World of Wonder founders prioritize ‘drag racing’ passion and scripted shots – TBI Vision
As Drag race preparing for sashay on spanish screens, World of Wonder founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato explain to TBI associate editor Mark Layton what makes the format hit such a global deal and why they are exploring it ‘expansion in the script.
Drag Race Spain lands tomorrow on Spain’s Atresplayer Premium SVOD and global DTC WOWPresent Plus platform, with this latest edition of the drag queen competition format marking its eighth local adaptation.
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, co-founders of the LA-based franchise creator and owner of WOW Presents Plus World of Wonder, promise “mucho, mucho drama” for this latest “Almodóvar-esque” iteration, which will pit the most drag queens against each other. ferocious from Spain to one another.
As always, the goal is to find the next drag superstar in a reduced pool of competitors through a series of design and performance-based challenges, with this version of the show hosted by Supremme de Luxe, rather than the franchise creator and RuPaul mainstay.
The series is produced by Atresmedia TV in collaboration with Buendía Estudios and produced by World of Wonder, with Bailey, Barbato and Tom Campbell attached as executive producers, while Passion Distribution will distribute the series worldwide.
As executives tell TBI the drag is “all over the world and across all cultures,” they add their plans to expand the global franchise aren’t just about racing to bring the show to all territories. .
“There are some exciting local drag scenes all over the place, it’s just that they’re not necessarily on platforms or on TV,” Bailey says. “The drag has traditionally been ignored, but the irony is that it has a big impact for the small screen, perfect for TV, and we love working with countries that understand that and want to have their own version of. Drag race. “
Bailey says, “It’s really about countries coming to the table and understanding what drag is; I think this is really what we are looking for. Because dating has always existed and has always been an incredibly vital artistic force; it’s singing, it’s dancing, it’s hairstyle, it’s makeup, it’s looks, it’s a lot of different arts in one great package.
Add a local flavor
Barbato adds that while there are obviously some familiar elements in all of the different versions of the series, World of Wonder has found success by giving its production partners some freedom.
“The reason all of these iterations have been so successful is that they make their region Drag race their own version. Everyone has a different flavor and that’s really why the brand has been so successful in growing, ”suggests Barbato. “We’re not racing to take the global drag as quickly as possible. It’s more important for us to find the right partners, the right outlets, and the right production companies that have the same passion we have for drag and this show, and then we let them take over.
Barbato further points out how the different versions of the show have resonated with viewers in a wide range of territories, suggesting that the show is somewhat different from other formats in that audiences want to know more about the drag in d ‘other countries and cultures. “It’s unusual for people all over the world to want to see different versions of a particular show, I think it’s quite unprecedented and it has to do with how every show in every country is done – every queen. is so unique and surprising. “
While Drag Race Spain is about to launch its first edition, the original American version of the show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, recently concluded its 13e season on VH1 and is currently in the casting for its 14e. Over the years he has also created several other shows including RuPaul All Stars Drag Race, which will debut its sixth season on Paramount + and WOW Presents Plus next month.
Barbato credits the franchise’s continued popularity to its creator RuPaul’s willingness to continue to evolve the format, while Bailey points out, “The show is a drag queen, the format itself is a drag queen, so it doesn’t. isn’t like he’s wearing the same thing twice. There are staples like hair and heels, but every season there are twists.
All of these local releases and spin-offs are brought to you by World of Wonder’s own streaming service, WOW Presents Plus, which also offers a wide range of content beyond Drag race.
Upcoming highlights include a makeup contest Painted with Raven, hosted by Drag race Raven, favorite artist and makeup artist, while the service also broadcasts older shows in the World of Wonder catalog, such as British comedy series The Adam and Joe Show.
“We will continue to develop and produce shows, many of which are based on different talents from Drag Race. These programs will become more and more ambitious, ”reveals Barbato.
The company is also looking to push further into scripted content, with a number of projects in development, including a series and two films, details of which have yet to be announced. A scripted film adaptation of Bailey’s 2000 documentary Tammy Faye’s eyes, starring Searchlight Pictures, also debuts in September, directed by Michael Showalter and starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield.
WOW Presents Plus was further bolstered by the launch of the WOW Docs documentary division under the direction of Jim Fraenkel, an unscripted executive, whom Barbato describes as “an extension of everything we do,” adding, “He’s fiercely independent. and this allows us to pursue our passion for projects. “
One of these projects is Explant, a following documentary RuPaul’s Drag Race Judge Michelle Visage as she investigates a mysterious autoimmune disease linked to breast implants, while having her own breast implants removed.
“This is an example of the kind of projects that we will be pursuing with WOW Docs, projects that interest us,” says Barbato. “We’re going to fund most of these films independently rather than releasing and showing them. Eventually we’ll be looking for partners, but they’ll all end up on WOW Presents Plus eventually as well, that’s part of expanding content on this platform. “
Spirit of creativity unfettered
World of Wonder was also a bit early when it launched its direct-to-consumer streamer in 2017, long before the current streaming pivot we’re seeing, and for Bailey and Barbato the benefits of such a model are clear.
“He’s less concerned with advertisers, he’s less concerned with brands and I think some of the rules and regulations that would make an executive think twice before doing a show like Drag race. As a creator, that’s one of the most exciting things, being able to just go do it, ”says Bailey, who shares his thoughts on the current streaming boom. “What we’re seeing is this big rush to these massively funded organizations; Netflix, Apple, Disney, Peacock, Discovery… are all in the race to be the greatest. It’s great, go ahead, be the biggest, because what I think of World of Wonder, to borrow someone else’s words, is to outdo the underserved.
“This is the golden age of the specialty. I don’t like to say “niche” because I think “niche” is a word used by grown-ups in the mainstream to describe things they consider too small to really bother, “he adds.
“A lot of times the success of any TV show ends up being the surprises that creep through the process,” says Barbato. “There are so many great networks and great leaders, but there is also something to be said about this spirit of creativity that is unleashed and unfettered. Having our own network gives us the opportunity to do it in spades. “