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<i>Queer Eye</I> spans the globe (9816)

9816Entertainment News2003-09-10

Queer Eye spans the globe

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, that most unlikely of TV hits in America, now seems set to become a huge international export for NBC and Bravo. A groundbreaking deal that closed Monday with Australia's Network Ten heads up a slew of global sales currently being signed. The quirky Bravo-NBC makeover show, which has made celebrities of five gay men (the "Fab 5") who transform the wardrobe, home, and overall style of a straight guy, also has become an agent of change in terms of international dealmaking under the watch of distribution division NBC Enterprises.

The Network Ten deal is unusual in that the broadcaster will not only produce its own Australian version of the reality show but will then entrust NBC Enterprises to sell that version to other broadcasters worldwide. This means that NBCE will be selling both the American and Australian versions of Queer Eye internationally. Australia's Network Ten also has licensed the American Queer Eye series from NBCE for a launch next month. The series has rewritten the Bravo ratings books and has become a hit for NBC as well. "[Net Ten] knows it is a hot property, and it's a good time to launch, so they are moving fairly quickly to air it," said NBCE director of international sales Leslie Jones, who negotiated the contract in Australia and is finalizing negotiations with broadcasters in France and Germany. On top of that, NBCE also has carved an extra viewer tier for the show in Australia, with a pay TV window to follow the over-the-air broadcast.

NBCE also will have a hands-on role in the Australian production. "We are going to jointly select a production entity, and we will have joint approval over that Australian production company," Jones said. Jones also oversaw recent deals for local production and licensing of the American version to Flextech in the United Kingdom and to Scandinavia's Viasat. New Zealand's TVNZ also has signed up for the American episodes, with an option to produce a local version, Jones said Monday. The Bravo version also is sold to Iceland and Finland, she added. "But I don't hesitate to say that the biggest deal to date is Australia, and it is a brand-new network for us there," Jones said.

NBCE has a program output deal in Australia with Network Seven under which the bulk of its product goes to Seven. But, Jones said, "This was one of those shows that did not automatically fall under the output deal." NBCE negotiated with Seven for an extended period before looking to offers that had come in from other networks. Network Ten will launch the American episodes of Queer Eye next month and will go into preproduction of the local version at the same time. "Network Ten is looking to launch the show on a number of time slots in prime time that I could not be happier with," Jones said.

The series was created by David Collins, a gay man, and developed by David Metzler, a straight man--"David and David" as they are referred to in-house at Bravo. They were instrumental in choosing the buoyant talent for the American version and will be brought in to choose the five Australian gay maestros. "David and David will be involved in choosing the talent in all the territories in which we [format] the series, but we can't spread them too thin.... In some territories they will play more of a consulting, backseat role," Jones said. "But they will be very involved in the Australian version."

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