Telemundo plans Betancourt series

Colombian politician was famously held hostage

NBC-Universal’s Hispanic web Telemundo has snapped up TV rights to a bestseller about last summer’s dramatic rescue of Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and others held hostage in Colombia.

Telemundo plans to produce a skein with a more narrative spin, based on Juan Carlos Torres’ “Operacion Jaque: La Verdadera historia” (Operation Checkmate: The True Story), instead of the documentary slant previously taken by other webs.

“It’s a bold step and the first of its kind for us,” said Telemundo Television Studios’ prexy Patricio Wills.

Book is a behind-the-scenes account of the planning and strategy behind the rescue of the hostages held by rebel group FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

Betancourt was kidnapped in 2002 while campaigning for president of Colombia. Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes, the three American contractors freed with her, were captured in 2003.

The rebels were fooled into thinking that helicopters that landed deep in the jungle were sent by a humanitarian org to transfer their 15 hostages. Once inside the choppers, the kidnappers were overwhelmed by rescuers masquerading as humanitarian workers.

Various films based on rescue are in development, with the Screen Gems pic ahead of the pack. 

It’s Telemundo’s second TV rights acquisition of a book this year. In March, it announced plans to adapt Spanish journo Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel “La Reina del Sur” (Queen of the South) into a telenovela.

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