Academy and Emmy award-winning producer Mark Johnson whose credits include acclaimed series “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” and Oscar-winning pic “Rain Man,” is venturing into his first-ever Spanish-language series, partnering with TelevisaUnivison’s premium streamer ViX+ and LA-based Exile Content on the Church scandal dramatic series, “Amen” (a working title).
Now in development, the upcoming ViX+ Original limited series will be produced under the banner of Televisa Alternative Originals (TAO), TelevisaUnivision’s premium content division, which has made such notable titles as “Un extraño enemigo,” “El candidato” and “Diablo guardian.”
“Amen” tells the story of Father Marcial Maciel, the Mexican priest who was denounced in 1998 for corruption, graft, and the sexual abuse of minors by various members of his congregation and students of the Catholic religious order he founded, Legionaries of Christ.
Tapping sources that include investigative reports, hundreds of interviews and the book “Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II” by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, the dramatic skein will delve into the scandals of the Catholic church and promises to be a “tense and thrilling account of one of the Twentieth Century’s most powerful and manipulative personalities, and the secret war between his victims and his protectors that threatened to bring down one of the world’s oldest institutions.”
“The opportunity to tell this Byzantine story chronicling the uncovering of one of the most deceptive and pernicious figures in 20th century Mexican culture, and to tell it in Spanish, the language of my youth, is irresistible,” said Johnson, who will produce via his Gran Via Prods. banner.
“It’s rare to adapt a story like this with such compelling real-life characters, a complex world, and enormous consequences to the institutions we take for granted,” he added.
“At ViX we value storytelling, but as an authentically Hispanic company, we specifically seek out stories that are Latin at their core — stories that we know will resonate with our communities, but also the rest of the world,” said Rodrigo Mazón, executive VP, general manager, ViX+.
“We believe it is our responsibility to give a voice to projects that matter to Latin American audiences. In the case of ‘Amen,’ we are telling a story that originates in Mexico, that grew to global importance, ultimately threatening one of the most powerful institutions – the Catholic church – as well as some of the highest echelons of society,” he added, noting that the series is “without a doubt, one of the most ambitious projects in our industry.”
Reeling in a producer of such caliber underscores ViX+’s commitment to delivering high-end content as it competes in an increasingly crowded landscape of streaming platforms.
TelevisaUnivision, formed through the merger of Univision and Televisa, launched the subscription-based ViX+ on July 21 in the U.S and Latin America, following the launch of its free-ad supported streamer, ViX, in late March.
TelevisaUnivision has inked deals with a constellation of name-brand creators for ViX+, led by Salma Hayek Pinault, Eugenio Derbez, Maria Dueñas, Mario Vargas Llosa, Santiago Limón, Leonardo Padrón and Marc Cistaré.
With offices in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Madrid and Miami, Exile Content Studio, a part of Candle Media, creates content in Spanish and English for a worldwide audience across multiple platforms. Founded by Isaac Lee, the former chief content officer of Univision and Televisa, it produces feature films, scripted and unscripted television, as well as music and audio features. In October, the studio tapped Emmy Award-winning writer, author Kevin Shinick, best known for his stints as writer, producer and voice-actor on Adult Swim’s irreverent “Robot Chicken,” to showrun its upcoming animated TV series, “Lil’ Heroes.”
He joins NBA star Carmelo Anthony who serves as an executive producer and voice actor on “Lil’ Heroes.” Asani Swann, Anthony’s producing partner and co-founder of Creative 7, also executive produces.