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FLASH!

7/29/2005 08:00:00 PM Eastern

India Gets Ready To Pave Wisteria Lane

Flash! is still learning how to say Law & Order: Criminal Intent in French after last week's NBC Universal deal with Gallic network TF1. Now comes word that Desperate Housewives may soon take a Hindi twist.

We hear that talks are under way to carry the Touchstone Television juggernaut from Hollywood to Bollywood. Yes, a localized version of Wisteria Lane for television viewers in India.

It would be the latest effort by Disney's Buena Vista International Television and other studios to sell formats of successful series around the world.

Selling formats allows producers to profit from their creations before other territories can steal—er, creatively interpret—them.

One country notorious for taking liberties with property rights is India, where the race is on to find a home for a locally formatted version of the ABC sensation. (A prospective partner, Zee Network, is already in business with Buena Vista, which has a multi-year licensing agreement with the broadcaster for theatrical and TV films.)

Another successful Touchstone entry, Grey's Anatomy, could be next on Buena Vista's formatting “to-do” list.

But there's more: In June, the studio was talking about selling localized formats of Housewives in at least a half dozen countries south of the border, as long as they aired the U.S. version first. If that succeeds, there would be Spanish-language clones of Susan, Bree, Edie, Lynette and Gabrielle in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and either Colombia or Ecuador. Brazil was also said to be looking Desperate.

If this works, will Homer Simpson be next? Could the parody on the Web, The Singhsons, become a reality? We suggest Bollywood animators make the convenience-store clerk a redneck.

Scoopt Up

It was just a matter of time until “citizen journalism” yielded an entrepreneurial venture like Scoopt, a Glasgow, Scotland-based startup.

The self-proclaimed “media agency” acts as a middleman connecting cellphone-camera–equipped average Joes with news outlets hungry for exclusive, eyewitness pictures.

“Camera phones are ubiquitous now, and it effectively gives us global coverage,” says founder Kyle McRae, a journalist and technology writer. But ordinary people don't know how to get their goods in the hands of photo editors. So, the pitch goes, turn them over to Scoopt.

McRae dreamed up the business last spring and planned to unveil it July 7, but, that morning, four suicide bombers attacked London's transportation system. Scoopt rescheduled its launch for July 21, but its debut was again foiled by attempted attacks that day. Now McRae plans to launch early this week.

But sellers, beware. Scoopt has reams of terms and conditions. The cellphone photographer must agree to give Scoopt a three-month exclusive window to market it. During that period, the user cannot publish the photo anywhere—not even a personal blog. After the 90-day window expires, Scoopt will continue to peddle the picture, but the licensing is returned to the photographer. Any profits—McRae estimates photos could fetch anywhere from a few pounds to £10,000—will be split 50-50. Scoopt will eventually expand to cellphone video, too.

In “soft launch” since early July, the company has several hundred members from 21 countries. Several blogs have taken notice. The exclusivity is “quite a commitment to make to a new player,” notes Ari Sloggin, of citizen- journalism blog Citizen Paine. “Scoopt also might want to consider giving contributors some alternatives.”

McRae is already tweaking the business plan. Scoopt initially asked for six months of exclusivity on photos, but last week, the company retreated to a three-month period.

After all, a picture is worth at least 90 days.

Reality Check

Attention, civilians! Producer Bunim-Murray is searching for normal people to compete against the hyper-beautiful cast of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, the fusion of MTV's two long-running reality shows. “For the first time ever, we're daring our viewers to go head to head with veteran cast members in the most exciting Challenge yet!” reads the company's online casting call. The company typically gets 30,000 applications for Real World or Road Rules, but the demo tape haul could be higher for the chance to take on fan favorites. Beautiful or not, there is a catch: Applicants must be 18-25 years old. Or as the company's Web site barks: “The Challenge needs fresh meat.”

 

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