NATPE: The Mediapro Studio, Paraiso Pictures Introduce Narco-Terrorism Series ‘El Medico’

Jamie Lang and John Hopewell

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Madrid-based The Mediapro Studio and Paraiso Pictures announced at Miami’s NATPE Tuesday a co-production agreement for a new series based on the true story of a drug kingpin turned government operative after the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001.

“El Medico,” to be shot in English, is executive-produced and directed by Netflix’s “Fauda” Season 1 director Assaf Bernstein, and will enlist Academy Award-nominated producer Michael Nozik (“The Motorcycle Diaries”).

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After one of his former partners becomes linked to the Sept 11 attacks, a silver-tongued drug boss called El Medico – the person’s real name who inspired the character is classified – sees his plea deal with the federal government rescinded. Accused of being a terrorist, he is coerced into cooperating with law enforcement and intelligence agencies in an increasingly dangerous plot to take down nacro-terrorist groups from the inside.

Now working for the government, El Medico proves to be a top notch operative and spy who plays the most unlikely of roles in the history of the wars on drugs and terror. Despite his successes, he also proves a handful and difficult to trust for both his associates and the audience alike, forcing viewers to question his motivations at every turn.

“This is a global show that will take place across several continents, and we’re going into the slums, and favelas of the world, accompanying our main character on a path to something he was never looking for, his own redemption,” explained Assaf Bernstein at the NATPE presentation where The Mediapro Studio showcased some of its most awaited upcoming series, or others still early in the sales cycle.

The series will see El Medico pulled out of his home base in Medellín to a frozen Canada, Cuban beaches, the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the heart of busy London.

“El Medico is the style of fiction that we are developing at The Mediapro Studio: strong, innovative and powerful stories developed by great storytellers, such as Assaf Bernstein and Michael Nozik, and suitable for audiences around the world,” said The Mediapro Studio corporate and TV director Laura Fernandez Espeso in a press release.

“I am excited to be working once more with Assaf and Michael, two of the most talented people I have had the pleasure of collaborating with in the past. I am confident in their vision for translating this unique and untold story to the screen” said Daniel Burman, head of content for The Mediapro Studio U.S.

Santiago Díaz, CEO of Paraiso Pictures, added: “El Medico is not a story about drug traffickers. It is the story of a unique drug trafficker who is forced to move away from the local universe that other series have portrayed so well to save his life and that of his family by entering a game that at first seems to be too big for him, but that by the end, he will dominate with great ease and dexterity.”

At NATPE Monday morning, Ran Tellem, The Mediapro Studio head of international content development talked an industry audience through the current trailer for crime thriller “The Head,” while Daniel Burman introduced “Victoria Small,” from VIS and Mediapro.

The big premiere came, however, from Ivan Escobar, creator of penitentiary thriller “Vis a Vis” (“Locked Up”), one of The Mediapro Studio’s earliest international breakouts, who presente first-ever-seen footage from the upcoming “Vis-a-Vis: El Oasis.” The plot, in which once mortal enemies Macarena and Zulema leave prison and decide that the best thing they can do is join forces for a diamond heist, then escape to a desert-set Hotel Oasis. “It’s the last f*** up in their lives,” said Escobar. With “Vis-a-Vis,” said Escobar, “we wanted to create a brand, a franchise, not a series.” Hence the instantly recognizable yellow prison clothing warn in the show.

How do the aesthetics change when the series finally leaves jail? First indication from the teaser shown at NATPE is that it will explores pop art aesthetics, and a stylish, comic-book influenced shooting style, play up the excess of action. Macarena and Zulema probably end up badly. They look to have some fun on the way.“The new season is like couple who, when they divorce, decide to have a baby,” Escobar said, promising that “Vis a Vis: El Oasis” will be the last in the series. He’s said that before, however, he recognized.