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Beta tests co-production

BBC, HBO work on 'Guns'

Teuton production-distribution giant Beta Film is teaming with HBO, BBC and Gallic pubcaster France Televisions to develop mini “The Guns of August.”

“Guns” adapts Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize winning 1962 book describing the lead-up to and first month of WWI.

The mini is being developed with Frank Doelger, co-exec producer of “John Adams” and exec producer of “Rome,” Beta prexy Jan Mojto told Daily Variety at Cannes’ Mip TV on Monday.

Series will be ready for delivery in 2013-14.

Mojto said Beta is in advanced negotiations to launch a joint-venture production company with an undisclosed international partner.

News of “Guns” comes as Beta and French co-producers Lagardere and Canal Plus Group are moving into production on 12-seg series “The Borgias,” on which Starz prexy-CEO Chris Albrecht takes an exec producer credit.

“We will do ‘Borgias’ notwithstanding the fact there’s a U.S. project,” Mojto said, in reference to a rival series set up at Showtime with director Neil Jordan.

Production will start on the 12-hour series in late summer. Showrunner is Tom Fontana (“Oz”) who has written the outline and some episode scripts.

Albrecht later admitted, “There might be use for two Borgias projects around the world but it will be very hard for us to get a U.S. network after the Showtime remit.”

Meanwhile, he announced his own historical series, “William the Conqueror” as well as U.N. drama “Peacekeepers,” both in co-development with Ben Silverman’s Electus.

A welter of announcements gave Mip an out-of-the gate energy distinctly contrasting with last year’s mart, including:

  • RHI Entertainment and Syfy will co-produce two movies in 2011 — “The Other Side,” written by Douglas G. Davis (“Carny”) and “Roadkill,” written by Rick Suvalle (MTV’s “Spider-Man”);

  • Canada’s Citytv and UKTV’s Crime Channel have ordered season four of Shaftesbury Films’ crime drama “Murdoch Mysteries,” sold by ITV Studios;

  • Sky Italia has teamed with the BBC and Kudos Film and TV to develop “The Medici.”

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