IFC Stokes Originals Slate

Mar 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

At last, a Hollywood insider series about the most fascinating players in the industry: trade reporters.

In IFC’s new scripted series, “Minor Accomplishments,” Laura Kightlinger (“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”) plays a trade reporter by day, struggling screenwriter by night. IFC has ordered eight episodes of the half-hour series.

The channel has also ordered 26 episodes of an anime series, “Samurai 7,” which will be the first of what could be several new anime shows for the network.

The series orders, along with several new documentaries, represent a big increase in IFC’s originals slate as well as an increase in the Rainbow-owned network’s programming budget, from about $45 million to $55 million.

“There’s an evolution here. We’re growing our original repertoire from two feature films a year to six, then bringing in five original series, which puts us in a place to become an engine for drawing new viewers and doing it with a distinctive voice,” said Evan Shapiro, general manager and executive VP of IFC, which is currently in 37 million homes. “We’ve increased our production budget and plan to double it over the next five years.”

Also on the horizon is a high-definition IFC spinoff channel, possibly for a 2007 launch.

“We’re working with the folks at [Rainbow-owned] Voom to come up with an HD strategy for our network and the other networks as well,” Mr. Shapiro said.

“Accomplishments” will de-but Aug. 4 and is from producer Trigger Street Independent. “There’s been all these shows about the industry, but I haven’t seen one that captured the struggle of a screenwriter,” Mr. Shapiro said. “The trade reporting is her day job. She gets these assignments that get the action moving in every episode.”

“Samurai 7” which is based on Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai” and produced by Funimation, will run on Saturday nights, starting April 1, and then run again during the network’s themed Saturday morning samurai programming block. “There’s a huge samurai following on our network,” Mr. Shapiro said, “and we’re looking at a number of other anime series that we’re looking to bring to the network.”

The network is also bringing back “Greg the Bunny.”

The channel’s New documentary acquisitions include “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” “Rank,” Yo Soy Boricua,” “Fabulous!” and “The Bridge,” several of which will appear at indie film festivals.

The additions come as IFC continues in its “uncut” format, which eschews traditional commercials in lieu of sponsorships.

“Viewers want to see content without filter and without breaks,” said Jennifer Caserta Priore, senior VP of marketing for the network. “We created bugs on-air to remind people that it’s presented uncut, and we include it in all our print advertising.”

IFC also creates promotional shorts for advertisers that mesh with its indie film sensibility. “We think we’ve built the future of television,” Mr. Shapiro said. “We’ve built this DVR-proof environment. It’s not product placement, it’s not sneaky. We make all the content our sponsors put on the air.”

Because the channel is not Nielsen-rated, advertising re-searchers contacted by TelevisionWeek were reluctant to comment on IFC’s prospects. But according to Kagan Research, the network’s annual net revenue from advertising partnerships is about $4.5 million, with that figure expected to increase 11 percent this year. Beta Research rates the channel highly among tech-savvy early adopters, a group that many advertisers covet.