Studio buys U.S. remake rights to 'Lalola'

BUENOS AIRES — Sony Pictures Television has picked up U.S. remake rights for Argentine womanizer comedy “Lalola” from Israel-based Dori Media Group.

“We believe the product has potential to be a success in the United States,” said Sharon Hall, senior VP of drama development at Sony Pictures Television.

“Lalola,” hailed as the next “Ugly Betty,” is one of the fastest and widest selling telenovelas out of Argentina, with 30 countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Russia picking up tape and format versions over the past year.

The Sony deal “strengthens our belief that global demand for telenovelas is growing,” said DMG prexy-chief exec Nadav Palti.

The 150-episode comedy airs in primetime Monday to Friday on America TV.

Instead of traditional love stories about ordinary Argentines, the fast-tempo “Lalola” is about a high-flying womanizer who must endure the abuse he once doled out after he is turned into a woman by one of his conquests.

The story was the idea of Sebastian Ortega, a producer behind hits like transvestite-starring “Los Roldan” (The Roldans) and cult favorites about prisoners, psychos and whores. His Underground Contenidos is co-producing “Lalola” with DMG.

To help boost sales, DMG has developed 26-episode weekly versions that may be more appealing for networks in Asia, Western Europe and the U.S. that generally don’t schedule daily series of more than 60 episodes.

Dori Media, which produces 600-800 hours a year in Argentina and Israel, opened a Miami division last year to help expand sales to the U.S. It has since bought studios in Argentina and Israel in a drive to boost production to 800-1,000 hours in 2008 and above that in 2009.

“Lalola” is the second Argentine novela to get picked up for remake in the U.S. In 2006, 20th Century Fox Television remade “Resistire,” a hit on Argentine network Telefe, as “Watch Over Me,” a 64-hour adaptation of the corruption-laden suspense tale starring Dayanara Torres as a heartthrob torn between a bioterrorist fiance and a bodyguard.

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