Fox TV Studios takes production abroad with "Mental"

Tue May 13, 2008 2:21am EDT
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By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fox TV Studios president Emiliano Calemzuk is going back to his Latin American roots. In doing so, he also is reinventing the company's business model.

FtvS has greenlighted "Mental," a 13-episode medical drama series starring Chris Vance and Annabella Sciorra, which will be filmed in Bogota, Colombia.

It is one of three series that FtvS is preparing for independent production abroad with foreign broadcast partners. FtvS, whose core business is producing shows for the U.S. cable networks, will then shop the international series to U.S. networks.

"It is a new business model that would give us a competitive advantage and would probably give the industry something to think about," Calemzuk said.

It's also part of a growing trend of bringing indie film-financing mechanisms to TV, such as the Nehst Studios-backed series adaptation of "The Saint," directed by Barry Levinson.

In "Mental," from executive producers Deborah Joy LeVine and Dan Levine, Vance plays a rebellious psychiatrist in a Los Angeles mental health hospital, and Sciorra portrays his boss. The show is being co-financed with Fox International Channels (FIC), which will air the series across its outlets in Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Argentine-born Calemzuk spent a decade working for FIC, primarily in Latin America and Italy, before taking the reins of FtvS a year ago.

As a buyer, he said he was frustrated by the limited supply of U.S. series and about being at the mercy of the U.S. networks, which can cancel a show after only a few episodes.   Continued...

<p>Actress Annabella Sciorra arrives for the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Awards Gala in New York, January 9, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>