FremantleMedia returning to U.S.

FremantleMedia North America, a division of German media conglomerate
Bertelsmann AG, wants to play in primetime.

Just months after shutting down its U.S. syndication-sales division,
FremantleMedia (formerly Pearson Television North America) is building a
Hollywood division that will produce primetime dramas, and possibly daytime
soaps, for broadcast and cable networks.

Although it turned over its U.S. distribution and ad sales to Tribune
Entertainment, it continues to produce first-run shows for syndication, mostly
game shows.

In syndication, its chief goal is to revitalize Family Feud, possibly
by replacing host Louie Anderson.

FremantleMedia North America deputy CEO Catherine Mackay said producers from
Germany and the United Kingdom are going to Los Angeles in the coming weeks to
start the new division.

FremantleMedia currently operates a 'light entertainment' studio in Los
Angeles, which oversees The Price Is Right, Family Feud and other
game and reality shows.

'Our company is very strong in drama development around the world, and we are
going to give the American market a go,' Mackay said. 'We think there is a
possible gap in the marketplace that we could fill with our expertise in the
area. We produce dramas all over the world, but not here.'

Mackay added that the company is looking to find synergies with other
Bertelsmann divisions -- including magazine giant Random House Inc. and music
company BMG Entertainment -- for possible syndication, cable and broadcast

On the syndication front, FremantleMedia executives are working with Tribune
to 'revitalize' Family Feud for next season. Family Feud is
currently in its third season in syndication, and Tribune is renewing it for

Insiders said Louie Anderson, who has hosted the latest version of the game
since its debut, may be out next season. Tribune and FremantleMedia executives
had no comment.

FremantleMedia has also canceled its freshman remake of classic game
Cardsharks, and Mackay said the company's other U.S. syndicated series,
To Tell the Truth, has now been put on production hiatus. She added that
it's 'too early' to say whether Truth will be back in the fall.

Mackay said FremantleMedia's development focus in syndication is now aimed at
producing a companion game to go along with Family Feud. She added that
any companion series wouldn't likely be ready until the 2003-2004 season.

Tribune and FremantleMedia programmers are currently mining FremantleMedia's
vast game show library, Goodson and Grundy.