EXCLUSIVE: El Rey, the upcoming Comcast cable network from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa’s FactoryMade, is looking to make a splash with original scripted series. I have learned that Tres Pistoleros Studios, Rodriguez and FactoryMade’s production company, has signed a mega three-year deal with Reliance’s Georgeville Television that could be worth a quarter of a billion dollars. Under the pact, Georgeville, the independent TV studio formed by Marc Rosen and Motion Picture Capital’s Leon Clarance and Deepak Nayar, will produce a minimum of six 13-episode series for the new network at budgets rumored to be at least $3 million an episode. (UPDATE 14:45 PM: The El Rey-Georgeville TV deal has now been officially announced. You can read the press release under the story.)
With the deal, El Rey hints at its future identity as a scripted player when it launches in January 2014. That is also a direction Oprah Winfrey recently took with her upstart OWN, signing a multi-series pact with Tyler Perry for scripted fare. El Rey is one of three minority-owned new channels Comcast committed to while seeking federal approval for its acquisition of NBC Universal. Of the other two, Magic Johnson’s Aspire, targeting black families, launched last summer, with Sean Combs’ music-oriented Revolt set to unspool in July. The English-language El Rey is targeting the U.S.’ growing Latino audience whose importance is on the rise. Just this month, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision posted its first No.4 in-season sweep finish among adults 18-49, topping NBC.
WME alums Fogelman and Patwa teamed with Desperado and Spy Kids director Rodriguez last year for Tres Pistoleros and El Rey Network. CAA-repped GVTV, which will mark its first anniversary this spring, is behind NBC’s upcoming pirate drama series Crossbones and has several other projects in the works, including Blake 7, which is awaiting word on a series pickup at Syfy, and the Zorro-themed Z at USA. Here’s today’s release:
Austin, Texas (February 28, 2013) — Tres Pistoleros Studios, the television and digital content production company jointly owned by renowned filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, announced today that it will partner with Reliance-backed Georgeville Television for three years to produce a minimum of six series, at 13 episodes each with budgets of $3 million per episode and higher, for the highly anticipated El Rey Network.
El Rey is a new general entertainment, English-language cable channel, jointly launched by Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures and awarded and carried by Comcast Corporation as part of a Congressional diversity mandate that was an approval condition for Comcast’s merger with NBCUniversal. El Rey will launch in the US on January 1, 2014.
“We are excited to be joining forces with a world-class partner such as Georgeville, who will strengthen our global footprint for delivering cinematic, adrenaline-packed and action entertainment to young and diverse audiences,” said Rodriguez.
Under terms of the agreement, Georgeville Television, the shingle headed by CEO Marc Rosen, film finance veteran Leon Clarance and Oscar-nominated producer Deepak Nayar, will partner with Tres Pistoleros to produce for El Rey the same level of high-end content that Georgeville is currently producing for networks such as NBC, ABC and USA. The co-producing partners expect to announce their initial slate of programming at MIPCOM in April.
“Robert’s visionary storytelling and production techniques – combined with FactoryMade’s entrepreneurial track record in media – create the perfect convergence of creative and cultural credibility. El Rey is the ONLY network with the US Latino market built into its DNA, rather than servicing them as an afterthought based on demographic data,” said Rosen.
“This partnership enables us to amplify Robert’s worldwide branding into a 2014 platform that truly brings the independent film financing model to television – the apex of why Reliance created Georgeville. This is the most natural extension of the brand awareness that GVTV has created, partnering with the highest level of A-list, internationally-recognized, feature and television talent,” added Clarance.
In addition to being featured on El Rey, the series will be distributed internationally and through mobile and social media platforms. Georgeville will self-distribute the new series in India, China, Canada and the United Kingdom, while Tres Pistoleros will leverage its relationships for distribution in Spain and key Latin American territories, including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Chile.
Production for Tres Pistoleros will be based in Austin, Texas, home of Rodriguez’ 26-acre production facility – and also the location where Rodriguez created and filmed global franchises such as Spy Kids and Machete, as well as his upcoming sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
“FactoryMade is building its business on identifying unique marketplace opportunities and bringing together the right combination of creative and strategic partners, which is exemplified by the union of Georgeville Television, Tres Pistoleros and El Rey,” said FactoryMade CEO Fogelman.
“This partnership will allow us to launch El Rey with as many high-level, premium-quality, original scripted series right out of the gate, similar to most established cable outlets,” added FactoryMade President Patwa.
FactoryMade is an incubator that builds media and entertainment businesses with prominent Hollywood talent and corporate partners such as Hasbro, JCP and Telefonica. Fogelman and Patwa teamed with Rodriguez last year to form Tres Pistoleros (the three behind “Tres”) and El Rey Network.
A fifth-generation Mexican-American, Rodriguez is well known for his acclaimed two-decade filmmaking career. In 2011, his groundbreaking 1992 debut film, El Mariachi, was chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Film Registry. Since then, Rodriguez has led innovative technologies in production such as digital filmmaking, 3D production and shooting content entirely in green screens, with worldwide revenues of over $2 billion.
Prior to launching FactoryMade, Fogelman was a board member and veteran agent at William Morris Endeavor, and Patwa was WME’s head of Strategic Planning. They spearheaded the creation of Hasbro’s film business (Transformers, G.I. Joe, Battleship) and television business (Hasbro TV Studios, the Hub Network with Discovery Communications), in addition to the development of retail’s first integrated digital gaming and commerce platform HSN Arcade.
To date, Reliance-backed GVTV has partnered with NBCUniversal on Crossbones, a pirate-themed period drama. The company is also working with James Lassiter and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment on the series Hunters; with X-Files creator Chris Carter on a new sci-fi thriller, The After; a U.S. cable network for a modern-day adaptation of Zorro called Z; and the SyFy Network for a remake of the British series Blake’s 7. GVTV is also partnered with the Wachowski’s for their first series ever, thru Joe Michael Straczinsky’s JMS Studio.