Reza Aslan, Maria Bamford Headline Factual Talkers Coming to Mipcom

The brevity of TikTok may be enticing to Gen Z, which finds new talent to follow for quick, colorful comedy or short dance segments — but Fugitive is betting big on celebrity-driven longer-form talkers.

Two key titles coming to Mipcom from the London-based distributor are “Rough Draft With Reza Aslan” and “What’s Your Ailment?! With Maria Bamford.” Both shows first launched on streamer Topic in late 2019 and are now going to market globally.

Aslan’s series is an eight-episode hourlong in which he sits down for deep dives into the creative process with novelists (Viet Tranh Nguyen), television showrunners (Steven Canals, Melissa Rosenberg) and musicians (El Ten Eleven, Vic Mensa). Bamford’s series is 10 approximately 40-minute episodes digging into mental health discussions with fellow comedians including Tig Notaro, Rachel Bloom and Tom Arnold.

“The key thing is having the right celebrity — one that is credible and relevant for the subject matter — so that their involvement can really elevate and authenticate the program,” says Anthony Kimble, founder, Fugitive. “For a celebrity to anchor a thematic talk show, it is not only crucial that they know their subject matter well, but also that they have a personality that the guest can relate to, so they want to open up, bounce ideas and share their experiences.”

Aslan is a writer himself (he has published four books), while Bamford has been very open about her own bipolar disorder diagnosis in her standup and as an inspiration for her Netflix comedy “Lady Dynamite.” Having this innate understanding of their discussion topics in less-capable hosts’ hands could make the series inaccessible to those who don’t have firsthand knowledge or experience of them. But both hosts balance how much of themselves they put in the show with diverse points of view from their guests. This works to educate and also empower their respective audiences.

“Rough Draft’s” overview is to teach “lessons about the craft of writing,” notes Aslan. He specifically wanted to speak to professionals who work in different mediums, including many who “have had to work harder and climb higher to get where they are.”

Aslan calls his show a “conversation,” rather than an “interview show” because he admits he does “not hesitate to bring myself, my opinions, my experiences and my lessons into” each episode. While at times this may see him at odds with a guest, “to me, that is what makes the show a success,” he says. “Talk shows fail or succeed based not on whether the audience likes the guests, but on whether they connect with the host. After all, they see the guest once; they see the host every episode.”

Similarly, Bamford says she hopes “sharing my own vulnerabilities would help” her guests feel comfortable to speak openly, honestly and in more detail about their mental health experiences — from anxiety and depression to OCD — than they ever have before.

“I hope I put my whole self into it, or at least 20%,” she says. “I only want people to talk about things they’recomfortable with [and] I want to meet people with where they’re at on any subject matter.”

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