Telemundo focuses on originality

Times Staff Writer

The verdict is in: Original programming produced in the United States for Latinos who live in the country will continue to be the cornerstone of Telemundo’s programming, according to executives who spoke to reporters Tuesday, hours before the Spanish-language network presented next fall’s schedule to advertisers at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.

“We had made a big bet and investment on original programming,” said Don Brown, Telemundo’s president. “But at this point last year, ratings were heading in the wrong direction.... We’ve stayed absolutely on focus with our strategy.”

Reporting ratings growth in all key areas -- prime time, daytime and weekend -- the network’s senior vice president of entertainment, Ramon Escobar, outlined his fall schedule and announced five new telenovelas. One of them is a first-time production with Sony Pictures Television International to adapt Isabel Allende’s retelling of the Zorro legend, “El Zorro,” into “Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa” (“Zorro: The Sword and the Rose”). Written by Kiko Olivieri, creator of the network’s hit “La Tormenta,” the series will be produced in Colombia, one of the few not made in the U.S.

“We’re very excited about that and I think it’s something everyone will be wowed about,” Escobar said of the show.


Escobar also announced “Vas o No Vas,” its version of “Deal or No Deal,” which is already very popular in Mexico.

For the first time, the network will air an original telenovela during the afternoon, at 1 p.m. “Cuatro Rosas” (“Four Roses”) is the story of four women who live in a neighborhood, share secrets and are in relationships, for better or worse. The network, part of the NBC Universal family, isn’t making any connections between it and “Desperate Housewives,” but the Wisteria Lane familiarity is undeniable.