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To Pedro Leda, "soaps" are problematic. Novelas are more dramatic.

Telenovelas are quickly becoming Latin America's most popular export. Celeste, a telenovela produced by Leda films, is watched by 1-4 million viewers daily in Italy, and receives a 67 per cent share in Argentina," said Pedro Leda of Leda films, a 19 year old production and distribution company based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "We sell to 20 countries in Latin America, and to the U.S., Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, India and the Middle East."

The Spanish-language long form drama, has won audiences worldwide with its particular brand of melodrama; tales of tragic heroes and heroines who suffer from smoldering passions and unconsummated love in complex plots of fate and destiny.

"It is a very interesting formula," said Leda, a producer since 1957. "Telenovelas are very different from the U.S. soap operas, which continue for years and years." For the purpose of international sales, the longer form creates a problem. "Let's say somebody wants to buy The Young and The Restless. Where do you begin - with the current episodes or the ones from many years ago? How do you introduce characters? How do you end the story?"

"The client knows very well when he programs our telenovelas that the story has a definite start, the characters are introduced to the viewers, and there are a certain number of episodes that come to a conclusion."

Most telenovelas run from 150 t0 200 episodes, also known as "chapters." "It is this way of packaging it that makes it so successful for the buyer. Also, each episode is more dramatic and more dense than the U.S. soap operas."

Leda, who has a special business relationship with Raul Lecouna, one of Argentina's top producers, also points out that production values for Celeste are of the highest standard. "One reason we are so successful is that our telenovelas are produced in a former movie studio, which was transformed into the largest independent television facility in South America. It has seven sound stages and state of the art equipment. We use 40 movie sets for each novela."

"We strongly believe in the potential of international distribution," said Leda. "We are continually gaining new markets, and are actively investing much more money and effort for expansion in all areas of the world. We're very interested in gaining more clients in Europe - particularly France and Germany - and in the Far East and the South Pacific."
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Title Annotation:A World of Hispanic TV; interview with Pedro Leda
Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:Hugo Rose is into breaking U.S. barriers.
Next Article:TV in Latin countries tied to the political knot: Antola.

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