Sony Pictures Television’s Latin America unit is embarking on its boldest historical drama series yet with “El Comandante,” depicting the life and times of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Sony has committed to producing 60 hourlong episodes. “It is our most ambitious series on many levels, in terms of budget, cast – some 600 cast members – locations and the recreation of 30 major events in Chavez’s life,” said Angelica Guerra, SPT’s senior VP and managing director, production, Latin America and U.S. Hispanic. SPT will kick off international sales for the show later this month during its LA Screenings showcases.
Colombian thesp Andres Parra, who played drug lord Pablo Escobar in Caracol TV’s 2012 series “Pablo Escobar, El Patron del Mal,” will play the title role of Chavez, whose humble origins and controversial rise to power are detailed in the series that will include both fictional recreations and documentary footage of key events.
Chavez was a polarizing and enigmatic figure in global politics during his run as the head of the oil-rich nation, where he was elected president in 1999 and served until his death in 2013. “El Comandante” is likely to be picked up in the U.S. by a Spanish-lingo outlet and possibly even by a cable network or SVOD service, where English-dubbed versions of programming in foreign tongues are becoming more common.
According to Guerra, the production will be shot “100% on location,” but she would not specify where. SPT has production offices in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Principal photography will kick off in the summer, with a target airdate for early next year, depending on each broadcaster. The bio-teleseries is designed to be stripped like a telenovela, airing Monday to Friday. It’s a hybrid, using the telenovela format, albeit shorter, but with the look and feel of a U.S. drama, said Guerra.
“It’s been our pioneering content strategy for the past two, three years to identify recognizable, relatable people and make a series about their lives,” said Guerra. SPT’s “Lady, The Rose Seller,” which traces the fall from grace of Colombian rose seller Lady Maria Tabares, who was the subject of the 1998 Palme D’Or nominated movie by Victor Gaviria when she was just 13. Airing on RCN TV, it was Colombia’s most-watched scripted series last year. Airing on UniMas in the U.S., it has been the channel’s most watched series to date among total viewers since its debut in January.
SPT’s “Search Bloc” a 70-episode teleseries that centers on the elite squad that helped bring down Escobar, aka the “King of Cocaine,” started airing last week on RCN. Bio-teleseries “Blue Demon,” a co-production between SPT and Mexico’s Televisa about the iconic Lucha Libre wrestler Alejandro Munoz Moreno, is expected to debut this year.
Andrea Marulanda (“Lady, The Rose Seller,” “Metastasis”) and Luis Eduardo Jimenez (“Search Bloc”, “Amor en Custodia”) serve as executive producers of “El Comandante.”