Tag Archives: Telefe

Labour of Love

Friendship turns to romance in Argentinian drama Amar Despues de Amar (Love After Loving) – with devastating consequences. DQ hears more about the series from Telefe content manager Mercedes Reincke.

Complicated matters of the heart are laid bare when an affair is discovered at the beginning of Argentinian drama Amar Despues de Amar (ADDA, aka Love After Loving).

Set across two time periods – the present day and three years ago – the show follows the blossoming romance between a man and a woman who discover their partners have been having an affair when the latter couple are involved in a car crash that leaves the man in a coma, while the woman’s body disappears.

Starring Mariano Martinez and Isabel Macedo alongside Federico Amador and Eleonora Wexler as the central couples, ADDA debuted in January this year and runs to 70 episodes, produced and distributed by its Argentinian broadcaster Telefe.

Here, Mercedes Reincke, content manager at Telefe, tells DQ more about the series.

Mercedes Reincke

Tell us about the story of Love After Loving.
Love After Loving puts love at the centre of the story, highlighting moral dilemmas about love and betrayal. We attempt to tell the story in the most honest way possible, trying not to take sides with either of the couples and instead leaving that responsibility and freedom to the viewers.

What are the origins of the series?
We were always struck by the weight of guilt, the force of the inevitable and the fate of love. With Diego Rojas [Telefe’s head of global fiction] and Ivan Stoessel [writing coordinator], we worked hard to create a story from what we see happening around us: in the crisis of middle age, one does not want to hurt, because they love; but they want to live because death is drawing closer. It is an eternal theme.

How was the show developed for Telefe?
This is an idea that had been in development for several years, with several writers, until we found writers Gonzalo Demaria and Erika Harvolsen, with whom we worked as a team. That was the key to achieving the necessary balance. We knew we were tackling a challenging story but we also knew it was a strong bet for Telefe.

How would you describe the writing process?
Working as a team with Erika and Gonzalo, we wrote each script with the premise that every episode, without exception, must have a surprising ending with a powerful cliffhanger. It was an exciting process, with great demands, but it resulted in a story full of intrigue, tension and passion.

What are the challenges of creating enough story for 70 hours of television?
When a story is as rich and powerful as ADDA’s, the challenge is to be able to condense it into 70 chapters. Told across two timelines, our show features two deep love stories as well as secondary stories that are just as interesting as the protagonists’. It was originally 60 hours, but the power of the plot forced us to reach 70.

Love After Loving’s Kaplan family

How did the writers and directors work together to create the visual style of the show?
We began by writing the first 10 episodes to give us a solid outlook and a firm base from which to work. Once we had this, we shared it with the directors and then set up an interdisciplinary table where we discussed the material, the focus we wanted to give it and the visual style we envisaged. It was a very rich experience, with the dialogue with the directors resulting in ideas we decided to incorporate.

Who are the lead cast members and what do they bring to the series?
Mariano Martinez (Santiago), Isabel Macedo (Raquel), Federico Amador (Damian) and Eleonora Wexler (Carolina) are our four protagonists. We had a hard time putting together the cast. It had to have an exact artistic balance so the complex formula of the series did not break, and we could not have asked for a better lead cast. While each actor has their own style, there is something that unites them. They are all very dear to the public and the four are excellent actors.

Where was the series filmed and how are locations used on screen?
The series was mainly filmed in Buenos Aires, partly in our studios and partly on location. Having the tango as part of its history, we thought Buenos Aires was going to sit very well and it did. However, we also had several days of recording in Mar del Plata, using the port, which also gave a colour and a special look to the series. We had a very creative location designer, with filming took place in the countryside, villages, roads, forests, lakes and all kinds of non-urban locations. That was a great success by our producers and directors.

The Alvarado clan are the other family at the centre of the story

What were the biggest challenges you faced during production?
Undoubtedly the biggest challenge was to maintain the double story throughout the 70 episodes. This meant costumes, hairstyles and other continuities were duplicated. Some recording schedules became a puzzle to be able to meet production deadlines.

How would you describe the current state of TV drama in Argentina?
It’s a very competitive market. Viewers have access to many more windows as well as not only local but international stories, which requires us to develop more and better stories that meet their high standards. We believe there is a huge opportunity for our stories to travel like never before.

