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Telemundo’s ‘Les Miserables’ Reinvents a Classic

A classic tale originally published in 1862 about a French peasant who seeks redemption after being imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s child became a global sensation in the 1980s as a musical theatre production created by Cameron Mackintosh.

Today, Los Miserables has cemented its status as one of the most successful Broadway shows in history. In 2012, a feature-film adaptation of the stage musical headed to movie theaters, further capturing the hearts of audiences worldwide. Hollywood stars Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) picked up a Golden Globe Award for best actor, while Anne Hathaway (Fantine) landed an Oscar for best supporting actress.

This fall, Telemundo hopes its unique Spanish-language adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel will find a similarly strong reception among Hispanic television viewers. Filming has ramped up in the last several weeks on a primetime Los Miserables telenovela, which received considerable buzz at Telemundo’s upfront. A confirmed debut date has not yet been set; Telemundo expects Los Mis to be a central component of its 2014-15 lineup.

While the Los Miserables name will certainly be familiar to nearly all viewers, the characters and setting are noticeably different. Instead of a male protagonist in the role of Jean Valjean, screenwriter Valentina Párraga opted for a female protagonist, played by veteran actress Aracely Arámbula. Thus, the Mexican “Valjean” is Lucia ‘Lucha’ Duran, a beautiful woman who is released from a Texas jail after serving 11 years for a crime she didn’t commit.

In the course of trying to rebuild her life, Lucha finds herself intermingling truth and lies with her family, whom prefers to forget her. At the same time, she goes on a quest to win over the very man who seeks to destroy her.

The antagonist, chief detective Daniel Ponce, is Erik Hayser. It’s his second Telemundo Studios effort, as Hayser was most recently seen in the recently concluded prime-time telenovela Camelia La Texana. Hayser starred in TV Azteca productions from 2003-2008.

Aylin Mujica (Corazón Valiente) plays villain Claudia Duran; Aaron Diaz (Santa Diabla) is cast as César Mondragon, a character described by Telemundo as “a generous and charismatic lawyer whose betrayal is the central element” to the plot.

Los Miserables marks the second pairing for Párraga and Arámbula -- the two teamed up for the 2013 telenovela La Patrona. Párraga is best known as a writer on such novelas as De que te quiero, te quiero; La Reina del Sur; Doña Barbara; and Amorcito Corazón. Arámbula has starred in such Spanish-language soaps as Corazón Salvaje.

Viewers who don’t wish to wait until the on-air premiere of Los Miserables to learn more about the production can visit to see photos and read updates about the show’s progress. As of July 12 the page had more than 1,600 likes. Similarly, Telemundo has launched the @LosMiserables Twitter feed, which as of July 12 has surpassed 800 followers.