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Telemundo Novelas Set for English Adaptations

In the last year, Telemundo has benefited from its ever-closer relationship with its English-language NBCUniversal siblings by debuting Spanish-language adaptations of NBC’s The Voice and Bravo’s Top Chef, increasing segment simulcasts on NBC’s Today and Telemundo wake-up program Un Nuevo Dia, and branding weekly news segments on the entertainment program Al Rojo Vivo with the Access Hollywood banner.

Now, in a historic first, NBCU-owned NBC and USA Network have optioned Telemundo programming, effectively bringing the classic telenovela concept to English-speaking U.S. audiences. NBC Entertainment’s option is for the Telemundo hit telenovela El Señor de los Cielos, while USA Network has the option to develop an adaptation of the forthcoming Telemundo telenovela Mujer de Acero.

The options mark the latest effort to develop business and content opportunities across NBCU’s entire stable of networks, and broadens NBCU’s mission to provide Hispanic marketers with “total market” solutions -- a key theme of its 2014 Upfront presentation on May 13 in New York.

“The telenovela format has a long history of delivering compelling episodic dramas and storylines that transcend culture and generations,” Jeff Wachtel, president and chief content officer of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, said. “We’re fortunate to have a library of stellar content that we can tap into with Telemundo, and are excited at the prospect of extending it across our cable portfolio.”

Joe Uva, NBCU’s chairman of Hispanic enterprises and content, added, “These agreements are further examples of our continuous efforts to work across the NBCUniversal brands to integrate and leverage our resources and expertise, and demonstrates the growing interest in the telenovela format in the general market.”

El Señor de los Cielos tells the story of Aurelio Casillas (portrayed by Rafael Amaya), one of the most prominent Mexican drug lords of the 1990s, whose ambition was to become one of the richest and most powerful men in Mexico.

Mujer de Acero, set to premiere this fall, tells the story of a simple housemaid whose husband-to-be is killed at their wedding; she then learns he was a wanted criminal. As the heroine evades the authorities and her fiancee’s enemies, she becomes “the queen of organized crime.”

In other Telemundo news, the network announced in late April that it has teamed with Bud Light in launching a summertime six-episode reality competition series that “will search for the unique sound that turns a singer into an artist—and an artist into a star.” The program, Buscando Mi Ritmo, bows July 19 at 6 p.m. and will conclude in late August, with the winner unveiled at Telemundo’s 2014 “Premios Tu Mundo” awards in Miami. Regional in-person castings are taking place this month in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Miami. Telenovela star Gaby Espino has signed on as host.

Bud Light is sponsoring the award show’s stage, while Buscando Mi Ritmo contestants will have the opportunity to unwind during each episode in a Bud Light-branded lounge. Telemundo and Bud Light will also co-host a dedicated digital hub with exclusive interviews; information on the contestants, bands and judges; a “rank it” tool; and a viewer voting section.