Sony Pictures Television (SPT) has tapped Oscar-nominated scribe Guillermo Arriaga to be the creative lead on “Yo No Soy Mendoza,” an SPT project Colombian writer-creator Fernando Gaitan was developing before he died unexpectedly in January 2019.
Gaitan was best known for his Colombian aspirational telenovela “Yo Soy Betty La Fea” (“Ugly Betty”), deemed by the Guinness World Records as the most successful telenovela in history.
“Ugly Betty” aired in some 180 countries, was dubbed into 15 languages, and adapted in up to 28 territories, including China, India, South Africa, and the U.S.
Gaitan had just signed a landmark content development deal with Sony Pictures Television, when he was felled by a heart attack at age 58. It was the first such agreement for the writer who had worked exclusively for Colombia’s RCN for most of his 30-year career.
Arriaga commented, “Fernando Gaitán, my Colombian brother, called me before he passed away. He wanted to ask if I could advise him on a series he was developing for Sony. I accepted immediately, not only because I loved him but because I admired him.”
“He was a writer with an enormous talent. So, in honor of my promise to Fernando, I remain as an advisor in the series he designed and created,” he continued.
Arriaga, whose impressive screenwriting credits include the acclaimed trilogy with three-time Oscar-winner Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Amores Perros,” “21 Grams” and “Babel”), will lead the writing team of the eight-part dramedy series.
“Yo No Soy Mendoza” (I Am Not Mendoza) pivots on young Julián García who is walking down a street one day when he is kidnapped by several men who force him to pretend to be ‘Leonardo Mendoza’ and marry the richest, most desirable woman in the land.
Ana Bond, SPT senior VP and managing director of international production in Latin America and U.S. Hispanic, said: “We are so excited to have Guillermo on board to guide the highly regarded creative duo of writers German Maggiori (HBO’s “Amongst Men,” the first Latin American series selected at Berlinale 2021) and Marcos Osorio Vidal (“Simuladores,” “Apache” and 2020 Emmy-nominated “The Bronze Garden”) as well as Adrian Zurita (“Nosotros Los Nobles”), a creative consultant on this project.”
Commenting on Arriaga’s complex, non-linear writing style, Bond said: “His unique narrative universe is perfect to guide two of the most gifted writers in the region to honor Gaitan’s vision for the series.”
Most recently, Arriaga’s latest novel “Salvar El Fuego” (“Saving the Fire”) won the Premio Alfaguara literary award, one of the most prestigious in the Spanish language.
He has also directed various shorts and participated in anthologies. Arriaga made his directorial feature debut in 2008 with drama “The Burning Plain,” starring Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence and Jose Maria Yazpik.