Are networks moving away from telenovelas towards shorter series, or is there room for both?
Opening new doors does not necessarily mean other doors have to be closed. The telenovela continues to have its audience and its demand, but with the growing number of ways to watch television, we have to adapt to new needs and also offer shorter content.

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Novela titans at Natpe

From romance and comedy to politics and crime, the Latin drama line-up at Natpe 2017 looks as entertaining as ever. DQ examines some of the new titles being showcased at the Miami event.

In recent years, Miami programme market Natpe has firmly established itself as a global distribution hub. However, its location means it is also an exceptionally strong platform for telenovelas and other forms of Latino drama. As in previous years, the 2017 edition will see a broad array of launches from leading players like Globo, Televisa, Telemundo and Telefe.

Parts of Me follows a lonely man who finds out he’s the father of seven kids

Brazilian giant Globo is in Miami with a large slate of titles including Lady Revolution, a telenovela about a woman striving to achieve her dream of freedom in the 18th century, and Parts of Me, a telenovela about a lonely man who finds out he’s the father of seven kids.

The broadcaster also has a telenovela that fits neatly into the recent trend towards time travel stories. Entitled Time After Time, the show is a love story centring on a young couple called Livia and Felipe. Prevented from living a love story in the 19th century, they are given a second chance 150 years later when their souls return in a different context but with a love just as intense and true as before. In Brazil, the show reached 173 million viewers (according to Ibope) and generated around 654,000 comments on social networks.

Above Justice follows four different people arrested over a single night

Globo, more than most Latin American companies, has made an effort to internationalise its offering. While telenovelas are still the cornerstone of its output, the company is also at Natpe with a number of shorter shows. One is the 16-episode series Above Justice, headed by Avenida Brasil co-director Jose Luiz Villamarim. With its high-profile cast, the show follows four different people arrested over a single night in Brazil’s Atlantic coast city of Recife. Slowly, their storylines intertwine in a narrative turning on crime, justice and revenge. At home, the show was a big hit, securing 41 million viewers a day.

Also on Globo’s slate are 10-episode limited series Nothing Remains the Same, a love story set in the 1950s; and Supermax, a psychological thriller, also 10-episodes. The latter show will be especially interesting to international buyers because it has been produced in Spanish – as opposed to Globo’s native Portuguese. The goal is for the show to be sold to Hispanic US and Spanish-speaking South American markets, though the length means it should attract attention outside the Americas.

The Candidate follows a woman who challenges her corrupt politician husband

Vying for attention with Globo will be Mexican heavyweight Televisa, arguably the leading force in telenovela exports. Titles at Natpe include A Beloved Man, My Sweet Curse, In Love With Ramon, No Trace Of You, Love Divina and The Candidate. Between them, these titles cover the romance, comedy, melodrama and teen genres. Probably the most high profile is The Candidate, which follows a woman’s decision to challenge her corrupt politician husband for the role of president. There is, of course, also a love triangle involving an old flame.

Most of Televisa’s Natpe titles come in batches of 60 or 120 episodes. The exception is No Trace of You, a 10-part drama. In this one, Julia, a young paediatrician with a promising future, vanishes the night before her wedding. Five years later, a college student discovers a woman in a wedding gown, beaten, and covered in blood. It’s Julia – sans memory.

Iron Lady centres on a prosecutor tracking the drug lord who killed her father

One big theme in telenovelas has always been empowered women (The Candidate, La Patrona, La Duena etc). Mexico’s other major telenovela player TV Azteca Internacional (TVAI) has an example on its slate in the shape of Iron Lady, about a strong-willed prosecutor on the trail of the drug lord who killed her father. Also on the TVAI slate are titles such as Nothing Personal, Missing Bride, What Women Keep in Silence and Living To Race. The latter is a high-octane action drama that uses the legend of Mexican racing drivers Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez as the backdrop to a contemporary racing series.

Telemundo Internacional is the distribution arm of Hispanic US network Telemundo. Its Natpe slate includes hot new title El Chema, which started airing in December. A spin-off of the extremely popular and long-running drug baron series El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord of the Skies), the show follows Chema Venegas’ first years working in Mexico’s world of organised crime and his ascent to become the renowned cartel leader seen in the parent show. The decision to spin off a show is no real surprise given that El Señor de los Cielos has now racked up in the region of 340 episodes on Telemundo.

