Format sales pump novela confab

Telemundo Intl.’s “Grains of Love,” Dori Media Group’s “Lalola” and TV Record’s “Opposite Lives” were standouts among market debuts at Mipcom’s third Telenovelas Screenings and first Drama Series Screenings on Sunday.

But format sales have become the new growth mantra among long-form buyers worldwide.

So some producers and acquisition heads at the Carlton Hotel boutique mart were busier checking out tried-and-tested Euro series rather than the new star-crossed tales of across-the-tracks Latino love.

“Grains” is conceived and written by screenwriter Julio Jimenez, scribe behind Telemundo-RTI hit “Pasion de gavilanes” (Hidden Passion). It reprises the bronzed bodies, revealing dresses, hacienda lust and luxury, and pop scoring.

“Lalola” is an Argentinean sex-change comedy with a womanizing publisher morphing into a hit-upon femme blonde; “Lives” has a Brazilian heir falling for a plucky favela beauty.

All show premier telenovela makers raising their game. Punching 35% shares on Colombia’s RCN this summer, “Grains,” the last of Telemundo’s video telenovelas before it moves to high definition, is still exquisitely lensed.

“To compete internationally and in the U.S. market, we have to invest more,” said Telemundo prexy-CEO Marcos Santana.

Telenovelas are also becoming more cultural. “Lalola” boasts an anti-macho social discourse while “Lives” combines critiques of Rio favela gang warfare and police payolas with sumptuous locations.

According to Delmar Andrade, head of international affairs at Brazil’s TV Record, “Lives” has rolled out pre-Mipcom sales to six Latin American territories including Venezuela (Televen) and Uruguay (Canal 10 Saeta). “Grains” has sold to Spain’s Antena 3 TV.

Pre-Mipcom, DMG sold remake rights to “Lalola” to an undisclosed Spanish broadcaster.

Among other deals, Italy’s Mediaset has acquired all episodes of “Storms of Love” and its second installment, “Tempest of Love,” from Germany’s Bavaria Media Television.

A hit in Germany, “Storms” didn’t reversion any specific Latino sudser but did consciously give a German recast to the genre.

Most-watched telenovelas at the Screenings were “Lalola,” Telemundo’s “A Chance to Love,” about second-time-round romance, and unscrupulous judge tale “Breaking Rules” from Argentina’s Telefe Intl.

Remaking long-form series formats is one large future, said execs at Mipcom.

“Reformating a proven success, you limit risk, can pitch broadcasters more easily, and move much quicker into production,” said Elinor Saloniki, international operations manager at Israel’s Herzliya Studios. “But you’re not going to reformat ‘Ally McBeal.’ “

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