Canal Plus impresses Hollywood, shows ready

Exec helps French giant impress Hollywood with shows ripe for English-language adaptations

French tv maven Fabrice de la Patelliere (pictured above), head of fiction programming at Canal Plus, is shepherding a slate of shows sure to draw the attention of U.S. programming execs. The list includes Gaumont Intl. TV’s “Barbarella,” helmed and exec-produced by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) and penned by “Skyfall” writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade; and Dominik Moll’s “The Tunnel,” a French-U.K. makeover of hit Scandi crime drama “The Bridge,” co-produced by Sky Altantic and Canal Plus. (A Yank version of “Bridge” is already under way at FX).

(From the pages of the April 9 issue of Variety.)

De la Patelliere already has a track record of shows that have spawned English-language adaptations: Leverage and HBO are remaking his brothel-set “Maison Close,” while “Shameless” creator Paul Abbott is heading a redo of “Rebound” (“Les Revenants”), France’s first homegrown contempo fantasy series. The original “Rebound” has been licensed in key territories (including the U.K. with Channel 4) by Zodiak Rights. After five years in development, the show became Canal Plus’ highest-rated original series, with a 23.3 market share.

“Fabrice de la Patelliere doesn’t make empty promises — and when he commits to develop your show, you know you’re in good hands,” said Abdel Raouf Dafri, writer on the Canal Plus dramas “Braquo” and “La Commune.”

The son of filmmaker Denys de la Patelliere, Fabrice got his start in publishing in the 1990s. That led to a job at Gaul’s leading commercial network, TF1. He spent four years there, working on daytime and primetime programming.

In 2002, the exec was poached by Canal Plus, which was then struggling. The move was a gamble, but nearly all the French-language series he greenlit scored top ratings and sold worldwide.

Under de la Patelliere’s leadership, Canal Plus started commissioning big-budgeted series aimed at the international market, notably Olivier Assayas’ miniseries “Carlos,” about terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, and Tom Fontana’s Vatican-set historical drama “Borgia.”

Taking “The West Wing” as a reference, de la Patelliere started developing shows and TV pics exploring contempo French history and political scandals deemed too provocative for free-to-air channels. Only recently have other networks started commissioning such shows.

His push for quality-driven TV drama has allowed Canal Plus to maintain subscriptions at a high level in the past two years, even after losing key sports broadcast rights to Al Jazeera’s BeIN Sport.

“I really enjoy the editorial freedom we have at Canal Plus to take risks and create provocative, cinematic shows that don’t have to target the widest possible demos — something that we couldn’t do at TF1,” de la Patelliere said.

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