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Variety: Beta Entertainment Spain Unveils TV Drama, Unscripted Projects, Eyes Latin America (EXCLUSIVE)

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Nov 26 2019

MADRID — Beta Entertainment Spain, the joint venture just launched by European independent film-TV giant Beta Film and Spanish producer Javier Pérez de Silva, has unveiled its earliest unscripted and TV drama production projects.

With central offices from October in Madrid's Salamanca neighborhood, Beta Entertainment Spain will guarantee Beta access to a larger volume of Spanish-language content, whose distribution has proved highly successful for Beta in recent years.

"We have been teaming for years with fiction producers across Europe, first in Germany, then Italy, Scandinavia and now Spain," said Christian Gockel, Beta Entertainment Spain's co-CEO.

BES was born as Beta's bridge into the Latin American TV market for both TV drama and unscripted content production.

"The moment is great to produce all types of TV content, not only for Spain, but for the international market," said BES co-CEO, Javier Pérez de Silva.

Beta has been linked to the Spanish TV fiction boom from its inception, distributing key TV dramas such as Atresmedia-Bambú's "Gran Hotel," "Velvet" and "Fariña." It announced this April a multi-year distribution-production alliance with leading Spanish paybox Movistar Plus that secures Beta international distribution rights for about six Movistar Plus series a year, as well as co-production on targeted titles. Beta furthermore provides financing backup to Madrid-based outfit Señor Mono.

But BES marks Beta's first operations based out of Spain. "We want to be an option to finance and develop TV projects. We are not calling ourselves n studio but we have always gone in that direction," Gockel said. "Before the current TV drama boom, we were already very international, trying to raise basically European projects. That's in our DNA," he added.

"The plan is to have two original series in production and other two in development every year," Pérez de Silva added.

In Latin America, Beta has traditionally sold completed TV series rather than producing or co-producing content. This is one of new company's main challenges.

"BES is a Beta initiative to connect Europe with Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market. Spain is the perfect bridge to join both views," he added.

BES has several TV fiction projects under way. Some are:

*Thriller TV series "Don't Pray Anymore," a real facts-inspired project led by Jesuit priest Father Pilón and the Hepta Group, who investigated paranormal phenomena in Spain from the '70s. With Joaquín Górriz ("Angel or Demon," "Ahí alguién ahí?") as showrunner, the series was selected by The Wit as part of its fresh TV fiction list for last Mipcom.

*Set to roll in the U.S., TV drama project "The Secret Hospital," teams BES with Atresmedia Studios and Balance Media, company run by producer Miguel Torrente ("Padre Coraje").

*Developed alongside Unicorn, part of Mediterráneo Mediaset España, and Balance Media, a yet-to-be-titled series inspired on the Bretón Case, about two missing children in Córdoba in 2011 whose father was convicted of double murder. The case had a large media impact in Spain. Written by Ignasi Rubio ("Promises of Sand," "State Secrets"), it is in advanced co-production negotiations with a SVOD platform.

A former CEO and co-founder at Madrid-based production houses La Competencia and Señor Mono, Pérez de Silva has built over the years a strong connection with Latin American and the U.S. Hispanic TV market, especially creating TV entertainment formats such as Univision hit show "Pequeños gigantes."

He has brought to BES the unscripted team from his prior companies, headed by Jacobo Eireos, executive producer of Mediaset España's long-term hit reality show "Gipsy Kings," of which BES is preparing a spin-off.

BES has also started to sell and produce third-party TV formats for the Spanish market, such as Armoza's "The Surprise Teacher."

"Teaming with Javier is a great start to expand in the Spanish-language market," Gockel said. "Given the moves OTT platforms are making into entertainment or docu-drama, we find it highly interesting to also grow in that sector", he added.

Non fiction projects at BES take in:

*"El espejo del pasado" ("Back Mirror"), a retrotainment format with celebrities, for Mediaset España's online service Mtmad.

*"@Police" a reality that follows a Spanish police cybercrime department pursuing new crimes such as clandestine lab of medicine for online sale, or infiltrating the dark web.

*BES is in talks with a U.S. broadcaster to adapt and distribute "The Secret Concert," an emotainment-music format, with BES holding Spain and Portugal rights.

"SVOD platforms are beginning to ask for original entertainment, mainly magic, personality and music shows with a different focus than linear TV formats," Pérez de Silva said.

In that sense, BES is preparing "Invention," a TV format led by Spanish magician Jorge Blass who travels around the world discovering the magic of the future, using artificial intelligence, drones, and holograms.

Eyeing SVOD players' increasing demand for documentaries, BES is also producing a biopic of legendary Spanish sports journalist José María García, in line with HBO España's recent mini-series "El pionero."

Aimed at Spanish and Latin American audiences, it is making a docu-series about José Miguel González "Michel," a former star of the Real Madrid soccer team, now coach of Mexico's Los Pumas. It will be an access-all-areas documentary, with recent Amazon's docu "El corazón de Sergio Ramos" as a reference.