Hispanic net to produce soap operas

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NEW YORK — Having established a full primetime slate of imported telenovelas, No. 2 U.S. Hispanic net Telemundo is making a major commitment to produce the popular soap operas with partners.

Telemundo has inked an accord to co-produce two novelas with Columbia TriStar Intl. Television at Estudios Churubusco facilities in Mexico, CEO and prexy James McNamara said. It has also signed a second co-production agreement with Brazil’s Globo — one of Latam’s leading producers and global exporters — to make two Spanish-lingo sudsers at Globo studios outside Rio (Daily Variety, May 8).”We hope that cameras will start rolling in September in order to get them on air by late fourth quarter or early 2001,” McNamara told Daily Variety.

The Brazilian co-productions will be adapted from hit Globo scripts, while the CTSI co-productions will likely involve one original and one remake. (Leading Spanish-lingo novela producer Televisa, which supplies programming to Telemundo rival Univision, routinely remakes soaps, and those “refritos” or “refries” have done better than the originals.)

McNamara has set no goals for inhouse production levels and will fill out the primetime (7-11 p.m.) novela slate with imported Latino fare.

This past season, Brazilian sudser “Xica” has been a huge success for Telemundo in the 10 p.m. slot. McNamara said.

Fall roster

The fall schedule will include Globo’s hit historical soap “Terra Nostra”; “La Fuerza del Deseo,” another Brazilian period novela, starring Sonia Braga in her first soap in years; and Colombian hit “Betty La Fea.”

Sitcom “Los Beltran” has been brought back for a second season, airing Sunday nights at 8 p.m. It will be followed by new sitcom “Viva Vegas!” that will chronicle the adventures of two Argentinean emigres living in Las Vegas.

Telemundo plans to add another series under a new co-production accord with Mexico’s Grupo Argos, which made the popular novela “Mirada de Mujer.”

“They are developing four dramas and three comedies for us,” McNamara said. “The goal is for something to be on air sometime this season.”

New for latenight & ayem

In other initiatives, Telemundo will bow “A Oscuras pero Encendidos” in latenight. Airing live Monday-Friday from 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., the variety/talkshow, hosted by Paul Bouche (who had a local show in Miami), will mix sketches, music and celebrity interviews.

It will also bow a morning news show, “Buenos Dias,” to air 7-9 a.m.; Jose Diaz-Balart and Gloria Calzada will host.

“We feel it is important to grab onto viewers early and create a platform for the programming schedule for the rest of the day,” McNamara said. “It also reinforces that we are a network.”

Talkshow “Padre Alberto” continues in its 2 p.m. slot, and the Peruvian-produced “Laura en America” remains at 4 p.m., up against Univision’s “Cristina.”

Games & grappling

Weekend sports programming will be boosted with live shows “Sabado de Futbol” (Saturdays at 5 p.m.) and “Futbol Telemundo” (Sundays at 1 p.m.), complementing the popular sports wrap show “Titulares Telemundo” (Saturdays and Sundays at 11 p.m.).

Telemundo will also introduce “WWF” on Saturdays at 7 p.m. McNamara noted that English-lingo World Wrestling Federation programming is popular among Hispanic auds and should have strong appeal.

Other new shows include Saturday-night gamer “Numeros Rojos,” airing at 8 p.m., which will give contestants a chance to pay off their debts, and “Agrandaditos” (Sundays at 8 p.m.), about kids’ perspective on life and the world.

Following the success of the Sunday-night movie, which airs at 9 p.m., Telemundo will program movies on Saturday nights at 9 p.m. as well.

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