The North Americanization of Latin American TV

We have no idea why the people involved in this story think they’re telling us about a good thing. (But that’s how TVWriter™ rolls, or so it seems.)


Latin America remains a drama market, but the type of series that are resonating has changed, with new forms of novella breaking through. The traditional soapy drama remains a programming staple region-wide, but a shorter, punchier and grittier iteration of the form is gaining ground, data for January-October 2014 shows.

“In fiction, the telenovela remains a key genre, but to face competition in the TV environment and reach a wider market, it has been reinvented, both in terms of form and content,” says Julia Espérance, media consultant at Eurodata TV and service manager for the New on the Air (NOTA) programming service. “They focus on new themes, they’re not the traditional sentimental love stories, and there is a real effort to diversify the audience to bring in male viewers with more action.”

To win these male and younger viewers, crime and often drug-crime are central themes in the new, edgier novellas. The recent trend started a couple of years ago with Caracol’s Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal (Pablo Escobar: The Drug Lord), which went from TV in Colombia to sell into France and the Netherlands as well as Thailand. In the US, Univision’s Unimas has El Varon de la Drog (The Drug Baron), which is written by former cartel member Andres Lopez Lopez and is a more recent example.

Espérance goes on to identify a sub-category among the new crime novellas. “The current trend is for narco-novellas with strong female protagonists, with shows such as La Viuda Negra (The Black Widow), based on the true story of Griselda Bianco aka ‘the Cocaine Godmother’, and Dueños del Paraíso (Masters of Paradise, pictured) and Señora Acero (Woman of Steel),” she says. Several of these are in line for US remakes.

The US networks targeting Hispanic viewers are particularly tuned into the narco trend with Dueños del Paraíso and Señora Acero both Telemundo shows and La Viuda Negra made by Televisa and RTI for Univision.

Many of the new novellas are also shorter in form and the US Hispanic broadcasters are at the forefront of the shift in run-time, targeting Latin viewers in the US with shorter series under initiatives launched recently.

Telemundo calls its shorter action novellas ‘super series’. Examples include El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord of Skies) and Dueños del Paraíso, which is a coproduction with Chilean network TVN. Univision has launched abridged versions of its novellas under a ‘Novelas Xpress’ banner and the 15-hours or less series are available on its TV Everywhere service UVideos as well as the Hulu catch-up and streaming service.

Streaming service Netflix is also getting into the drug trafficking game, with ten-parterNarcos set for 2015. The Gaumont-produced series will be largely in Spanish and is a fictionalised account of the most infamous drug boss of all, Pablo Escobar.

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Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 1/24/15

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLatest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club) is writing the pilot for Syfy’s 51st State, a drama series about a future in which “the United States, confronting a prison population stretched to the limit, purchases Greenland and converts it into a frontier prison colony with male and female convicts incarcerated together.” Except, of course, that things don’t work out as planned. (Notice the not-so-subtle satire here, the whole “we’re all living in prison now” thing? Thanks to the harmless outlet that this show provides, we real prisoners won’t have to revolt after all. Whew.)
  • Matt Tarses (The Goldbergs) is writing the pilot for a CBS comedy series called Coverband about “members of a rock band left to scramble after their lead singer dumps them for a solo career.” (LB informs yer sweet munchman that his first paid-for script was for a similarly themed feature film at MGM, but his protagonist was the lead singer. The more things change….)
  • Exciting new unknown David E. Kelley is adapting Mr. Mercedes, a novel by another new unknown named Stephen King into a mini-series detective drama for a company called Sonar Entertainment. (Cuz in this youth-oriented market two of the most successful writers still breathing can’t get broadcast or cable network deals on their own? What gives?)

That’s it for now, munchaladas. Don’t forget to write in and tell yers truly what you’ve sold when you sell it. Cuz TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 1/22/15

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLatest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) is writing the pilot for Park Row, a drama series about “the newspaper circulation wars between publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst” in the late 1800s. The announcement makes no mention of what network or cable entity this will appear on. (Cuz “newspaper circulation wars?” “Late 1800s? What idiot executive – excuse the tautology – is going to commit to something like that? Oh wait – all of them probably. Meh.)
  • David DiGilio (Crossbones) is developing a martial arts series called Warrior for NBC. (They call it a “drama,” but yer cute little munchikins has to admit that I’ve never seen any show or movie in martial arts that even remotely resembled a genuine drama. But maybe that’s just me?)
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who old-timers might recall as some kind of basketball hero and modern TV viewers may recognize from appearances on New Girl, is co-writing a novel about Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s bro, with Anna Waterhouse (On the Shoulders of Giants). (I have absolutely no idea what Kareem is bringing to the table here except his obsolete name but am certain that one way or another he’ll make a – wait for it – slam dunk. No? Not worth waiting for? Sorreeee!)