El Chema was spun off from popular and long-running series El Señor de los Cielos

Other titles on Telemundo’s slate include La Doña, Ambar and La Fan, which tells the story of a passionate fan of a famous telenovela actor. One day, fate brings the two together. At first, he hardly notices her, but before long he can’t imagine his life without her. La Doña, meanwhile, is based on Doña Barbara, a novel by Romulo Gallegos. Typically telenovela, it is the story of a strong-willed, ruthless woman who brings bad men to justice (another example of the fascination with strong women).

One big news story on the eve of Natpe was that Mexico-based distributor Comarex has taken control of the rights to Cisneros Media Distribution (CMD)’s catalogue outside the US and Spain. The deal is reckoned to involve around 30,000 hours of programming. Comarex will be at Natpe with CMD’s content as well as shows from Canal 13 in Chile and Canal 11 in Mexico.

A Thread of Blue Blood looks at the death of a financial expert and a journalist’s bid to solve the case

Key titles from Venezuela-based CMD include Entre Tu Amor Y Mi Amor (Separated by Love), which follows the story of a young woman, Sol, who leaves her country home for the city in search of a better life. Here she falls in love with Alejandro, not knowing he is the son of the evil woman who swindled her parents and had them killed when she was a baby. The show has already been licensed to US streaming platform Glosi.

From Canal 13 Chile, Comarex will have Preciosas (Runaways), the story of four women who meet while serving time in jail. They include Lorena, a 30-year-old who has been wrongly convicted of the murder of Juan Pablo, a co-worker. Lorena seeks to clear her name with the help of Alex, her defence lawyer and with whom she will (surprise!) have a romance.

The regional variety of shows at Natpe is enhanced by the presence of Telefe Internacional (Argentina), RCN (Colombia) and Caracol Internacional (Colombia). The former is in Miami with titles such as Dear Daddies, Love After Love, Educating Nina, The Return of Lucas and ratings hit Story of a Clan (35% share on Telefe in a weekday 23.00 slot). The latter continues the fascination with Latino crime families, telling the story of the real-life Puccio crime family. Strong Latino women is again the subject in telenovela Lioness, about a female textile factory worker who rallies her fellow worker to gain rights (while falling in love with the new factory owner along the way).

Caracol’s contribution to the fun is A Carnival Affair, Pursuit of a Dream and Surviving Pablo Escobar Alias JJ, the latter based on the book by John Jairo Velasquez, who was a lieutenant in the drugs lord’s gang. RCN, meanwhile, is promoting Ruled By Love, Azucar and A Thread of Blue Blood. The latter revolves around the death of a financial expert and the attempt by a journalist to discover the cause. All RCN titles are 70 episodes or more.

All of the above players are local producer-broadcasters, which tends to be the norm in the Latin American telenovela business. But there are a few notable exceptions. Sony Pictures Television, for example, has some celebrity-themed telenovelas nestling in amongst its slate of international dramas. These include Paquita La Del Barrio, about the life and career of Mexican singer Francicsa Viveros; and Blue Demon, the fictionalised life story of the famed Mexican wrestler.

Séries Mania 2016 Grand Prix winning crime drama El Marginal

Israel’s Dori Media is another company that long ago identified the global appeal of Latino-produced telenovelas. At Natpe, its key titles include Por Amarte Asi (Loving You), which follows the twists and turns in the life of a father and daughter who get a chance to fall in love with partners despite the difficult circumstances that brought them together. Echoing the trend identified above, Dori has also been exploring non-telenovela options. For example, at Natpe it will present the Séries Mania 2016 Grand Prix winning crime drama El Marginal, a coproduction from Underground Producciones and TV Publica. Created by Sebastian Ortega. El Marginal premiered on TV Publica in Argentina in June last year, where it has gone on to more than triple its timeslot ratings on the channel.

Another company that sits outside the norm is Argentine producer POL-KA, which will be at Natpe under its own banner. Titles on its slate include Quiero Vivir A Tu Lado, Los Ricos No Piden Permiso and Guapas. The latter, Cunning Girls in English, is a 174-episode drama about five women who lose all their savings after their bank closes down. They pull together to get back on track both financially and emotionally. POL-KA, it’s worth noting, is also a partner in Televisa’s Love Divina.

Finally, a word on Brazil’s number two channel Record TV, which is at Natpe with a slate of epic religious dramas including The Promised Land, Moses and the Ten Commandments, The Miracles of Jesus and Joseph from Egypt. An explanation for this emphasis is that Record TV is owned by colourful Brazilian billionaire businessman Edir Macedo, who is also founder and leader of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

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Mixing it up

Mercedes Reincke, content development manager at Argentinian broadcaster Telefe, explains how thriller El Regreso de Lucas (The Return of Lucas) is shaking up its traditional telenovela formula.

