English-lingo adaptation, merchandise to hit U.S. market

MIAMI — Colombia’s RCN will introduce its hit novella “Betty La Fea” (Ugly Betty) — already a phenom among U.S. Spanish TV viewers — to Anglo auds via an English-lingo adaptation.

RCN has contracted the William Morris Agency to sell a “Betty” format for an original series for the U.S. market as well as to handle merchandising and licensing opportunities.

Colombian network execs have been deluged with requests in the wake of soap’s success in the U.S., according to RCN VP of programming Luis Calle.

“Betty” ended its run on U.S. Spanish-lingo network Telemundo and in its native Colombia in May, has aired in another 30-plus countries, “and sales are ongoing,” he said.

But besides programming sales, RCN has not otherwise capitalized on the “Betty” phenom.

Dolled up

A Colombian manufacturer did have the rights for a Betty doll — sporting her signature oversized glasses, bad hairdo, bushy eyebrows and braces — for a Terra.com promo, but those rights have expired, Calle said. The original “Betty” will continue to get exposure on U.S. Spanish-lingo TV.

As part of a five-year exclusive programming supply deal with RCN, Univision purchased the rebroadcast rights to “Betty La Fea” and the right to air “best of” and other specials. Since Latin soaps typically run five nights per week for four to six months, reruns are almost unheard of.

Meanwhile, Univision has the U.S. rights to the sequel/spinoff “Eco Moda” in production in Colombia.

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