Upcoming TWC television productions include big budget Marco Polo, reality show Supermarket Superstar hosted by Stacey Keibler and Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden.
Harvey Weinstein put in an appearance at MIPCOM on Tuesday to give a Media Mastermind keynote on The Weinstein Company’s burgeoning television slate.
More accustomed to being in the Palais des Festival’s Grand Auditorium during the Cannes Film Festival, Weinstein quipped, “Where’s the Palme d’Or?” as he took to the stage.
But the film producer and distributor is no stranger to television.
Past TWC television productions include the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning fashion-focused reality series Project Runway and spin-offs Project Runway All Stars and Project Accessory as well as the HBO comedy crime series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and more recently Mob Wives, which airs on VH1.
It is the first MIPCOM outing, however, for TWC’s new international television sales division.
“We’ve set up our office in the festival area, right next to A&E. It’s looking good; we’re getting good traffic. As people go into A&E we pull them over into our booth,” Weinstein joked.
On a more serious note, the mogul talked about some of the upcoming productions on the sales slate including the big budget drama Marco Polo, which TWC is producing with Ben Silverman’s Electus and writer and creator John Fusco in association with premium subscription channel Starz, in which TWC owns a 25% stake.
The series, which is in pre-production, will comprise 10 one-hour episodes budgeted at $5m each.
“I got to know John Fusco through The Forbidden Kingdom, which he wrote,” said Weinstein, who distributed that film. “He’s a martial arts expert. He and his son walked the Silk Road of Marco Polo. It’s sexy, it’s spectacular, it’s epic. It’s China – so we really do have 3,000 extras rather than having to CGI them in… it’s expensive. There will be a couple of versions – a sexy version and a G-rated one – it will appeal to all tastes.”
Other new series on the TWC slate include the Stacey Keibler-hosted reality competition Supermarket Superstar in which three contestants compete to turn their home-cooked specialty into a popular supermarket product.
The hard-hitting drama Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden, produced by TWC with Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker producer Nicholas Chartier of Voltage Pictures, is due to premiere on the National Geographic channel on Nov 4 and will be available on Netflix a day later.
As previously reported here, Weinstein also announced the launch of the ambitious World Dance Awards, a joint venture with Lord Of The Dance creator Michael Flatley in the vein of award ceremonies such as the Grammys.
“We’re accelerating with shows like Marco Polo as well as Supermarket Stars, with which we’re really getting into reality TV in a big way,” said Weinstein, who has rehired Meryl Poster, who ran production at Miramax for 15 years, to head up the new television activities.
Other series in the pipeline include a spin-off of the Miramax title The Nanny Diaries, which TWC is developing with American Idol host and producer Ryan Seacrest.
TWC and Seacrest are also working on a joint project for FX Networks based on the stories of real-life New York private detective Bo Dieti, set partly against the real-life Harlem restaurant Rao’s.
Quizzed on why TWC was getting back into television in such “a big way”, Weinstein replied: “TV has become so exciting. The likes of Starz, HBO, the BBC and Canal Plus, networks around the world, have really engineered some great products on an international and domestic level. Added to this, the movie business is shrinking to some degree and I think we have to look for new horizons.”