Univision gets Spanish ‘Housewives’

Show to be remade for Hispanic market

A Spanish-language “Desperate Housewives” will hit U.S. screens next season, courtesy of Univision and Disney-ABC Intl. Television Latin America. Net and studio plan to remake the hit ABC skein for the U.S. Hispanic market.

Now under new ownership, the numero uno Spanish-language broadcaster inked the unusual production pact with Disney-ABC Latin America, which has made three other Latin American versions of the sudser.

Pol-ka Prods. in Buenos Aires will produce the remake in Argentina, to be titled “Amas de Casas Desesperadas.” Indie is prepping season two of the Argentine version of “Housewives” after a successful first season on Artear TV, and is shooting the Brazilian version on a purpose-built set. Pol-ka has also finished producing season one of a combined Colombian/Ecuadorian version to air in May on Teleamazonas Ecuador and in the summer on RCN Colombia.

Move is a key shift in primetime programming strategy for Univision, which has depended on canned programming from its main supplier, Televisa. But with Televisa disputing their long-term supply pact and a trial set for Oct. 30, Univision could lose access to its primary provider of the telenovelas that are the staple of its primetime sked. Licensing agreement expires in 2017. Univision’s only other foray into producing original programming was the ill-fated telenovela “Te amare en silencio,” which former Univision chairman and CEO Jerrold Perenchio produced through his own production company.

Univision’s NBC Universal-owned rival Telemundo moved into producing its own original programming four years ago. While it still trails Univision in ratings, it has seen steady audience growth during the past few years.

Partners are expected to cast the remake with high-profile Latin American and U.S. Hispanic actors, with production slated to kick off in July.

Telemundo experimented with remakes of Sony Pictures Television series such as “Charlie’s Angels” years ago, and failed miserably. But the partners behind “Housewives” are confident their experience will be different.

“We are tapping a current TV phenomenon, which is among the top series in 200 countries worldwide,” said Diego Lerner, Disney Latin America prexy. Partners will be adhering closely to the original storylines, with just a few tweaks to account for cultural differences.

Alina Falcon, Univision Network exec veepee and operating manager, and Fernando Barbosa, Disney-ABC Intl. Television Latin America senior veep, inked the deal.

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