On the heels of the production of the network's Nigeria adaptation of ABC's hit drama series "Desperate Housewives" (titled "Desperate Housewives Africa"), EbonyLife TV announced plans to launch more scripted drama titles, based on existing near-universally-familiar content. EbonyLife TV (DStv channel 165), the black entertainment and lifestyle network accessible throughout continental Africa, is producing "African adapted versions" of globally-recognized narrative brands, including its own Cinderella, Robin Hood, Romeo and Juliet, as well as biblical stories like that of David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah, and many more.
Speaking on the development, Mo Abudu, Executive Chairman and CEO of EbonyLife TV said, “It’s a space we have occupied and wish to own. The world loves drama and can’t resist the iconic ones. At EbonyLife TV, we are determined to continue to offer the world the best of drama, made in Nigeria, made in Africa, for a global audience. The best ideas are the simple ones, so our plan is to take those stories and those characters that people are familiar with … those that have a legacy, give their stories an unusual but compelling twist; situate them in our modern African context; let them walk where we walk; let them live where we live; face the temptations and peculiar challenges that we face; fight the battles we fight and celebrate their triumphs the way we do. That’s what this is all about.”
On the surface, it's gimmicky, and some would argue safe, but it's a smart business move, especially when trying to build a content brand with worldwide reach - adapt existing popular material, with fans globally, making each project easier to sell, especially to audiences outside of Africa. Hollywood studios do this frequently.
The first project to be produced under this EbonyLife TV initiative is an adaptation of the Cinderella story. And a first look at the project has been released.
Titled "Dere: An African Tale," and directed by award winning Nigerian filmmaker, C.J Fiery Obasi (we featured his 2 feature films, "Ojuju" and "O-Town" on this blog), the upcoming Cinderella adaptation will be a 6-part mini-series revolving around a young woman named Dere (called "Cinderella’ by her eccentric paternal grandmother).
Official synopsis reads: She is the precocious, beautiful, naive, indulged and only child of the Kosoko's, who graduated with top honors from St. Andrews University in Scotland, studying Law and International relations. She is an avid social media user, reader and film enthusiast. Once back in Nigeria, after college, her long-term boyfriend dumps her, increasing her sense of isolation, desperation and desolation. Introducing the perfect African Cinderella story, the happy life of Dere encounters a sudden turn of unpredictable events that will shape her life forever, leading her to finding true love. This is a gripping fairy tale of how love conquers all with an African twist.
How these adaptations ("Cinderella," "Robin Hood," "Romeo and Juliet," "The Prodigal Son", "David and Goliath," "Samson and Delilah" among others) will be received across Africa, and beyond the continent, remains to be seen. But we'll get some early reactions as soon as the first, "Dere: An African Tale," premieres.
No ETA at this time.
Watch a preview of "Dere" below for a glimpse at what to expect: