EXCLUSIVE: MGM Television is searching out international formats with U.S. potential after striking a deal with Small World IFT, the company behind NBC’s Better Late Than Never.
Small World IFT was founded by former Sony exec Tim Crescenti, the man who discovered the Japanese format that became ABC’s Shark Tank and BBC’s Dragon’s Den.
MGM Television’s Unscripted & Alternative Television and Orion Television division, led by Barry Poznick, will work closely with Crescenti to discover global formats to bring to U.S. screens.
Small World IFT repped Korean format Grandpas Over Flowers, from CJ E&M, which became NBC’s Better Late Than Never, featuring Henry Winkler, William Shatner, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw.
It was also responsible for selling Danish format Big In Japan to ABC, which adapted it as I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Other formats in its library included Romanian gameshow Win Your Country!, which at one point Whoopi Goldberg was developing in the U.S. with Ellen’s Game of Games’ Noah Bonnett and Wahlburgers producer 44 Blue Productions, and Swedish format Blackout, a social experiment that follows a group of strangers when all of the electricity disappears from society.
It has also partnered with the likes of Hollywood Game Night producer Mission Control Media on Israeli format Come To Bed, which follows five unique couples and families at bedtime. Crescenti has said it got “quite a long way down the road” with Quibi on that project before the short-form platform “backed away”.
Prior to launching Small World IFT in 2005, Crescenti, known for being a man constantly out on the road with his wife Colleen tracking down new titles, was VP, International for Fox World and VP, International Formats for Sony Pictures Television International.
Small World IFT also previously had a relationship with Kew Media, which went bust earlier this year. Under the new deal, Small World will continue to operate independently, with MGM support and resources. The multi-year deal is MGM’s latest initiative from the studio’s Global Formats team, which in late 2019 launched the studio’s non-scripted UK division, headed by former C4 exec Dom Bird.
“Tim has his pulse on what’s going on globally with new, exciting, yet to be discovered IP. He has a unique ability to source amazing formats from the far reaches of the globe and a proven track record of delivering content that not only works domestically, but around the world,” said Scot Cru, Executive Vice President of Global Formats and Unscripted Content at MGM.
“The format market has changed out of all recognition since Colleen and I launched Small World back in 2005. These days, finding a strong format with universal appeal isn’t enough — to bring it successfully to market, you need an equally strong partner that shares the same values and vision. We know we’ve found that friend and ally in Scot and his fantastic team at MGM. For us, this is not just a game-changing deal, but the strongest possible vote of confidence in Small World’s prospects and potential. After all, partners don’t come much bigger or better than MGM.”