For the first time, Telemundo executives enjoyed the same platform as their brethren at NBC — and, for that matter, every other NBCUniversal-owned network — as the media company held a combined upfront at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
Telemundo’s message to would-be clients? Soaps, kids and icons still matter.
Telemundo will play up four “Super Series” telenovelas, a Sunday early-prime children’s talent show, and a late-night show hosted the iconic Mario Kreutzberger, better known as “Don Francisco” of Univision’s long-running Saturday-night staple Sabado Gigante, the network said at the May 16 New York event.
One of the “Super Series” additions to Telemundo’s lineup could well be described as Better Call Saul for the Hispanic viewer. El Chema, a spinoff of El Señor de los Cielos starring Mauricio Ochmann, tells the story of Chema Venegas’ first years working in Mexico’s world of organized crime and his ascension to becoming the renowned cartel leader seen in Cielos, a “Super Series” that is returning for a fifth season on Telemundo.
The other “Super Series” is a fictionalized account of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Its arrival on Telemundo is timely, given the near-collapse of that nation’s economy under Chavez successor Nicolas Maduro. Hugo Chavez, El Comandante stars Andres Parra as Chavez.
Returning as a “Super Series” is Señora Acero 3, La Coyote. The third season of the successful franchise, which stars Sergio Goyri, Carolina Miranda and Luis Ernesto Franco, focuses on Vicenta Rigores, a courageous and rebellious woman who stands out in the male-dominated world of smuggling as the most feared and notorious “coyote” on the U.S.-Mexico border.
BACK TO ‘PARADISE’
Sin Senos Sí Hay Paraíso, a sequel to the telenovela Sin Senos No Hay Paraíso (“Without Breasts There’s No Paradise”), tells the story of Catalina “La pequeña” (the small one), who seeks to redeem her family from the world of violence and prostitution that has brought them so much loss and misery. Starring Fabian Rios, Catherine Siachoque and Carolina Gaitan, the followup series reflects the reality of a new generation of women determined to succeed in life without resorting to plastic surgery or falling for the lure of easy money.
Returning for a second season is La Querida del Centauro, which continues the story of Centauro’s revenge on Yolanda, his former mistress, and Gerardo, the detective who sought to bring him to justice. After two years on the run from the and tired of the bloody war between his cartel and his rival’s, Centauro decides to fake his own death and that of his son. This allows him to rebuild his empire — and carry out his plan for vengeance — without being pursued by the police.
Upon hearing the news of the deaths, Yolanda and her daughter Cristina, as well as Gerardo and his adoptive son, Gato, are able to return to Mexico from Canada, where they have been living under the Witness Protection Program. But it won’t be an easy return for Yolanda, as el Centauro will use all of his cunning and power to destroy her and her loved ones in his quest for revenge.
New to Telemundo is La Doña, based on “Doña Barbara,” the literary work by Romulo Gallegos. It’s a story of revenge and ambition, seduction and betrayal told from the perspective of an offended and abused woman named Altagracia.
In other Telemundo news, two musical dramas and comedies are heading to the network’s lineup. One follows the story of “Julio Cesar Solar,” a Regional Mexican Music idol, whose death is the spark “that ignites this story of betrayal, rivalry, love and the search for fame at any cost.” The other is a series inspired by veteran actress Angelica Vale that shows what happens when an ultimate fan of a famous telenovela actor link up.
Production on Silvana Sin Lana, a new telenovela that marks the return of veteran actor Carlos Ponce to Spanish-language TV, is already underway.
Those learning of Telemundo’s Sunday-night lineup may wonder if the network is emulating a family Sunday primetime strategy of years past.
First up: An hour-long news magazine produced by Noticias Telemundo that will offer four interviews with politicians or celebrities, with a working title of Los Reporteros.
At 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT) is a new children’s talent series with the working title of Siempre Niños — “starring kids with extraordinary talents: singers, dancers, magicians, lip-synchers and more.”
At 9 p.m. will be Zoomundo, a show featuring ZooMiami wildlife expert Ron Magill, guest celebrities, and exotic creatures and wild animals.
In an interesting twist, the 10 p.m. Sunday slot goes to Don Francisco, who gets an hour-long variety show that will likely borrow ideas and inspiration from his Saturday-night Univision series, Sabado Gigante, in a truncated format. With a working title of Don Francisco Te Invita, the show will feature a house band plus interviews and games with notable celebrities, models, comedians and actors.
Telemundo will also expand its weekday morning show, Un Nuevo Día, by 90 minutes, starting in early 2017. The news and entertainment program will now air from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET, allowing for continuous coverage on both coasts. The live show is hosted by Rashel Diaz, Adamari Lopez, Ana Maria Canseco, Daniel Sarcos and Diego Schoening.
At cable network NBC Universo, season three of the dubbed-in-Spanish The Walking Dead is set to entertain viewers. There is also Zapata Justice, which follows the Mexican-American members of a small border town’s Sheriff’s Department as they fight to protect their own from dangerous criminal activity.
But the bigger news is the finalization of a development and production deal with the estate of the late regional Mexican music icon Jenni Rivera, perhaps the biggest draw for NBC Universo’s previous incarnation, mun2.
The Riveras will follow the lives of Rivera’s biggest legacy — her children. The series will allow viewers to see Jenni’s sister Chiquis Rivera and her younger siblings step up and pull together to raise each other with humor and love and go for their biggest dreams.
The arrangement also allows NBCUniversal’s Hispanic properties to produce a number of series and specials “inspired” by Rivera — including a biographical/musical television series that sounds similar in concept to telenovela Celia, based on the life of the late Cuban entertainer Celia Cruz. There will also be a “Jenni Vive” tribute concert in memory of the regional Mexican vocalist, who perished in a plane crash in Mexico in December 2012.
“The U.S. Hispanic market continues to be the biggest growth opportunity for any business,” Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, said in prepared remarks. “We are investing in the most innovative original content, a $250 million state-of-the-art facility and talent in front of and behind the cameras. We are pleased our investments are paying off.”
Luis Silberwasser, president of Telemundo Network and NBC Universo, added, “Heading into this upfront season, we’ve gained more viewers year-over-year in Monday-Friday prime-time among key demos and are capitalizing on that momentum continuing to close the gap with [Univision].”