Mark Burnett eyes fiction on Indian TV

Mark Burnett eyes fiction on Indian TV
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First Published: Tue, Oct 20 2009. 09 48 PM IST

India experience: Mark Burnett’s TV show Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain? got poor ratings because its launch clashed with IPL. Hindustan Times
India experience: Mark Burnett’s TV show Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain? got poor ratings because its launch clashed with IPL. Hindustan Times
Updated: Tue, Oct 20 2009. 09 48 PM IST
New Delhi: US-based television production firm Mark Burnett Productions Inc. (MBP), maker of reality shows such as Survivor, The Apprentice, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and The Contender, is eyeing more than just local adaptations of those?shows?in India.
“Fiction is something that we’re very interested in. It’s a completely different animal and requires a different set of skills and expertise,” C. Scot Cru, head of international productions for Mark Burnett, said during a recent visit to the country. “We are very active in the fiction format internationally.”
India experience: Mark Burnett’s TV show Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain? got poor ratings because its launch clashed with IPL. Hindustan Times
Mark Burnett plans to adapt three of its reality shows for India next year.
“Right now, we have plans to bring The Contender, India’s Top Model and a game show called Amnesia for Indian audiences,” Cru said. “We also have plans to launch The Apprentice in India soon, though it is too premature to talk about the show.”
While the company is in talks with broadcasters, the shows’ final names have not been finalized as yet, Cru said.
The broadcaster for the local version of The Contender, in which professional boxers compete for the top prize, will be announced in the next four-six weeks.
MBP has brought in Olympic medal winner and boxing star Vijender Singh for the Indian version, which will be co-produced by Bulldog Media and Entertainment and Percept Picture Co.
India’s Top Model is a similar elimination-style reality show, while Amnesia is a game show in which contestants have to answer questions pertaining to their personal lives.
The Apprentice will be the adaptation of a US reality show in which 15-18 participants compete for a one-year, $250,000 (Rs1.15 crore) job with real estate mogul Donald Trump, who’s one of the judges.
Local versions have been launched in several other countries including South Africa, Australia, the UK and Brazil.
Mark Burnett Productions Asia was set up in 2007 in partnership with the investment arm of Singapore-based resort specialist Genting International Plc. This company handles Asia productions and holds the exclusive licence to produce and distribute these programmes across multiple media platforms such as broadcast, Internet and mobile television. The company is also responsible for developing original shows for Asia that will be licensed throughout the world.
This is something the producer wants to do in India as well.
“We would like to create original content for India that we’re developing through our Asia company,” said Cru. “We have been very careful in the way we enter the Indian market.”
The caution stems from the experience MBP had with Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain?, the Indian version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? hosted by Shah Rukh Khan. The launch of the show clashed with the Indian Premier League (IPL), leading to poor ratings.
“We obviously had much more expectation from India, but when you’re up against the religion of India, which is cricket, you have to taper your expectations according to that,” he said.
The show lasted only three months on Indian TV screens.
Upcoming shows in India will be launched only after the IPL next year, according to Cru, who didn’t elaborate on the company’s investment plans beyond saying that it planned to get into gaming, animation and advertising. The company recently set up its office in Mumbai with 30 people.
Cru also didn’t rule out the possibility of producing a Bollywood film. “Everyone wants to be a film-maker.”
ishita.r@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Oct 20 2009. 09 48 PM IST