News | 19.04.2010

New US bilingual, multicultural and interactive telenovela in the pipeline

News broke last week of an exciting collaboration between MTV, Electus and pharmaceutical giant Procter & Gamble which will provide a sensational new television experience for audiences in the States. A bilingual and interactive telenovela called Pedro & Maria is in the pipeline, which is being preceded by a bilingual reality TV show searching for potential actors with that certain je ne sais quoi.

Telenovelas date from the 1950s and originate in Brazil. With a soap opera-style format, each series generally follows an identical format: star-crossed lovers trying to overcome external barriers imposed by wealth, social class, disapproving relatives, and disaster. Good must conquer evil and regular doses of suspense and melodrama must be dispensed before the inevitable happy ending. Running for around 180 episodes and broadcast five days a week, it has proved a recipe for success the world over – and in our researcher’s opinion, certainly makes for fabulous and compulsive viewing! It has been known for people to stop work to tune in and according to the BBC, it is estimated that ‘Mexico alone produces almost 3,000 hours of telenovelas each year’, launching the career of many a star (Salma Hayek being a prime example).

But Pedro & Maria comes with a twist – it has the added ingredients of being bilingual, multicultural and interactive, with audiences given ‘the ability to vote on the direction the characters and story lines take.’ VH1 have also just launched a reality TV show called ‘Viva Hollywood!’ which involves a cast of bilingual contestants vying for the title of ‘Numero Uno Telenovela Star’ in a series which is thought to lead up to the Pedro & Maria launch.

This new telenovela has already generated substantial press coverage and with its combination of old and new media, appears to be well on its way to becoming a favourite with American audiences. It has been somewhat controversially pitted as the first bilingual, interactive telenovela, but in an interview with Reuters, Ben Silverman – US television executive and executive producer of the new show –stated that ‘I’m into bringing the walls down, not putting barriers up’. With this new project set to become an extremely successful addition to the television schedule, Pedro & Maria is also en route to bringing down language barriers in a dynamic and exciting way.

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