Upfronts 2011: Telemundo, Mun2 Unveil New Lineups

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New York -- In a sign that NBCU is committed to growing its business among Latino audiences, Lauren Zalaznick, chair, NBCUniversal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media, kicked off Telemundo' press presentation here Tuesday morning by stressing the "stunning opportunity" represented by the U.S. Hispanic market.

Zalaznick also noted how the now Comcast-controlled joint venture now reaches almost 100% of U.S. Hispanics, regardless of language through its portfolio of English -and Spanish-language networks, cable, broadcasters and online properties. Zalaznick's brief remarks were followed by a series of short presentations by some of Telemundo's top brass, including outgoing  Telemundo president Don Browne, who has announced his June 3 retirement.

Among the most anticipated announcements, Telemundo confirmed Tuesday it has hired former Univision personality Cristina Saralegui to host her own weekend show. The as-yet to-be-named program is expected to debut some time near the end of 2011. Saralegui, who left Univision late last year amid a bitter dispute with her former employer, will first host a special show May 31, featuring the cast of La Reina del Sur, the Telemundo telenovela that has broken all of the network's audience marks.

Telemundo's cable cousin mun2 is also ready to launch new programs, including El Más Chingón (loosely translated as the "true bad ass") an American Idol-type competition reality series set to discover the next great regional Mexican talent. Pitched as a "talent search with a twist," El Más Chingón will select contestants through an interactive online campaign.

On the digital front, Telemundo announced the upcoming launch of its first telenovela app, currently available for download on iTunes in Beta version. "The challenge," said Peter Blacker, executive vice president, digital media and emerging business, "is to connect with the full spectrum of U.S. Hispanics, whether in English, in Spanish, online, offline..."

There was no talk about  Browne's replacement at the breakfast, but Zalaznick told Multichannel News that NBCU has retained New York-based executive search firm Spencer Stuart to seek a replacement. "We began a search about two weeks ago," she said, without further elaboration.

Several Telemundo and mun2 executives were consulted on the search, but declined to be interviewed on the subject. However, Browne himself said the search is a tough one, considering there are currently two major searches going on right now to head the major U.S. Hispanic media companies -- Univision has been looking for CEO since Joe Uva left in April.

At press time, Telemundo was preparing for its formal upfront presentation at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, where the network expects to welcome over 1,000 guests.