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‘Ugly Betty’s’ life is in the balance

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With the show’s ratings down 15% in Season 3, producers want to bring back the focus to America Ferrera’s title character and tone down the outrageousness. But some fans are already grumbling.

At some point during the second season of ‘Ugly Betty,’ creator-executive producer Silvio Horta felt the show’s operatic shenanigans had gotten out of control. A little too telenovela, if you will.

‘There was one episode where Betty was talking to a ghost in a fridge, there was this dwarf, and Betty and Daniel were trying to break someone out of rehab,’ he says. ‘And I just thought, ‘Oh my God, what are we doing?’ ‘An ugly-duckling story set in the fabulous, fantastical world of fashion journalism, ‘Ugly Betty’ was the surprise success of ABC’s 2007 fall lineup. In its Thursday night time slot, the show won an Emmy for star America Ferrera, became a ratings boon for the network, and created buzz for scaling new melodramatic heights week after week -- a transgender sibling returned from the dead, dark corporate secrets (including a hidden ‘love dungeon’) infested the workplace, and one evil baby mama in Season 1 alone.

But the upkeep of the multiple story lines soon became overwhelming, and both Horta and ABC executives felt as though ‘Ugly Betty’s’ original conceit -- a Queens, N.Y. girl with journalism dreams works her way up from the bottom at cutthroat fashion-mag Mode -- had been lost in all the intrigue. Viewership began to slip.

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-- Denise Martin

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