- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Endemol, the Dutch entertainment giant behind hit reality TV shows such as “Big Brother” and “Deal or No Deal,” said Wednesday that it is launching a division to produce and finance scripted TV shows in the United States for global distribution.

The company, bought by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and Goldman Sachs for around $3.6 billion in 2007, is just getting into the scripted show business. Endemol USA developed an hour-long drama, “Hell on Wheels,” set to premiere on AMC on Nov. 6. Endemol has overseas distribution rights.

The launch of the new division, Endemol Studios, means that Endemol will now invest money in buying and producing shows, not just develop content while looking for other investors.

Endemol Studios represents a significant step in our ongoing strategy to expand and diversify our activities in North America at the same time helping fuel our global growth,” Endemol North America Chairman David Goldberg said in a statement.

The unit expects to focus on original dramas for cable TV channels in the U.S., as well as other shows adapted from its international portfolio. The unit will also partner with American networks on projects that are developed elsewhere.

The studios will be headed by chief executive Philippe Maigret, who will report to Goldberg. Jeremy Gold will become its head of creative affairs.