Viacom International Studios has launched VIS Social Impact, a new studio division dedicated to developing social impact-driven content focused on topical issues such as climate, equality and health. The division is part of VIS’s larger Content for Change initiative, which was established to counteract racism, bias, stereotypes and hate throughout the company’s culture, creative supply chain and its finished productions.
Georgia Arnold, VIS senior VP of social responsibility will head the new division, reporting directly to JC Acosta, president of VIS and networks Americas. Arnold brings with her a wealth of experience in large-scale behavior changing and was the co-founder and director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, which was established to protect young people worldwide against HIV and improve sexual and reproductive health.
The division’s first Social Impact Commission is “Protest & Progress” from photographer and social activist Misan Harriman. A three-part docuseries, the show was commissioned for ViacomCBS’ streaming platform Paramount Plus, where it will premiere at the end of 2022. VIS Social Impact is also launching an inclusive writers’ room dedicated to creating scripted projects which will be led by actor, writer and director Thishiwe Ziqubu (“Emoyeni,” “Hard to Get”).
“For decades, we’ve told stories that matter, and we understand the significant role entertainment plays in shaping minds and ultimately driving change. Now with VIS Social Impact, we will harness the power of storytelling to challenge stereotypes, shift perceptions, and create meaningful change in the critical areas of climate, equity and health,” said Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO, VCNI. “Through ViacomCBS’ massive global footprint and the work of this new studio, we have a responsibility to elevate voices that need to be heard, and to use our content to make a tangible impact on the world’s biggest challenges.”
All3Media has closed several format sales for “Sort Your Life Out” from Optomen Television, commissioned by BBC One. Following the series’ successful pilot in the U.K, IDTV’s adaptation was picked up by SBS6 in the Netherlands where the show will air on Oct. 13. Other licensing deals were closed with TF1 in France, TV2 in Denmark, MTV Oy in Finland, Tower Productions in Germany and Monster Entertainment in Norway. In the show, a team of organizational experts is assembled to un-clutter the messiest homes they can find by removing everything from inside and laying it all out in a warehouse to provide perspective on just how out of hand things have gotten. Participants are then asked to sort what they would like to keep and what they are ok recycling, donating or throwing out, before returning the wanted items back to the house, only this time with a storage plan.
Cineflix Rights has closed a raft of sales for the blue-chip science and history series “Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer.” Produced by Nutopia for PBS in the U.S. and the BBC in the U.K., the show was picked up by VRT in Belgium, SVT in Sweden, YLE in Finland, Movistar in Spain, Radio-Canada, SBS in Australia, BBC Poland and Kan in Israel. Hosted by best-selling author Steven Johnson (“The Ghost Map,” “How We Got to Now”) and historian and broadcaster David Olusoga (“Civilizations,” “Black and British: A Forgotten History”), the series examines lesser-known innovations in science and medicine which have double the average human lifespan over the past century, celebrating those responsible for the history-defining changes. The show also dives into the current COVID-19 pandemic and examines who medicine and health experts are dealing with the disease.
Indie production, distribution and licensing company Epic Story Media (ESM) has signed several deals with broadcast and licensing partners on several key titles from its slate of kids’ programming, including several new Mipcom launches. ESM has sold “Pocoyo” to WarnerMedia Kids & Family in the U.S., where it will fit into the company’s Cartoonito preschool block of programming, and closed a deal with Knowledge Network to air the series in Canada. Elsewhere, ESM and Mowrer Meta-Story are partnering with Reesee Entertainment on an expansive toy line for the new animated series “Hailey and the Hero Hearts,” successfully launched earlier this year on more than 40 linear and digital platforms in China. ESM is also launching global sales for “Pet Shop Zombies,” a zany animated short-form series from Aron Dunn at Treason Media and Simon Watts at Alibi Pivotal Kids, animated by Loomi Animation with support from Shaw Rocket Fund. ESM’s Mipcom slate also includes “Dex and the Humanimals” from Epic Storyworlds and Alexander Bar’s (“Ricky Zoom”) “Piper’s Pony Tales.”
Upstart creation, funding and distribution company BossaNova, launched in October of last year, is making its Mipcom debut with a bang, having closed a multi-territory deal with CBS Reality – owned by AMC Networks International and ViacomCBS Networks International – for ten seasons of the New Zealand factual law enforcement series “Motorway Patrol.” Produced by Greenstone, the was picked up by CBS Reality in more than 35 European territories as well as Russia, CIS, Africa and the Middle East. The series follows law enforcement officers as they patrol New Zealand’s motorways and utilizes CCTV footage to provide a third-person perspective on the often crazy encounters they become involved in.
Amsterdam-based millennial-focused channel and content production company Insight TV have struck a deal with China Media Group (CMG) Film, Drama and Documentary Programming Center (CCTV-9) to co-produce “Winter Gold,” a new, six-part documentary following Winter Olympic athletes as they prepare for the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Athletes featuring in the series include figure skater Donovan Carrillo (Mexico), speed skater Kai Verbij (Netherlands), freestyle skier Eileen Gu (China), alpine skier Alice Merryweather (U.S.), snowboarder Katie Ormerod (U.K.), hockey player Mikhail Sergachev (Russia) and China’s Nordic Combined team. The series is currently filming.
New York-based film and TV studio FilmRise and renowned animation studio TMS Entertainment have closed a distribution deal which sees FilmRise secure AVOD rights to 38 anime series and films in the U.S. and Canada. Major titles in the deal include high-profile IPs such as “Lupin the 3rd,” “Sonic X,” “Virtua Fighter” and “Case Closed” as well as TV series such as “Sherlock Hound,” “Monster Rancher,” “ItaKiss,” “Little Nemo” and more. FilmRise will distribute the titles to AVOD/FAST platforms as well as the company’s own streaming network of channels, where they will be available on a soon to be launched OTT anime-focused channel. The deal was negotiated by Max Einhorn from FilmRise and Sam Maseba from TMS Entertainment.
“Alice-Miranda – A Royal Christmas Ball,” the sequel to 2019’s popular TV movie “Alice-Miranda Friends Forever,” will premiere on Australia’s Stan on Oct. 15 before heading to 9GO! In December. Based on a popular series of children’s books, the franchise follows the energetic young Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones in her adventures at the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy. Domestically, the film is distributed by ABC Commercial while ZDF Enterprises is handling international distribution, having already closed several sales deals in European territories with details to be announced soon. The new TV movie is produced by SLR Productions, commissioned by Stan and the 9Network, with principal funding coming from Screen Australia.
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