"Popland" is one of several new skeins
Buoyed by the ratings success of its first teen telenovela, “Ninas mal” (Charm School), last year, MTV Latin America is ramping up original production with a second telenovela in the works, “Popland.”“We’ve allotted 33% of our content budget to original programming,” says Fernando Gaston, senior VP of content, creative and music at MTV Networks Latin America. Telenovelas and live concert show “MTV World Stage” form the pillars of MTVLA’s programming, he adds. “For now, we are producing one telenovela a year, but we may make at least two a year in the future,” Gaston says. Set against the world of celebrities and the paparazzi who stalk them, “Popland” revs up the music, with some 200 songs in the series’ soundtrack. The 70 one-hour episodes of “Popland” start shooting in June at the Colombian studios of Sony-owned Teleset, which co-produced “Ninas mal.” This time, Teleset is providing only production services, making it the first 100% MTVLA-produced scripted skein. The teen telenovela features established and emerging talent from Latin America and the U.S., including Sara Cobo (Mexico), Jon Ecker (U.S.), Ricardo Abarca (Mexico) and Manuela Gonzalez (Colombia). Story revolves around an 18-year-old girl from a small town who goes to the big city and becomes a photographer for celebrity gossip website Popland. She soon learns that VIP access and exclusive pics come at a hefty price. “Popland” is being produced in tandem with Tr3s, the U.S. Hispanic bilingual web owned and operated by MTV Networks Latin America. It debuts on MTVLA and Tr3s in the fall. MTV Spain and MTV Italy will air it shortly after. MTVLA and Tr3s often share content they deem viable for their respective markets. Among the Tr3s programs aired by MTVLA are its top-rated reality franchise, “Quiero mi…” (I want…), which spawned “Quiero mis quinces” (Sweet 15) and “Quiero mi boda” (I Want My Wedding). Tr3s is introducing a third spinoff, “Quiero mi baby” (I Want My Baby), which touches on parenting issues. Tr3s’ “Unplugged,” an acoustic showcase of top Latino artists, also airs on MTVLA. MTVLA’s hoping to equal or better the ratings success of “Ninas mal,” which was numero uno in Mexico and Colombia with the 12-24 demographic among general entertainment channels, and second in the 12-17 age group among general entertainment channels in Argentina last year. In the U.S., 5 million viewers tuned into “Ninas mal” on Tr3s, while the show’s website registered 2.5 million visits. Meanwhile, sister web Nickelodeon Latin America is airing its fourth youth-skewed telenovela. “Grachi,” about a tween with magical powers, bowed May 2 with ratings that beat all other Nick tween telenovelas, prompting Nickelodeon Latin America to order an extra 50 hourlong episodes on top of the 75 it already has in the can.