Local-language remakes of hit U.S. series are nothing new in Latin America, but the network producing the Chilean version of “Modern Family,” Mega TV, is facing challenges more daunting than the usual cultural translation problems.
Although shooting wrapped last December on 45 episodes (two seasons shot back-to-back), the show’s air date has yet to be determined, due to a recent overhaul in the management at Mega, which wouldn’t comment on the program’s start.
Add to that certain aspects of the show: “Chile is deeply conservative, and gay marriage is illegal here,” says Argentine helmer Diego Rougier in reference to the series’ gay couple, Mitchell and Cameron, who just got married in the U.S. version (where the pair are played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, respectively). The couple have an adopted child, something that’s also illegal in Chile. To circumvent the issue, the remake has one of them have a brief fling with a woman, who becomes pregnant. The couple takes over custody of the child when her mother goes on an extended trip.
Sofia Vergara’s role as Gloria, the second wife of wealthy divorced family patriarch Jay Pritchett, also posed a problem. The character is loud, emotional and voluptuous — but such women are not uncommon in Latin America. The Chilean spin was economic. “We chose a woman who hailed from a lower social class, as social strata are very defined in Chile,” Rougier says.
Fox has pan-regional distribution rights to the skein, which was shot in accent-free Spanish that can be understood throughout Latin America, says Mega TV programming executive Juan Ignacio Vicente.
While Mega’s management is debating all new programming, a bit of history stands in the show’s favor. Mega also produced Spanish-language reversions of “The Nanny” and “Married … With Children,” which Rougier directed. The “Married” remake, which debuted in 2007 and ran for 259 episodes, has been such a hit it’s still on air, stripped daily on Mega.
Its success has prompted a movie spinoff, “Alma,” which Rougier has penned and will helm, featuring the series’ cast. The film is a co-production with Argentine helmer Juan Jose Campanella’s Tres Planos shingle.
“I hope that this remake of ‘Modern Family’ will become just as successful,” Rougier says.
If Mega’s new management gives it a chance.