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Kramer Hangs Out Shingle

Apr 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Former David E. Kelley Productions President Jeffrey Kramer has launched his own independent company and has three pilot orders from TLC.

Formed earlier this year, Mr. Kramer’s Juniper Place Productions aims to produce network and cable programming along with movies and live theater.

Juniper’s first batch of orders comes from the thriving cable reality genre, with a trio of orders at Discovery Networks’ TLC. The pilots will be produced in partnership with New Harbor Entertainment, the company recently formed by former Style Network President Steve Schwartz, who also once worked at TLC.

“This is an umbrella company for smart producers with passion,” said Mr. Kramer, who co-executive produced shows such as “Ally McBeal” and “The Practice.” “I have always done movies and network and other kinds of television and I thought it would be so interesting to bring the different techniques from the storytelling arena and combine them with reality shows.”

At least one of Mr. Kramer’s new shows, “The Sit Down,” is clearly inspired by scripted dramas. The series crosses traditional daytime courtroom shows (such as “Judge Judy”) with Mafia films. Disputing parties are brought before a “Godfather”-style Don in an Italian restaurant who uses “Solomonic wisdom” to settle their conflict.

“There’s a reason [Mafia sit-downs] have historically prevented violence and bloodshed,” he said. “It’s not about the law, it’s about justice.”

The other titles are a monster truck series called “Bigfoot Family Bash” and “The IFOCE” (working title), a show about the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

Both ESPN and Fox have run specials on competitive eating, most notably Fox’s 2002 gross-out “The Glutton Bowl.” But if picked up for a series order, “The IFOCE” would be the first series based on the competitions.

“In many ways I view [televised competitive eating] as the rise of a new sport that could replace baseball,” Mr. Kramer said. “It’s a new form of variety show. It involves the same kind of storytelling and myth-building you see in the Olympics.”

TLC had no comment.