UNIVISION’S TELEMUNDO PROBLEM

cant-decide

Right off the bat, I love serialized storytelling.  It got ingrained with comic books, American soap operas, and music that tells a tale.  It proves that the way everyone hangs onto shows like “Game of Thrones”, “Mad Men”, et al., I’m not alone in this.

When I took a Spanish class in 1981, I immediately got hooked on another style of serialized storytelling: the telenovela.

Telenovelas are soap operas from Latin America that are told in story arcs -a beginning, a middle and an end- and runs for weeks at a time.  Back in 1981, there was only Spanish International Network (SIN), now Univision.   They dominated Spanish-language television for a long time.  The first telenovela I got addicted to was “Tal Como Somos”, because it was a crime drama that had the feel of my other favorite one “The Edge of Night”.  They even spray-painted a few of the titles on walls like graffiti.

But something was looming that threatened Univision’s dominance.  A small station in Puerto Rico that would soon become its’ biggest rival.

WKAQ-TV started out small and then gained ground to become Telemundo.   And over time, it started making inroads to the Spanish-speaking market.

First, they began airing programming that targeted the Hispanic/Latino markets here.  Then they had their own studios which original programming would be created and aired.  Then NBC bought them out and they launched another network called mun2, gearing toward the younger demographic.  With the Comcast buyout of NBC, they started gaining ground and it continues.  Don Francisco, who helmed “Sabado Gigante” for a whopping 53 years returned to television (and Telemundo) with a new show “Don Francisco Te Invita”.

But the lifeblood of both networks are its telenovelas.  And the diffrences are striking.

The last time I got into a telenovela on Univision was “Fuego en el Sangre” (“Fire in the Blood”).  Before that it was “Dos Mujeres Un Camino” (“Two Women, One Road”).  The former was twisted and crazy to watch thanks to the representation of a man in black dressed in a serape carrying a scythe that walked into scenes just before certain characters were about to meet certain doom-and it was great to watch some of the special effects and see if they can be done in After Effects.  The latter had Erik Estrada that was good in its scope but his appearances were limited and it featured the members of the band Bronco in parts of the show.  The misfire happened during the show’s run, they swapped themes twice-the intro was the campy and set the tone of the series, while the outro was a ballad by Bronco. 

Then my friend introduced me to “La Reina Del Sur” (“Queen of the South”) with Kate Del Castillo.  The story moved fast and rarely hit slow spots.  The story of a female drug lord was wilder and exciting.   So shortly afterwards, Telemundo introduced “El Señor De Los Cielos” (“The Lord of the Skies”) and the supernatural “En Otra Piel” (“In Another Skin” -though the closed captions say “Part of Me”).  

Telemundo showed a different side of the telenovela coin: not everything is based around a female trying to overcome adversity who lives out in the country or comes in from the country to the city.  Granted, the stories range from criminal activity to simple complicated love stories, but the key difference is ownership and less importing.

Telemundo is owned by Comcast under NBC Universal Telemundo Enterprises.  Even before the Comcast buyout of NBC, the network has been doing its’ own novelas via complete ownership or joint efforts. Univision has been importing from Latin America and the only one that they did was different was “Amas De Casa Desespradas” by Disney-ABC who sold the format of “Desperate Housewives” internationally.  They didn’t own it. Also it gave Telemundo another network to show the Olympics.  On the date of Super Bowl 50, mun2 became NBC Universo, gearing more towards Latinos in the States.

I think another factor is Univision doesn’t believe in “temporadas” (seasons) on some of their high rated serials and not order more.  Granted, they did it with the kid-oriented “Carusel (Carousel)” and “Salud, Dinero Y Amor (Health, Money and Love”), but they only had two seasons apiece.  They haven’t done it on any other serials.

Telemundo, on the other hand, is already barreling into an eighth season of “El Señor” and possibly adding a fourth one for “Señora Acero” and they continue to evolve.

Some complaints about the acting pool being so limited on the ‘novelas that many employ the same actors and actresses once one ends.   Granted the American counterparts practice the same thing, but at one time there were as many as 20 soaps spread out between two coasts and they ran from a matter of months to years at a time.  These days with only four soaps on the air, they had to adapt to the way cast members can jump from soap to soap.  I also add to this the soap opera “Port Charles” which did escape the cancellation ax once.  In order to save the show, it had to adopt a telenovela format.  Production was shifted to some weeks on and some weeks off; the soap would still be called “Port Charles”, but each book had a name e.g. “Naked Eyes”, “Torn”, “The Gift”, etc.

Most recently, both Telemundo and Univision went head-to-head with novelas based around two late Latino performers and, for the first time, I had a hard time deciding which one to watch.  On Univision, it was one about Juan Gabriel; on Telemundo it was one about Celia Cruz.  And I have said before, it was a long time trying to watch one or the other.  Both were well-acted and covered their subject matters well. 

