Cultural channel tries to lighten up

PARIS — Like other Gallic TV nets, Arte France is moving more strongly into drama. 

But while paybox Canal Plus and pubcaster France Televisions are specializing in darker-edged thrillers, Arte is targeting younger auds with dramedies. 

At present, documentaries make up nearly half of the Franco-German net’s schedule. 

“We’re trying to innovate and lighten up our editorial line,” explained Francois Sauvagnargues, director of Arte’s fiction department.

Arte invests E50 million ($74.3 million) on TV films and series every year, while Arte France alone invests $34.2 million in the production of French TV pics and skeins.

Sauvagnargues said Arte is developing 10 series.

In 2010, the net will launch primetime dramedies “Les Invincibles” and “Fortune.”

 Adapted from the hit Canadian series, “Les Invincibles” follows four thirtysomething friends who break up with their partners to explore being single again. The skein nabbed six Canuck Gemini TV awards in September.

The net has shot two seasons, 18 one-hours, for $17.8 million. 

Set in Strasbourg, the series will star Lou Doillon and Clementine Celarie.

“Fortunes” centers on four friends in their thirties who come from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Series will turn on these middle-class characters as they face up to challenges in their careers and their lives.

“It’s a funny and provocative series that touches on sensitive subjects with a biting humor,” said Sauvagnargues.

The first season comprises eight one-hour episodes, which are shooting in France, Morocco and Qatar.

Arte also is developing “Oasis,” a vampire skein that will shoot in 2011, and “Xanadu,” a comedy about a dysfunctional family that inherits a porno film empire. “Xanadu” is in production and will start shooting early next year.

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