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Late Vogue Italy Editor Franca Sozzani to Be Key Character in Fashion Series ‘Front Row’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 4/3/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – Franca Sozzani, the influential editor of Italian Vogue who died in December, will be the central character in “Front Row,” a TV series chronicling Milan’s rise as a global fashion capital.

The skein, which was written with Sozzani’s input, is being developed for the Italian and international markets by Mediaset-owned Italian film and TV shingle TaoDue. The plan is to start shooting by the end of the year.

Sozzani, who died at the age of 66, ran Italian Vogue for 28 years. She was known as a powerful and iconoclastic figure who nurtured the careers of young emerging Italian fashion talents and of international photographers such as Bruce Weber and Steven Meisel. Sozzani often tackled controversial topics in the magazine, including race, plastic surgery, and drug addiction.

A documentary about her titled “Franca: Chaos and Creation,” directed by her son Francesco Carrozzini, world premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival.

“In the mid-1970s a new generation of very talented Italian fashion designers was able to break out globally and became symbols of Italy’s innovative entrepreneurial spirit,” said TaoDue’s Camilla Nesbitt. “This journey will be seen through the eyes of a young journalist [Sozzani] who joins a fashion magazine [Vogue],” she added.

According to Nesbitt, before her death Sozzani collaborated on the screenplays for “Front Row,” which are written by Paolo Marchesini, Luisa Cotta Ramosino (“Medici: Masters of Florence”) and Laura Cotta Ramosino. “She suggested the path we should take,” Nesbitt said, “and provided contacts to research various aspects of the fashion world, including the photographers, the models and the marketers.”

The 12-episode (50-minutes) series will be directed by Italian directors Luca Lucini (“How to Grow Up Despite Your Parents”) and Ago Panini, who are both part of the Milanese milieu and familiar with the world of fashion and advertising, Nesbitt noted.

The show will probably be shot in both Italian and English, though that is still being decided. Casting is still in early stages.

TaoDue is holding off  before seeking an international co-producer as partner until Italy’s new 25% tax credit for international TV productions go into effect. The eagerly awaited incentives, which are likely to soon clear a final legislative hurdle, are expected to make Italy an attractive international TV production destination.

“Our ambition is to make ‘Front Row’ very appealing for the Italian [generalist TV] audience, but also make it a high-end product for the international market,” said Nesbitt.

She added that “since we are Mediaset Group we can finance entirely it ourselves,” if needed.

TaoDue’s $15-million Pope Francis mini-series, “Call Me Francis,” which Mediaset bankrolled, was sold by Mediaset to Netflix in December after playing in different versions in Italian cinemas and on Mediaset’s Canale 5 flagship station.

TaoDue is also flush with cash after their Italian comedy “Quo Vado” in 2016 broke all box office records for an Italian movie, grossing $68 million at local theaters.

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