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Latin American telenovelas ride high.

Worldwide enthusiasm for the telenovela - Latin America's brand of soap opera - has been a boon for Latin American producers.

"The novelas sell like hotcakes," said Maria Barba of Venevision. "We've broken records in Russia, Turkey, Greece, Lebanon and Japan. In this recession, not everyone has the budget to program features. The novela provides anywhere from 80 to 280 hours of quality programming, and broadcasters have learned that the novelas get audiences hooked. It's a great concept and seems to be working everywhere."

Pedro Leda remarked that Princessa, the telenovela produced by his Leda Films, has received an 80 per cent share in Venezuela, a 42 per cent share in Puerto Rico and has an audience of close to two million in Italy. Celeste, another success story for Leda Films, has created a demand for a sequel. Leda said that production on Celeste 11 will begin shortly.

Marcel Vinay of Protele reported that Protele's 257-episode novela Carousel is number one in its time slot in Portugal and is the top rated imported show in Korea.

"We've been producing novelas for 40 years," said Vinay, "and think that in the future we'll see an increase of novelas on the air worldwide. Although we also produce documentaries and musicals, novelas will always be our main product. They're so successful, we see no reason to change."

Hector Llorens of STS also felt that the novela trend would continue. "We know that audiences like the novelas - the ratings are high." Llorens added that the time-span of the novela - one year to one and a half years - helped the novelas' ongoing popularity. "Audiences like to see new stories, new characters, new actors."

STS's list of new product for MIP-TV includes the novelas Only One Man (129 one-hour episodes); Life is Not a Game(192 one-hour episodes); and The Unfaithful One (172 one-hour episodes).

Protele launches Maria Mercedes (80 one-hour episodes) and White Rose (100 one-hour episodes), which is currently being dubbed into French for the novela's launch in Switzerland's French Quarter in October 1993, and subsequent launch in other French-speaking territories.

Venevision debuts Paper Love (200 one-hour episodes) a novela aimed at young adults co-produced with antenna Spain. It's not the typical novela," said Barba. "Paper Love is for the same crowd that watches Beverly Hills 90210. It deals with drug problems, sex, coming of age. We're using Spanish and Venezuelan actors. The co-production is a great way to open more barriers, and to learn about other cultures."

Venevision will also debut three other novelas at MIP TV: Roseangelica (160 one-hour episodes); All for Love (200 one-hour episodes); and Blood of Wolves (230 one-hour episodes).

Whiland Co., distributor for feature films throughout Latin America, has added to its catalog 18 features from Orion Pictures. Another recent venture for Whiland is the formation of a sister company, General Video, for the acquisition of erotic features and programming for Argentina.

"Since MIPCOM, General Video has closed 15 deals with European and American companies," said Sebastian Darcyl, co-director of Whiland.

Coral Pictures, which gets its programs from Venezuela's Radio Caracas, but also represents several other companies, has two telenovelas currently in production.

At MIP-TV Coral is showing three two-hour TV movies three specials and one 16-episode documentary series.

Also from Venezuela are Marte's novelas such as Divine Obsession, Skin and The Two Dianas, all distributed by Warner Bros. International TV.

From Brazil, Globo TV will be highlighting six telenovelas out of a catalog of 2,000 hours. These include Of Body and Soul, 120 one-hour episodes that represent Danilo Perez's last performance.
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Publication:Video Age International
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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