Top 20: British talent making it state side
This year, the biggest hits on US television have one thing in common: the creative talent that brought them to the screen is British. Guy Adams reports from Los Angeles
Monday 30 June 2008
In the UK, we make fun of his trousers, haircut, and colourful love-life. In America, "Mr Nasty" boasts a superstar following. Cowell's multi-faceted career (producer, A&R man and TV presenter) certainly pays well, too: in November he revealed on Top Gear that he stumps up £21m a year in income tax, putting his annual earnings at about £54m.
To his middle-of-the road UK fans, McShane will forever be the perma-tanned antiques guru Lovejoy. But his career was revived in 2004 when he took the role of Al Swearengen in the hit series Deadwood. Since lifting a Golden Globe in 2005, the film roles have come flooding in, from Shrek the Third to Kung Fu Panda.
Call it incestuous if you will, but former Wheel of Fortune hostess Terri Seymour has been going great guns since moving to LA as the girlfriend of Simon Cowell. She is now working as a red-carpet correspondent for Extra, one of the most watched entertainment news shows in the US.
The US's recent love affair with British comedy began with its TV networks realising that if you Americanise transatlantic hits, you lose what bought them success in the first place. For that leap of faith, blame Gervais, the man behind Extras and The Office, who is currently pursuing a Hollywood acting, producing and writing career.
Remember the comely-but-unremarkable lass from Sutton Coldfield, who played second fiddle to Ant & Dec? Now Ms Deeley lives in Beverly Hills, where she is a household name. Besides presenting gigs for Fox, ABC News, and the NBC Tonight show, she anchors the prime-time smash-hit talent show So You Think You Can Dance?
Veteran ITV producer Lythgoe experienced a brush with fame in the UK as "Nasty Nigel" in the pioneering 2000 show Popstars. Then he moved to the USA, joined 19 Entertainment as head of TV, and helped bring American Idol to the screen – before morphing into "Nice Nigel," the creator and head judge of another 19 hit series: So You Think You Can Dance?
As the BBC's top dog in Hollywood, Telegdy is in charge of Auntie's empire in the US. As well as securing the contract to make Dancing With the Stars for ABC, he's taken advantage of the new willingness by US TV networks to entrust UK formats to UK pros, and is working on the local version of Top Gear.
A year ago, 20-something Grant was a stockbroker in London. Then he was "spotted" by a casting agent during a visit to Mahiki, the Mayfair boîte patronised by Princes William and Harry. He was asked to compete on a reality TV series, The Bachelor, and having subsequently found himself, in his own words, "a C or D list celebrity", is now pursuing a TV presenting career.
If the Beeb needs a new D-G, expect Callender to make the shortlist. Head of HBO Films, he's one of British TV's strongest advocates in Hollywood. Callender's projects have garnered 57 Emmys and 18 Golden Globes.
This wheeling, dealing Londoner has become one of the most powerful men in new media, thanks to his internet TV station Hollywood.tv, which shows paparazzi video footage and entertainment news stories to one million viewers a day. Often dubbed the Asian Perez Hilton, on account of his site's in-your-face bitchiness.
The chef has his fingers in as many pies here as he does back home. In addition to Kitchen Nightmares USA, he fronts Hell's Kitchen USA, and has taken his restaurant empire to LA, where he is rumoured to be house hunting.
Though its ratings remain low, Gossip Girl is one of the most talked-about new shows on US television. The teen drama is filming its second series – and owes much of its appeal to Hertfordshire's very own Westwick, who has become a fixture on the LA party circuit.
An extraordinary ability to walk with a limp and carry off an American accent has turned the former Blackadder star's career around. When he first left the UK to record the hit series House, Laurie was seen as a long-in-the-tooth character actor; now he's one of TV's most bankable stars.
If you despair of the endless diet of reality TV that America inflicts upon the world, blame Burnett: a producer who invented the genre with Survivor in 2000. A former squaddie who has lived in LA since the early 1980s, he also pioneered The Apprentice and The Restaurant.
Agent, producer and founder of an eponymous talent firm that has turned a string of British TV actors into Hollywood stars. Her stable includes Michael Sheen, Paul Bettany, Ed Westwick and Lucy Davis. Greene is also the executive producer of the hit series Californication, which stars her client David Duchovny, together with Brit actress Natascha McElhone.
With his creative partner Matt Lucas, Walliams has spent the past three months creating an American spin-off of Little Britain for HBO. Simon Fuller is reported to be executive producer, though cynics may wonder if the Little Britain format has had its day.
The Spice Girls and S Club 7 helped Fuller to make his fortune in the music industry. His company, 19 Entertainment, then inflicted further crimes against pop, with the creation of the TV talent show. It owns the rights to every Idol format in the world, alongside a host of similar shows. Time magazine considers him to be one of the world's 100 most influential people.
The posh former SAS soldier is making a play for the lucrative, and now-vacant, "Steve Irwin" slot as American television's favourite purveyor of wild-animal-based danger. He's recently been in Los Angeles to publicise the launch of a new series on the Discovery Channel: Man vs Wild.
A TV producer who worked on the very first Big Brother series in the UK before moving to LA as part of the original British "talent show" invasion five years ago. Green runs the BBC's production of Dancing With the Stars and is integral to Auntie's plans for future expansion in the US.
When Daniel Day-Lewis lifted his Oscar earlier this year, his publicist, Nikki Parker, was cheering from the sidelines. Having arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1990s with barely a penny to her name, Parker built up one of the city's foremost PR companies, Denmead; in 2004 it was sold to talent giant Rogers & Cowan, where she is currently executive vice-president.
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