Newsmaker: Epigmenio Ibarra

Exec created joint venture with over 1,200 hours of p'gramming

MEXICO CITY — When Mexican indie producer Argos Comunicacion fell out with its former client, No. 2 broadcaster TV Azteca, CEO Epigmenio Ibarra looked north.

Ibarra, whose TV career began with a cameraman job, covering Central American insurgencies in the 1980s, initially formed Argos to produce commercials, a business area that remains in the Argos fold. But he made his initial mark back in 1995 — and helped boost TV Azteca’s ratings — when Argos turned out “Nada Personal,” a telenovela that ripped its storyline from Mexican headlines and established the company as a source for contemporary, edgy fare.

Argos produced one of Azteca’s biggest soap hits, 1997’s “Mirada de Mujer,” which was successfully exported.

The Argos-Azteca relationship soured in early 2000 over the issue of international rights, which Ibarra wanted to retain.

Then in October, he announced a three-year joint venture to co-produce more than 1,200 hours of programming with U.S. Hispanic net Telemundo. The two will produce a total of nine telenovelas in Mexico, as well as comedies, news, dramas and reality shows, for which they will share rights.

Among the first Argos-Telemundo projects is the drama series “La Linea.” Set in Tijuana, show revolves around an emigrant-aid org and will feature Arcelia Ramirez and Demian Bechir, who co-starred in the hit 1996 Mexican pic “Cilantro y Perejil” (Recipes for Staying Together).

In addition, Telemundo will invest in the development and production of four Argos film projects. For the pics in which it invests, Telemundo will have the TV and theatrical rights in key markets.

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