We continue our two-part Case Study of Jarrett Creative, the producer of Bio’s hit Celebrity Ghost Stories.
- Jarrett’s Key Success Factors for the Celebrity / Reality genre
- A new project: Why marry up with Mark Burnett?
What are Jarrett’s secret weapons for attracting celebrity talent?
1. The Booker
- “Lesley Mallgrave is the best celebrity booker.”
- “She booked the Golden Globes and Academy Awards: she works at the highest level of booking.”
2. The Recommenders
- “We ask celebrities who have enjoyed working with us to recommend their friends.”
- Ileana Douglas lined up of her 11 friends.
- “20% of our celebs are referrals.”
- “We met with Mark Burnett’s development team at Real Screen 2011.”
- “They said that they wanted to create a series in the Paranormal and Celebrity spaces.”
- “We had developed Haunted High, about real school students who had experienced a haunting at school.”
- “We had pitched it but at the time it was hard to find a buyer in the paranormal space.”
- “We worked with Burnett, and we eventually changed the title to ‘School Spirits’ to cover colleges as well as high schools.”
- “Burnett brought credibility – ‘muscle’ – and development expertise.”
- “We pitched to SyFy and they loved it.”
- “SyFy commissioned 6 episodes, and we’re waiting on word for Season 2.”
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- Jarrett added Tracey Baker-Simmons as head of development in 2011.
- “She lit an explosion of commissions in 2012.”
- Tracey had worked in music and Television, including creating and serving as an Executive Producer for Being Bobby Brown.
- Tracey says: “I’m not afraid to approach celebrities. I know how to give them the space to be themselves.”
Other key team members:
- “Our attorney is an essential part of our team.”
- “We added others to help continue growth. For example, Maria Lokken is our head of production and Gregg Jablonsky is our head of finance.”
Projects in Development
- Jarrett is now testing children’s animation using celebrity talent voice-overs, and has optioned its first book to become a scripted series.
- There are 10+ projects in development, including at Syfy (2), TLC and History.
- A+E Networks International owns and is exploiting the international rights to CGS.
- Regional versions have been created for A+E’s affiliates in the UK.
- The show has aired in international markets such as Asia and Latin America.
Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna Jarrett sum up their key success factors:
1. Over-produce / Over-deliver
- “Lots of our shows are recreation-driven.”
- “Seth is a Director first: ‘For all our unscripted series, I like to look at great films as inspiration in terms of storytelling. We always put story first, above the budget and above the politics. A great story will always catch on.’ “
- “That’s his # 1 agenda: to bring a cinematic feel to his shows, no matter what the budget.”
- “For us it is always about taking chances, especially with the talent we tie to our projects.”
2. Build from a Core expertise: In our case TALENT!
- “Seth had worked on Growing Up Gotti. He was known for his successful work with difficult talent.”
- “That was my job at Oxygen.”
- “We strike the balance between ‘kissing arse ‘ and ‘not losing your shirt!’ “
- “We always fight for our talent.”
- “We give them as much respect as we can.”
3. Hire a strong person in development
- “You can’t run a busy production company and develop shows at the same time!”
Jarrett Creative: Output
|Rocked with Gina Gershon / Season 1||IFC||6||30|
|Custom Concerts / Season 1||Oxygen||NA||NA|
|Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream / Season 1||Disney||16||NA|
|Celebrity Ghost Stories / Season 1||Bio||9||60|
|Celebrity Ghost Stories / Season 2||Bio||18||60|
|Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream 2 / Season 2||Disney||11||NA|
|Celebrity Close Calls / Season 1||Bio||9||60|
|Celebrity Ghost Stories / Season 3||Bio||17||60|
|2012 (FY estimate)|
|Celebrity Ghost Stories / Season 4||Bio||37||60|
|Boston Metal / Pilot||Nat Geo||1||1|
|School Spirits / Season 1||SyFy||6||60|
|The Haunting Of… / Season 1||Bio||9||60|
|I Killed My BFF / Season 1||Bio||17||60|
|The Houston: On Our Own/ Season 1||Lifetime||14||30|
|Boston’s Finest / Season 1||TNT||8||60|
Peter Hamilton / DocumentaryTelevision.com
Markets Attending / Speaking Engagements
- WCSFP: World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, Washington DC, November 27-29
- Script DC/WIFTI Summit Workshop, Washington DC, November 30 (Workshop)
- ATF: Asia Television Forum, Singapore, December 5-7 (Keynote + panel producer)
- IMPACT Media Summit (formerly History Makers), New York, January 23-25, 2013 (Sponsor / panel producer)
- Real Screen Summit, Washington DC, January 27-30, 2013
- AIDC: Australian International Documentary Conference, Adelaide, February 25 – March 3, 2013 (Speaker)
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New York, January 23-25, 2013
- Impact Media Summit brings together the world’s best program makers to share their insights on the year’s significant events affecting programming, while also looking forward to future trends in history, archives, and investigative and social issue programming.
- Impact attracts producers and broadcasters from over 20 countries who are actively pursuing partnerships.
- Impact Media Summit is offering a discounted rate of $649.
- Register before November 30 to save with the promo code: DOCUTV