The Daily News
"Before he was a television producer, Max Keller was a lawyer. Before that, he was a dance teacher. And in l966, a student walked through the door of the Arthur Murray Studio for lessons and into his life. "I went in for the $25 special," said Micheline Keller. "I saw an ad for 10 lessons for $25. I knew how to dance the kids' dances, but I didn't know how to do a waltz or a fox trot." Her teacher, law student Max Keller, soon became her husband and father of their two children - Nicole, now 21, and David, 18. "I got alot of free lessons," she said. They both became lawyers and eventually left their practices to get into entertainment distribution, and later production. Now, Max Keller is chairman of the board and chief executive officer and Micheline Keller is president and chief operating officer of Keller Entertainment Group of Encino. They have three shows in international syndication, with others on the way. Their work includes about 130 hours of television a year, including "Acapulco H.E.A.T.," "Conan the Adventurer" and "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures." The Kellers also have been behind numerous made for television movies and own the rights to a technology that allows 3-D vision without special glasses. "It has been a success overnight after 25 years." said Max Keller, whose shows are produced in countries such as Mexico, South Africa and, in the future, Australia. Keller Entertainment has other series such as "The Sam Hill Chronicles" and "Ramses" in, or about to enter, pre-production. Theirs is a lucrative arena of international syndication that has made hits out of "Xena:Warrior Princess" and "Hercules." "Internationally, fantasy sells," Max Keller said. "The international market is not very keen on violence. They like fantasy violence - which is acceptable because it's not real violence - and sex. They don't have the same kind of body hang-ups. They'd much rather see somebody make love than shoot someone in the heart with a gun." The Kellers, who live and work in the Valley, have no plans of trying to break into network television. They realize the advantages to network broadcasting - promotion, the potential for protected time slots, and a uniform time period nationally. But, for a modest-sized company such as theirs, it does not make financial sense. In the United States, a network will look at a pilot and order six to 12 additional episodes. In rare cases, the network will order more. With a gurarantee of such few episodes, Keller would be setting himself up for a loss in the U.S. game. Overseas, a producer will come in with a concept, a few scripts, a Bible of characters and their back stories, a presentation tape and a star actor. "I think Americans can learn something from the international market," Max Keller said. "They are more concept driven and producer-driven. If they see a concept they like and a producer they know can deliver quality, they will order 26 episodes, sometimes 52. They realize that it takes time to develop an audience."