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TV giant Globo gears up pic prod’n

Two films launch film slate

RIO DE JANEIRO — Four years after tax-shelter coin started pouring into Brazilian film, Latin America’s biggest media player is finally making movies.

Globo, which has long lorded over Brazil’s TV landscape but shied away from the risks of cinema, has committed to an initial two feature projects, with more in development.

True to its cautious approach, Globo has come up with safe bets for its initial outings: “Simao, um Fantasma Trapalhao,” by comic actor-producer Renato Aragao, whose “O Novico Rebelde” was a hit earlier this year, and “Nas Ondas da Angelica,” featuring TV host Angelica.

Both pics, aimed at kids, will have a summertime (December to February) release and have budgets of about $1.8 million — on the conservative side for Brazilian films. Columbia TriStar has agreed to distribute “Simao.”

Globo Filme, the subsid Globo has set up to develop its films, is headed by longtime TV producer Daniel Filho, film distribution veteran Marco Aurelio Marcondes and administrative exec Tom Florido.

Besides the two kid pics, Globo Filme is co-producing three other films, said Globo spokesman Paulo Carneiro. “Black Orpheus” remake “Orfeu,” by Carlos Diegues (“Bye Bye Brazil”), is already shooting, while “Olga,” based on Fernando Morais’ biography of political activist Olga Benario, and “Comedia da Vida Privada, o Filme,” by director Guel Arraes, are in development.

Unconfirmed reports say the company may also co-produce “A Partilha,” which would be directed by Globo Filme’s Filho, and “Miss Simpson,” a bilingual pic from Bruno Barreto, director of last year’s Oscar-nominated “Four Days in September.”

Both stars of Globo’s first films have huge followings. Aragao for years headed comic troupe Os Trapalhoes, whose TV show topped ratings in the 1970s and 1980s and whose twice-yearly kid pics were slam-dunks. After a long hiatus, Aragao returned to film with “Rebelde,” which holds the admissions record for releases during Brazil’s current cinematic revival.

Angelica is the hot new media phenomenon among kids, hosting a daily four-hour morning show on TV Globo that features games, cartoons and a soap opera. “Nas Ondas da Angelica” marks Angelica’s debut in film, recalling the string of pics made by Globo’s previous white-hot kidvid sensation, Xuxa.

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