Local remakes began with 'Housewives'

The Mouse House’s newly unveiled plan to produce local versions of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Brothers & Sisters” in Colombia marks a second incursion into remaking original ABC Studios productions in Latin America.

Disney’s Latino venture began with “Desperate Housewives” for which it centralized production in Buenos Aires, site of its regional headquarters. Adaptations for Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil and the U.S. Hispanic market were shot on a purpose-built Wisteria Lane set, renamed Calle Manzanares, in Buenos Aires.

Company’s strategic pact with Colombia’s RCN TV and Vista Prods. will apply the same economies of scale for “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Brothers & Sisters” once other Latino broadcasters sign on to make their own versions. Vista Prods. is building the “Grey’s Anatomy” set at an old, abandoned clinic in the Colombian capital of Bogota that will include a state-of-the-art operating room.

“In the case of ‘Brothers & Sisters,’ which requires simpler sets, we will give broadcasters the option to shoot their own versions on their territory,” says Fernando Barbosa, senior VP of Disney Media Networks Latin America. As in the Latino “Desperate Housewives,” aka “Amas de casas desesperadas,” Disney will adhere closely to the storylines but incorporate cultural nuances.

Disney Latin America also is exploring the idea of remaking “The Golden Girls,” already reversioned in Russia and Greece.

“Colombia is set to become our second Latino production hub, after Argentina,” Barbosa says. 

Shooting of “Grey’s Anatomy” is slated for October. Casting is still under way.

“We’re hoping to cast talent with more international profiles, actors who are renowned in the U.S. Latino market,” says Jaime Sanchez, General Manager of Vista Prods.

Vista produces exclusively for Colombia’s RCN TV, which started a five-year volume deal with Disney this year.

The ratings for “Amas de casas desesperadas” have been a mixed bag. Ratings for the U.S. Hispanic version on Univision, airing weekly on Thursdays since Jan. 8, spiked at first but have since slackened off. The Univision version is likely to air in Mexico, although the studio declined to name the network.

Ecuador’s Teleamazonas and RCN, which jointly produced the same version, have begun production on the second season of “Desesperadas.”

Argentina’s Artear Canal 13, which was the first broadcaster to air its version in August 2006, has yet to sign up for a second season. Its debut posted a 25.55 rating, making it the numero uno weekly series premiere for the web. Ratings fluctuated through the course of the season.

In October, “Desesperadas” launched on RCN to a 35.3 rating and 51 share. Skein was stripped Monday to Thursday.

In Ecuador, where it debuted in May, Teleamazonas stripped “Desesperadas” Monday-Friday, just as with a regular telenovela. Formula worked amazingly well, boosting the ratings average of its timeslot from last year’s 8 to 20.8.

Brazil’s Rede TV launch of “Donas de casa desesperadas” in August boosted the web’s overall aud share ranking from fourth to third place.

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