ACC 'Wild' out of the gate

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Upstart Tokyo-based film and TV producers Asian Contents Center unveiled its first projects Thursday, announcing committments from Japanese and Chinese pubcasters NHK and CCTV to air the three-part series "Wild Life," based on a popular manga about renegade veterinarians.

The live-action "Wild Life/Adventure of the Flying Vets," which will begin shooting in Shanghai soon, is set -- after its NHK broadcast -- to be developed into a feature film shot in the U.S., said Shoji Udagawa, executive vp and head of international.

"The Japanese theatrical market is at it's worst point in a long time, so that's why we're looking to TV and why I joined the company," Udagawa said.

"Wild Life" will star Koichi Sato ("Sukiyaki Western Django"), Tessho Hayato and Tetsuji Tamayama. No budget for the three 90-minute episodes of "Wild Life" was revealed.

ACC's next project -- "Stars of Destiny," based on a 19th-century story by popular novelist Jiro Asada -- also will broadcast on NHK. Since the story sold five million copies in China, CCTV is a "natural partner," Udagawa said, adding that negotiations with the state-run TV giant are underway.

The story of two brothers who pursue different lives in a caste-stratified society, "Stars" will be made as a 20-part series of 45-minute episodes.

ACC also will make 240 five-minute shorts for NHK about Japanese culture. The shorts will be based on the diaries of "Manyoshu," the oldest collection of Japanese poetry, which dates to the 7th century.

ACC started in the spring with an investment from Avex Group Holdings and Wowow in hopes of building up a TV fund to make programs with Japanese and Asian partners.

Udagawa also maintains his post as a consultant to Filosophia Entertainment Alliance, working with Japanese and international clients on financing, co-production and marketing.
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