That’s it for now, munchaladas. Don’t forget to write in and tell yers truly what you’ve sold when you sell it. Cuz TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 1/19/15

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLatest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Ian Hollands (Beaver Falls) is writing the mini-series Apocalypse Slough, “a Sky 1 “adrenaline-fueled witty epic about the end of the world.” (Yer friendly neighborhood munchman fully expects this to turn up on Syfy sometime next year as well. Unless it’s good, in which case Syfy will have no interest whatsoever but maybe Netflix will?)
  • Guillermo del Toro & Travis Beacham & Rene Scheverria  (Star Trek) are co-writing Carnival Row, a potential Amazon Studios series based on Travis’ spec script. (The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I didn’t give any credits to del Toro. That was deliberate cuz if you talk about him as a writer you soon realize that he can’t. Write, that is. Fortunately, if the pilot for Carnival Row gets shot, he’ll be directing…as sublimely as ever, I hope.)
  • Have I mentioned that Woody Allen, of whom you may have heard a few things, is set to develop his first TV series for Amazon Prime? (It’s what’s called a “blind commitment,” and in this case its totally blind: Nobody, not even the Woodster, has a clue about what he might deliver. Or, for that matter, if he’ll deliver anything. My munchensteinian prediction: It’ll be a series about a middle-aged man in love with a much younger woman and every single line of dialog and joke will be one we’ve already heard in a Woody Allen movie. How do I know this? Well, I’ve seen a few recent Woody Allen movies. Hehehe…

That’s it for now, munchaladas. Don’t forget to write in and tell yers truly what you’ve sold when you sell it. Cuz TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

Streaming could replace TV viewing, study finds

To which we wild and zany minions of TVWriter™ can only add, “Doh!”

They needed a study to figure out this?


by Jesse Whittoc

TV viewing is in danger of being replaced by streaming services as the primary platform of long-form programming watching among Millennial audiences, according to new research.

Preliminary results from NATPE Content First and the Consumer Electronics Association’s joint research study shows just 55% of Millennials aged between 13 and 34 consider TV as their primary viewing platform. In its place, streaming devices are set to dominate their preferences.

Eighty-four per cent of Millennials surveyed by E-Poll Mark Research said they had consumed full-length streamed video in the past six months, compared with just 54% that had watched live programming at its original air time and 33% that watch recorded content via DVR.

Other findings showed Millennials valued their Netflix subscriptions more than broadcast and cable channels, with 51% saying the streaming service was “very valuable” compared with 42% for broadcast channels and 36% for cable subscriptions.

Half said they watch TV shows on laptops, with 19% saying this was their preferred viewing platform. Twenty-eight per cent consume long-form video on tablets and 22% on smartphones.

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Film bosses accused of mutilating scripts and pushing out writing talent

This is one for the Ya Can’t Win Dept. UK screenwriters are saying that UK film execs are so aggravating to work with that they’re being pushed into the very medium that so many writers in the U.S. bitch about – television. As another U.S. TV writer who also did a movie or three would say, “case in point:”


by Dalya Alberge

Three of Britain’s Oscar-nominated screenwriters say that an increasing tendency among film studio bosses and directors to “mutilate” film scripts is forcing top writers to either direct their own work or write for television, where they command greater respect.

Jeffrey Caine, William Nicholson and Steven Knight – whose acclaimed screenplays include those for The Constant Gardener, Gladiator and Dirty Pretty Things respectively – told the Observer that writers were often sacked without warning from the studios and would then discover that their original work has been altered beyond recognition by a production line of writers.

Caine said that studio executives, directors or actors who “ride roughshod” over film scripts can leave writers feeling embarrassed when their names appear in the credits. Writers often find themselves blamed for excruciating dialogue they never wrote, he said, adding: “I have seen lines of dialogue in films with my name on them that I wouldn’t have written under torture.”

To add insult to injury, writers are sometimes unceremoniously removed from projects, though their name may appear in the credits. They may not even be told they have been replaced: they discover their sacking by chance on a blog or trade report. Nicholson recalled delivering a commissioned screenplay and receiving a phone call from the studio saying it was “wonderful – we’re so excited”. He then heard nothing. Two years later it appeared in cinemas; other writers had taken it on. His name was on it, but it bore little relation to his original.

The phenomenon is not new. Howard Clewes, a leading British screenwriter, took his name off Mutiny on the Bounty, starring Marlon Brando, in 1962, because he was so dismayed by the rewrites. Today’s writers do not have that option. Writers’ Guild rules do not permit writers to take their name off a screenplay if they have been paid more than a certain amount. Studios can, in effect, buy their names.

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