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Sales pile up for Serial Frank
by: Oct 18, 2007 Print

MONTREAL -- International buyers can't seem to get enough of François en série (Serial Frank) -- the made-in-Quebec comedy that's relatively unknown in la belle province but is making a splash around the world.

At last week's MIPCOM, three more countries -- Malaysia, Russia and Italy -- signed on to adapt its format, which has already been optioned by Greece, Spain, Germany and NBC in the U.S. The 24 x 30 series from Locomotion Télévision, about a mixed-up twentysomething François (Martin Laroche) and his girlfriend Marie Hélène (Julie Le Breton), is created and directed by 33-year-old Jean-François Asselin and airs here on the Séries+ specialty channel.

"I was very surprised by all the countries that optioned it. I met them all at MIPCOM. They really seemed to relate to the show and felt it reflected what was going on in their country," says producer Marc Grenier, who just returned from Cannes.

"When buyers look at it they simply fall in love. They immediately have a big crush on the show," says Michel Rodrigue, founder of Distraction Formats. Locomotion is distributing the finished production while Distraction handles deals for the format.

Rodrigue and Grenier are delivering what they describe as the Serial Frank "format bible" to producers at NBC next week so they can get started on making the American pilot for next fall, which, if it's picked up, could be a mid-season replacement, says Rodrigue.

What's unique about the series is that the multiple aspects of the characters' personalities -- six for François and five for Marie Hélène -- are played by 11 different actors. "It's based on a short film we produced in 2002," explains Grenier. "The short had an amazing run. It won many people's choice awards at festivals, so we thought it would make a great series. And the ideas just started pouring out."

Radio-Canada was originally on board but backed out. Séries+ now has the series -- which Grenier describes as being "medium budget" -- for two seasons. It has the rights for five years.

Because Serial Frank is broadcast on the rather obscure specialty channel, Grenier says the audience isn't huge in Quebec. Many viewers likely first heard of the series when it was given the best comedy prize at this year's French TV awards, the Gemeaux, in September.

"The series is high-concept. Quebec has lots of potential to sell formats abroad because we have to such a strong tradition of television writing," says Rodrigue. Guy A. Lepage's popular series Un gars, une fille also sold around the world.

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