Producers Talk ‘Home Sweet Rome’ Global Tween Musical Series on Which HBO Teamed With Europe’s Top Public Broadcasters – Watch Clip (EXCLUSIVE)
A 13-year old girl named Lucy moves from California to Rome to start a new life with her dad and stepmom (who happens to be an Italian pop star) in upcoming live action musical TV series “Home Sweet Rome” which reps the first collaboration between HBO and Europe’s top three public broadcasters in the kids space.
Based on a concept by “Hannah Montana” creator Michael Poryes, the English-language show conceived as a cross-cultural magnet for tween audiences will premiere April 7 on Canada’s Family Channel, which is owned by WildBrain, followed by launches on other partner networks: the BBC, Italian state broadcaster RAI, German pubcaster ARD, and on HBO Max in the U.S.
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“Home Sweet Rome,” which was shot on location in Rome and features original songs in each episode, is an Italian-Canadian co-production between Italy’s Red Monk Studio, a unit of France’s SuperProd Group, and Canada’s First Generation Films.
Variety spoke to the show’s producers Pedro Citaristi of Red Monk and Christina Piovesan of First Generation Films about navigating the show’s inherent cross-cultural aspects from both a business and creative standpoint. And why Rome is ultimately it’s big selling point.
Was it tough to get broadcasters from North America and Europe on board?
Pedro Citaristi – At first glance, it could seem something very difficult to accomplish. So we were really happy when we started sharing the concept, and then the first draft of the script, to see enthusiastic reactions from all sides. The inputs that we got from the different broadcasters during writing, were very, very similar; very easy to manage, actually. And in large part that’s because we had two great show runners [Matt Huether and Courtney Jane Walker (“DeGrassi,” “Next Class”)] leading all the writing process. But also because of the concept itself and the story. It’s an international story that speaks basically to all kids around the world. From the start we realized that everyone was happy and excited about this story of a young girl from the U.S. [played by Kensington Tallman] moving to Rome and living a completely new life in a new city and experiencing this culture clash between North America and Europe, and so on.
Christina Piovesan – From a North American perspective, I actually think this is really a testament to Rome. At the outside of the conversations, all of the North American broadcasters were talking about wanting to go to Rome, the beauty of Rome. The idea, the concept of shooting something in Rome I think captured their imaginations where they aspirationally saw themselves in Lucy, wanting to go there. I think that that was really the commercial draw on the North American side.
Citaristi – Yes. I want to point out that Rome is underexposed compared to other European cities. I mean, you have plenty of series taking place in Paris, for example, or in London. But there aren’t so many example of series that talk about Rome and show Rome. That was probably, as Christina was saying, a very powerful commercial hook for us.
Was it difficult to navigate the cross cultural aspects from a storytelling standpoint?
Piovesan – Well, I’ll just say I think in part the cross-cultural aspect is at the heart of the show itself. This idea of a young girl going to this new place and integrating. And the thing is that Lucy’s such a fun, loving, beautiful, funny character whereby she makes all of those experiences very funny. She takes them all in and she bounces back every time. The writers Matt and Courtney [who are also show runners] wanted it to be authentic and truthful. And there was an Italian writer in the room to help us make sure that we weren’t just imagining or making things up about life in Italy. So we had some real engagement in terms of what it was like there.
How is the linguistic aspect being handled? Will it be dubbed in Italy and other non-English-language countries?
Citaristi – Yeah, we’ll be dubbing the series into Italian for RAI. But the original songs will remain in English, and I think the same will be done in Germany. Then the hope is that SuperProd, who is handling the international distribution, will be able to sell the show everywhere. I mean, we believe that the series has a strong appeal for everybody. So, we are really confident that we will have more broadcasters who will want to jump on board. And I’m expecting that in many of these countries, like Spain or Latin America or Asia, they will probably dub the series in their own local language.
Watch Clip Here:
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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