Cristina opens own studio

Talk show host bows $15 mil Blue Dolphin digs

MIAMI – Spanish-language talk show diva Cristina Saralegui is clocking in with both her professional and cultural counterparts.

Saralegui has joined a handful of television personalities, including U.S. talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, by opening a television studio while at the same time becoming one of Miami’s most famous Cuban exiles with her name adorning a street sign.

At the opening of her $15 million, 50,000-square-foot Blue Dolphin Studios in western Miami-Dade County on Sunday, local officials dedicated five blocks of a road to be called Cristina’s Way.

Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora, frequently names streets after famous exiles, including salsa legend Celia Cruz and the late exile group leader Jorge Mas Canosa.

Saralegui said her Cuban roots helped her navigate the new venture.

“Being in exile, to me, means that you work so hard,” Saralegui, 53, told Reuters, “You want to leave your kids something solid. I need to leave my children something they can parlay into a business.”

Saralegui said she came to America when she was 11 years old. Now, at 54, she’s nicknamed the Oprah Winfrey of Latin America. Her talk show is carried on 897 Univision affiliates and boasts an audience of over 100 million.She also co-publishes a magazine named for her and hosts a radio show on Radio Unica.

All her enterprises, which were formerly scattered about Miami, will be housed under the one studio roof. Univision will also rent space and offices for the Cristina show, she said.

But the studio opening was more than the talk show star’s latest business venture.

Even though guests dined on foods from all over the globe, such as sushi, pasta, carved turkey and a celebratory chocolate cake — the event offered the flavor of Latin America as guests included some of the region’s most famed celebrities.

Limousines dropped off pop singer Gloria Estefan and actress Maria Conchita Alonso, and soap opera actress Patricia Manterole, who chatted up television reporters clad in leather pants and a bikini top.

Saralegui, for her part, will this summer take a step out of the Latin market and attempt the crossover to the English speaking television. She will do a two-week stint on Passions, a CBS soap opera on which she’ll play Tia Cristina, her representative said.

“I, as a Cuban, feel proud,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner Miriam Alonso told Reuters after the dedication ceremony, which was in Spanish. “She represents the American dream.”