Telenovela 'Queen of the South' Lands Pilot Order at USA (Exclusive)

Based on the best-seller by Arturo Perez-Reverte that spawned a show on Telemundo

USA Network is jumping on the Queen of the South bandwagon.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable network is adapting Arturo Perez-Reverte's best-selling novel La Reina Del Sur (aka The Queen of the South), ordering a pilot from Fox Television Studios for the drama, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The book was published in 2002 and became an international best-seller. The novel spawned a series starring Kate del Castillo on USA sibling Telemundo that ranks as one of the most popular telenovelas of all time on the network.

The drama tells the story of Teresa Mendoza, who after her drug-dealing boyfriend is unexpectedly murdered in Mexico, is forced to go on the run and seek refuge in America. There, she teams with an unlikely figure from her past to bring down the leader of the same drug trafficking ring that has her on the run. In the process, she learns the tools of the trade and strategically positions herself to become the leader of the cartel.

M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller (The Final Girls) will pen the script for the pilot and executive produce alongside David Friendly (Little Miss Sunshine) and Pancho Mansfield (Damien).

"We are excited to bring this global best-selling thriller to our viewers,” USA president Chris McCumber said. "Queen of the South is a suspenseful twist on a dramatic tale of love and betrayal that examines the desperate choices people make when lives are on the line."

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Telemundo's Queen of the South launched in 2011 and was the network's highest-rated premiere for a telenovela to date, often topping English-language programming on the broadcast networks. The series, the most expensive in the cabler's history, ran for 63 episodes, with 4.2 million viewers tuning in for the series finale, a figure that ranks as Telemundo's highest-rated broadcast in its 19-year history. The show's success prompted Telemundo to launch its first-ever Emmy campaign.

Queen of the South comes five months after NBC and USA announced they were developing English-language versions of Telemundo telenovelas The Lord of the Skies and Woman of Steel, respectively. NBC last year announced it would develop three telenovelas from Electus, with one likely to go to series.

For USA, meanwhile, Queen of the South becomes the cabler's fourth drama pilot in the works. It joins Jennifer Carpenter starrer Stanistan, Anonymous Content's Mr. Robot and Carlton Cuse's Colony. The Queen pilot order also expands USA's relationship with FTVS, which produces the cabler's White Collar, Graceland and Sirens and its upcoming drama Complications.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit

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