Upfronts 2011: Univision Offers Unique Take on 'Biggest Loser'

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UPDATED: The deal was closed just in time for Univision to announce it was debuting Si Se Pueda (It's Possible), a weight loss reality show from Dave Broome, creator of NBC hit The Biggest Loser.

"Si Se Puede is another example of the powerful, exclusive entertainment programming Univision brings to Hispanic America," said Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks. "This program featuring real life challenges will connect and entertain families like never before."

Si Se Puede is among the nearly 500 hours of "new original productions" Univision will air in primetime and late night in 2011-2012, it announced in New York May 19, including a trio of branded networks dedicated to its breathless telenovelas, news and sports. That total represents an increase over the current season's original programming tally.

Other debutants include a crime drama, El Equipo (The Team), and a morning lifestyle show called Hoy (Today). The Spanish language giant has expanded its relationship with the producer Televisa to launch the larger batch of original programming.

Univision kicked off the proceedings at the New Amsterdam Theatre in Times Square May 19 by saying the 2010 Census shows just how much clout the Hispanic community wields. David Lawenda, president of ad sales and marketing, likened the findings to the 1960 Census revealing the clout of the Baby Boomers. "The game is changing," he said, "and so must you."

Univision touted its popularity with young people, and the new slate often reflected its youthful focus. The rookie reality shows, Protagonistas (Novela Stars) and Pequeños Gigantes (Little Giants), are set in the entertainment industry.

Four new novelas include Dos Hogares (Two Homes), about a woman reconnecting with a husband she thought was dead, and La Fuerza del Destino (The Power of Destiny), about a man on the run after being framed for a gangster's murder. Three of the four novelas are Televisa productions, and one is a joint Univision Studios-Venevision affair.

Univision also announced an awards show celebrating "individuals who have made an indelible mark in their quest to improve the lives of Hispanics in the United States," and a documentary series with two investigative specials on the schedule for next season.

The networks making 2012 debuts are Univision Deportes (sports), Univision TLNovelas (telenovelas) and Univision 24/7 (news). Conde said the latter would "give Hispanics the news coverage they haven't had until now."

Univision presented its slate without Joe Uva, who stepped down as CEO in early April.

Sister TeleFutura launches three dramas and the late night offering Noche de Perros (Guys' Night Out), an unabashedly low-brow laugher that Conde described as the late night show format "put on steroids."

Cable sibling Galavision introduced one dramatic series, one reality show, and an escapist nature documentary called Un Mundo Aparte (Worlds Apart).
As was the case with Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin in past years, Univision's presentation concluded with a performance by hip-hop artist Pitbull.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.