Hollywood Notes

Aug 12, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Gurin Co. buys U.S. rights to ‘Defectors’
The Gurin Co., producer of the U.S. version of the hit NBC series “Weakest Link,” has secured the rights to “Defectors,” another British game show with an audience participation component. “Defectors” was created by U.K.-based Mast Media and currently airs in England and Europe on Challenge TV. Phil Gurin, president and owner of the Los Angeles-based production company, said he plans to soon begin pitching the game show to U.S. broadcast and cable networks, in addition to domestic syndicators. Mr. Gurin said his company could have “Defectors” ready for launch on a cable network as early as next season, but if it goes the domestic syndication route it will most likely launch in fall 2003.
Jossen takes post at Touchstone Television
Barry Jossen was named senior VP of production for Touchstone Television. Mr. Jossen, who will be based in Los Angeles, will oversee all of Touchstone’s original programming. He comes to Touchstone from Imagine Television, where he was an executive consultant overseeing production of such shows as “24,” “Felicity” and “Sports Night.”
MRCGroup to do NBC testing in Vegas
The MRCGroup Research Institute, a Las Vegas-based market research and opinion-polling company serving the entertainment industry, has formed strategic alliances with NBC and Nielsen Entertainment. NBC will be an anchor tenant in MRCGroup’s new research and testing facilities under construction in the the Venetian Resort/Casino, where 45,000 visitors pass through daily. Nielsen ReelResearch’s software will provide the backbone of the research operation.
Sohmer heads to ABC
ABC has hired Steve Sohmer, a veteran marketing executive at CBS and NBC, to serve as executive VP of marketing, advertising and promotion for the Disney-owned broadcast network. Mr. Sohmer, who was president of marketing for Paxson Communications, fills a post vacated earlier this year by Allen Cohen. In his new capacity, Mr. Sohmer will direct the advertising, on-air promotion, marketing, branding, graphic design and media for ABC’s prime-time and late-night programming, working closely with Mike Benson, senior VP of marketing, advertising and promotion.
`Dateline Comedy’ coming to syndication
Fresh Bait is readying 26 new hours of “Dateline Comedy” for domestic syndication. The stand-up, sketch and interview comedy series is set for production this fall to be readied for a January 2003 launch. Each “Dateline Comedy” program features some of today’s comics performing before a live audience. There will be interviews and candid behind-the-scenes clips. The program will be available for barter in syndication and will also air under its Campus Movie Network banner on more than 500 college and university campuses nationwide in movie theaters and on closed-circuit television.
Warner Bros. adds creative execs
Warner Bros. Television has brought aboard Marianne Cracchiolo and Rachel Kaplan to join the studio’s creative team as VP of comedy development and director of drama development, respectively. Ms. Cracchiolo was senior VP of comedy development at Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, while Ms. Kaplan was VP of development for writer-producer Jeff Kline. At the same time, Andrew Plotkin was promoted to VP of drama development from director of drama development; Wendy Steinhoff to director of comedy development from manager of comedy development; and Amy Byer to manager of comedy development from assistant in the development department.
Hallmark to air `Touched’ episodes
Hallmark Channel has acquired exclusive cable rights to “Touched by an Angel,” which will begin airing on the network in September. Hallmark sublicensed from Pax TV the rights to nearly 200 episodes of the series. Pax plans to rely more heavily on original programming.