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Marathon expands grasp

Group to distribute North American series

CANNES — Gallic TV group Marathon is to distribute North American series in France as a potential prelude to it plans to expand into pan-European rights acquisition.

Part of De Agostini’s new, pan-European production group Zodiak, Marathon’s first focus is Canadian skeins sold by Entertainment One Television — “The Bridge,” “Shattered” and “Copper.”

Broadcast by Canada’s CTV, “The Bridge” is a 13-episode police drama.Written by Canuck Tassie Cameron, “Copper” describes itself as “‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in the world of rookie cops.” CanWest Global produces.

“Shattered” is produced by Force Four and E1’s Blueprint Entertainment for CanWest Global. Written by Rick Drew  (“Lonesome Dove: The Series”), it turns on a forensic investigator who solves crimes thanks to his multiple personality disorder.

In a deal closed at Mip TV, Marathon has taken rights in France and the French-speaking parts of Belgium and Switzerland to the three series. It will work on distribution with Gaut’s Double V, said Marathon prexy Pascal Breton, who is also Zodiak head of drama.

Marathon and Double V have taken free-to-air, pay TV and DVD rights.

Breton is holding exclusive talks to buy Gallic TV distributor Double V,  French buyer of “Dexter.”

“We want to expand our Canadian and U.S. series acquitions to Europe, at a time when there are not so many series coming out of Hollywood,” he said.

Also the co-financing deal brings Zodiak closer to Canuck production hubs as it advances plans to co-produce U.S.-cast drama series, using U.S. showrunners, and a European-Canada-U.S. co-production structure.

With the WGA strike, the U.S. networks turned to Canada to fill holes in skeds. Global recession means the U.S. nets are more willing to share costs on series, Breton said.

In this context, “We hope Canada is the bridge into the U.S.,” Breton added.

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