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Spirit Awards to Remain With IFC for 3 Years

Apr 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

And the winner is …

A new deal will keep the live telecast of the Independent Spirit Awards on Rainbow Media’s Independent Film Channel for the next three years.

The arrangement with Independent Feature Project/ LA, valued as a six-figure deal by Rainbow Entertainment Services President Ed Carroll, also puts a delayed broadcast of the awards on Rainbow’s AMC. In addition, Rainbow is planning a new, exclusive red carpet pre-award show for WE: Women’s Entertainment.

“It will be really the first property to bridge all three Rainbow networks,” Mr. Carroll said. Rather than have one network absorb all of the Spirit Awards programming, he said each of the Rainbow channels can bring something unique to the party.

IFC and Rainbow have been Independent Spirit Awards sponsors since 1997. Since then the awards have grown in popularity. The awards have been shown on tape on Bravo, which Rainbow sold to NBC in 2002.

“When Bravo was sold there were some properties, some movie titles, some special events that the two networks were sharing,” Mr. Carroll said. “We did a negotiation in terms of how to go forward. The agreement that we reached ended with the [February] 2005 broadcast.”

It was unclear whether Bravo tried to retain its rights. A Bravo spokesperson had no comment.

“We had conversations with many networks and cable channels,” said Dawn Hudson, executive director of IFP/LA, declining to characterize Bravo’s interest.

“We feel that IFC is the appropriate partner for this show. They’ve been with us for 10 years and they’ve been fantastic partners to work with,” Ms. Hudson said. Having three networks covering aspects of the Spirit Awards “is terrific for us,” she said. “The more people who are aware of the Independent Spirit Awards, and of all of those films that are nominated, the better we can fulfill our mission.”

IFC will continue to show the award show live and unedited, which may be part of that broadcast’s appeal.

“You’re aware a lot of the award shows recently have had trouble growing audience, trouble growing interest, and I think a lot of that is because they are so predictable, so staged. There’s so much concern about who should be the host, what the comic should say, what he or she shouldn’t say,” Mr. Carroll said. “The Spirit Awards has managed to stay completely spontaneous. It is unrehearsed. It has a completely different sensibility than the other awards shows, and anything can and will happen. That certainly fits in with the brand personality of IFC.”

“We couldn’t be happier to continue the partnership with IFC and to expand the viewership for the Spirit Awards-and independent film-through AMC,” Ms. Hudson said in a statement.

AMC just wrapped its highest-rated first quarter ever, with a 0.53 household rating, up 6 percent from last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. It also racked up its highest first-quarter delivery of prime-time viewers in the 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 age groups.

With its ratings growing, Mr. Carroll said he is confident that the telecast of next year’s Spirit Awards on AMC will draw its highest ratings ever.

“We think if we surround the Spirit Awards with the right films, we feel very confident that many people who have not been exposed to the Spirit Awards will get to sample it for the first time on AMC,” he said.

IFP/LA Name Change?

AMC also televises the American Cinematheque Awards and the Women in Hollywood Awards.

Last week published reports indicated that IFP/LA wanted to change its name, separating it from IFP chapters in other cities.

The IFP chapter in New York in 1992 launched the Gotham Awards, another independent film celebration. The Gotham Awards were televised last year by IFC, which will decide whether or not to air this year’s show later this spring, Mr. Carroll said.

But Mr. Carroll said the move by IFP/LA shouldn’t affect Rainbow’s plans. “We have good relationships with both New York and Los Angeles,” he said.

Ms. Hudson of IFP/LA said she does not view the Gotham Awards as competition. “It’s good because it gets more exposure for independent film,” she said. “There’s plenty of room for everybody in the independent world.”