Census Bureau Gets a Part In Telemundo Novela

Telemundo, the NBC-owned Hispanic broadcast network, is following through on a pledge to help promote the 2010 Census by writing a Census Bureau employee into an ongoing telenovela, Mas Sabe el Diablo. The Wire colleague Laura Martinez wrote about this plan earlier but now more can be told.

The character is still being created, but she will be someone emerging from a difficult period in her life who lands a job at the bureau, according to Alfredo Richard, senior VP of communications and talent development. She won’t be counting heads —her character is scheduled to appear in the fourth quarter, and the novela will be over before the census taking starts next April. Instead, she’ll be doing “field work, rallying support and getting the word out there,” Richard said.

Telemundo produces its own telenovelas and has the flexibility to write in causes the network supports, such as the census or health issues such as diabetes or public policy on immigration. (It also write-in product placements, such as a female character driving a Chevy Malibu.)

The census is important to Hispanics — and Hispanic networks — as it helps set funding priorities and election districts (and TV audience parameters). Telemundo has a Be Counted campaign under way. “This is part of our mission as a Hispanic media company,” Richard said.

The census is a subject of particular importance to Telemundo Don Browne, who discussed the telenovela placement at a fall-programming breakfast with reporters on May 18: “I feel it’s part of our Constitution and should be done correctly,” he said. “It’s also good for business.”

Telemundo addresses social causes with all its telenovelas, Browne said. That includes current hit Tetas No Hay Paradiso (“Without Breasts There Is No Paradise). Telemundo used that program — about a teenaged prostitute who undergoes breast augmentation to be more appealing to customers — as an opportunity to encourage young Latinas to talk about cosmetic surgery with their parents, Browne said. “This is a subject that is very difficult for parents and kids to talk about. But it was provocative enough that they actually watched it together and it really did have a very positive effect.”

'Comcast Town’ Ad Inspires 'Positively Cable’ Parody

The June 16 edition of “Positively Cable,” the Denver Cable Positive chapter’s annual musical fundraiser, will break new ground: one of the song parodies will be of a Comcast commercial.

It’s the catchy computer-animated “Future Hopping” ad, the one that goes from person to person in “Comcast Town” doing broadband stuff — it starts with the lyrics “New sensation sending shivers, flying further dreaming bigger ...” (Catch it on Comcasttown.com.)

Time Warner Cable’s Paul Braun adapted it into a riff on how the cable-TV business has changed. It starts out thusly:

“Broadband in a state of rigor, seems we all have lost our vigor, not the future we envisioned, working cable television.

“What we do don’t seem to matter, as we offer high speed data, business plans just seem to splatter as they turn to fecal matter.

“We may smile at digi phone, most the time we moan and groan, all those fat years, should have known someday we’d live in zombie zone.

“Loved the fast times days of yore, boondoogle trips and swag galore, wining, dining, silver lining, now it’s more like crying, whining.

“Crystal pictures on TV screen, wished it pumped more of the green, once a mean cash flow machine, now stock price plays submarine ... .”

Positively Cable, usually in the fall, shifted to spring because of the crowded fall schedule of events in Denver this year (CTAM Summit et al). That left less time than usual to plan, write, etc. But longtime organizer Jane Shanley said the new venue, The Comedy Works South in the Denver Tech Center, is fabulous.

For more about the Time Warner Cable-presented event, see the Denver chapter section at Cablepositive.org.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.