Barry Sonnenfeld developing scripted 'Devil'

THR EXCLUSIVE

Barry Sonnenfeld is partnering with Fluent Media Group and Resonant TV to develop a scripted format with an international sales twist.

The producer-director is attached to "Beat the Devil," a supernatural thriller that is first being shopped in foreign territories before being pitched to U.S networks. What's unusual is that Fluent and Resonant have attached an A-list U.S. talent who will be involved in the international sales process from the beginning, before a domestic version is considered.

"The idea is to get showrunners involved in the international versions of a show," Fluent Media Group president Raul Mateu said. "By the time we bring it back to the U.S., the producer didn't just see it because an agent had it; he'll be invested in the project and know why it worked."

While an agent at WMA, the Florida-based Mateu packaged a Colombian telenovela that became "Ugly Betty" for ABC. The project went through a couple of producers before finding its match with executive producer Silvio Horta.

Mateu's strategy aims to skip that development process; Sonnenfeld's name also lends added credibility to a title while the companies shop it to the international market. At the same time, Sonnenfeld isn't committed to having to write, direct or produce any given version.

Along with the Argentina-based Resonant, the partners have sold "Devil" to Eyeworks in Spain and are shopping the format elsewhere.

The plan reflects the increasing value of successful TV producers at a time when the number of scripted distribution outlets keep increasing. The partners also plan to try to replicate the sales format with other projects.

"Five years ago, it was unthinkable of a U.S. studio acquiring a scripted format from another country," said Gonzalo Cilley, head of Resonant TV. "We want to have Barry involved from Day 1 so he can use all of that experience and information when he pitches the American version."

Got tips on TV industry news? Contact Hollywood Reporter TV Editor James Hibberd at james.hibberd@thr.com
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