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International makeover for 'Modern Family'

One of America's most popular onscreen families goes global with remakes launched in Chile and Greece.

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While their trip to Australia may not go down as the finest moment in the five-year history of the hit US comedy Modern Family, the show's producers have ambitiously cast their eyes further afield.

Two new international remakes of the series are being launched - Chile's Familia Moderna and Greece's Moderna Oikogeneia - and the studio is keen to make more.

The remakes will copy the scripts of the hit series, but feature local actors in the roles of Jay and Gloria, Clare and Phil, Mitch and Cameron and their kids.

Look kind of familiar? ... It's <i>Familia Moderna</i> (Chile).

Look kind of familiar? ... It's Familia Moderna (Chile).

Or, as Chile will come to know them, Pepe and Sara, Paula and Juan-Pablo and Gustavo and Fernando.

In Greece they will be known as Takis and Carmen, Faye and Philip and Dimitris and Labros.

The deals, for one of America's highest profile network TV comedies, symbolise the emerging power of the "scripted format", where a broadcaster buys a foreign scripted comedy or drama and adapts it for a local audience.

<i>Moderna Oikogeneia</i> (Greece).

Moderna Oikogeneia (Greece).

Historically most formats bought and sold on the international market were in the reality genre, such as The X Factor, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars or the many iterations of Pop Idol.

But the recent success of shows like the US remakes of Danish dramas The Killing and The Bridge, and the US remake of the British hit House of Cards have flagged a paradigm shift in television deal-making.

At last year's MIPCOM market in Cannes, France, where the focus is frequently on the "next big shiny floor show" there was, for the first time, more discussion and deal-making in the scripted formats genre.

The original Jay Pritchett.

The original Jay Pritchett.

Australian program producers have also played a significant role in the emerging "scripted format" market: a US version of Review with Myles Barlow is on the US cable channel Comedy Central, a US version of Wilfred airs on the FX channel and a US version of Secrets & Lies is in production for the US network ABC.

US remakes of the ABC comedy The Moodys and the critically-acclaimed Australian drama The Slap are also in the planning stages.

In Europe, Fremantle Media has sold the format rights Foxtel's critically acclaimed Prisoner remake, Wentworth, to several countries, notably Germany ("Block B") and the Netherlands ("Celblok H").

And the Australian cable comedy Small Time Gangster, which was produced by Foxtel's Movie Extra channel in 2011, is being remade by HBO Europe for the Romanian market with the title Umbre.

In fact, scripted formats are not as new as they seem. And Australia has been a pioneer in the field.

Fremantle's forebear, the iconic Australian studio Grundy Television, was an early seller of scripted formats, selling the Australian soaps The Restless Years, Sons & Daughters and Prisoner to several European countries.

The two remakes of The Restless Years, the Netherlands' Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden and Germany's Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten were launched in 1990 and 1992 respectively.

Both are still in production. (The titles both translate as "Good Times, Bad Times".)

Sons & Daughters, about twins separated at birth who fall in love before discovering their true relationship, got remade in five countries: as Germany's Verbotene Liebe ("Forbidden Love") in 1995; Sweden's Skilda Världar ("World's Apart") in 1996; Greece's Apagorevmeni Agapi in 1998; Italy's Cuori Rubati in 2002; Croatia's Zabranjena Ljubav in 2004; and Bulgaria's Zabranena Lubov in 2008.

In a curious testament to the endurance of the concept, Germany's 19-year-old adaptation is still in production.

And Prisoner was adapted for the German market in the 1980s as Hinter Gittern, Der Frauenknast.

While the world, outside of Europe at least, has been a little slower to come to scripted drama remakes, scripted American comedies have been a quiet achiever for almost two decades.

The Nanny, which was produced between 1993 and 1999, has been remade in at least 10 countries; including Argentina ("La Niñera"), Chile ("La Nany"), Ecuador ("La Niñera"), Greece ("Η Νταντά"), Indonesia, Italy ("La Tata"), Poland ("Niania"), Russia ("My Fair Nanny") and Turkey ("Dadi").

Everybody Loves Raymond, which was produced between 1996 and 2005, has been remade in four countries; including Russia ("The Voronins"), Egypt ("El Bab Fil Bab"), The Netherlands ("Ledereen is Gek op Jack") and Israel ("Mishpacah Lo Bochrim"). (A pilot was also produced for the UK, titled The Smiths.)

And Married ... with Children, which was produced between 1987 and 1997, has been remade in 11 countries; including Argentina ("Casados con Hijos"), Brazil ("A Guerra dos Pintos"), Croatia ("Bracne Vode"), Germany ("Hilfe, meine Familie Spinnt"), Russia ("Shastlivy Vmeste") and the UK ("Married for Life").

Australia's most successful comedy in the scripted format realm, Mother and Son, which was produced between 1984 and 1994, has been remade in eight countries; including the UK ("Keeping Mum"), Lithuania, Sweden ("Glöm inte Mamma!) and Denmark ("Pas på Mor").

Not everything goes to plan, however. US adaptations of Laid and The Strange Calls have not yet made it out of development and US remakes of Kath & Kim and Rake have been culled after their first season.

For Modern Family's two new offspring, the long road ahead makes no promises of long-term success. Or indeed the popularity of certain characters.

In the German adaptation of Sons & Daughters, for example, the character "Pat the Rat", who became the show's Australian superstar, was written out not long after it was launched.

And for Chile's Familia Moderna, US trade media report the series had to buckle to certain cultural peculiarities: Mitchell and Cameron (aka Gustavo and Fernando) do not adopt but rather have the child left with them when the mother (with whom one of them has a fling) leaves to travel overseas.