'Heritage' puts Endemol on Russian radar

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Endemol International has secured its first drama series commission in Russia, inking a deal with Channel One to produce a local version of the Dutch show "The Heritage," the company said Thursday.

Endemol Moscow has been commissioned to produce the 16-part series, which begins with the death of an international trading tycoon and then follows the gripping game of intrigue he plays from beyond the grave, enticing his heirs to compete to win his fortune.

The series, which has been a huge success for RTL in the Netherlands, will go into production in May and is set to premiere in spring 2008.

"This is a truly compelling drama that has already gripped viewers in the Netherlands," said Leonid Zagalsky, executive producer for Endemol Moscow. "It's the kind of story that can travel anywhere in the world, and I think the Russian audience is going to love it."

Caroline Torrance, Endemol's director of scripted programming and distribution, said the global appetite for scripted programming is "rapidly growing."

"This is one of the areas where Endemol has significant potential for growth, and we have long established ourselves as a world leader in creating and distributing formats," she said. "Now we're beginning to replicate that model in the scripted genre."

The Russian deal follows the recent Endemol U.S. announcement that it is stepping up its activities in scripted programming and has four projects in development: "The Track" for FX, "Nanny Dallas" for the CW, "Larry Godmother" for ABC Family and an untitled pilot script for TBS.

Other recent scripted deals include local adaptations of Endemol U.K.'s comedy sketch show "Spoons," which are set to premiere this year on ProSieben in Germany and Reshet in Israel.
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