Saturday, May 12, 2012

TELENOVELA WATCH: EMPERATRIZ Coming To Azteca America; Plus, Short Takes!

EMPERATRIZ (weekdays at 1 p.m. ET, no English friendly options), a 2011 telenovela starring Gabriela Spanic, makes its U.S. premiere this Monday, May 14th on Azteca America.

A remake of a 1990 Venezuelan telenovela of the same name, EMPERATRIZ tells the story of Emperatriz Jurado (Spanic), a poor woman who falls in love with a rich man, Armando Mendoza (Omar Fierro), only to be abandoned by him, taking with him their newborn daughter. Emperatriz swears vengeance on Armando and vows to get her daughter back. The cast includes Bernie Paz as the male lead, Sergio de Bustamante as the villain, and Adriana Louvier as Emperatriz’s daughter.

EMPERATRIZ is produced by TV Azteca, the second (and it is a distant second) largest mass media company in Mexico to Televisa. In late 2010, Azteca made a splash with the signings of actresses Edith González and Gabriela Spanic, two high-profile, well-established telenovela stars and international names who would give a boost to the network’s telenovelas, particularly in foreign markets. The two actresses, no longer sought after for leading protagonist roles at Televisa (no actress over a certain age gets lead roles at the network, with the exception of Lucero), rather than resign themselves to playing supporting roles and villains, jumped ship to the smaller network where they each were given their own telenovela to headline.

Unfortunately, Azteca America is notorious for their shoddy treatment of the telenovelas they air: hacking them in editing, sudden time changes, even pulling them off the air entirely. To be fair, the last two first-run telenovelas to air on the network, LA LOBA and Edith González’s CIELO ROJO, were shown in their entirety, albeit with a time change for the latter.

By a happy coincidence, Telefutura is currently re-broadcasting LA USURPADORA (weekdays at 9 a.m. ET, no English friendly options), the enormously entertaining 1998 Televisa telenovela that made Gabriela Spanic an international star. In it, she plays a pair of identical-looking women: Paulina, a poor orphan, and Paola, who is married to a millionaire. When fate brings them together, Paola winds up blackmailing Paulina into taking over her life so she can run off with her lover for a year. Also with Fernando Colunga, Libertad Lamarque, Chantal Andere, and Dominika Paleta.

In a bit of related news, from a Univision press release, it seems one of the projects on slate for Telefutura for later this year is a remake of LA USURPADORA currently titled LA OTRA CARA.

Emotional turmoil and exquisite suffering are, of course, part and parcel of telenovelas; but occasionally, the misfortunes heaped upon the protagonists approach absurd proportions.

For example, look at the emotional wringer Ana Paula (Ana Brenda Contreras), the protagonist of LA QUE NO PODÍA AMAR (weekdays at 10 p.m. ET on Univision), was put through the last few episodes. The villains let a snake loose in her bedroom which bites the pregnant Ana Paula and causes her to lose her baby. Her husband through contract, Rogelio (Jorge Salinas), refuses to allow Ana Paula to speak to Gustavo (José Ron), the mourning father of the baby. On her first night home from the hospital, she finds her sister sleeping with Rogelio. During their subsequent argument, Rogelio reveals Ana Paula’s aunt and guardian, in effect, sold her into her marriage with him. And when Ana Paula confronts her aunt, in the course of their argument, her aunt suffers a heart attack.

On UNA MAID EN MANHATTAN (weekdays at 8 p.m. ET on Telemundo), Marisa (Litzy) isn’t faring much better. Her ten-year-old son is wheeled off to undergo an operation to remove a tumor from
his brain when the police arrive at the hospital to arrest Marisa, framed by the villains for a high-priced jewelry heist.  In typical telenovela fashion, Marisa is denied bail and fast-tracked to prison where she’s menaced by the other inmates, all the while, her son hovers in a coma, his life in the balance and Marisa unable to be by his side.

