Production shingle to develop projects, programming for El Rey

This time last year, John Fogelman began scouting opportunities for an English-lingo cable channel targeted to U.S.-born Hispanics.

His meetings with advertisers and potential backers came as the longtime tenpercenter was preparing to launch his FactoryMade Ventures banner. It also dovetailed with Comcast’s pledge to launch 10 independently owned channels on its cable systems over the next few years.

When Fogelman realized the depth of corporate America’s interest in reaching the fast-growing Hispanic market, he assembled a 200-slide Power Point presentation to pitch helmer Robert Rodriguez on partnering with FactoryMade on a channel. Rodriguez was in by the second slide.

“It speaks to me on a personal level,” Rodriguez told Variety of the pact to launch El Rey, an English-lingo entertainment channel emphasizing Hispanic creative talent and personalities.

“Having five kids of my own who are bilingual, they don’t have anything on TV that represents their experience,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like I’m at a moment in my life where I can help bring in all the talent I’ve met over the years to create content that is really fun that will have mass-market appeal. The fact that there’s such a hunger for this is very exciting.”

As part of the deal for El Rey, Rodriguez and FactoryMade have also teamed to create Tres Pistoleros Prods., which will supply a range of programming to the cabler — from scripted and unscriptedseries to docus to sports. The company is already developing a live-action series and an animated series based on ideas that Rodriguez has been nurturing for some time.

As indicated by the moniker that means “the King” in Spanish, Rodriguez aims to have El Rey skew to a younger aud with strong appeal to men, in contrast to the femme focus of most other Latino-targeted domestic outlets.

“Looking at the marketplace you see that the male (Hispanic) audience is really underserved,” Rodriguez said. “This is the sort of thing I’m versed in and we know that kind of programming will attract a younger audience as well.”

Rodriguez and FactoryMade are now looking for execs to run El Rey and Tres Pistoleros. Both outfits will likely have offices in Austin, Texas, where Rodriguez is based, and in Los Angeles to be near FactoryMade’s Santa Monica HQ.

For El Rey, the focus is on an exec with a background in cable distribution, as securing carriage beyond the Comcast universe is job one for the nascent channel.

At present, El Rey is owned solely by Rodriguez and FactoryMade, though that could change as the duo begin making the rounds of private equity and venture capital players as well as potential strategic partners. Fogelman has no doubt they’ll be able to raise the significant capital required to fund the ambitious startup. He’s fielded numerous overtures from private investors and banks during the past few months as word of the Comcast pact began to leak.

“There’s a lot of ways we can put this together,” Fogelman said. “We’re going to spend the next couple of months making sure we get the right partners in place that will allow us to build this (channel) for the long run.”

El Rey is targeted to bow by January 2014, though it may launch earlier if the financing and programming comes together in time. “We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to do a very methodical ramp-up because we want to get it right,” Fogelman said.

The El Rey and Pistoleros deals are the first startups to come from the ventures side of FactoryMade, which also has a corporate advisory business that counts Hasbro, JC Penney, Euro TV giant RTL and Spain’s Telefonica as its partners. FactoryMade opened for business last September when Fogelman reunited with 10 members of what had been WME’s strategic planning and business development unit. Fogelman serves as CEO, while WME alum Cristina Patwa is prexy.

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