International Academy Day: Globo’s Valente Calls for Good Mob TV

Intl. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Debates TV’s Future in Rio de Janeiro

International Academy Day: Globo's Sergio Valente
Courtesy:Globo/Estevam Avellar

A push by Globo’s Sergio Valente for Good Mob TV – a larger broadcaster sensibility toward social network mobilization — was one highlight at International Academy Day, a two-day huddle of international TV execs and creatives hosted by Brazilian TV giant Globo in Rio de Janeiro on behalf of the Intl. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Most notably, IATAS organizes the Intl. Emmy Awards with a New York Awards Gala in November.

Talking Friday, Valente, Globo’s communications director, reminded the audience that television is in almost every household in the world, in 97% of homes more specifically in Brazil; with such significant penetration, social mobilization actions through TV are highly effective.

“We can certainly entertain, but why not use the power of entertainment to touch people’s hearts? We have to give a round of applause to all outstanding mobilization campaigns because this is the beauty of what we do. The power we have is fantastic,” said Valente.

He went on to defend increasing the use of television as a multiplier device for discussions on important issues regarding the future of humanity and called on the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to create an awards category for social campaigns and mobilization.

Valente’s remarks come after two watershed events in Brazil: 2014’s Brazil soccer World Cup, where, as Carlos Moreira — Twitter’s media exec director, Latin America — demonstrated at the Academy Day, goals sparked huge Twitter spikes; and Brazil’s 2015 general elections, when Twitter campaigns were used, sometimes outrageously, to court the vote of Brazil’s poor. Globo used to influence social mores via its telenovelas; now, newspapers or even TV debates can pale in impact compared to social media.

“TV and mobiles are becoming the most relevant platforms, and it’s very important to have a strategy that enables us to work on both of them simultaneously,” said Erick Bretas, Globo head of digital media.

Held in spectacular locations – Projac, Globo’s main production studios and the largest studio complex in South America; the Rio de Janeiro Planetarium Foundation – the International Academy Day debates centered largely on the future of television. Topics ranged widely. But some pointers, for the immediate future at least, were clear:

*Event TV: Unspooling June 25-26, the International Academy Day took place as Globo announced it will not only broadcast the Olympic Games – that $210 million deal went down in 2009 – but will have four Globo companies – the free-to-air Globo network; pay TV giant Globosat; publishing and classified ads house and news agency Infoglobo; and Sistema Globo de Radio – participating as official Olympic Games media sponsors. Two International Academy Day panels centered on sports coverage: “Are You Game? Covering Sports Events in the Multi-Platform Era” and “How to Use the Spotlight for Good: the Inspirational Power of Sports,” where soccer ace Juninho Pernambucano, tennis star Gustavo Kuerten and Paralympic athlete Fernando Fernandes talked about how television can enhance the inspirational power of sports. Joao Pedro Paes Leme, Globo’s exec director of sports, anticipated that Globo’s own Olympic Games coverage will essentially turn on human stories with, as highlights, Brazilian athletes, major international stars and stars who emerge during the Games.

*Premium fiction: Kicking off discussions Thursday, Virginia Mouseler, managing director of the Wit, asked audiences, “Where Is TV Drama Headed?” She highlighted some major trends herself: Latin America’s “super-series” (far shorter-format telenovelas, often actioners, sometimes made with a gritty realism); Nordic Noir (suspense/action skeins, with cold aesthetics reinforcing dramatic structure); and smallscreen makeovers of hit books, movies, comics and vidgames.

*Blurred TV/film frontiers. A conversation between Silvio de Abreu, Globo head of drama, and Claudio Torres, founding partner and director of Conspiraçao Filmes, underscored the two-way street between once distinct sectors. Conspiraçao and Brazil are cases in point. Torres’ own “Invisible Woman” was a blockbuster movie, then a Intl. Emmy Award-winning series for Conspiraçao and Globo. Almost all Brazil’s top movie houses – think Fernando Meirelles’ o2 Filmes and Gullane – are top TV production hubs too. Globo Filmes co-produces nearly all of Brazil’s now quite frequent local blockbusters, bringing Globo’s huge marketing muscle to the table.

*Character development and screenplay craft. Notably, one of Friday’s highlights was Gloria Perez, writer of 2001-02 “The Clone” and 2009’s “India – A Love Story,” two of Globo’s biggest telenovela ratings phenoms this century. Perez talked about the telenovela-Internet interface. “Nowadays, we can say that in relation to telenovelas, we have removed the walls of the house. People watch them in squares, comment on them with everyone else through social networks,” she said. “If on one hand, this opens up enormous possibilities for telenovela writers, on the other this growing space makes things a bit difficult because it creates a lot of reverberations, a microphone in the hands of everyone. It is necessary to filter things.”

Nobody doubted, however, that a screenwriter’s craft was relevant to TV’s future: Hence Perez’s invitation to talk. “The people who currently write telenovelas at Globo started in this line of work by writing theatrical pieces. This is what has made them so special in the craft of creating a story,” said De Abreu. Rather like under the old Hollywood studio system, Globo screenwriters are salaried employees. Going forward, they’ll still be worth every real.