It’s the story of every parent’s worst nightmare – their child disappearing, never to be seen again. Only in El Regreso de Lucas (The Return of Lucas), the eponymous missing boy reappears as an adult 20 years later – or so he claims.

Therein starts a thrilling drama in which a family question whether this man really is their lost son and brother, while Lucas’s sister Catalina becomes attracted to him, sowing the seeds for an impossible love story set across 60 episodes.

Ana María Orozco and Salvador Del Solar play mother Elena and father Reinaldo, alongside Pablo Martínez as Lucas, Macarena Achaga as Catalina and Sergio Gjurinovic as Juan.

The first coproduction between Argentina’s Telefe and América TV in Peru, it has already been sold to UniMas in the US, Mega in Chile and Ecuavisa in Ecuador. The show debuted in Peru earlier this month, recording a 37% share.

Here, Mercedes Reincke, content development manager at Telefe, tells DQ how this coproduction broke new boundaries in terms of casting, locations and storytelling.

Mercedes Reincke
Mercedes Reincke

DQ: What was the inspiration for the series?
Mercedes Reincke: There were multiple inspirations for the script. We had a concept we wanted to work with, which was ‘a parent’s worst fear.’ I told a personal story to my team about my mother – that she didn’t want to take me to the beach when I was a baby because she was afraid that she might get distracted for a second and somebody could kidnap me. While that sounds kind of paranoid, we soon discovered that under this exaggeration lies a universal fear of every parent – losing their children.

Why are viewers drawn to storylines about people who suddenly disappear?
The fear [of a loved one disappearing] is as old as humanity itself. Since the Bible, and even before, there have been many stories about mysterious cases of people appearing and disappearing. This makes these stories feel perfectly possible for the audience, especially when it concerns a kid. Every day, news channels show stories about missing people, so this is a subject that feels real and possible for viewers.

How would you describe the writing process?
First, we worked with the idea and the concept of the story. We brainstormed with our writers and creative partners from América TV and wrote a synopsis. Later, we discussed everything again and modified the synopsis, turning it into a treatment. At that point, we put together a writing team, composed by Martín Méndez and Bruno Luciani, two great Argentinian screenwriters. Their team wrote each episode’s script. We continued brainstorming and, once the story’s treatment was finished, we started working with step outlines. The writers sent us a step outline of each episode, then we made comments, asked for changes and made suggestions before they sent over a script. At that point, we made new suggestions until we reached the final version of each script.

How do you plan the storylines for 60 episodes?
It’s a hard process, in which the story undergoes many modifications. We knew how it had to end, especially the main plot lines, and we had an idea of each episode. However, during the process, we found conflicts that added much more energy to the plot. In those cases, we changed parts of the story. Thinking about a story from the beginning to the end and writing it is a dynamic process, with lot of people participating and modifying the material.

Ana María Orozco and Salvador Del Solar on set
Ana María Orozco and Salvador Del Solar on set

How would you describe the style and tone of the show? Was this clear from the start?
That was the biggest challenge in this series. We had the intention of doing a telenovela but with a thriller plot that would give us moments of tension and mystery. In the beginning, this mixture of genres was not easy at all. In fact, we had nine different versions of the first episode’s script. It was very important for us to set the tone and establish this combination of genres, which has not been attempted many times. We believed we could successfully accomplish this mixture, which is the hallmark of this series.

Are the characters clearly laid out in the script or do you like to give the actors the chance to have their own input?
The script is very specific; it contains a lot of work done by a lot of people. The writers are usually reluctant to have their dialogue changed, but they know how to listen to those who bring their characters to life. We are conscious that, on set, the actors and the director work the scene and dialogue, sometimes making the dialogue grow. We support anything that improves the story as long as it respects the road that has been drawn.

How did you work with the directors to bring the story to life?
With this particular project, we couldn’t be on set because it was shot in another country [Peru]. But we had lots of meetings with the directors [Mauro Scandolari and Leo Richiardelli] before shooting to establish the specific code of the series.

