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Gaumont ups ani output, pitches new NBC series

Gaumont Television, the production subsidiary of French film major Gaumont, plans to expand its animation output, according to company chairman Christian Charret.

The move comes on top of renewed efforts by Gaumont Television to break into the U.S. network market by pitching a new series to NBC.

Charret said that his first toon project will be 52 26-minute segs of “Highlander.” The series will start shooting in February with most of the animation expertise coming from Canadian toonster Nelvana and Paris-based Ellipse.

Gaumont TV already is working on the second season of its live “Highlander” series, which was sold in the U.S. domestic syndication market and is currently screening on France’s leading TV network, TF1.

Charret says the new animation series will cost about $ 320,000 per episode.

The second project is a series provisionally titled “The History of the Olympic Games.” Work on the 52 26-minute segs will start once the International Olympic Committee gives its blessing to the proposed scripts. Gaumont’s partners in the project are Nelvana and Spanish animation specialists Mate Prods.

On the drama front, the company is pitching a new series to NBC. NBC has paid for the pilot script of “Club Med,” which will be co-produced by Anglia TV in the U.K. “If NBC greenlights the pilot, we will start shooting in February,” said Marla Ginsburg, Gaumont TV’s inhouse producer.

Charret remains disarmingly realistic about the chances of “Club Med.””We’re in there with everyone else, trying to get a network break. If NBC passes, then we will look to the other networks or to syndication.”

Charret intends to lens the series either in New Zealand or Australia (where he is negotiating with potential co-production partners), with a budget of around $ 1 million per episode “if it is for a U.S. network.”

Also in the hopper is an action-adventure comedy series, “The Three Musketeers,” destined for the Family Channel. Northstar is a co-producing partner on the 26 26-minute segs.

“Daughters of Silence,” destined for Lifetime Television, went cold when the cable web’s top management was reshuffled.

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