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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
A Dispatch From Cannes

MIPCOM, the great fall television selling fest with an emphasis on home video/dvd, started out, like all selling fasts, with a burst of hope amid the irrepressible sunshine of the south of France.

On Tuesday, the skies grew cloudy and by Wednesday, rain was falling in torrents -- so heavy in fact that the booths of Hallmark, Granada and MTV Networks had to be relocated due to flooding. Enormous vacuum cleaners couldn't keep up with the water and pails were much too inadequate to hold the water gushing into the Palais. Out came dumpsters which were strategically placed throughout the Riviera section of the Palais.

The Scripps Networks booth barely escaped the floods and became an lifeboat for people from surrounding booths. When last seen Mary Ellen Iwata, Vice President of Development for HGTV, was standing watch, looking for her noon appointment while encouraging the staff who were attempting to strategically locate waste bins to catch the smaller leaks while the dumpsters filled the aisles across from the booth.

With the rain, there also came a falling of expectations and hope.

It will be widely reported, I think, that sales were down at this market, on the minimal side. As one independent film producer said, "I may be paid for coming but I didn't make any money."

Last year reports were that there was a burst of enthusiasm and this market, which has more home video/dvd activity than the spring market, was finding great enthusiasm for product in dvd. It was a little bit like, I was told, the old good days of home video where you could sell almost anything into the market.

Not this year. Disappointing dvd returns on some major motion pictures [think Shrek II] has caused the whole market to waver and for prices to fall. Big disappointments abound and the halls of the Palais de Festivals are full of consultants scuttling between booths attempting to pick up assignments to help disappointed sellers regain their dampened hopes.

I am here in Cannes for one of my clients, Lightworks Enterprises, which came to market with a biography of C.S. Lewis just in time for the release of the Disney flick, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, the Mouse House answer to Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings Cardiology.

Their head of development had to have surgery on her leg and thought she could be up and about in time to dance through the Palais, a hope dashed by her surgeon who told her that she wasn't getting on a plane much less traipsing through an enormous facility in search of television deals.

When I was in Warsaw they phoned me and asked me how I felt about a week in Cannes? Hey, didn't have anywhere else to be! So here I am.

They've been doing brisk business as many would like to have something on air to complement the opening of a mega budget film.

They've been lucky. Others have not been so. And now, as the market winds down, disappointment is greater than anticipated on Sunday evening as the sellers flocked to Cannes from all points on the planet. [You can sit in any restaurant and enjoy fine French food while listening to a dozen different languages being spoken, all interspersed with English phrases here and there.]

The rain keeps falling -- as do the prices of product. Co-pro deals are fewer and the attempt to whip up industry hope through flogging new technology has not gotten the market buzzing.

Oh, well, there is always next year.