Reality TV Makes Room for Daddy

Feb 28, 2005  •  Post A Comment

NBC is developing a reality show featuring stay-at-home dads a la “Mr. Mom,” the 1983 movie starring Michael Keaton, for the summer, to be produced by Full Circle Entertainment and Reveille, media agency executives said.

Full Circle, the TV production division of ad agency Omnicom Group, already has sold three advertising sponsorships, Full Circle President and CEO Robert Riesenberg said. He declined to name the advertisers. Representatives of Full Circle and production company Reveille wouldn’t confirm production details of the show.

Reveille CEO Ben Silverman said only that Full Circle and Reveille are producing a reality show in the “family space” for NBC. An NBC spokeswoman confirmed a show deal with Full Circle/Reveille, but not its airdate.

In summer 2003 Reveille, Mark Burnett Productions and Magna Global Entertainment produced for NBC “The Restaurant,” which was set in a New York restaurant. At the time “The Restaurant” was produced, Mr. Riesenberg ran Magna Global, which is owned by ad agency group Interpublic Group.

“Robert and I had great success working with NBC, and we are thrilled to be working with NBC again,” Mr. Silverman said. Jamie Bruce also will be an executive producer of the “Mr. Mom” show. Mr. Bruce has productions credits on “The Restaurant” and Fox’s “The Casino.”

About 80 percent of the creative work for the NBC program is completed, said Mr. Riesenberg. “It’s a show that celebrates the family with humor and pathos and a whole range of human emotion,” he said.

Separately, Mr. Silverman and NBC Universal recently made a deal to turn Reveille, which had been a joint venture between Reveille and NBC Universal, into an independent TV production company, an NBC spokeswoman confirmed last Friday. In exchange for the first crack at Reveille product in the U.S. market, NBC will cover overhead for Reveille and allow the company to be based at Universal.

Mr. Silverman intends for Reveille to become a global distributor, like FremantleMedia and Endemol, of reality formats. NBC has been in control of global distribution rights for Reveille hits such as “The Biggest Loser” and “Blow Out.”

Full Circle and Reveille are currently producing “The Club,” for Spike TV, which is set in a Las Vegas nightclub. Last summer, Magna Global and Reveille produced for Bravo “Blow Out,” a program set in a hair salon, which has been picked up for a second season.

The program deal at NBC is constructed like other deals Mr. Riesenberg has done with Mr. Silverman. “Typically, we get our clearance with the network first, then we go to the advertisers,” Mr. Riesenberg said.

Full Circle typically sells three major sponsorship deals to advertisers, who get traditional commercial time in the show as well as product integration opportunities. The networks sell the remainder of the advertising time.

In the deal for “The Restaurant,” critics took aim at the show’s sponsors-American Express, Mitsubishi Motors and Coors Brewing-for in-show product mentions and product integrations that weren’t “organically” incorporated into the show.

Mr. Riesenberg and Mr. Silverman said they’ve evolved their strategy in response to lessons they learned with “The Restaurant.”

“We try to find a rhythm that is strong creatively and services the brands most effectively,” Mr. Silverman said. “It’s hard. Sometimes you do things because a brand asks you to-and you are not strong enough to fight it. Sometimes you do things and you make mistakes. All you can do is grow from them. The key is: Did the audience like it and are our partners happy?”

Overall, Mr. Silverman said, there has been success on both fronts. So much so that, for example, all three sponsors in “The Club”-Allied Domecq, a spirits and food company, Heineken USA and DaimlerChrysler-all expressed interest in working on future Full Circle/Reveille projects, he said.

“Sometimes you have to pull back,” said Mr. Riesenberg, concerning some product integrations. “You have to be subtle. You have to be natural. If it doesn’t work for the show, it doesn’t work for the viewer.”

In addition to reality shows, said Mr. Riesenberg, Full Circle and Reveille are working on scripted TV programming.