In a Digital MIPTV keynote, Juan “JC” Acosta, president of ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) & Networks Americas, and Marc Anthony announced the latest project to come out of VIS’s first-look deal with Magnus Studios, the comedy Liked.
Anthony is a singer, songwriter and music producer who has ventured into the TV and film space with his outfit Magnus Studios. In his Digital MIPTV keynote conversation with Acosta, he discussed his life and career, charting his journey in music growing up in East Harlem in New York City. “My mom and dad would argue through music,” Anthony said. “I’d go downstairs and hear Gladys Knight and the Pips or Luther Vandross or Fania out of everyone’s windows. I didn’t realize I was being wired musically.”
Anthony said he used to stutter “but when I sang I didn’t stutter, so that became my language.”
The move to set up Magnus Studios was a natural evolution for Anthony: “I consider myself as a storyteller, an interpreter,” he said. “I know there’s an appetite for stories, I’ve traveled the world and I’ve heard a million stories and met the most amazing characters. But there was a void. You could call it Latino-centric but I wouldn’t, because stories are universal.”
Anthony added, “Magnus was born out of frustration, actually. There were so many opportunities being overlooked. We identified IP that [we thought,] Wow, the world needs to hear this story.”
VIS was attracted to Anthony’s creative vision, Acosta said, leading to a first-look deal with Magnus. The first project to come out of that Gloria Wants to Know It All. The animated series was developed and produced by VIS, Magnus Studios, Juan José Campanella’s Mundoloco Animation Studios and Laguno Media. It centers on an 8-year-old alpaca from the big city whose adventure begins when she goes to spend time at her grandfather’s house in Pueblo Lanugo. The series will feature Anthony’s music. “Gloria is something we’ve been developing for quite a while,” Anthony said. “It’s what I wish I had as a child. The representation, the music. Gloria represents me in many ways—being from an urban environment and having to go see the world.”
On the relationship with VIS, Anthony said, “We speak the same language and [have] the same sensibilities. Thank you for inviting me into the family. You got it from day one.”
Acosta added, “For many years we were producing telenovelas for kids in Latin America. One year we said, How about we adapt some of these in English? We built a studio here [in Miami]. You see stories are universal, they can be adapted in any language. For me, it’s working with you and your team to see what stories you want to tell. What is the meaning behind Magnus and the storytelling and what we want to give to the audiences.”
During the keynote, VIS announced Liked, a comedy about a Latina millennial obsessed with getting likes to become a social media sensation. It is written and directed by the award-winning director Gabriela Tagliavini.