The North Americanization of Latin American TV

We have no idea why the people involved in this story think they’re telling us about a good thing. (But that’s how TVWriter™ rolls, or so it seems.)

MASTERS-OF-PARADISE

Latin America remains a drama market, but the type of series that are resonating has changed, with new forms of novella breaking through. The traditional soapy drama remains a programming staple region-wide, but a shorter, punchier and grittier iteration of the form is gaining ground, data for January-October 2014 shows.

“In fiction, the telenovela remains a key genre, but to face competition in the TV environment and reach a wider market, it has been reinvented, both in terms of form and content,” says Julia Espérance, media consultant at Eurodata TV and service manager for the New on the Air (NOTA) programming service. “They focus on new themes, they’re not the traditional sentimental love stories, and there is a real effort to diversify the audience to bring in male viewers with more action.”

To win these male and younger viewers, crime and often drug-crime are central themes in the new, edgier novellas. The recent trend started a couple of years ago with Caracol’s Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal (Pablo Escobar: The Drug Lord), which went from TV in Colombia to sell into France and the Netherlands as well as Thailand. In the US, Univision’s Unimas has El Varon de la Drog (The Drug Baron), which is written by former cartel member Andres Lopez Lopez and is a more recent example.

Espérance goes on to identify a sub-category among the new crime novellas. “The current trend is for narco-novellas with strong female protagonists, with shows such as La Viuda Negra (The Black Widow), based on the true story of Griselda Bianco aka ‘the Cocaine Godmother’, and Dueños del Paraíso (Masters of Paradise, pictured) and Señora Acero (Woman of Steel),” she says. Several of these are in line for US remakes.

The US networks targeting Hispanic viewers are particularly tuned into the narco trend with Dueños del Paraíso and Señora Acero both Telemundo shows and La Viuda Negra made by Televisa and RTI for Univision.

Many of the new novellas are also shorter in form and the US Hispanic broadcasters are at the forefront of the shift in run-time, targeting Latin viewers in the US with shorter series under initiatives launched recently.

Telemundo calls its shorter action novellas ‘super series’. Examples include El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord of Skies) and Dueños del Paraíso, which is a coproduction with Chilean network TVN. Univision has launched abridged versions of its novellas under a ‘Novelas Xpress’ banner and the 15-hours or less series are available on its TV Everywhere service UVideos as well as the Hulu catch-up and streaming service.

Streaming service Netflix is also getting into the drug trafficking game, with ten-parterNarcos set for 2015. The Gaumont-produced series will be largely in Spanish and is a fictionalised account of the most infamous drug boss of all, Pablo Escobar.

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The People’s Pilot & Spec Scriptacular Contests are Now Open

          

Time Remaining

It’s that time again. New Year’s Day, of course. And, more importantly – to us here at TVWriter™ anyway – it’s the opening day for submissions in our two contests.

Winners, Finalists, or Semi-Finalists of the  SPEC SCRIPTACULAR and its sister contest the PEOPLE’S PILOT are currently on the staffs of CHICAGO FIRE, PERSON OF INTEREST, THE WALKING DEAD, and GREY’S ANATOMY. We’d love to see you join them!

In a nutshell, ourcontest situation is this:

The People’s Pilot is our yearly pilot writing contest for scripted television and New Media/interweb series. Prizes are awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers in 2 categories – 1-hour series and 1/2-hour series. All genres are fair game, and it’s up to the entrant to choose the appropriate length for the material.

We’re looking for the best material anyone can come up with. The kind that attracts and holds attention. That shows its writer is a force to be reckoned with, somebody who can do the job better than it has ever been done before. Somebody with the kind of talent both the business and the viewing audience need. For 2 reasons:

  1. Everyone involved with TVWriter™ loves TV, whether we watch it on our bigscreens or our tablets, via cable, satellite, broadcast network, or website. And we want to see not just good but great material on those media. Material that makes us think and feel and laugh and cry and get all involved so that we’re completely lost in a reality every bit as vibrant as real life. This, believe it or not, is the 22nd running of the PP, and every time our judges sit down to read the entries they’re hoping to find a series that can go on the air and be appreciated as, well, as the best series in the history of TV.
  2. We know how important it is for new writers to have the kind of sample scripts that make agents and producers and executives sit up and take notice. That make those who control viewer access go all squirmy inside so they think, “Wow! This is the best writer ever. We’ve gotta work with him/her. Gotta have her/him as a client/on our staff. A terrific pilot script is absolutely the best way to get this attention and propel you through the door. (Or at least into the damn doorway, where you need to be.)

Does this sound like you? And what you want? Then click here and find out more…oh, and don’t forget to enter.

Speaking of entering, the cost of both TVWriter™ writing contests is $40/entry. But from now till 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) March 1, 2013, the Early Bird Discount is solidly in place, reducing the price by 25%, to $30. And, yes, we’re all for entrants taking advantage of the discount by paying now even if their teleplays aren’t ready. The final due date, after all, is June 1.

Those of you who have visited or entered the contest before will notice some changes this time around. Part of our ongoing attempts to make the best-known and, we think, just plain best pilot contest even better. This year’s changes include:

  1. More prizes. Over $5000 worth of services and in-your-hand dinero, including free admission to the TVWriter™ Advanced Online Workshop.
  2. More potential winners. Our new category system means twice as many entrants can take home prizes as last time around.
  3. Free feedback. After the Winners are announced, each entrant will receive an e-mail giving him/her their score and explaining what it means.

The Spec Scriptacular is our yearly contest for spec scripts written for current and recent television and New Media/interweb series and original spec television movies and specials, regardless of what country those series are in (as long as they’re written in English so the judges can read them). And, yes, when we say “television movies” we also mean screenplays because – especially these days – there’s absolutely no difference between the writing of a good film for television and a good film for the big screen.

Prizes are awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers in 3 categories – sitcoms, dramas (which also include action and dramedy shows), and original movies and specials of all genres.

As with the People’s Pilot, we’re looking for the best material anyone can come up with. The kind that attracts and holds attention, demonstrating that its writer is somebody who can do the job better than it has ever been done before. Somebody the business and the viewing audience need. Because, as we said earlier, we love television and want to find the best writers we can to help make it become the best it can possibly be. And because the competition within the biz is so keen that those who want writing careers have to roar off the line by showing not merely that they can write as well as, but better than, those who are already working in the industry.

Is this sounds like who you are and what you want, then click here and find out more…oh, and don’t forget to enter.

Again, as we said earlier, the cost of each TVWriter™ writing contests is $40/entry. But from now till 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) March 1, 2013, the Early Bird Discount is solidly in place, reducing the price by 25%, to $30. And, yes, we’re all for entrants taking advantage of the discount by paying now even if their teleplays aren’t ready. The final due date, after all, is June 1.

We’ve made some changes in the Spec Scriptacular this year as part of our ongoing efforts to make it the definitive spec TV & film writing contest on the web, including:

  1. More prizes. Over $6000 worth of services and in-your-hand dinero, including free admission to the TVWriter™ Advanced Online Workshop.
  2. Free feedback. After the Winners are announced, each entrant will receive an e-mail giving him/her their score and explaining what it means.

That’s it for now, but you know us; we’ll be bugging you about entering the 22nd People’s Pilot and 19th Spec Scriptacular for the next 6 months. But we really mean it when we say we believe wholeheartedly that you’ll be glad you did.