Magazine article Variety

Blighty-Based Wong Forecasts Upcoming Reality Renovation

Magazine article Variety

Blighty-Based Wong Forecasts Upcoming Reality Renovation

Article excerpt

LONDON

Ten months ago, Sony's Andrea Wong, arrived at her new desk in London's Soho, a district favored by the local TV biz.

To say the former exec at ABC and Lifetime topper hit the ground running would be an understatement based on what she had already achieved in Blighty.

It has been just over a year since Wong, who is giving a keynote address at Mipcom, was tapped as Sony Picture Television's president of international production and appointed international prexy, reporting directly to the studio's chairman and CEO Michael Lynton.

In March Sony acquired a majority stake in U.K. reality shingle Silver River, founded by format queen Daisy Goodwin, who came close to selling "How Clean Is Your House" when Wong was nmning alternative programming at ABC.

SPT followed this up in August by buying U.K. drama specialist Left Bank, created by Andy Harries, the British producer of the Oscar-winning "The Queen."

Left Bank's recent TV skeins include an English-language version of the Swedish detective "Wallander" and the Sky-Cinemax thriller "Strike Back."

"This year we laid down the base, got the right team in place and upped our presence in the U.K.," says Wong, who was at ABC when "Dancing With the Stars" became a franchise hit. The series has British roots, of course, being adapted for the States from the BBC show "Strictly Come Dancing."

By investing in two British companies with the potential to create returning hit series in both nonscripted (Silver River) and scripted (Left Bank), Wong is sensibly hedging her bets.

In the reality arena, Wong thinks the time is long overdue for a new global blockbuster that reinvents the wheel.

"The unscripted genre is ripe for reinvention," Wong says. "That means a surge in creativity that goes in a completely different direction to what's on TV right now. I can't tell you what that is yet, but it happened when I was sitting in my job at ABC.

"All these things you couldn't have even thought of were dreamed up and started to be developed and created. I think we're ripe for that again. There haven't been a lot of global hits launched in the last five years. Every genre goes through ebbs and flows in creativity."

That is undeniably true, but the good news for Wong, who oversees 18 shingles in 15 countries, is that as shows such as "The Killing" have demonstrated these days that hits have a habit of coming out of left field. …

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