You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Romans in L.A.,’ ‘Dead Meet,’ ‘Alert’ to Be Unveiled at Series Mania’s Co-Production Forum

TV drama projects from Haut et Court, Keshet Intl., Mediapro, Nordisk Film Production, Studio Lambert also to be pitched at Series Mania’s main industry event

Shine Endemol Italy’s “Romans in L.A.,” the “Six Feet Under”-ish “Dead Meet” and whistleblower-themed “Alert” are among 16 TV dramas to be unveiled at pitching sessions at mid-April’s Series Mania’s Co-Production Forum, the Paris-based festival’s centerpiece industry event.

The three projects were chosen out of 312 submissions from throughout Europe. That’s an increase of about 100 entries from last year, an indication of the building reputation of Series Mania and the priority now placed on international co-production by top European TV producers as they seek to offset risk and tap into pan-continental distribution.

The C0-production Forum will for the first time offer a cash grant of €50,000 ($54,000) to a best-project winner and be expanded from three to four days, running April 18-21.

The number of attendees has also risen. More than 500 international TV series executives are expected to be on hand, said Laurence Herszberg, general director of Paris’ audiovisual arts theater Forum des Images and founder of Series Mania.

Though little is known about most projects beyond their titles, they will range widely in market terms, according to Forum organizers.

Popular on Variety

“We have tried to establish a good balance between edgier projects which may go to pay-TV operators or public broadcasters – maybe four to five belong in this category – and some more high-concept dramas, while also opening up to more mainstream projects,” said Francesco Capurro, the Co-production Forum coordinator.

Endemol Shine Italy’s “Romans in L.A.” is “very high concept,” Capurro said, and is set in a near future where scientists manage to bring back to life the bodies of real Romans who lived during the Roman Empire.

“Dead Meet,” reportedly a dark comedy about a girl who works in a morgue, is set up at London-based Eleventh Hour Films, which has produced scripted series such as “Foyle’s War,” “New Blood” and “Vexed.” At this year’s Forum, “you have projects which dare to take place in very strange environments,” Herszberg said.

Belgian project “The Alert” turns on whistle-blowers. It marks yet another move into TV drama by a Belgian movie production company, in this case Wrong Men, which co-produced Tom Holland feature “Pilgrimage.”

Also to be pitched in Paris is a slice of Russian noir, “The Conductor From St. Petersburg” (aka “Moscow Noir”), which adapts the crime novel of the same title by Sweden’s Paul Leander Engstrom. Unfurling in the get-rich-fast Russia of the early 2000s, the book turns on two Swedish friends – one an attorney, the other an investment banker – who both aim to make a killing from a big deal made by petrol giant RusOil.

Beyond these projects, and the already announced “Freud,” sourced from the Berlinale’s Drama Series Days, producers have kept most of the projects to be presented at the Forum under wraps.

Capurro said that nine more projects, fruit of a new script-writing mentor program with the Torino TV Lab, would also be unveiled at the Forum’s Series Lab. Another initiative, Bestseller to Box Office, will see five literary agents talk up the small-screen adaptation potential of literary properties.

The identity and caliber of producers behind the projects suggest their possibly higher-end budgets and artistic ambitions as well as hint at emerging industry trends.


One is a building Israel-France TV axis. Founded by Carole Scotta (pictured) and a producer of “The Young Pope,” “The Last Panthers” and the original “The Returned,” Paris-based Haut et Court TV is teaming with Eitan Mansuri’s Israel-based Spiro Films and “False Flag’s” co-creator Maria Feldman on “Fertile Crescent,” a family drama and spy thriller.

TF1’s production-sales house Newen has linked to Keshet Intl., Israel’s major production-sales force, to develop a second France-Israel series, “The Steins,” a modern reimagining of the Frankenstein myth.

Last year’s Series Mania also marked the emergence of Belgian noir on the international stage, with the screening of Belgian pubcaster RTBF’s “Public Enemy” and “The Break” and the Lagardère-sold “Beau Sejour.” This year, the Co-Production Forum will reveal two projects from prestigious Dutch film-TV production houses: “David,” a comedy from Lemming Film (“The Lobster”), and “The Faction,” from Submarine, whose “Winnie” won a Sundance Fest world cinema best-directing award in January.

A further Forum project, “Girl on a Wire,” is produced by Studio Lambert, founded by CEO Steven Lambert (pictured, right), and owned by Discovery/Liberty Global’s All3Media. Best known for entertainment formats (“Undercover Boss,” “Gogglebox”), Studio Lambert has been pushing hard into drama since early 2015.

Co-launched by Jaume Roures (pictured, left), Mediapro’s “The Head” is an early original production from one of Southern Europe’s biggest film-TV indie companies, Spain’s Mediapro Group, a producer on “The Young Pope.” Over the last year, Mediapro has made waves by hiring “Homeland” producer and ex-Keshet exec Ran Telem, as well as buying into Daniel Burman’s Burman Office in Argentina.