The Return of Lucas
The Return of Lucas comprises 60 episodes

What were the biggest challenges in writing and producing the show?
In the writing process, the biggest challenge was setting the tone. In production, the challenges were huge because El Regreso de Lucas was shot entirely on location with teams from Argentina and Peru. It was also our first coproduction experience so, as you can imagine, the challenge was enormous. Fortunately, the process ended with lots of learning and great results.

What do you hope viewers will take away from the series?
We would like them to see that a mother’s love is so strong that it can overcome time, lies, evil and other difficulties. We also want the spectator to feel that, even though fear will always exist, the key is to break through it and learn from that journey.

How does The Return of Lucas stand out from other Argentinian dramas and telenovelas?
Because it’s a mixture of Latin American telenovela and thriller, which is quite unusual. Also, it was shot in natural scenery, it’s a blockbuster and it has a great cast mixing Peruvian, Argentinian and Colombian talent. These are certainly the hallmarks of this project.

Do you agree this is a good time to be a storyteller working in television?
Absolutely, there has never been a better time for those who work telling stories. It’s a true golden age of television and we are determined to exploit it.

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Indies bet heavily on book rights

Tony Marchant
Tony Marchant

In previous columns and features, DQ has explored the difficulty producers face in securing the services of top screenwriters.

One way of addressing this problem is to control the rights to strong source material. If you secure an option on a great novel, it’s an easier way of hooking a decent writer than going to them with an unproven idea.

Indie producer Bad Wolf, for example, was able to secure the services of the sought-after Jack Thorne by waving Philip Pullman’s fantasy epic His Dark Materials under his nose. And The Ink Factory reeled in David Farr by inviting him to make his mark on John Le Carré’s 1993 espionage novel The Night Manager.

Perhaps this is why we’re suddenly seeing so many book-rights deals bubbling to the surface. Last week, we referenced a couple of new examples in this column. And this week indie producer Dancing Ledge Productions has signed a deal with publisher HarperCollins for the TV rights to novels by Alistair Maclean, the legendary writer of books such as Guns of Navarone.

At the same time, the company announced that Tony Marchant (The Secret Agent) had come on board to adapt the first novel, San Andreas; a thriller set on board a torpedoed Second World War hospital ship as it attempts to make its way back across the North Atlantic to Scotland while a saboteur picks off crew members.

San Andreas
San Andreas is being adapted by Dancing Ledge Productions

Laurence Bowen, CEO of Dancing Ledge Productions, said: “We are lucky to be living and working in a golden age of television drama with a huge demand internationally for high-end adaptations and TV events that can be channel-defining. I doubt there are many bookshelves in the UK that don’t have at least one Alistair Maclean thriller, so the opportunity to work with HarperCollins to adapt a number of them for screen is incredibly exciting. If you then add a writer with the talent of Tony Marchant to the mix, we have a wonderful marriage of nail-biting action and emotional complexity.”

Under the terms of the arrangement, each novel will be structured as a four or six-part event miniseries that will build on Maclean’s trademark skill of creating thrilling adventure that appeals to hardcore fans and new audiences alike.

Katie Fulford, special projects director at HarperCollins Publishers, added: “Maclean is one of our most treasured authors. We’re committed to ensuring our heritage brands continue to grow and that we constantly seek new ways to tell these classic stories.”

Other new book-option deals along similar lines include Sid Gentle Films’ acquisition of the rights to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s acclaimed book series The Cazalet Chronicles, which is set between the 1930s and the 1950s and tells the story of three generations of the Cazalet family.

Elizabeth Jane Howard passed away in 2014
Elizabeth Jane Howard passed away in 2014

Explaining why she picked up the five Cazalet novels, Sid Gentle’s Sally Woodward Gentle said: “Elizabeth Jane Howard is an extraordinary writer, a highly skilled storyteller of understatement and deceptive simplicity. The novels are totally addictive with the ability to floor you with their turn of events. They are set in the middle of the 20th century but the themes of love, loss, repression, sex and family ties are shot through with 21st century resonance.”

Woodward Gentle has already proved that the books-as-bait model can work with SS-GB, a series for the BBC that is just coming to market. Based on Len Deighton’s novel, it has been adapted by James Bond writers Robert Wade and Neal Purvis.

One of the indies we talked about in last week’s column was Buccaneer, which joined forces with author Rose Tremain. And Buccaneer is back in the news this week following a deal with Trainspotting creator Irvine Welsh to bring his novel Crime to TV.

