Romance, suspense and drama dominate the 2023 slate of Telemundo Global Studios, which presented its 2023 lineup at Content Americas under the banner The Telemundo Edge. Speaking to Variety before hosting Telemundo’s presentation, Karen Barroeta, executive VP of production and development, noted: “We have evolved the genre so much that we now call them contemporary dramas, not telenovelas.” The long-form format runs an average of 80 episodes, stripped Monday to Friday, instead of the 120+ count of the traditional telenovelas.
Telemundo’s programming is also buoyed by its action-packed Super Series, the International Emmy-winning franchise “El Señor de los Cielos” (“Lord of the Skies”), which just launched Season 8 on Jan. 17 to stellar ratings. Inspired by real events, the show stars drug lord Rafael Amaya who undergoes plastic surgery in order to evade capture. “The show is always rooted in reality,” said Barroeta who added that writer/creator Luis Zelkowicz has some 800 hours under his belt. Defying reports of his death in the previous season, “the infamous ‘Señor de los Cielo’ is alive, breathing new fire, and destined to take back his place of power,” the synopsis goes.
Per Telemundo, during its premiere week, “El Señor de los Cielos” “ranked as the No. 1 Spanish-language series in weekday primetime with a premiere week average of 821,000 adults 18-49 and 309,000 adults 18-34.”
The network’s longest-running series was also the No. 1 broadcast program in its 9 p.m. slot (8 p.m. Central), regardless of language, among the adult 18-49 demo, in key markets including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas and Chicago.
“Obviously, franchises are important for us as they allow us to leverage the equity of a show or a certain storyline,” said Barroeta, who added: “We definitely want to keep building on what we’ve been working at Telemundo for the past 20 years.” To stay competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace, Telemundo has invested in the production values of its shows, acquiring the latest camera equipment, hiring film directors and combining the use of locations and its state-of-the-art studios. “We allow for creativity and innovation as we continue to push the envelope and produce unique stories, that’s how we remain competitive,” she said.
The new series going into production and development this year are:
“Hasta Encontrarte” (working title). A romantic drama starring William Levy (“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”) and Samadhi Zendejas (“Rosario Tijeras,” “La mujer del Diablo”) with Kimberly Dos Ramos (“La Desalmada”) playing the antagonist. Drama deals with the themes of adoption and families, and was shot in Mexico and Miami. It is somewhat inspired by “Lion,” the Oscar-nominated biographical drama starring Dev Patel, based on the true story of a young man who tracks the family he was separated from when very young.
“Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso,” Based on the original Colombian telenovela “Sin tetas no hay Paraiso,” the hit franchise is entering its fourth season and is a co-development with TIS (The Independent Studio, previously known as Telecolombia and Estudios Telemexico). The struggles of Catalina Santana with love and with her unceasing efforts to protect her family became a social media phenomenon, airing on Telemundo in the U.S. and various countries around the world. The franchise also became the number one Spanish-language series globally on Netflix in 2017 and a Top 10 scripted series on Netflix in Colombia in 2020.
‘Mujer de Oro,” Created by in-demand Chilean writer José Ignacio “Chascas” Valenzuela, creator, showrunner and executive producer of the hit Netflix series “Who Killed Sara?” Chascas developed this project before signing a three-year exclusive deal with the streaming giant in 2021. Dramatic thriller follows Rebecca Arismendi, a widowed millionaire, who is shocked to discover that her late husband left part of his jewelry retail company to his first wife and to her daughter with him, Beatriz.
“Blue Cage,” Currently in production in Turkey, this is the first series to emerge from Telemundo Global Studios’ multi-year co-production agreement with Turkey’s Inter Medya, inked last year. In this suspense drama, Oğuz has lost his wife and resettled with his children in a coastal town where he saves a young amnesiac woman, Defne, who he brings into his home. But when Defne recovers her memory, she realizes that she was a con artist who must remain in hiding.
Aside from “El Señor de los Cielos,” Barroeta highlighted the company’s other original productions slated to premiere this year on Telemundo:
“Juego de Mentiras,” Written by Chilean scribe Sebastian Arrau and expected to air in three to four months, the thriller starring Arap Bethke, Altair Jarabo and Maria Elisa Camargo, centers on Cesar Ferrer whose wife disappears. As he becomes the prime suspect of her possible murder, he takes the investigation in his own hands and fights to keep custody of his daughter. It’s soon apparent that virtually all the characters in the show have reasons to eliminate his wife, who in fact, led a double life.
“El Conde: Amor y Honor,” Based on the beloved literary classic “The Count of Monte Cristo,” the retelling spans 90 episodes and is set in the 1930s and 1950s. The stellar cast includes Fernando Colunga (“Ladrones”), Ana Brenda Contreras (“Mujeres asesinas”) and Marjorie de Sousa (“La Desalmada”). In this adaptation that adheres quite closely to the original plot, a young farmer is accused of double murder and thrown into jail, framed by a rival for the affections of his girlfriend, Mariana. He is sent to a dungeon in a remote island where he meets a wealthy Spanish nobleman who leaves him his fortune. Years later, Alejandro returns as the wealthy Count Joaquín de Montenegro who sets out to avenge his betrayal.