The Bible producer Mark Burnett has partnered with director Robert Rodriguez‘s El Rey Network to being Lucha Libre wrestling, and a new league, to the U.S. The business begins with a weekly one-hour series featuring a new Lucha Libre AAA league, premiering on El Rey Network the second half of 2014, El Rey vice chairman Scott Sassa announced this morning at Winter TV Press Tour 2014.
Burnett’s One Three Media is partnering with the leading lucha libre league in Mexico, Lucha Libre AAA, and FactoryMade Ventures. Also joining, through their interests in Lucha Libre AAA, are Antonio Cue Sanchez-Navarro and Latinoamerica’s largest production group, Alex Garcia’s AG Studios.
“I’m at the point in my career where I could probably try anything. I’ve earned that right,” Burnett told TV critics at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. “This is building a bona fide sport within America. Clearly the Hispanic culture is really growing (here),” he said, noting it’s the No. 2 most popular sport in Mexico, behind only soccer. “Why wouldn’t you bring Mexico’s No. 2 sport to America? This is a longterm, big play for us.”
Storylines and masks are characteristic of the sport Burnett said, explaining that the logline for the U.S. introduction involves five of the sport’s stars who have discovered a secret plot that’s going to destroy the very foundation of the sport and they’ve been exiled to America.
In addition to launching the weekly series, the new venture is developing monthly and quarterly specials and live pay-per-view lucha libre events, and also pursuing merchandise, licensing and product integration opportunities for the league. Lucha libre marks a return to arena-based sports events for the award-winning Burnett, who previously produced five seasons of the unscripted boxing series The Contender.
El Rey Network, is the new 24 hour English language entertainment network founded by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez that launched in December. El Rey targets renegades 18-49 with adrenaline-infused content including original signature dramas, feature films, grindhouse genre, cult classic action, horror/sci fi and next generation sports. The network’s first original scripted series, the 10-episode From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (based on Rodriguez’s cult film), premiering March 11 with Rodriguez directing the first, second and fourth episodes. El Rey is going big with its inaugural slate. The Comcast cable network, from filmmaker Rodriguez and John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa’s FactoryMade, also spoke of the 13-episode Latino James Bond-type series it has in the works, with Rodriguez on board to direct the first episode from a script by Bob Orci. Titled Matador, it is loosely inspired by the life of Major League Baseball catcher Morris “Moe” Berg and revolves around Antonio “Matador” Bravo, a soccer star whose sports career is a cover for his real job as a skilled covert operative for a little known branch of the CIA.