RAI ramps up prod’n

Italo pubcaster eyes $200 mil investment

ROME — Sergio Silva, head of production at RAI-TV, announced Friday the Italian pubcaster is making a quantum leap in its investment for the inhouse production of series, miniseries, TV movies and feature films. The announcement comes on the heels of the recent L.A. screenings, at which Hollywood product was cooly received by the Italians.

Silva said RAI’s three webs will invest nearly $200 million this year in production, of which $30 million is earmarked for feature films, and $165 million for other types of fiction and drama. This is more than twice what RAI spent on production last year.

Silva also announced a three-year output deal between RAI-TV and Polygram, the Dutch-based media giant. He said RAI plans to acquire an estimated $12 million worth of films and other product from Polygram, while the British company has agreed to plow 15% of the RAI expenditure back into co-producing TV product with RAI.

Though in the past, production and acquisition coin has come out of the same RAI kitty, it was not immediately clear to what extent the production jump will cut into the pubcaster’s acquisition budget for offshore product.

In view of the cold reception RAI buyers gave to the majors’ TV product at the Los Angeles Screenings, a market defined by Cinemafiction exec Giuseppe Cereda as “television without emotions and without brains,” an economic shift toward local and European production seems to be in the cards.

According to official figures released by RAI, by the end of this year the production wing Cinemafiction will have started shooting more than 150 segments of 100 minutes each, destined for primetime viewing. Last year’s figure was only 60 segments.

Greenlit to roll before the cameras are 20 miniseries, six series, 16 TV movies, three long series of 26 episodes or more, and one special project called “We Are History,” the story of four young people from the postwar years to the present.

RAI will appear much more frequently than before as a co-producer of Italian and European feature films. For the 1997-98 season, it has made investments in 30 Italian pictures and 14 European films, directed by such star names as Alain Resnais, Claude Lelouch and Theo Angelopoulos.

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