International Newswire: Bavaria Fernsehproduktion Rebrands as Bavaria Fiction

Move comes as German production giant strikes first deals with digital platforms, primes international ambitions

In today’s International Newswire, Bavaria Fernsehproduktion rebrands; Gaumont picks up a millennial drama, from Milo Ventimiglia; Alexander Coridass steps down at ZDFE; and Sony adds social edge to its new Mexican TV drama. 

Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, one of Europe’s biggest production companies, has rebranded as Bavaria Fiction. There are several good reasons. One: The name, Bavaria TV Production in German, was a misnomer. Bavaria Fernsehproduktion moved waves last month scoring the first original series production commission from Deutsche Telekom, hardly a traditional TV, on comedy half-hour “Germanized,” on which, Variety reported, Amazon Prime Video, again hardly a traditional TV, is in advanced negotiations to acquire select territories. Bavaria Fiction, as its new name makes clear, only produces fiction, not general entertainment. Also, try pronouncing “Fernsehproduktion” if you’re not German. Bavaria Fiction has a weighty core business producing for Germany’s domestic market such shows as evergreen soap “Storm of Love” for ARD, episodes of the same broadcaster’s hugely popular “Tatort” crime fiction Sunday evening slot and, in a different vein,  over 75 “Inga Lindström” TV movies. But, headed by managing director Jan. S. Kaiser, Bavaria Fiction harbors large international ambitions. it created an international department two years ago. Billed as a sequel to the 1981 movie,  and with Tom Wlaschiha (“Game of Thrones”), Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”) and James D’Arcy (Marvel’s “Agent Carter”)  joining the cast late September , “Das Boot,” a production with Sky and Sonar Ent., is currently in production; set in a near-bankrupt French village that welcomes a German company, “Germanized” is produced with Telfrance, part of France’s Newen. For foreign ventures, “Fiction” is better than “Fernsehproduktion.”


“Narcos” producer Gaumont has acted with StyleHaul and Verizon’s go90 to distribute “Relationship Staus, ”starring and executive produced by Milo Ventimiglia(“This Is Us,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Heroes”), developed by Ventimiglia’s production company DiVide and co-produced with StyleHaul and Full Fathom Five (“The Kicks”). A millennial social media drama, the series will be made available in two formats fit for millennials: 10 minutes or 22 minute episodes. The sales rights deal comes as Gaumont’s U.S. company has recently signed first-look TV deals with both J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call”) and Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Academy Award for his “The Usual Suspects” screenplay.


Alexander Coridass, the face of ZDF Enterprises (ZDFE), one of Germany’s best-known TV sales companies, is to exit after 25 years. He will leave ZDFE, which he co-founded in 1992 after joining German pubcaster parent ZDF in 1985, at the end of 2017.  He will be replaced by Fred Burcksen and Stephan Adrian as co-managing directors. Coridass’ departure is described as resignation in a press release but retirement, which has been anticipated for some time, by sources close to ZDFE. Corridass steps down as ZDFE has driven into European drama – Italian mafia thriller “Maltese,” Swedish ratings hit “Before We Die” and now Finnish comedy “Living With My Ex,” is in discussions with Beta Films for an international production-sales alliance.


Even Latin America’s shorter novelas are getting shorter. Sony Pictures Television and Mexico’s TV Azteca announced Oct. 4 that they are going into production on “Tres Milagros,” an action-drama which marks a Mexican re-make of Colombian RCN’s 2012 ratings-buster which bowed out after a 70-episode run with a 41% audience share. The Mexican makeover will come in at 50 segs. It also suggests Latino fiction’s growing social conscience. The story of three women, one of whom will die if they ever meet, one is brought up by humble rural laborers, another by middle-class parents, another joins Mexico’s filthy rich. The series is “action-packed,” said Angélica Guerra, intl. production SVP, Sony Pictures Latin America. But it is also full of “contemporary conflicts” and “the perfect excuse to show three universes via its protagonists,” she added, as Latin American dramas acquire ever more a social-heft.


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