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Sony Plans ‘Takeover’ at MIPCOM with Irish Format
25 Sep 2012 : By Eva Hall
'The Takeover' aired on RTÉ as part of its Format Farm series
Irish TV format ‘The Takeover’ has landed top of Sony Pictures Television’s acquisitions list for MIPCOM this year.

The Toto Productions show, which was developed as part of RTÉ’s Format Farm scheme, is one of two formats Sony is pushing at the industry event in Cannes next month.

The other format is an Israeli show called ‘Raid the Cage’, which is a gameshow that sees couples compete a series of physical challenges to obtain prizes from a giant cage.

Despite weekend reports that ‘The Takeover’ was picked up by Sony to be adapted for French TV, IFTN can confirm that the format has not been sold as a series ahead of MIPCOM in Cannes, and as previously reported on IFTN, Sony has been the distribution partner of the show since May.

‘The Takeover’, which aired its pilot episode on RTÉ Two on August 30, sees management of a failing business step down as staff takeover the company in a bid to increase sales and revenue.

The pilot episode saw Dublin bakery Teatime Express undergo a major transformation as the bakery and office staff worked together for the first time to pitch new products to new clients, and undertake a marketing campaign to get the new products off the ground.

The venture was a success, with the staff’s new products becoming a major staple in the Teatime Express bakery and overall HR management stepped up a gear. Dragons’ Den investor and new ‘Today’ show host Norah Casey presented.

Toto Productions’ Ruth Roden and Eoin Kavanagh began developing the format in 2011 with seed money they received from the Louth Enterprise Board and Target Distribution. When Target went into liquidation soon after the deal was struck, Toto was free to choose the right distribution partner for the format. RTÉ commissioning editor Eddie Doyle and assistant commissioning editor Tonyia Dowling then helped develop ‘The Takeover’ further, airing it as its first pilot of the Format Farm.

The Format Farm, the brainchild of Eddie Doyle, is a scheme which promotes original Irish television formats, in the hope of securing international sales. Each format, (five were originally chosen to pilot) had to have an international distributor on board which matched RTÉ’s funding for the programme.

‘The Takeover’ signed with Sony Pictures, following a bidding war between Sony and another high profile distribution house, before it had even seen a clip of the show. Roden admits they only had a rough cut of the show when they signed with Sony.

Lisette Van Diepen, VP of acquisitions at Sony Pictures Television, praised the original format idea of ‘The Takeover’ and admitted Sony “can’t wait to take it to market”.

“The premise of handing a company’s reigns over to the workers offers some brilliant personal stories, countless scenarios and is highly adaptable in any territory. ‘The Takeover’s’ initial broadcast on RTÉ has generated an impressive momentum that we are now set to continue internationally,” said Van Diepen.

Speaking to IFTN, Ruth Roden says the reason Toto chose Sony in the end was due to the relationship the company had built with Sony’s acquisitions director Eric Kafoe.

Kafoe was previously interested in Toto’s ‘Show Doctor’ format, an am-dram makeover-type show which is still in the pipeline for Drogheda-based Toto, despite being dropped by Sony due to a similar show in LA already being on Sony’s books.

Bonnie Dempsey (I Want a Garden) directed ‘The Takeover’, with Roden and Kavanagh producing. John Dunne was the cameraman, with Dave Fannin on sound for the six-day shoot.

Windmill Lane looked after post-production, with Ultan Murphy editing and Sarah Caraher supervising overall post.

Roden says the project couldn’t have worked without the Windmill duo, and admitted spending longer on the edit than previous projects “because it was for the international market.”

She says she is hopeful RTÉ commissions an entire series of ‘The Takeover’, and admits she would love if Casey returns to the helm: “She’s a true professional, she is so cool to work with because she just rolls up and gets on with it. She’s really likable and the whole of Teatime loved her. She can’t stop helping, she’s full of ideas the whole time.”

Ahead of MIPCOM, which runs from October 8-11, RTÉ will air the fifth pilot from the Format Farm this Thursday with Straywave’s ‘The Love Clinic’. Tonyia Dowling of RTÉ is also heading to MIPCOM with the intention of pushing all five original Format Farm pilots. The five are: ‘The Takeover’ (Toto Productions); ‘The Hit’ (Vision Independent Productions); ‘Six in the City’ (Waka TV); ‘Baptism of Hire’ (Animo TV) and ‘The Love Clinic’ (Straywave Media).

‘The Takeover’ meanwhile will be used as a learning tool for UCC and UCD’s business and commerce students when it is screened for them later this year.

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