Wednesday evening at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Endemol Shine North America chairman/CEO Cris Abrego discussed the production company’s burgeoning Spanish-language division alongside EVP Flavio Morales, director Jessy Terrero, and “MasterChef Latino” judge Claudia Sandoval.
Abrego oversees a collection of hit reality television programming produced by Endemol Shine North America, including “MasterChef,” “Big Brother,” “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and “Mira Quién Baila.” Raised in a bicultural household, Abrego explained how his background has helped shape his decision-making process in both Spanish and English language programming.
“In my house, Telemundo and Univision were on just as often as NBC, ABC and CBS, and I could easily go from watching a novella with my mom to ‘The Jeffersons’ or ‘Different Strokes’ with my dad,” Abrego said. “For that reason I think it’s given me the same credibility that any successful producer, production executive or creator would have.”
Endemol Shine recently collaborated with the Mexico City-based production company Boomdog, forming Endemol Shine Boomdog, focusing on original production of both unscripted and scripted series for the U.S. Hispanic and Mexican television markets. The forces have joined to co-produce scripted bilingual docuseries “Nicky Jam: El Ganador,” based on the life of Reggaeton artist Ricky Jam. “El Ganador” director Terrero stressed the importance of bringing Spanish-language programming to a predominantly English speaking Latino audience, explaining that English-speaking Latinos are “subliminal Spanish speakers” because “their grandmas speak it.”
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Sandoval added on to the sentiment, saying that seeing “MasterChef” with different cultures was enlightening and that English-speaking viewers could easily watch the series with subtitles and enjoy it.
Morales shared that the company is currently focusing on more music-driven series, which he says is an easy entry-point for viewers with the aid of social media. Celebreality series, similar to “I Love Jenni,” are also in the works, some of which may be docuseries as well.
For Abrego, his goal has always been to start a Latino business — not just in Spanish language, but simply putting more Latinos both in front of and behind the camera. To that point, Abrego said “over the years I was starting to build a company, this was something I didn’t see a lot of, so that was something I set my sights on, and something that we have been doing a lot of.”