Silverman brings telenovela to network

Ben Silverman’s first major move as an NBC programmer looks a lot like something Ben Silverman the producer would have set up.

Peacock has bought the rights to the muy successful Colombian telenovela “Sin tetas no hay paraiso” (“Without Breasts There is No Paradise”) and is developing it as a likely primetime project. Simulatenously, NBC sister net Telemundo will produce a Spanish-language version of the format with a different cast and script.

“Sin tetas,” from Colombia’s Canal Caracol, focused on a young woman determined to get bigger breasts in order to escape poverty. She ends up working as a prostitute, getting involved with drug dealer in the process. Sudser is based on the novel of the same name by Gustavo Bolivar.

Broadcast last fall, the skein’s finale set ratings record for Colombian telenovelas, attracting nearly 7 million viewers. Silverman’s last scripted hit as a producer was ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” which is based on another successful Colombian telenovela.

“These synergistic productions represent a giant leap forward for the networks of NBC Universal,” Silverman said. “I scour the world for the best ideas and for the game-changing hit shows and ‘Sin Tetas’ is one of those shows. We have a tremendous opportunity to achieve cross-promotional efforts on behalf of both of these telenovelas as we reach out to diversify our audiences.”

“Sin Tetas” sparked controversy when it was broadcast, with some groups protesting its depiction of women and Colombian culture. An Associated Press dispatch on the show last fall noted that more than half of the country’s plastic surgeries in 2005 were for breast augmentations, and critics complained the novela only made such operations seem more appealing.

“The only thing the producers were after in showing so much cleavage was a higher rating,” Bogata National U. researcher Florence Thomas told the AP.

NBC has tried developing telenovelas before. Indeed, Silverman first set up “Ugly Betty” at NBC, but development execs at the time tried to turn it into a half-hour laffer. Project ultimately moved to ABC.

Universal Media Studios, the new name for NBC U Television Studio, is developing “Sin tetas” for NBC.

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