U.S. finds French fare can translate


After a British invasion on small screens stateside, the Union Jack is beginning to get some real competition from the Tricolore.

French miniseries "XIII" proved lucky for pay TV giant Canal Plus this month, with the English-language drama giving the channel its highest ratings ever for a homegrown fiction series.

The $20 million, four-hour production, starring Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff, attracted 1.1 million viewers for each of the two episodes, which aired Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. NBC will broadcast "XIII" in the winter, and Canal Plus is planning a sequel, depending on NBC's ratings.

M6 and Canal Plus put up €2 million ($2.7 million) each for the political thriller, and Canada's Power TV and Prodigy funded the remaining budget for the European majority co-production.

"We used a European quota, bankable U.S. actors and filmed in Canada," Canal Plus head of fiction Fabrice de la Patelliere said. "We're really working on developing our international co-productions."

Additionally, French series may be getting U.S. makeovers in the coming months.

CAA is handling negotiations for Scarlett Prods.' series "Clara Scheller," a dramedy about a young single woman living with her gay best friend that aired here on pubcaster France 2.

Alchemy optioned the series this year. Scarlett also is shopping "A Cop in Jail" to U.S. buyers.

La Parisienne Prods.' "Doom Doom" sparked interest at Pangea, which plans to pitch a U.S. version of the series to U.S. cable networks.

CAA is handling adaptation deals for the company's formats including "Hard," which has given Canal Plus some of its best primetime ratings.

"Both 'Hard' and 'Doom Doom' are different from what viewers are used to seeing both in France and within the global TV landscape," La Parisienne topper Gilles Galud said, adding that "the day after the original French broadcast, I was already contacted."

"Hard" also has been optioned for a remake in Germany.

ABC, meanwhile, has optioned a U.S. remake of Elephant Story's format "Don't Do This, Don't Do That," which premiered on France 2 in September.

"Samantha Who?" co-executive producer Bob Kushell plans to bring the 52-minute doc-style comedy series to U.S. screens for a rumored price of €40,000 ($54,000).(partialdiff)