Studio sets foothold in local industry

NBC Universal-owned Telemundo is producing its first telenovela in Mexico at its new local studios.

Execs from the U.S. were on hand Thursday night in Mexico City to fete “El Engano” (The Betrayal) and the completion of the years-long plan to gain a production foothold in Mexico.

“We have planted the Telemundo flag in Mexico,” said prexy Don Browne. “Producing content here is critically important to our business.”

Browne noted that some 66% of the U.S. Hispanic aud is of Mexican descent and said that local productions would be key in narrowing the ratings gap between Telemundo and Univision, which owes its primetime ratings dominance to Mexican media conglom Televisa’s telenovelas.

Maria Catalina Kennedy, creative VP of Estudios Mexicanos Telemundo, is exec producing “El Engano,” which stars Venezuelan thesps Fernando Carrillo and Gaby Espinosa.

“El Engano,” about a man who plans revenge on a woman he believes drove his brother to suicide, will air Stateside in early 2008.

Browne has been angling to set up shop in Mexico since taking the reins four years ago and ramping up Telemundo’s original productions at studios in Miami and Colombia.

U.S. web now claims to have eclipsed TV Azteca as the second-biggest producer of Spanish-language content.

Telemundo used indie TV outfit Argos to produce telenovelas in Mexico before opening its own studios under production prexy Patricio Willis.

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