New venture develops unscripted TV shows

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
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William “Woody” Prettyman is the CEO of Studio Center.

A Virginia Beach-based production company is looking to create the next hit reality TV show.

Studio Center has created a division that is focused on developing and producing “unscripted” television and online content. The firm’s CEO, William “Woody” Prettyman, says that the company now has the infrastructure to make the division, Studio Center Entertainment, possible. When he bought the company 11 years ago it focused on voiceover work. Now it has expanded to website and video development, producing 15,000 radio and television commercials a year.

Studio Center, founded in 1966, has about 700 employees, of which about 60 are full time. It has locations in Virginia Beach, Richmond, New York, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica, Calif. The 6,000-square-foot D.C. office is the newest, having opened in May near Georgetown.

Studio Center tapped two former employees of Hampton-based production company m2 pictures for the new division. Christine Cipriani Jones is Studio Center Entertainment’s vice president, and Malina Decker Finan is its development director. Jones’ past production credits include, “Dr. Phil,” “Crossing Over with John Edwards” and “House Hunters International.” Finan has worked for VH1 and has helped develop series for other networks, including HGTV, Investigation Discovery and TLC.

As of April, Studio Center Entertainment had about 20 projects in various stages of development and had pitched them to a handful of networks, including Discovery, OWN, Lifetime and FYI. None of the pitches, however, had received a green light from a network.

“We’ve been rejected seven times already, so my wife goes ‘Gosh, that’s awful,’ I go, ‘No, it’s great. That means they’re listening. They had interest. We had a meeting,’” Prettyman says.

Studio Center Entertainment allows the public to pitch show ideas through People with good ideas may be compensated, although Prettyman couldn’t say exactly how much that might be. Referring Studio Center to someone who is a potential subject of a reality show, for example, may yield a fee of under $500, with the payment increasing if the show develops and is picked up by a network.

While Prettyman can’t share much information about what he has in the works, he says the company has found a lot of show concepts in the Old Dominion, “Which, I think, is very cool,” he says. “We haven’t had to go to Louisiana or Alaska.”

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