Nordisk Film Production, producer of TV series “The Team” and Oscar-nominated movie “Land of Mine,” will present a Norwegian project, “Twin.”

Also at the Forum, “Neo Paris” signals a rapid return to Series Mania for French helmer/producer Tonie Marshall’s Tabo Tabo Films, which lead produced Lucie Borleteau’s “Cannabis,” a world premiere at last year’s edition. “M.A.D.” is from Copenhagen Film Commission founder Ulrik Bolt, now a producer at Denmark-based Arena Film. “Milites Christi,” a Crusades drama, is developed at Wild Horses, a TV production company with offices in Paris, Lille and Belgium. “The Last Socialist Artifact” is produced by Zagreb-based Kinorama (“Hush”).

The Co-Production Forum’s jury members are: Francesca Orsi, HBO co-head of drama and the jury president; Thomas Bourguignon, a producer at KWAI; Piv Bernth, head of drama at Danish pubcaster DR; Henrik Pabst, managing director at German production-sales company Red Arrow Intl.; and Pilar Perez Roel, head of acquisitions at DCD Rights.

Series Mania runs April 13-23.


“The Alert,” Wrong Men, Belgium

“The Conductor from St Petersburg”/“Moscow Noir,” Black Spark Film & TV, Sweden

“David,” Lemming Film, The Netherlands

“Dead Meet,” Eleventh Hour Films Limited, United Kingdom

“The Faction,” Submarine, The Netherlands

“Fertile Crescent,” Masha Productions/Spiro Films/Haut et Court TV, Israel/France

“Freud,” Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, Germany/Austria

“Girl on a Wire,” Studio Lambert, United Kingdom

“The Head,” Mediapro, Spain

“M.A.D,” Arena Film, Denmark

“Milites Christi,” Wild Horses, France

“Neo Paris,” Tabo Tabo Films, France

“Romans in L.A,” Endemol Shine Italy, Italy

“The Last Socialist Artefact,” Kinorama, Croatia

“The Steins,” Newen/Keshet International, France/Israel

“Twin,” Nordisk Film Production, Norway

More Film

  • Alexandre Desplat

    Alexandre Desplat Combines Mozart and Bowie for Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women' Score

    There have been multiple film and TV versions of “Little Women.” But composer Alexandre Desplat and writer-director Greta Gerwig had a non-traditional idea for Sony’s 2019 version: “We wanted the music to be a duet of Mozart and Bowie,” Desplat laughs. There are no rock music touches in the score, but there is a modern [...]

  • Clarence Thomas

    Film News Roundup: Clarence Thomas Documentary to Get Theatrical Release

    In today’s film news roundup, a Clarence Thomas documentary and “Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” are getting theatrical releases, and Lionsgate is developing a Rabbids movie. RELEASE DATES Manifold Productions has slated “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” to open in theaters nationwide on Jan. 31, Variety has learned exclusively. The documentary about the [...]

  • Danny Aiello Do the Right Thing

    Danny Aiello: Spike Lee, Mia Farrow, Cher and More Remember ‘Do the Right Thing’ Actor

    Following the news that character actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night, friends and peers of the “Moonstruck” actor shared their remembrances via social media. Aiello — whose body of work included Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “The Godfather Part II” and Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” music [...]

  • Willem Dafoe The Lighthouse

    Willem Dafoe on Early Film Roles, Working With Robert Eggers on 'The Lighthouse'

    A four-time Academy Award nominee, Willem Dafoe developed his cinematic charisma — seen in films like “The Florida Project” and “At Eternity’s Gate” — in his early career in theater. After studying drama at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dafoe moved to New York in 1976 and joined what would eventually become The Wooster Group. His [...]

  • Theodore Shapiro Music Composer

    How Music Illustrates the Shifting Dynamics in 'Bombshell'

    What stands out about Theodore Shapiro’s score for “Bombshell” is that the music isn’t frantic despite being set in a fast-paced environment — Roger Ailes’ newsroom at Fox News. Instead, the score straddles two worlds: that of Ailes and that of the women who worked for him.  “[Director] Jay [Roach] and I talked about finding [...]

  • Just Mercy Movie

    How Period and Real-Life Subjects Informed Costume Designs for 'Just Mercy'

    When Francine Jamison-Tanchuck signed on as the costume designer for “Just Mercy,” the true story of defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan) and his fight to overturn the murder conviction of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), she was drawn to the prospect of depicting real-life characters through her work.  “It can sometimes be more [...]

  • Avatar

    'Avatar' at 10: What Happened to the 3D Box Office Boom?

    Chris Aronson admits he was being bullish when he told his colleagues at 20th Century Fox that “Avatar” would gross $500 million at the domestic box office. This was back in 2009, before Marvel mania and Disney dominance made half-a-million-dollar earners commonplace. Up until that point, only “Titanic” and “The Dark Knight” had surpassed that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content