Russian 'Prison Break' in development

Channel One Russia partners with Fox for local version

Another high-profile U.S. series, "Prison Break," is about to get an intriguing foreign treatment -- this time in Russia. Channel One Russia, the leading broadcaster in the territory, is partnering with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution to develop a full 22-episode localized version of the Fox drama series.

The deal marks the broadcaster's first acquisition of a big-budget U.S. drama scripted format from a major Hollywood studio. No financial details of the arrangement were available. Several other Russian broadcasters have successfully customized U.S. dramas, including versions of producer Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" franchise.

Red Square Cinema and Russian Project Studio have been commissioned by Channel One for the series, and a team of top producers and writers has been assembled to adapt the scripted format for its Russian audience. The cast, which is currently under selection, will be announced shortly. Series launch is tentatively scheduled for fall 2010.

Appointed production staff to date includes Konstantin Ernst and Denis Evstigneev who have been assigned as executive producers. Andrei Malyukov will direct while Youri Korotkov will act as chief writer.

The original version of "Prison Break" debuted on Fox in 2005 and ran four years. It was created by Paul T. Scheuring and tells the story of Michael, a man whose brother is on death row for a murder Michael is convinced he did not commit. With no other options and time winding down, Michael holds up a bank to get himself incarcerated alongside his brother Lincoln in the state pen. The series was licensed around the world by Fox and aired in primetime in many territories.

" 'Prison Break' has been one of this studio's signature franchises both in the U.S. and abroad and we are excited that it will take on a new life in this Russian version," said Fox Television Chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden in a statement. "It goes to prove what we've always believed at the studio: Great storytelling and big ideas will always attract audiences, no matter what culture or country."

" 'Prison Break' has already been a phenomenal success around the world," added Yoni Cohen, Fox's SVP International development & sales. "There are few broadcasters that have such a distinguished track record in drama production. Channel One is the perfect partner for this franchise."

Konstantin Ernst, Channel One Russia's general director and series executive producer said, " 'Prison Break' is one of the best series of the past decade. We have been following the success of the show for many years, and now with our long-term partner Twentieth Century Fox we would like to offer our viewers the local version. We always try to create television that can not only deliver the biggest ratings, but is of the highest order of quality and intelligence. We believe that the Russian version will resonate perfectly with our audience."

This project marks the latest result in a long-standing relationship between Channel One and Fox. Prior to this deal, Channel One had acquired a number of the studio's series including "24," "Lie to Me," "Modern Family," "White Collar" and "Life on Mars." The relationship between the two companies expanded further when Fox's theatrical division acquired two of the station's feature films, "Night Watch" and "Day Watch." The two companies continue to collaborate further on feature films through Fox Theatrical's Moscow office.