This setup is slightly different from some of the other examples because it comes with a screenwriter attached, Welsh’s longtime collaborator Dean Cavanagh. Where it resembles the other deals, however, is in the way that strong source material can help producers build a talent package that interests broadcasters.

Irvine Welsh
Irvine Welsh

In this case, for example, actor Dougray Scott has come on board to star in and executive produce the six-part project: “When I read Irvine Welsh for the first time I knew I was in the company of a unique and utterly brilliant voice. After finishing the novel Crime, I knew it was a story that I just had to help bring to the screen.”

There’s another book-based story of interest this week. BBC2 in the UK has just announced that it is adapting Ian McGuire’s Man Booker-longlisted whaling novel The North Water in partnership with See-Saw Films. In this case, Andrew Haigh has come on board to turn the story into a six-part mystery/survival drama.

The North Water tells the story of a disgraced former army surgeon who signs on as a ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. On board, he meets Henry Drax, an amoral harpooner. Hoping to escape his past, the doctor instead finds himself trapped on board with a murderous psychopath.

Haigh’s involvement is an example of the new fluidity that exists in the TV business. Until now, he has been best known as a movie screenwriter – first with Weekend and then with 45 Years, which enjoyed a lot of positive feedback on the festival circuit in 2015/2016.

So the combination of a strong core story, a proven production team (See-Saw’s TV credits include Top of the Lake) and an emerging filmwriting talent was enough to attract BBC2, thus circumventing the issue of chasing overworked TV A-Listers.

Andrew Haigh
Andrew Haigh

Elsewhere, DQ’s parent publication C21 reports this week that TV2 Denmark, Nordisk Film Production, NDF Germany and distributor Dynamic Television have greenlit a crime drama based on the Dan Sommerdahl crime novel franchise by Anna Grue (books again!). For this project, The Bridge’s co-creator Nikolaj Scherfig has been signed up to act as head writer.

Described as a family-oriented take on the Nordic noir genre, the series centres on a detective who solves murder cases in a coastal town. It goes into production in summer 2017.

Dynamic Television VP of coproductions and acquisitions Jan Bennemann said there’s “huge demand right now for Scandinavian crime drama with a blue-sky procedural element. Dan Sommerdahl expands upon this with a very likeable main character and an overall lighter tone, making it an ideal fit for a wider audience.”

Seven books out of a planned 12-part franchise have so far been published, and the agreement with the author includes expanding the property and its characters – raising the prospect of a long-running franchise.

Nikolaj Scherfig
Nikolaj Scherfig

Scherfig’s comments underline the way the right project can lure in-demand writers. He said Dan Sommerdahl is the first in a line of projects that offered to him with “something different to the classic Scandic noir genre: a tight, clean crime series reflecting on life outside cities, understanding how modernity and social development affect provincial life.”

Away from the world of book rights, other interesting stories this week include the news that US network NBC has picked up the rights to adapt a time-travel crime drama from Argentina’s Telefe. The original 2011 series was called Un Año Para Recordar (A Year to Remember). It tells the story of a female detective who goes back in time after accidentally killing her husband.

The writer/producer signed up to oversee the adaptation is Michael Foley, whose most recent credit is the ABC/Shondaland series How To Get Away With Murder. Prior to that, Foley was involved in productions such as Revenge and Unforgettable.

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Wentworth locks down third format deal

Wentworth is being remade in Flemish

There’s a strong international flavour to drama commissioning this week, with plenty of action in terms of format deals, coproductions, acquisitions and plans for movie adaptations.

FremantleMedia, for example, has just announced that its Australian prison drama Wentworth is being remade in Flemish for Belgium-based commercial broadcaster. With a working title of Gent-West, the new 10-part drama will be coproduced by FremantleMedia Belgium and Marmalade Productions. Although the show doesn’t debut on Vier until 2018, it will be shown prior to that on Telenet’s paid cable channels Play and Play More.

Stefan De Keyser, MD of FremantleMedia Belgium, called Wentworth “an explosive drama filled with twists and emotion. Its suspenseful storylines and powerful female cast are sure to captivate Flemish audiences and we hope that Vier’s commission will build on the worldwide success of this scripted property.”

The Flemish version of the show will be the third adaptation following Celblok H (Netherlands) and Block B – Unter Arrest (Germany). Wentworth is also popular in its original form: to date, the show has aired in 141 countries worldwide and is still going strong on home soil after four series on SoHo.

