Starz, Televisa rebooting telenovela classic

Scripted-logo-460US premium cable net Starz and the US arm of Mexican media giant Televisa have joined forces to produce an English-language version of Maleficio.

Carmi-Zlotnik-2-01-V1The Televisa novella, acclaimed as one of the most successful of all time, went out in Mexico in the 1980s, running to 320 episodes over a two-year run.

The thriller follows a businessman who makes a pact with the devil. The Televisa USA-Starz version will have Mauricio Katz (The Bridge) as writer and showrunner, and Pedro Peirano (Niño Santo) as exec producer.

“We are pleased to partner with Televisa USA for an adaptation of such an incredibly successful series and bring it to the US audience,” said Carmi Zlotnik (left), managing director for Starz.

“With Mauricio Katz’s prolific writing guiding the project and Pedro Peirano executive producing, Maleficio was a project we knew was worth developing.”

“Starz’s stamp of quality together with Mauricio and Pedro’s tremendous vision and intimate knowledge of the format will ensure an impactful return of this iconic series,” added Chris Philip, head of production and distribution for Televisa USA. “’Maleficios’ past success means we have a built-in audience of hundreds of millions of fans worldwide.”

TUSA-Chris-Philip.jpgPhilip (right) is leading an English-language charge at Televisa USA, with Dougray Scott action drama Duality already announced, and a slew of other projects in the works.

“We are digging into the Televisa library and identifying shows with the development team,” Philip told TBI of the initiative. “There are series and loglines there, and we will bring in writers and showrunners and then take them to a network.”

As well as reworking Televisa titles, Televisa USA is working on original ideas and partnering with other studios on projects.

It is working on an English-language version of Spanish drama Gran Hotel and with NBCUniversal on two shows, Pantera and Allies.

Televisa will handle international sales of Maleficios outside of North America.

Look out for an in-depth interview with Chris Philip in the upcoming January / February issue of TBI