Argentina teen fare evolves in post-Cris Morena era

Variety Junior 2011

The departure of actress-turned-producer Cris Morena from the teen programming scene has led to a dry year for the genre in Argentina, source of hits like “Chiquititas” and “Rebelde Way” (The Rebels) that have sold widely as remakes around the world and spawned albums, legit tours and even lines of perfumes and toys.

The slowdown came after Morena dropped out last year following the death of her daughter Romina Yan. The actress, singer and songwriter, who had starred alongside Morena in “Chiquititas,” died of a heart attack on Sept. 28, 2010.

This year “Super Torpe” (Superclumsy) — from RGB Entertainment, run by Morena’s former husband Gustavo Yankelevich — is the standout on broadcast TV, drawing ratings in line with the venerable “The Simpsons” on Telefe.

“Super Torpe,” airing at 6:30 weeknights, is a half-hour comedy about a teen superheroine determined to become a singer, win a boy and save the world, only for her clumsiness to muddle all hope until a trainer steps in to help. It stars Candela Vetrano and Pablo Martinez, who made their names in “Casi Angeles” (Teen Angels), a teen telenovela that aired from 2007 to 2010 and generated a pop band with wide-selling albums and tours that continue this year.

“Super Torpe” is produced “in the style of a sitcom, which works well with teens,” says Dario Turovelzky, director of content at RGB. “There are lots of gags and visual effects, but more so a good story that keeps people coming back.”

Even so, with little youth programming on broadcast TV, adolescents are turning to Disney and MTV. That’s a change from a flourish of teen programming from the early 1990s to 2010 — a movement led by Morena — that sparked others to get into the game, including Marcelo Tinelli’s Ideas del Sur with “Patito Feo” (Ugly Duckling) and Dori Media Group with “The Refuge.”

While there are rumors of Morena’s return, she hasn’t made anything public and those close to her have declined to talk.

Picking up the slack is RGB, a partner in many Morena productions. It is run by Yankelevich, a pioneer producer in Argentina who topped programming at Telefe from 1988 to 1999, a spot now held by his and Morena’s son Tomas Yankelevich, the creator and producer of “Super Torpe.”

“Super Torpe” bowed in August on Disney Channel Latin America and then Telefe.

Like Morena’s productions, “Super Torpe” has brought together “charismatic kids that gain attention,” says Mariano Colly, editor-in-chief of entertainment magazine Primiciasya.com.

This creates buzz and fan groups, building a loyal audience for steady ratings and sales of spinoff albums, concerts and legit productions, Colly says.

RGB plans to follow this process with the creation of its own feevee. Yups will carry only teen programming, from dating shows to gamers, musicvideos, talent contests and such Morena-RGB series as Cinderella-inspired “Flinderella” for audiences in Latin America.

The bow is set for November starting in northern parts of South America and spreading to the rest of Latin America in 2012, says Turovelzky.

Like with the concept of fan groups, Net will use a website equipped for viewers to generate their own content for sections of the feevee.

“Yups will be a fusion of tested titles and the active participation of the viewer in generating their own content,” Turovelzky says.

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