Gaumont looks to Pacific for new fare

Gaumont Television, the French production company that has crossed the Atlantic with the “Highlander” series and a successful pitch of two pilots direct to U.S. networks, has turned its attention to Pacific possibilities.

Gaumont TV is teaming up with New Zealand’s South Sea Pictures and the CLT to produce a 22 one-hour series “Tales of the South Seas,” based on the adventure stories of Jack London.

What makes the new project particularly unusual in France is that it is an English-lingo series destined for primetime on pubcaster France 3. French webs seldom schedule hour-long series in primetime and virtually never pre-buy English lingo programs for that slot.

In addition, Gaumont TV has pacted with Australian production outfit Crawford and Channel 9 to co-produce a six-hour miniseries “Violent Earth,” which will air on Franco-German cultural web ARTE and which starts shooting in Queensland in July. The series will be directed by Carl Schulz.

Gaumont insiders, including topper Christian Charret, are touting the two productions as a sign that the Paris-based TV company is becoming increasingly international in its ambitions.

The company, which was set up in 1990, has a healthy production slate for its domestic market. Gaumont is producing France 2’s summer series “La Riviere Esperance” and has several telefilms destined for the pubcaster, including Patrick Dewolf’s comedy “Le Parasite” and Claire Dever’s “Mylene.”

At private TF1, production on the 6-part, 90-minute “Conflit de Generation” collection continues, and Bernard Stora is to shoot a telefilm “Sixieme Classique,” destined for the Bouygues web.

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