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L.A. Screenings '92: short, sharp, showy.

While still resisting any idea of

centralizing" the Los Angeles Screenings, the major studios now have a tendency to limit themselves to a few basic screenings of their programs, expecting most foreign buyers to attend them. In the past, the policy was to screen shows almost continuously for individualized customers from abroad.

The studios however, continue to make exceptions for key customers, making it possible to see the programs at their convenience.

At the same time, the studios aren't in a mood to create any centralized point where information on screenings can be obtained.

"They don't want to create another MIP or NATPE," said one executive. "They like it just the way it is now."

Last year, there was an attempt to improve the L.A. Screenings organization, with NATPE's top executives involved in the talks. However, it was concluded that this couldn't be worked out without the cooperation of the studios, who are well aware that quite a number of independent producers are riding "piggy back" on the majors, seeking to get the overseas buyers to view their shows as well.

Jack Singer, who represents a wide range of Latin American buyers at the L.A. Screenings, said he expected the May/June activities to be lively, as per usual. "The screenings will be successful as they always are," he stated. "They come at a perfect time, when the U. S. networks announce their new schedules, so it becomes very convenient for buyers from abroad."

Singer said that virtually all of the Latin American buyers will be staying at their customary hotel, the Century Plaza. The complaint this year is that the ABC affiliates are having their annual meeting at the same hotel during the L.A. Screenings period, which makes for a space problem.

The Europeans tend to congregate at the Westwood Marquis, with the large Dutch contingent at the Sunset Marquis, and the equally large Canadian group at the Four Seasons.

"I always book rooms way in advance, so there shouldn't be a problem," Singer said. "There'll be room for everyone."

This year, after the traditional early visit by the Canadians (who quickly have to go back home to pre-sell their schedule to advertisers), the Latins will ascend to Los Angeles just after May 25th, the Memorial Day holiday in the United States. The Europeans and Australians will follow, culminating with the now traditional June 6th Warner Bros.' Michael J. Solomon house party. The Screenings should officially conclude by June 10th.

This year L.A. Screenings' length is therefore much shorter than the past year's, which lasted four weeks.

With some 150 buyers, last year's largest contingent came from Latin America. Europeans also make up a large group. Still unsure is the participation from the U.K. terrestrial broadcasters.

The U.K.'s satellite and other buyers will be in Los Angeles for the traditional screenings. Buyers from the BBC and its private counterpart (ITV) are, at press time, still considering whether or not to make the U.S. distributors arrange another L.A. Screenings in November just for them. Last year, they were not happy just to screen during MIPCOM in mid-October. The rationale given for this attitude is that only in the fall, the U.S. networks fully decide on the number of episodes committed.

In addition to the major studios, last year, some 40 independent companies set up screening suites at the Century Plaza, the Westwood Marquis, and The Beverly Hills Hotel; or as Worldvision did, rent the screening facilities of a studio.
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Publication:Video Age International
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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