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Growing reign in Spain

Almodovars pact with Barcelona producer to develop shows

SAN SEBASTIAN — For two decades, Pedro Almodovar, abetted by producer brother Agustin, has mercilessly mawked at the excesses of television in pics like “High Heels” and “Kika.”

Now their production shingle El Deseo looks to go one better.

El Deseo and fast-growing Barcelona TV production and facilities group MediaPro have pacted to co-develop series, docus, telepics and feature films.

Unveiled Sept. 21 at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the alliance marks El Deseo’s entry into TV production. It adds another shaft to MediaPro’s quiver of impressive partnerships. And it suggests that creative concerns can matter as much as moolah in production moves.

In a three-year, 50/50 joint venture, the partners will co-develop eight projects, split among various genres. They then have a first option to produce the projects.

Pedro Almodovar’s own movies are not included in the deal.

First project up could be feature, “Perfecto,” from directorial duo Felix Sabroso and Dunia Ayaso (“Shout Out,” “Excuse Me Darling, but Lucas Loved Me”).

Pioneer Spanish documaker Larry Levene is advancing on docu “We Are the Alien” about cultural divides.

El Deseo longtime line producer Esther Garcia and Juan Ruiz de Gauna, MediaPro head of film will head development. Pedro Almodovar will officially take a back seat in the productions: That gives him the freedom to add creative input when he wants and can.

El Deseo’s production hike is primarily “a visceral creative decision, and we just wanted to work with MediaPro,” says Agustin Almodovar.

“It opens new artistic challenges, contacts with non- cinema-going audiences.

“It allows us to tap new talent when so much is coming through in TV. It means we break out of the rather enclosed film world. And, hopefully we’ll make quality and sometimes irreverent productions. I don’t know anybody in the world who says ‘I want to see bad TV,’ ” he adds.

MediaPro already holds a stake in Spanish producer Esicma.

Under Ruiz de Gauna, appointed in April, it has co-produced Fernando Leon’s hot San Sebastian ticket “Mondays in the Sun” with Elias Querejeta and Oliver Stone’s Fidel Castro doc “Looking for Fidel” with Pentagrama, Morena Films and Esperanza FilmWorks.

It has joint ventures with DeAPlaneta (telepic producer Prodigius), Carlton and Portugal Telecom (interactive company Wisdom TV).

The deal might not be driven by economics. But it could have a distribution upside, argues MediaPro co-founder Jaume Roures.

“We have a policy of striking strategic partnerships,” Roures says. “We think we’re complementary as companies. And together we can make product that is of greater quality and more competitive.”

With Spain’s TV operators likely to be more selective in their pickups, it’s that kind of product that is more likely to sell.

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