Endemol buys Surreal Life, Flavor of Love production company 51 Minds

The production company behind Flavor of Love and The Surreal Life has been acquired by the production company responsible for Big Brother.

Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin’s 51 Minds Entertainment was purchased by Endemol, which “is taking a 51% interest in 51 minds, with options to acquire a greater stake in the company at a later date,” Variety reports. While the deal is worth $200+ million, the paper says that “figure doesn’t represent the actual purchase price but rather the potential value of the deal if a host of financial targets are met over the next few years.” Variety notes that “Abrego and Cronin had ownership of both their formats and produced episodes of past series. That’s highly unusual in the nonscripted genre, where networks and studios typically control the rights to programs, paying producers fees for their services.”

Abrego said that they will continue on their same course. “They were very clear and upfront that we could still be independent. Our intention is to stay on course and continue to provide more hit programming for VH1 while simultaneously expanding to network television and new-media outlets,” he said.

Endemol’s David Goldberg said, “When you buy a company, you have to have a gut belief that the creative auspices still have a lot of ability left in the tank. And with Cris and Mark, you get two companies in one. Cris comes from a docusoap background, and Mark has a game and comedy background. That gives us the potential to get even more out of them.”

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