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Endemol Launches Studio to Ramp Up Scripted Content

The L.A.-based operation will be headed up by Philippe Maigret

Endemol is best known for its stable of inexpensively-produced reality competition programs, such as "Big Brother," "Deal or No Deal," "Fear Factor" and "Wipeout." But the company would like to change that perception, at least in the U.S.

The entertainment giant announced Wednesday that it has set up Endemol Studios in Los Angeles to produce original scripted series. The outfit will be headed up by Philippe Maigret, who will continue on as the executive vice president of Endemol's North American acquisitions.

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Endemol is hoping the move will extend its brand into dramas and comedies, and may have been motivated by its successes in scripted content to date.

In December 2010, AMC greenlit the period Western "Hell on Wheels," developed by Endemol. The show will debut November 6. And Endemol also holds exclusive rights to distribute the TV Land hits "Hot in Cleveland" and "Happily Divorced," as well as the TNT drama "Leverage."

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Creating the studio will also allow Endemol to adapt any and all dramas and comedies produced by its international partners for the U.S. market.

According its press release announcing the operation, "Endemol Studios will focus on primetime U.S. cable drama productions based on original projects developed internally, as well as scripted formats adapted from Endemol’s international portfolio. The studio will also partner with US networks and producers on projects already developed, coming on board in a studio capacity."

But don't think this new development means the end of Endemol's ever-growing stable of reality programs. "Big Brother" continues to draw solid ratings on CBS, and "Fear Factor" will return to NBC this fall.