Then, on CORAZÓN VALIENTE (weekdays at 9 p.m. ET on Telemundo), there’s Samantha (Ximena Duque), the rich girl bodyguard.  Reconnecting after many years with her first love, rich playboy Willy (Fabián Ríos), after much trepidation, she finally allows herself to try and make a go of it with him only to find him cheating on her. She then gets a distressed phone call from her father and hears him shoot himself. The suicide attempt fails, but Samantha learns he isn’t her biological father because her mother was unfaithful. After Samantha argues with her father at the hospital, he disowns her. And the coup de grace, as Samantha’s mother is leaving the hospital, she is hit by a car and dies shortly after.

This week, promos on Telemundo announced RELACIONES PELIGROSAS (weekdays at 10 p.m. ET) is entering its final weeks and it certainly feels like it as the telenovela’s stories are suddenly careering forward. The social issues and school setting are gone, replaced with nefarious plots, kidnappings, beatings, murders, i.e., typical Telemundo fare for their 10 p.m. telenovela. The action is ramping up, and taken on its own popcorn telenovela terms, it’s fairly exciting. I do find it funny, though, how every Telemundo telenovela of late eventually introduces a drug lord as the villain; the ones that don’t have a serial killer bumping people off from the start like LA CASA DE AL LADO and CORAZÓN VALIENTE.

This week, Telemundo began running a rather ostentatious promo, not for a show, but welcoming Mexican actress Aracely Arámbula to their network. This isn’t the first time Telemundo produced a promo heralding the arrival of a new talent acquisition; I remember in 2007, Telemundo produced a promo for Mexican actress Victoria Ruffo, who they signed away from Televisa for what turned out to be just one telenovela. But Ruffo was coming off a highly successful telenovela, LA MADRASTRA; Arámbula is coming off the 2009 remake of CORAZÓN SALVAJE, her first telenovela in seven years and a production that did so poorly with U.S. audiences, Univision pulled it from prime time after just a couple months, burning it off at midnight. Needless to say, Telemundo’s fanfare seems a trifle silly. If Arámbula is a “name” get, and I suppose she is, it’s largely due to her tabloid celebrity rather than the little acting she’s done over the past decade. With Telemundo’s upfronts this Monday, it will be interesting to see what exactly the network has planned for their newest star.

- TELENOVELA WATCH: No Spanish? Our New, Weekly Column Makes Telenovelas Fun for Everyone! (April 21, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: A Look At RELACIONES PELIGROSAS; Plus, Short Takes! (April 28, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: MIA MUNDO And Product Placement On Telemundo (May 5, 2012)
- EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ana Brenda Contreras On Her Career, The Telenovela Process & More!
- Univision Unveils Two New Telenovelas & Three Webnovelas
- Telenovela OJO POR OJO Coming To mun2 May 21
- VOTE: Daytime Soap Best of the Week Poll (May 7-11, 2012)
- VOTE: Primetime Soap of the Week Poll (May 6-12, 2012)

R.G. Morin writes a weekly column for We Love Soaps, "Telenovela Watch: A weekly look at the world of telenovelas for non-Spanish speakers." For feedback or questions, you can email R.G. Morin at [email protected].


  1. Thanks so much for this column - without it I would not have understood what happened to Relaciones Peligrosas. I really enjoyed the school setting and the social issues so I was very puzzled and upset when it morphed into just plain melodrama - too bad! I love the soap genre and believe it is a particularly good venue for writing powerful drama with a message but I guess not enough of the viewing public agrees with me.

  2. R.G. - As you noted a couple weeks ago about Paulo Quevedo (Victor) and his performance on Una Maid en Manhattan, I thought his scenes at Lalo's bedside this week were also quite effective. I'm also enjoying what's happening to Bruno, because of what his faux-relationship relationship with a "good man" like Tito seems to be doing to him. Could this be Bruno's first bromance, and something that will melt his heart and lead him into the light?

    lenafreed - Just so ya know, this member of the viewing public agrees with your perspective on Relaciones Peligrosas.