Mediatrade president Maurizio Costanzo has been appointed head of Veleno (Venom), the new company recently launched as Cross Media Factory by Italian media giant Fininvest, with the aim of seeking synergies between its publishing, internet, film and television arms.

Veleno aims to be a 'factory of ideas,' that will draw on the four companies owned by Silvio Berlusconi's media empire: film company Medusa, TV group Mediaset, publisher Mondadori and internet portal Jumpy. 'We intend to have a strong pan-European marketing strategy and investigate trends in the internet, film and TV industry, so that we can also put the results to the service of all four companies,' Costanzo told Screen International.

'The main reason I chose the name Veleno is that I wanted an aggressive-sounding word that would stick in people's minds,' Costanzo said, adding that the company would probably also use the undertitle 'Multimedia Factory.'

Veleno is currently preparing its first project, a reality show entitled Generations that will follow the lives of a group of students during their last two years of high school and their first year at university. 'It will be a kind of analysis of the new generation,' Costanzo said, adding that he is currently in talks with several buyers for the sale of foreign TV rights.

Costanzo also confirmed that Veleno is seeking to establish a working relationship with international partners. He cited interest from Pearson and Endemol, with whom Mediaset recently set up a new outfit to make soap operas, as well as from the US majors, including Columbia TriStar and 20th Century Fox. 'Veleno has been moving quickly since it became operational last month, and although we are currently in talks with a number of potential international partners, I don't want to make any hasty decisions,' he said.

In addition to Generations, Veleno will kick off 2001 with another major project, which is currently being negotiated. The umbrella organisation will also undertake two or three minor projects next year, one of which will be developed for the internet in collaboration with two Italian universities.

Other executives appointed to Veleno include managing director Roberto Pace, who is also managing director of rights trading arm Mediatrade, Guido Barbieri as general director, Laura Casarotto as marketing director, and Bruno Pellegrini as head of the new talent department.