NBC Prepares to Put a ‘Telenovela’ in Prime Time

NBC is preparing to add a “telenovela” to its prime-time lineup.

Just don’t expect any complex Cinderella-like storylines. Instead, prepare to laugh.

Telenovela is the name of a forthcoming comedy set to star Eva Longoria, in her first leading role on TV since ABC’s Desperate Housewives, and singer Jencarlos Canela, who just kicked off his 2015 tour Feb. 6 in Toronto.

The Peacock network has given Telenovela a 13-episode order, which came only after Longoria committed to star. The scripted series will take viewers behind-the-scenes look at a fictitious Spanish-language soap opera.

Written and produced by Jessica Goldstein and Chrissy Pietrosh, most recently co-executive producers for TBS’ Courteney Cox helmer Cougar Town, Telenovela features Longoria as Ana Maria, the star of the No. 1 telenovela in Latin America. Canela will portray Xavier, a character described only as integral to the show’s plot.

Longoria will also serve as an executive producer, along with Ben Spector of Universal TV-based UnbeliEVAble.

In a cross-promotion tactic, Telenovela will incorporate snippets of NBCU-owned Telemundo’s real telenovelas as appropriate.

Telenovela is the latest turn by a Big Four broadcast network to attract Latino viewers with English-language programming tied to the Spanish-language soap opera, which remains the most-watched programming genre among U.S. Hispanics, according to Nielsen.

The CW has seen success this season with the Gina Rodriguez-helmed Jane the Virgin, which features a highly complex (albeit tongue-in-cheek) telenovela structure to its plotline. It has been nearly nine seasons since ABC’s groundbreaking Ugly Betty, an English-language adaptation of the legendary Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, La Fea, broke the mold for English-language networks.

NBC has not yet announced an air date for Telenovela. However, details are expected at the network’s fall Upfronts later this spring.