Shortland Street
Shortland Street’s Ukranian adaptation is going great guns

FremantleMedia also revealed this week that the new Ukranian version of its New Zealand soap Shortland Street has started well. Known locally as Central Hospital, the 60-part drama is currently airing on channel 1+1 and is Ukraine’s number-one show. Central Hospital has also been sold on in its completed form to Georgia and Kazakhstan. Following the success of the show, Anne Kirsipuu, format sales director for CIS, Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic States at FM, said: “We’re looking forward to introducing more local adaptations (of other FM shows) soon.”

Elsewhere in Europe, producer/distributor Beta Film has secured the rights for Light of Elna, a Nazi-refugee drama directed by Sílvia Quer (Velvet, Grand Hotel). The Spanish-Swiss coproduction tells the story of Swiss teacher Elisabeth Eidenbenz, who created a maternity home for female WW2 refugees about to give birth. Beta Film will serve as the worldwide distributor, having previously sold Spanish dramas Velvet & Grand Hotel worldwide.

Scandinavian crime drama continues to prove its appeal worldwide. This week, Germany’s ZDF Enterprises (a big supporter of Nordic Noir) licensed the third season of Bron (The Bridge) to Japan’s Tohokushinsha Film Corp. Under the terms of the deal, TFC gets VoD and DVD rights in addition to television rights. ZDFE and TFC have a longstanding relationship that has already seen deals for the first three seasons of The Killing and the first two of Bron. The latter has been a hit worldwide, selling in its completed form to 140 countries and being adapted in the US and UK/France.

The Bridge
The latest deal for Nordic Noir hit the Bridge has been done in Japan

Continuing with our globetrotting, there are also reports that leading Argentinian broadcaster Telefe has signed a deal with Diego Maradona to make a drama about the iconic footballer’s life. There is certainly plenty of on-field and off-field action to fill a series – as Maradona noted in a modestly worded statement: “Every month of my life has enough for someone to write 100 chapters. Everything that I lived exceeds any fiction. I’m happy and excited that Telefe is developing this project for the world.”

Telefe contents and international business director Tomas Yankelevich added an equally measured summation: “This is an incredible challenge as a producer to think about turning into fiction the life of the best soccer player of all time, and probably the most famous person in the world. We think of an unprecedented super-production, and are looking for partners to join us. We expect to make a global show without borders.”

Notwithstanding the hype, Telefe is undoubtedly the right company to lead the project. Owned by Telefonica, it is one of the major producer/broadcasters in Latin America with activities that stretch across film and TV. Recent productions include Story of a Clan, Educating Nina and coproduction The Return of Lucas.

Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona playing for Argentina

In the US, meanwhile, there’s some interesting news for sci-fi fans. Roddenberry Entertainment, the company set up by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (who died in 1991), has created a project called Holoscape that has been optioned by Storyoscopic Films. Holoscape is set in the aftermath of World War III and the collapse of civilisation. Using a mysterious device from the war (the Holoscape), a group of survivors discovers they are part of a conspiracy that has shaped the destiny of humankind, but are given the chance to escape their present and save our future.

“Storyoscopic holds a unique place in the industry due to its strong ties to China and the international market,” said Trevor Roth, head of development for Roddenberry Entertainment. “That, along with its sense for strong properties and compelling stories, makes it a perfect collaborator for Holoscape.”

Also this week, US network Fox gave a put-pilot commitment to a Marvel action-adventure series that will tap into the latter’s rapidly-expanding X-Men universe. The pilot will focus on two ordinary parents who discover their children possess mutant powers. Matt Nix (Burn Notice) will write the script and executive produce alongside a bunch of X-Men and Marvel executives.

“Developing a Marvel property has been a top priority for the network, and we are so pleased with how Matt Nix has led us into this thrilling universe,” said Fox Entertainment president David Madden. “There’s comic book adventure, emotional and complicated relationships and a rich, existing mythology from which to draw. With the brilliant production crew behind this project, it has all the makings of a big, fun and exciting series.”

Other interesting deals this week include a Netflix order for a Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory) comedy called Disjointed and a development deal between Endemol Shine Studios and acclaimed film maker Guy Ritchie, who will develop scripted series for the company. There are also reports that YouTube is talking to UK content creators about original content for its SVoD service YouTube Red.

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Globo’s global goals

Globo TV’s Raphael Corrêa Netto explains the growing appeal of the network’s telenovelas outside its native Brazil.

