MindShare, ABC Choose ‘The Days’

Apr 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The family drama “The Days” will air on ABC this summer as the first production under a unique agreement with media agency MindShare North America that is being hailed as a new economic model for programming.
The six-episode one-hour series executive produced by Tollin/Robbins Productions and MindShare will air either Tuesdays or Wednesdays at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. when it debuts sometime in July.
What makes it unique is that there is no cash license fee. Instead, the deal is on a barter basis, where MindShare and ABC equally split the value of the advertising inventory. MindShare is an equity partner in the production. When the deal was announced last December, Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment, said it represents a new economic model in acquiring programming.
“We think it’s a wonderful opportunity and wonderful script,” said Marc Goldstein, CEO of MindShare North America. “We’ll see whether we can continue after the summer.”
“The Days” is about a dysfunctional suburban Philadelphia family in which the father is a corporate lawyer and the mother is an advertising executive. The family dynamics radically change when both the mother and her teenage daughter become pregnant at about the same time.
“It’s a family dramedy,” said Brian Robbins, `which you haven’t seen on ABC in a while. We didn’t want to do a heavy family show.”
“The Days” is seen through the eyes of the family’s 14-year-old child, Cooper. The show is similar to other Tollin/Robbins dramas-“Smallville” and “One Tree Hill” on The WB-in that events are seen through a young-adult perspective.
The script is by John Scott Shepherd, who penned the feature film “Life or Something Like It.” The show will start production in six weeks and has not been cast. “It’s better than doing a pilot,” Mr. Robbins said. “It’s not as good as getting a full 13-episode commitment. But then you’re getting on and getting a time slot.”
MindShare is taking advantage of time slots in the summer, when networks typically do not want to pay cash for a show. Though there has been a lot of speculation about product placement, Mr. Robbins said that is not the emphasis.
“I’m sure there will be some product placement,” he said, “But there is no script changing to fit product placement. All we talk about is creative, cast and production issues with Peter Tortorici [director of programming for MindShare].”
Unilever, a MindShare client, is a “partner” in the project, Mr. Goldstein said. He declined to say whether Unilever is an equity partner. MindShare has also signed another client, which it would not reveal. MindShare clients in the show will have limited advertising exclusivity.
In the past MindShare has worked with client Sears Roebuck on another ABC deal, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” where Sears is an equity partner and receives substantial product integration in the show.