EXCLUSIVE : MGM Looks To Expand Original Programming at Mipcom

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), which Wednesday confirmed that it is expanding its TV distribution after bringing its theatrical and home video activities in-house earlier this year, will be looking to expand its original programming offerings next month at Mipcom.

MGM COO Rick Sands declined to comment to B&C, but it is understood the studio is looking to put a show together in time for the international selling confab that could be shopped in the U.S. to broadcast or cable networks, or to stations.

It will not be Legally Blonde, the MGM film that it had once contemplated turning into a first-run series with Tribune until it opted out, but there is now believed to be some renewed interest in the project for TV.

New revenue-producing streams, such as broadband, have made studios like MGM (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Showtime’s The L-Word) take another look at the genre.

Under the restructuring to capitalize on its latest James Bond (Casino Royale) and Rocky (Rocky Balboa, dubbed the “sixth and final” film in the franchise), Jim Packer has been elevated from executive VP to president of the MGM Worldwide Television Distribution Group, reporting to Sands.

Packer will remain in charge of television distribution worldwide, including U.S. barter sales and syndication, as well as all emerging forms of programming distribution worldwide.

“After reinvigorating our domestic theatrical distribution business with over 20 new theatrical pictures a year, and establishing a dedicated MGM sales force in partnership with Fox Video, the next logical step is to expand our worldwide television distribution operation to meet our increased activity and product flow," said MGM Chairman-CEO Harry E. Sloan."Further, the international market for TV product has never been healthier.”

Added Sands, “What we found out is that we really need to be in control of our own destiny when it comes to the library and distribution. We’ve given this a lot of thought.”

The TV group is launching a worldwide sales campaign for other sequels, including Legally Blonde 3, Cutting Edge 3, Into the Blue 2, WarGames 2 and Species 4.

Among other promotions within the group, Joe Patrick has been promoted to executive VP, North America, from senior VP and Mary Ann Pasante rises from VP to senior VP of Latin America sales, based in Atlanta.

Packer joined MGM in 2001 and assumed worldwide TV duties in April 2005. He had previously spent 15 years at Buena Vista Domestic Television Distribution unit.

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