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‘Cafe’ percolating

Telenova penned by 'Betty' scribe Gaitan

Mexican media conglom Televisa is betting it’s found the next telenovela phenom.

It’s remaking Colombian hit telenovela “Cafe con aroma de mujer” (Coffee With the Scent of a Woman), penned by “Yo soy Betty, la fea” scribe Fernando Gaitan. “Betty” has become a worldwide sensation, winning ratings in its original and localized versions.

Producer Nicando Diaz is finalizing casting for the telenovela under the working title “Ardiente pasion” (Burning Passion). Angelica Rivera and Eduardo Yanez are in talks to take the lead roles.

Heroine of the Colombian original is a coffee picker. Televisa version, adapted by Kary Fajer, transposes the story to an agave plantation, where heroine harvests succulents.

Telenovela is set to begin shooting Friday in Mexico’s tequila basket and will bow January in the 9:30 p.m. slot on Televisa’s Canal 2.

Ben Silverman, producer of ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” acquired rights for an English version of “Cafe” in May; his version will be set in a winery.

Televisa’s “Betty” remake “La fea mas bella,” has been a major hit in Mexico as well as Stateside on Univision.

“Televisa excels at remakes. It doesn’t matter if the story has already been told — we make it a hit,” Diaz said.

“Cafe con aroma de mujer” bowed on Colombia’s RCN back in 1994. About 160 episodes were produced.

Skein was exported to Mexico, where it helped launch the then-new TV Azteca. Two years ago, FremantleMedia Latin America began developing a version of the sudser with Gaitan (Daily Variety, March 1, 2004).

Run of Diaz’s previous telenovela, “Contra viento y marea” (Against All Odds), was a hit on Univision earlier this year, drawing big auds at 8 p.m. among adults 18-34.

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