Realscreen January/February 2019

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060 JANUARY / FEBRUARY '19 Allison Grodner Productions and Meehan Productions, Fly on the Wall has gone on to produce major hits on cable and broadcast, including the long-running reality competition format Big Brother on American broadcaster CBS, which just wrapped its 20th season this past summer. Fly on the Wall came to produce the American adaptation of the John de Mol format — and its spin-offs, Celebrity Big Brother, Big Brother After Dark and the late-night show, Big Brother Over The Top — when CBS came to Grodner and her partner at the time following a first season, saying it wanted to keep the format on the broadcaster but was looking to change it up. Grodner pitched a version of the show that diverted from other international versions of the format, with the evictions being decided upon by the house guests — not by an audience popular vote. "You had a hierarchy in the house that was won and would change week to week," explains Grodner. "That helped drive the drama and the conflict in the game." Ultimately, CBS went with Grodner's pitch for the second cycle of Big Brother. Meehan boarded the series in the third season, and rose to the position of executive producer by the seventh season. The producing team says it learns something new with each season, either in front of the camera as house guests touch upon current issues in the zeitgeist, or with challenges behind the scenes. "Whether game related or personal, when you have a group of people locked away for 99 days you have to prepare for anything that can happen, whether it's inside the house or outside the house," says Meehan. Indeed, Grodner recalls working on the second season of Big Brother, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. Due to the nature of the show's format, it meant that the three finalists in the Big Brother house would only find out about the attack after the event happened. Grodner says the finalists did not see the news broadcasts until after they were out of the house — weeks after the tragedy occurred. The unpredictability baked into the series makes it must-see television for its fans. Even though it's not the viewers who evict the guests, Meehan says the team still keeps the viewers involved with real-time voting ranges across a swath of genres, including home renovation via Flip or Flop Atlanta for Discovery- owned cable channel HGTV. The series features Ken and Anita Corsini, owners of a family business that renovates old Southern properties into charming, modern-day homes. Flip or Flop Atlanta went on to garner 16 million total viewers in its debut season and wrapped up its sophomore season in December. Sarah Kuban, director, original programming & development for HGTV and DIY Network, was involved in the development process for the series, and tells realscreen that she found the Fly on the Wall team to be creative, adaptable and understanding of the HGTV brand, adding, "They have been willing to do whatever it takes to produce a successful show." Having substantial experience in navigating the twists and turns that come with live production via Big Brother's "eviction" episodes, Fly on the Wall is keen to capitalize on the current hunger for live content. Recent projects in that vein include TLC's This is Life Live!, a miniseries that follows families as they face life-changing events live on television. Fly on the Wall has also produced multiple projects for YouTube, including Katy Perry's Witness World Wide, a live streaming event from June of 2017, which featured the singer living in a Big Brother-style house to promote her fifth studio album, Witness. The event garnered a whopping 49 million views. That's the big challenge: how do you launch a show and get a second cycle?" Company principals and co-founders Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan. that can impact the game and the opportunity to vote on their favorite houseguests each season. Big Brother remains a juggernaut for Fly on the Wall and CBS, as it topped the 10 summer shows — out of approximately 150 — in the key adults 18-49 demographic during its 20th season this past summer. The series averaged 5.5 million viewers weekly, with the finale also winning its time period in A18-49 and A25-54. But beyond that series, Fly on the Wall has carved out a slate that

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