UPDATE: After several months of quiet time at his new company Electus, Ben Silverman is making a flurry of announcements at MIPTV, setting up high-profile projects at Starz and MTV. At Starz, Silverman is developing several projects, including William the Conqueror and Peacekeeper. All will be done with international partners and shot partially or entirely abroad as “event television with the world’s TV audience in mind,” according to Starz president Chris Albrecht. At MTV, Electus has inked a deal to develop and produce Pedro & Maria, a bilingual series executive produced by Ugly Betty star America Ferrera, which is touted as “the first ever interactive telenovela developed for both television and the web.”
William the Conqueror, created by director Pierre Morel (Taken) who is also set to helm the pilot, is about the French monarch who in 1066 successfully invaded England. Morel will executive produce with his producing partner Renee Tab. Peacekeeper is a contemporary action thriller set at the UN building in New York as well as hot spots around the world, and is co-created by Ben Silverman and Fisher Stevens (The Cove). The two potential series join Starz’s roster of global series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which is shot in New Zealand and features an international cast, the upcoming European co-production The Pillars of the Earth, and the Irish-Canadian co-production, Camelot.
Pedro & Maria marks Silverman’s return to the telenovela genre. He brought to the U.S. the Colombian format for Ugly Betty and exec produced ABC’s adaptation starring Ferrera. In addition to Silverman and Ferrera, Quiara Alegría Hudes, the author of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical In the Heights, is on board to exec produce Pedro & Maria. He will also write the script. Procter & Gamble Prods. will co-produce and bring brands to the show.
Electus will own international distribution rights for Pedro & Maria, which is being sold at MIPTV. Created by Silverman, Pedro & Maria is described as a modern day “Romeo & Juliet” that lets audience vote and decide on the direction the characters and story lines via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.