Series Mania taps two

'Homeland,' 'Top Boy' share Audience Choice nod


Showtime’s “Homeland” and U.K. web Channel 4’s gritty four-parter “Top Boy” shared the Audience Choice nod at the 3rd Series Mania, a Paris-based fest dedicated to worldwide TV drama.

“Homeland,” acquired by French paybox Canal Plus for a fall bow, is the U.S. remake of Gideon Raff’s Israeli format “Prisoners of War.” Co-created by Raff, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, “Homeland” stars Claire Danes as a CIA agent investigating a U.S. Marine who returns home after being held hostage by al-Qaeda.

Created and helmed by Ronnan Bennett, “Top Boy” turns on gangs in an under-priviledged neighborhood of East London. It has yet to be picked up by a French network.

The pair were selected out of 38 series from 11 countries, including Argentina (“Maltratadas”), Australia (“The Slap”), South Korea (“City Hunter”), Spain (“Gran Hotel”), Norway-U.S. (“Lilyhammer”). Series Mania played 13 U.S. skeins, notably “Boardwalk Empire,” “Smash,” “Game of Thrones” and “Luck.” “Ainsi soient-ils,” commissioned by Franco-German net Arte, was named best French series. Zadig Prods.’ Catholic church-set skein bows in the fall.

Series Mania kicked off its first match-making sessions for professionals, attracting top-level acquisition and sales execs from the U.K., Korea, Canada, Israel, Australia, Germany, Argentina and Belgium, among other countries. Fest’s mini-mart section also boasted a screening library of 60 TV drama skeins.

Participants included Sophie Gardiner, Channel 4’s drama commissioning editor; Wook Han, topper of Korea’s Dramapassion; Aline Avedikian, regional sales manager at SevenOne Intl.; Carole Sklan, head of ficiton at ABC Australia and Ran Tellem, VP of programming at Israel’s Keshet Broadcasting.

“We launched these meeting sessions to encourage creative collaboration, catalogue sales and/or remake rights negotiations,” said Laurence Herszberg, managing director of the Forum des Images, which hosts Series Mania.

“At Mip TV people often have back-to-back meetings which leaves them very little time for anything else.”

The mini-mart attracted approximately 500 professionals, while the screenings and panels drew 12,000 visitors, up 33% on 2011.

“There’s a real fascination for TV drama series and not just the American ones; people are interested in knowing the ins-and outs of the development and production process,” Herszberg said.

Series Mania’s highlights included Q&As with “Boardwalk Empire” showrunner and exec producer Terrence Winter, “The Wire” thesp Dominic West and Raff.

“One of the most interesting aspects about Series Mania for me was how small the world has become in the sense that we are all being entertained by the same shows (…) and despite our cultural differences, we all seem to respond to compelling storytelling in the same ways,” confided Winter.

Winter said he was also eager to learn about the process of French TV production. “So many people have told me how different French TV shows are from American shows and I’m wondering if this has to do with the lack of a ‘writer’s room’ or if the differences stem from something else.”

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