Telemundo sked to lather soaps again

Web inks with Banderas, Griffith, Hayek

NEW YORK — One year after removing many telenovelas from its schedule, Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo will bring back the popular soap operas at 7 and 8 each night this fall.

The move is an attempt to reclaim viewers who have fled to Univision, the dominant Spanish-lingo network in the U.S.

Telemundo, which announced its 1999-2000 schedule to advertisers Monday, also will abandon its practice of basing Spanish-language shows on American programs, such as “Charlie’s Angels” and “Starsky and Hutch.”

Instead, the web will produce shows from original concepts. It announced that it has signed a two-year deal to produce TV programs with Green Moon Prods., a company owned by Antonio Banderas and Melanie Grffith. In addition, Salma Hayek has inked to produce three specials.

TV Azteca novels

Telemundo’s primetime telenovelas will come from Mexico’s TV Azteca, with whom Telemundo has struck a “strategic relationship,” said Peter Tortorici, president and CEO of Telemundo.

Telemundo also has cut a deal with MTV to provide the broadcaster with Latino musicvideo shows for latenight on Friday and Saturday.

Since Telemundo’s 1998 upfront presentation, Sony and Liberty Media’s deal to jointly purchase the web closed. The new ownership brought in former CBS entertainment prexy Tortorici and his programming chief, Nely Galan, president of entertainment for Telemundo.

Last year’s schedule featured Spanish-language remakes of Sony-owned shows such as “Charlie’s Angels” (“Angeles”) and “Starsky and Hutch” (“Reyes y Rey”).

These primetime action hours each averaged a meager 2 rating and have since been put on hiatus. The two shows are not on Telemundo’s fall schedule, but Tortorici said that they have not yet been canceled.

Last year, Telemundo trimmed the number of telenovelas from its schedule, a move that also hurt ratings.

‘Fell out of the mix’

“Because the changes were so sweeping and quick, some viewers couldn’t keep up and fell out of the mix,” Tortorici told Daily Variety.

Through the February sweeps, Univision averaged a 93% primetime share to Telemundo’s 7%, a drop of 2 points.

Tortorici said the return to more telenovelas should help bring back viewers and lead them into Telemundo’s new 9-11 p.m. lineup.

Reality shows will comprise Telemundo’s 9-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday slot.

“Discovery,” from Telemundo’s previously established deal with Discovery Communications, will run at 9 p.m. Mondays. The new “Televerdad” reality show will air at 9 p.m. Tuesdays.

“Reino Animal,” a sort of “Animal Kingdom,” will broadcast at 9 p.m. Wednesdays. The new “La Vida Loca,” a cross between “Candid Camera” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” will air at 9 p.m. Thursdays.

The 10 p.m. slot will feature all news and information shows.

“Siglo XXI,” a primetime news magazine in the “Dateline NBC” tradition will air Mondays.

“Jamie Bayly,” described as a younger Larry King, will air Tuesdays.

“Occurrio Asi de Noche” will air at 10 p.m. Wednesdays and “Edicion Especial” will run Thursdays.

“MTV en Telemundo” will air from 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Fridays and from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturdays.

During the afternoon, Telemundo’s returning schedule of talkshows will be joined by “Father Albert,” a talker hosted by priest who looks at life from a philosophical standpoint.

Rather than knock off old American TV shows, Tortorici said that, in general, Telemundo’s new programs will aim for the large population of bilingual Latinos in the U.S.

“The mission is to produce programming for this market about the experience of living in this country but also embraces their countries or origin,” Tortorici said.