China, Spain pair on love story

Duo will co-produce miniseries and fiction series

In a groundbreaking deal for Europe, Catalan pubcaster Televisio de Catalunya (TVC) has inked with China’s powerful Shanghai Media Group to co-produce a miniseries and long-format fiction series.

The Barcelona-set love story will turn on the travails of a cultured young Chinese couple who move to Barcelona.

Shanghai New Culture and Jaume Vilalta’s Factotum Barcelona will co-produce.

In the past, the Shanghai Media Group has inked programming deals with NBA Entertainment and with Viacom to air Nickelodeon. TV deals with Europe are far rarer.

TVC will pick up 25%-30% of the budget. Some 70% of the project, including many interiors, will shoot in China, as the saga’s action often reverts to south Shanghai, the source of much Chinese immigration to Barcelona.

These factors allow the project’s total budget to come in at a modest E1 million ($1.3 million), Jordi Serra, TVC head of co-productions, told Daily Variety.

Deal was signed between the Shanghai Media Group and TVC last week in Shanghai after 18 months of discussions on how to flesh out the project, an indication of the difficulty of tying down TV deals between Europe and China.

Serra said he was confident the co-production would be approved by Chinese authorities.

The untitled miniseries is based on an original idea from Wang Fang, a Chinese journo living in Barcelona.

The partners aim to produce a two-part mini for Catalonia and about 20 45-minute segs for the Chinese market. The Barcelona and Shanghai shoots are skedded for spring 2007, aiming at transmission later next year.

“The deal allows us a bridgehead in the Chinese market. At the same time, it will be culturally fascinating to see how the script can evolve. And Catalans are very interested in immigrants’ experiences,” Serra added.

“A Strange Place,” a TVC series where immigrants air opinions about Catalans, has notched up healthy 25% shares in primetime.

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