Jimenez was a seasoned international correspondent, covering conflicts, disasters, and major events for over two decades, before becoming editor in chief of Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo in 2015. In his book he details how he fought to defend the newspaper from political and business interests, as well as media executives, offering a candid look at a modern newsroom, and at modern-day journalism.
The book created a stir in Spain, notably among the country’s press corps. With the book and now scripted TV project, Jimenez told Variety he wants the reading and viewing public to get a taste for what it is really like at the coal face of journalism. “Most series based on journalism don’t feel authentic,” he said. “’El Director’ was an honest, intimate look into the life of the newsroom – and it doesn’t shy away from telling the darker side of that.”
The book was hot property after its release in Spain earlier this year. Political leaders, royals, criminals, journalists-for-hire all figure in the story about a newsroom fighting for survival. It topped the non-fiction charts in Spain and will soon be published internationally.
Jimenez fielded offers from several outfits before opting to go with Fremantle. “As soon as the book was released there was a lot of interest from different companies and platforms,” he told Variety. “I wanted to keep the spirit of the book and saw Fremantle wanted the same.”
Fremantle Spain’s CEO Nathalie Garcia and exec producer Manuel Tera will be on point for the project from the Fremantle side. It is the Spanish arm of the company’s first foray in to drama. Garcia said that while specific names and places will likely change and it will “create a wider universe,” the mission is to stay true to Jimenez’s original work. “Why adapt it if you are not going to keep that essence,” she said. “This was a unique opportunity to get to a real story.”
The producers will now set about attaching writers, working up scripts, and talking to potential partners about the “El Director” series. Spanish drama is faring well in the international market, with a host of big-ticket series travelling. With a global outlook garnered from years of international reporting, Jimenez added that the themes in the book and series – the challenges that journalism faces – resonate around the world.