pouliot-Di Crescenzo. Declining to name these at press time, she says there will about five new shows at NATPE.
“Everything Kabo does will be with a comedic, entertainment twist,” the exec says, pointing to the “core” scripted comedy formats, gameshows, dating series and light-entertainment shows as priorities.
The key challenge is getting buyers to consider non-English-language content, says Pouliot-Di Crescenzo. “Once they’re there, it’s usually smooth sailing.
“We’re going to try to attend many events and those are great opportunities for us,” she adds of Kabo International’s growth plans, which also include staffing up and increasing the catalogue.
“We can seize on the opportunity, which is that everybody is looking to cut costs and find something new with a great business model behind it. We offer good content that doesn’t cost a fortune.”