Rai and Mediaset fully agree on one thing: domestically produced drama is strategic.
Having said this, the strategies and editorial decisions of the two networks are profoundly diverse.
Rai continues to favor miniseries even though long-running series are on the rise.
Mediaset has been banking on the latter for a number of years, whereas the two evening miniseries has progressively decreased in importance and number “” according to the new head of drama, Giancarlo Scheri “” all to the advantage of TV movies which are “more agile in terms of scheduling, with a fresher, more cinematographic language, useful as possible pilots for experimenting with characters and stories which could develop into long-running series. And, finally, more appealing to international markets, where the two evening model is an almost solely Italian phenomenon”.
He cites the success obtained by the Ferilli-Bisio duo in “Due imbroglioni e mezzo”: a possible series is being investigated, while Ferilli, moving to comedy after so much drama and melodrama, returns in a six-part series of “Anna e i cinque”, where she plays a kind of Mary Poppins with a double life: striptease artist by night, “super nanny” by day. Muccino, on the other hand, has been entrusted with creating a “Notting Hill” style romantic comedy.
“We intend to increasingly use internationally famous names like his to propose more wide-ranging projects in terms of both concept and cast”.
“Dr. Clown”, starring Gerry Scotti, about a Patch Adams style doctor, is also ready.
“In a program schedule dominated by drama”, continues Scheri, “it is getting increasingly difficult to find free evenings for screening miniseries, whilst avoiding a direct clash with Rai”.
In order to optimize costs and increase consumer loyalty, the group has backed long-running series.
The productions which have already been approved and started (like “Il presidente: Aldo Moro”, “L’ultimo padrino”) will certainly remain.
“As well as an editorial space that I would define as being socially committed, like the imminent Basaglia”.
Lots of new titles have received approval and will be screened over the next few seasons: detective shows “” set in the ecological department of the Carabinieri police, or amongst the “Servizi segreti” [Secret Service] with Raoul Bova, and the “Squadra antimafia” “” as well as hospital dramas “” “Crimini bianchi” about the problems of the health service, and Hospital, based on a French format.
Plus a number of “original” shows.
The agreement with Sky for the co-production of “Quo vadis, baby?” also fi ts into the policy of reduced costs and quality proposals.
This series is based on a movie directed by Gabriele Salvatores which, in turn, was based on the novels by Angela Verasani: Salvatores takes a step backwards, Guido Chiesa takes over the direction, whereas the protagonist remains the same, Angela Baraldi.
The stories multiply from investigation to investigation, with less space given over to the Bologna based detective’s private life, although there will still be some musical moments in order to give the leading lady, who was a singer before becoming an actress, a chance to show off her talent.
Rai is also convinced by the merits of long-running series: in the last season, titles like “Gente di mare”, “Capri” and “Raccontami” did very well.
The sequels are already in production (“Gente di mare 2 has actually already been broadcast).
The other series in production or nearly ready range from the sentimental “Questo amore”, to the hospital drama “Ospedale centrale”, to the historical “Roma 2” (although this is a US production co-fi nanced by Rai), the comedy thriller “Due cuori e un delitto”, a spin-off of “Una famiglia in giallo”, and the imperishable “Don Matteo 6”. “La squadra” will, however, be very different: the ninth season, which will begin filming in November, will be subject to a complete overhaul, with 50 minute episodes, a new cast, greater economic resources and more action scenes.
This is not just due to the generational changeover of the Italian public, but to meet the demands of foreign markets who want products with these characteristics and consume them avidly.
There are some medium-length series “” with four or six episodes “” which seems to be the favored length of a certain type of detective drama: “Nebbie e delitti 2”, “Ho sposato uno sbirro”, ” Mamma detective”, “Zodiaco” and “Un caso di coscienza 3”.
Here again we find sequels and new titles.
However, things are hazier for TV movies with a duration of around 100 minutes.
“We have always had a lot of success with movies shown over two evenings.
This remains our main format”, insists Luca Milano, Rai Fiction’s head of marketing and advertising.
But he does admit that Rai is also producing one episode TV movies. “Normally they are programs in which we tackle topics of social importance such as “Il figlio della luna” about the Italian scientist suffering from spastic tetraplegia, or “Briciole” about anorexia.
Or those that are part of a “˜collection’, like “Montalbano”, or “Crimini”. We are preparing a series called “Il commissario De Luca”, 4 independent stories with the same protagonist, set in the years between Fascism and the postwar period, or more investigations from “Ispettore Coliandro”.
With regard to the international market, at Rai they think that miniseries have the greatest appeal, better still if in costume and linked to historical events and people.
In this sense, “War and peace” and “Caravaggio” have not yet completed their life on the market.
They are accompanied by other prestigious titles, from the strong theatrical connotations of “I Vicerè” (which, like “Caravaggio” has a double life on the large and small screen) directed by Roberto Faenza, based on the novel by De Roberto, “Sangue pazzo” by Marco Tullio Giordana, the biography of “Einstein” by Liliana Cavani, and “Rebecca” by Riccardo Milani, based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, which also inspired Hitchcock.
In all, the list of titles from Rai Trade is very well-stocked for the future.
Cinema&Video International n. 10-11 October/November 2007