The trend for watching telenovelas in Brazil is as strong as ever and it’s a habit that is spreading to the rest of the world.

That’s according to Raphael Corrêa Netto, Brazilian network Globo TV’s executive director of international business, who says investment in and support for new writers, on-screen talent and a willingness to take risks with stories keeps audiences tuning in week after week.

La Fiesta (The Party) has sold well to broadcasters across the world

“Watching Globo telenovelas is a tradition in the Brazilian culture that remains strong to this day,” he says. “Our plots are audience leaders and are allocated throughout the programming schedule. We have three slots for original productions, another slot for a teen telenovela and a slot for popular reruns. And, a few years ago, we reopened the 23.00 slot for plots with more adult themes.

“We have just aired Verdades Secretas (Secret Truths), by Walcyr Carrasco (Trail of Lies), which explored the underworld hiding beneath the glamour of the fashion industry. It attracted a record 49% share during its broadcast. We are constantly investing in new talents such as authors, directors, actors and production staff to keep things fresh and to maintain our stories’ power of enchantment. The result is that, as well as being successful in Brazil, our telenovelas do very well in other countries.”

The success of Globo’s output at home continues to be repeated on the international stage through the network’s distribution arm, Globo TV International. Joia Rara (Precious Pearl), the story of two brothers fighting for control of their family’s empire, which won an International Emmy for Best Telenovela last year, recently aired in the US on Telemundo. It was also the second most watched show in Uruguay during its first week on air on Teledoce, and has sold to EPG in South Korea, Armenia Public TV and Mongolia’s TV5.

New series coming to the international market include serial-killer drama Dupla Identidade (Merciless), mystery La Fiesta (The Party) and romantic miniseries Amores Roubados (Doomed, pictured top). The Party has already been picked up by EPG, Ecuavisa in Ecuador, Peru’s ATV, Teledoce and Portugal’s SIC, while Doomed is heading to Telefe in Argentina and SIC.

Globo is also taking pre-orders for its latest telenovela A Regra do Jogo (Rules of the Game), which debuted in August. Written by João Emanuel Carneiro (Avenida Brasil, or Brazil Avenue), it centres on a former politician who precariously walks the line between good and evil. Brazil Avenue, which follows a woman’s bid for revenge against her cruel stepmother, currently holds Globo’s record for a licensed series, with broadcasting rights sold to more than 130 countries.

“Stories involving classic plots of love, betrayal, jealousy, revenge and big secrets remain strong,” says Netto. “What changes is the way in which they are told and the resources used in the scene. All our contemporary stories follow and record the evolution of society and use – as do our period stories and entertainment programmes – technological resources that tell the story in an innovative way. Filming and broadcasting in 4K, for instance, makes watching television even more exciting.

A Regra do Jogo (Rules of the Game)

“In Rules of the Game, we will debut a new method of shooting a telenovela, which has been studied for the last two years through the collaboration of different departments across Globo. It is the ‘Scenic Box’ (Caixa Cênica) – closed sets that are adapted to allow greater camera integration and to give actors more freedom to play, thus making dramaturgy closer to reality shows in the way images are captured and shown to the viewer.

“We have always had room in our programming grid for a telenovela made for younger audiences, with a very specific language, dealing with the life of teenagers. Humour, regardless of the central plot, is always represented by a core group of characters. Our experience shows that a good story, regardless of its main theme, needs to deal with other genres as well.”

Naturally, Brazilian drama fares best in Latin America, where output deals are in place with Telefe, Mexico’s Azteca, Teledoce, Ecuavisa and ATV, among others. Series also travel across the Atlantic to Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa such as Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde. But with global audiences now more welcoming to foreign-language series than ever, Globo is taking the initiative by targeting new territories further afield.

Part of this strategy involves setting up new channels. Netto explains: “In July in Angola and Mozambique, for example, we launched our second pay-per-view channel Globe ON, broadcasting telenovelas, series and comedies that have a place in the hearts of Africans. And we have already been told that the audience ratings registered are great.

“We have been gaining more space in the US, where we have had three blockbusters in primetime on MundoMax (formerly MundoFox) and we have telenovelas on air on Telemundo.

“We have also increased our presence in Asia, licensing the telenovela Lado a Lado (Side by Side) to China, a tough market for foreign products. And in 2014 we conquered new markets and licensed titles for Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines for the first time. Australia has also bet on our series, with Globo channels there and in New Zealand.”

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