Paul Gilbert, senior VP of international formats for ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group, talks to TV Formats about the company’s format slate that runs the gamut from recent hits like Tough as Nails and Have You Been Paying Attention? to classics such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Top Model, alongside adaptation opportunities for scripted series such as Why Women Kill, The Affair and Ray Donovan.
On what’s been trending as of late, Gilbert says: “At the beginning of Covid-19, everyone was looking for formats that could be produced from home using Zoom technology. The interest in using Zoom seemed to have lessened pretty quickly and production seems to have gone back to ‘normal’ with Covid restrictions in place.”
Tough as Nails has seen a good amount of traction in the marketplace, Gilbert says. The series challenges everyday Americans’ strength, endurance, agility, mental toughness and life skills in challenges that take place at real job sites. “Through a recalibration of typical competitive reality success metrics, Tough as Nails has found a way to celebrate a broader spectrum of intelligence than most reality shows. It also embraces teamwork and unity. Unlike other reality competition shows, none of the participants get kicked off Tough as Nails.”
Another strong performer is Have You Been Paying Attention?, a comedy quiz show. To date, the format has notched up 22 options “and more are coming,” says Gilbert. Season two is currently on air and casting has begun for season three. Several productions will begin in the coming months.
Stalwart successes Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Top Model continue to be renewed, he notes, with countries licensing the formats year after year. Germany’s Next Topmodel was recently renewed for five additional seasons.
Among the newest shows from ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group is Come Dance With Me, which is executive produced by LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell and 3 Ball Productions. Production is scheduled to begin in May. “The series features exceptionally talented young dancers from across the country who invite one inspirational and untrained family member, or another adult who has supported their dance dreams, to become their dance partner for a chance to strut their stuff for a grand prize,” Gilbert explains. “Each week, these aspiring kids will share their love of dance with their mother, father, grandparent or other hero on an uplifting and emotional journey to learn and perform challenging routines, with the assistance of professional choreographers, in a competition with other duos.”
Secret Celebrity Renovation, hosted by Entertainment Tonight’s Nischelle Turner, is also new to the slate. The series will feature home improvement contractor and Man Caves star Jason Cameron and interior designer and star of HGTV’s Design Star Sabrina Soto as they set out to help celebrities show their appreciation with a special renovation gift to a meaningful person from their hometown.
“We have a fantastic slate of scripted formats, all of which do extremely well for us,” Gilbert says. “The Good Wife, which happens to be one of my favorite CBS shows, has been formatted in many territories with more in the pipeline. Additionally, we expect to begin production this year on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Affair, Ray Donovan, Why Women Kill, In The Dark, Medium, Man with a Plan, Carol’s Second Act and classic shows such as Dynasty, Cheers and, the most classic of them all, I Love Lucy.” From the merger with Viacom, the catalog now features titles from Paramount Television Studios, including Shooter, Berlin Station and First Wives Club.
“Our success moving forward will continue to be the evergreen revenue we receive from Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Top Model,” says Gilbert. “Additionally, CBS has been much more active in programming non-scripted shows like Tough as Nails, which will bode well for us. Finally, with our amazing library of scripted formats, our best years are ahead of us.”