Telemundo reincarnates 'El Clon'

Producing a version of the telenovela for the U.S. market

"El Clon," one of the most successful telenovelas of all time, is set for a reincarnation under a deal set to be announced Monday at Telemundo's upfront in New York.

Telemundo has partnered with TV Globo to co-produce the famous Brazilian novella for the U.S. Hispanic market in Spanish.

The agreement is the beginning of a partnership between the two leading global content providers, executives said. The novela will be produced by Telemundo Studios in Colombia and TV Globo will provide the original format, as well as the expertise of the creative and production team that headed the original novela, including screenwriter Gloria Perez and director Jayme Monjardim.

"El Clon," originally produced in Portuguese and dubbed into Spanish for Telemundo and other languages for international broadcasters, first aired in 2002 on Telemundo and became its strongest 10 p.m. property. It also was an international success, selling in more than 90 countries.

Under the agreement, Telemundo will have exclusive broadcast rights for the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and both companies will market the new production through their international sales teams worldwide. The new Spanish version will be pitched this week to international buyers at the L.A. Screenings.

Telemundo president Don Browne and Ricardo Scalamandre, general director for international business at Globo TV, outlined the project.

"It's been an interesting journey," Brown said. "To come to the point of being able to do a project like this with a company like TV Globo is a coming of age in terms of our original content journey. It's extraordinary because 'El Clon' helped to define the value of Telemundo."

"El Clon" is a contemporary story of love and honor that deals with such topics as drug trafficking, cloning and attitudes to Islam. It became the most-watched drama on Brazilian television in its day.

But the new Spanish version might have some tweaks, according to Scalamandre "We are producing based on the original format but specifically for an Hispanic audience and there will be differences. The original plot was in Rio ... now it's in California. The main characters and the main story remain the same but it is to be completely customized for the Spanish market."

Added Browne: "Our original relationship with TV Globo was in terms of acquiring content and they produce just extraordinarily high-quality content. So this sets a benchmark in terms of how far we have come. This is a partnership made in heaven and 'El Clon' is truly a classic."