News round-up: ‘Popstars’ format in NZ return; ‘Masked Singer’ adapted by Three; Red Sauce makes new hires 

‘Popstars’ format revived in NZ

New Zealand’s TVNZ 2 has commissioned a revival of reality talent format Popstars, to be produced by Screentime New Zealand in partnership with Warner Music New Zealand.

The original late-90s series followed the creation and development of all-female pop band TrueBliss, while this new series will reimagine the show for a 21st-century audience, with a panel led by award-winning singer-songwriter Kimbra. The Essential Productions format is being distributed by Banijay Rights.

This time around, soloists, duos and groups will have the opportunity to follow their music dreams. Starting with the auditions, those who make the cut will have the opportunity to work on their music, beats, and performance with Kimbra and a selection of top musical artists and producers.

The final acts will release their singles and perform to crowds and music industry executives, with the winner – or winners – taking home a $100,000 prize.

Philly de Lacey, CEO of Screentime New Zealand, said: “Since its inception in New Zealand, Popstars has taken the world by storm to become one of the most successful television formats globally. We’re ecstatic to have a star like Kimbra involved and to bring Popstars back to its original home.”

Format originator Jonathan Dowling added: “The timing feels right with outstanding New Zealand artists like Benee and Jawsh 685 going global. Our music industry has changed massively in 20 years, and the 2021 Popstars will be an exciting re-boot for new performers.”

The Masked Singer UK

Masked Singer announced in NZ’s Three 2021 slate

New Zealand FTA channel Three has commissioned a local adaptation of the global hit entertainment format The Masked Singer.

This new version of the Warner Bros International Television Production format, which is distributed by Fremantle, will feature sports stars, singers, TV hosts and other celebrities.

The news came as the MediaWorks-owned broadcaster unveiled its 2021 slate, which also included a ninth season of The Block NZ and the third season of South Pacific Pictures’ comedy Mean Mums.

The slate also included a new beach rescue show titled Bay Patrol, which will follow lifeguards and first responders from as they ensure the safety of visitors to the popular but dangerous Mount Maunganui coastline.

“Our focus on homegrown, innovative and compelling entertainment and news content remains key to our future strategy,” commented Glen Kyne, MediaWorks’ general manager for TV.”

Tom Edwards

Red Sauce announces new hires

The Zinc Media Group-owned popular factual label Red Sauce has announced two new key hires, with Ben Smith joining as executive producer and Sefunmi Olatunbosun as senior development producer.

The label, which launched in September, is Zinc’s home for popular factual, factual entertainment and formats from London and the regions. Smith will be based in Manchester, with Olatunbosun in London.

Smith joins Red Sauce from Banijay’s Workerbee, where he was head of development, overseeing the creation and pitch of ideas for all of the main UK broadcasters and factual channels worldwide. Olatunbosun, meanwhile, has worked with some of the industry’s leading indies, developing innovative new formats in his role as a freelance development producer and producer.

Olatunbosun begins his role immediately, with Smith taking up his role on 23 November.  Both report to Tom Edwards, creative director at Red Sauce.

“We want to become a ‘go-to’ destination for popular factual and an emerging force in factual entertainment from both London and the regions,” said Edwards. “These appointments are an important step in making this ambition a reality. “

Sophie Ferron

Media Ranch receives creative grant

Canadian format production and distribution company Media Ranch has won the Canadian Heritage Creative Export Canada Grant, giving the company a major funding boost.

Media Ranch is one of eight recipients from Quebec, with the grant designed to provide visibility and funding to help Canadian creative works achieve financial success abroad.

A total of $3,371,000 is to be distributed amongst the recipients to help support the audiovisual, interactive digital media, music and publishing industries. To be considered, submitted projects must have a minimum total cost of $300,000, must support the discovery of Canadian works abroad, be focused on maximizing results, and support creative industries in several fields, including audiovisual for which Media Ranch was considered.

“Media Ranch is extremely grateful, and proud, to have received Canadian Heritage grant for Creative Export Canada which will allow us to continue our development of premium Canadian and global projects,” commented the company’s president Sophie Ferron.

Naked Attraction

Czech broadcasters sign all3media content deals

Indie distributor all3media International has agreed two new package deals in the Czech Republic, with TV Seznam adding more than 100 hours of premium drama to its line-up and TV Óčko picking up over 100 hours of non-scripted titles.

Comcaster TV Seznam has selected three of all3media International’s acclaimed detective dramas, including Two Brothers Pictures’ 12 x 60-minute crime drama Baptiste and seasons one and two of The Missing (16 x 60-minutes) made by New Pictures and Starz in association with Two Brothers Pictures and Playground Entertainment.

All eight seasons of Inspector George Gently are also heading to TV Seznam. Produced by Company Pictures, the long-running series totals 25 x 120-minute episodes, while Two seasons of South Pacific Pictures’ 800 Words (24 x 60-minutes) will also feature on TV Seznam’s line-up.

As part of the same deal, the Czech channel has added to its roster of all3media International non-scripted programming with the latest fifth season of Spun Gold’s Garden Rescue (35 x 60-minutes), as well as 10-parter Garden Rescue: Top of the Plots.

TV Óčko, meanwhile, has signed six primetime factual entertainment titles, including a slate of productions from Studio Lambert: dating show Naked Attraction (35 x 60-minutes across seaons one to four); adventure series Race Across The World (6 x 60-minutes); Tattoo Fixers (15 x 60-minutes) and Body Fixers (10 x 60-minutes).

Finalising the TV Óčko deal are seasons one and two of dating show Flirty Dancing (11 x 60-minutes) and season one of Lion Television’s Just One Night (6 x 30-minutes).

“We’re very pleased to announce these two new multi-title deals in the Czech Republic, demonstrating the ongoing popularity in the region for our broad selection of premium content,” said Ben Packwood, senior sales manager – CEE at all3media International.

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