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Africa’s Oprah Talks Launching Her Own Network + Bringing ‘Desperate Housewives’ To Nigeria

Africa's Oprah Talks Launching Her Own Network + Bringing 'Desperate Housewives' To Nigeria

A quick recap first, to refresh your memories on this, before you watch the interview…

In October last fall, announced at MIPCOM 2013 (the international TV and entertainment market held in Cannes once every year; where content is introduced for co-producing, buying, selling, financing and distributing), Ben Pyne, president of global distribution at Disney, revealed that an “African version” of Desperate Housewives (the once comedy/drama series created by Marc Cherry, and broadcast by ABC from 2004 until 2012) is in development, for a summer 2014 debut.

The co-production deal is with Nigeria-based EbonyLife TV (no affiliation with Ebony magazine) – a multi-platform broadcaster, and subsidiary of Media and Entertainment City Africa (MEC Africa) in Cross River State, Nigeria, run by Mo Abudu.

Desperate Housewives the “African version” will feature a pan-African cast, and will be set in Lagos, Nigeria, where it will also be shot, with a summer 2014 debut date set, airing in 44 countries within the continent.

“We are going to make it relevant, number one, by using local talent — talent that our viewers will know and love; two, we are going to work with local stylists, local fashion designers, local interior designers,” said Mo Abudu, CEO and executive chairman in a statement last fall. “We are going to give the stories an African flavor. We will localize it, because there’s nothing that the West has that Africa doesn’t have: we love, we fight, we kiss, we make up. We like all the good things in life. There’s good and there’s evil globally. So all those human interests, those things that appeal to you, believe me, appeal to us also.”

The original ABC TV series followed the dramatic lives of a group of women, over a 13-year period, and 8 seasons, as seen through the eyes of a dead neighbor who committed suicide in the very first episode. 

The series has seen remakes in Turkey, Colombia, and Brazil, since its debut.

So the obvious question here is, what actresses from the continent will make up the ensemble cast in the Nigeria-set version of Desperate Housewives? Nollywood talents should definitely get some looks here.

While she doesn’t answer that question in the below interview, Mo Abudu does share a little bit on her background, how she started Ebony Life TV, her journey in the world of media, and of course, bringing Desperate Housewives to the African continent, in a deal with Disney.

The interview –  moderated by Michelle Garforth-Venter – was captured by Smart Monkey TV at DISCOP 2013. She may not be a household name here in the USA, but given her resume, and ambitions, Ms Adubu is definitely someone you should know going forward.

Africa’s Oprah Winfrey” is a label that has come to be associated with her. And I should note that it’s a label she rejects; although I wonder if the two have ever met. I couldn’t find any evidence that they have.

Her talk show, Moments with Mo, was launched in 2006 on South Africa’s subscription-funded TV network M-Net, and is said to be the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television.

The talk show was an instant success, immediately drawing comparisons to the Oprah Winfrey Show, covering numerous topics ranging from lifestyle, health, culture, politics, entertainment, and much more, with guests including celebrities, Presidents, Nobel Laureates, and even the 67th US Secretary-of-State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And with the success of Moments with Mo (it aired in 48 African countries, and also now airs on cable TV in other parts of the world), the 50-year-old entrepreneur launched EbonyLife TV last year.

It’s the first time that a fully Nigerian-owned network will be carried by DStv.

Ms Abudu has said that the 24 hour channel will focus on celebrating the lives and accomplishments of Africans, and providing a more complete representation of continental Africa.

Content will include original series, news and talk-shows.

It looks like this “African Desperate Housewives” will be one of of its scripted series.

Watch the interview with Abudu below:

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