Kirch, Mediaset unveil co-venture’s tag, goals

Curtain raises on Epsilon during Mip

CANNES — Monday at Mip TV was all about the letter “C” — as in convergence, communities, content and a long list of other themes upon which Bertelsmann’s Werner Lauff expounded in his keynote address on new media.

By Tuesday, the TV confab on the French Riviera had hit the letter “E,” as in Epsilon, a newly named joint holding formed by Italy’s Mediaset and Germany’s Kirch Group last year. Having finally gotten a moniker, the venture was presented for the first time at the day’s annual brunch hosted by Kirch.

“Epsilon definitely stands for experience, and it stands for Europe,” the entity’s topper Jan Mojto declared during a speech. “Epsilon wasn’t thought out by a merchant banker. It was born out of the necessity and the reality of Europe taking into account change. It’s about creating the atmosphere that allows us to do what we want to do.”

Those goals include creating major U.S. and European programming such as “Napoleon,” a six-hour miniseries starring Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu, who were on hand Tuesday to tout the new production venture.

A co-production with France 2 and GMT, pic is budgeted at 50 million francs ($7.3 million). Like “Les Miserables,” the last collaboration between the partners and Depardieu, it’s part of a major expansion in Epsilon’s TV projects. The telefilm also will bring in a U.S. partner.

The company has film output deals in place with Spyglass Entertainment as well as Robert Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises and Hyde Park Entertainment.

Since Epsilon was formed early last year, a whole host of other players have encroached on its territory to form pan-European ventures, but Epsilon remains the most content-oriented.

On another Euro front, Bertelsmann Broadband Group’s prexy-CEO Lauff announced Monday that Europe’s first interactive service, combining broadband TV and broadband Internet, is set to launch Friday.

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