MIPCOM: US cablenets operator Scripps Networks Interactive is hunting for new talent for its Travel Channel and Food Network, and is appealing to producers to pitch people rather than fully formed ideas.
Kathleen Finch, chief programming, content and brand officer at Scripps, has been in Cannes this week meeting with producers with a clear aim to bolster the performance of Travel Channel and refresh Food Network through the discovery of new on-screen talent.
Finch told C21 the aim was to elevate Travel to the same ratings level as Scripps’ HGTV and Food Network.
“We are aggressively looking for content for Travel,” Finch said. “We want fun, dynamic hosts that don’t necessarily have to be travel experts but have to be passionate about learning about a place.”
She mentioned Jack Maxwell, host of the Booze Traveller series, as the perfect example of the “young, passionate” hosts the channel is looking out for.
It’s a similar story at Food Network. Finch adds: “We have stars on Food Network but we want a lot more. International works well on Food – chefs, home cooks, food writers, anybody dynamic in the food space.”
And Finch is keen to be pitched talent early, rather than ideas with talent attached. Scripps’ own development team has ideas in the pipeline waiting for talent to be attached, so she’s keen for prodcos to bring her commissioners people rather than fully formed ideas.
“If you’ve got a great talent don’t spend three months trying to figure out the perfect format for them. Bring us the talent and within three months we could have a pilot shot with you and ready to air,” she said. “Many of our biggest on-screen stars started out with a Skype interview.”
Finch also said her channels are “very aggressively looking to make our slate of talent more diverse.”
On the international front, Scripps Networks Interactive has commissioned two original series for Travel Channel in the UK and EMEA this week.
Olly Smith: Ale Trails (5×30’) is being produced by Athena Films and follows wine connoisseur and beer expert Smith on a journey in search of the best craft beers.
Take Me Home, meanwhile, follows veteran CBS correspondent Peter Greenberg as he interviews top film, TV and music talent about the places they call home.
The 5×30’ series from Greenberg Productions will feature celebrities including Danny DeVito, Dolly Parton and Ted Danson