But if Univision want to keep and expand their audience, they need a better way to present their logo for one which is serving them well.  Their 4-color and the shows they present and making it 3-D is a great start and for me will take time to get used to.  Telemundo made their current logo interactive and has two fonts families to complement it. Plus they don’t keep it their regular red color; it changes with whatever show they promote and lets out sparks, paint, water, fire, etc. when it comes to the beauty shot.

Second, they need a good gimmick for their new novelas before they premiere and can be run throughout the season of the show.  They are playing catch up with Telemundo in making “mini-movie” promotions and they are great, but Telemundo made Tuesdays the night to debut new novelas, and made a promo when they are three (MarTres, a play on the Spanish word for “Tuedsay” and the number 3, indicates three new novelas are debuting).

Finally, if they want to get more of the English-speaking audience, they should close caption in English as well as Spanish.  After watching “En Orta Piel” looking at the captions in English, I started understanding Spanish a little bit more.  I’m a person who needs to see it and hear it before I get it.  I figured it out when, as a kid, I was interested in the spinning earth on “As The World Turns”…drove my stepdad crazy until one day, he went back to his place and brought a world almanac and made the watching just the globe fun and interactive.  Having the novelas closed-captioned in English is a good idea that should be kept.

I will never get tired of the novelas, because, like their American counterparts, they are so fun to watch.

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A FEW WORDS FROM ME…

One of my all-time favorite rock songs is “Get The Funk Out” by Extreme because, lyrically, it spells out if you don’t like what you see, leave.  So it’s time to knock some sense into some knuckleheads about my Facebook wall.

For starters, my wall is my wall.  My profile pic is my profile pic.  Whatever picture I choose to use goes into said profile.  Some idiots have asked me to post a “real” pic. Some have issues about what gets posted to my wall.  Hell, like they follow me anyway.  To those I calmly say, “Kiss off.”

You see, if I am commenting on a topic and I am trying to engage in conversation, the LEAST of your worries should be if my profile is real.  If someone is using my pic for their profile, you don’t have me.  You got someone whose trying to say they’re me and ask you to “friend” me.  Some of my friends don’t have a profile pic at all but they still talk or say hi-a few I know personally that don’t show a profile pic, but we keep in contact a lot.  Usually, I let shit like that go and get back to my center, but not today.

Now as for my profile pic, it’s rare that I don’t use my own pic.  Sometimes I would create something or I will share a logo (like the painted “Another World” logo) that I like as a profile pic.  You’re not into soap operas (serialized storytelling) but you wait for the next season of “Game of Thrones”.  That’s fine.  People tried to give me hell when one of my pics was adorned with “I Am Orlando” on it while at the same time, I shared a Fusion post debunking what news media called “the worst mass shooting in American history”.  Oh, that shot in my cover – that it actually me in a sea green lavalava on the beach at Maui Seaside at the break of dawn back in 2010.  The flash went off before I got into position…good thing-it almost got washed out to sea.  If you’re not one of my Facebook friends, the profile pic is all you get.

If I am commenting on something shared on a friend’s post and you respond to my comment by saying, “Get a real profile pic,” the profile pic I am using at the time is not there for your pleasure-if it didn’t matter when I responded to stuff why should it matter now?  It’s you who’s insecure not me.

The pic I got there now is a matter of protest.  I refuse to call Drumpf my president.  And after all the years that we made progress, we’re sent backwards.  But everyone posts a different profile picture.  If you don’t like my profile picture, or stuff on my wall, either unfollow me or unfriend me.

DAYS GETS A REPRIEVE …FOR NOW.

NBC keeps “Days” but dumps “Today”

 

Fans of “Days of Our Lives” can breathe a sigh of relief for now.  NBC has cut the third hour from “Today” to make room for Megan Kelly’s new show.  They don’t know if Kelly will replace Tamron Hall and Al Roker or Kathie Lee and Hoda.  One will go when Kelly debuts in September.

“Days”, however, is not out the woods yet.  Their renewal is in September and things could still change.  It would be awkward for the show if it were cancelled since they recently hired ex-“One Life To Live”/”General Hospital” head writer Ron Carlivati as its new head writer, whose material isn’t slated to start airing until September.

 

THE KOCH HIT PIECES ARE SO OBVIOUS

I will be so glad when this election is over.  If I hear that same female voice announcer talking about how rotten the candidates are, I think by December, I will get a different TV set because I would have thrown a brick through my set.  Thank God for the secondary channels that don’t run political ads (although Justice Network -KXTV 10.2 in the Sacramento market- is going to veer into that territory when John Walsh, Justice’s founder/host, “America’s Most Wanted” gives his reasons on certain legislation and candidates).

Well, what I noticed are the obvious hit pieces by the Koch Brothers.  The ones that demonize Democratic incumbents and candidates.  You vote how you want to, but the Kochs have funneled money into attack ads that are a combination of fact omission, blame game and fear.

Like the ads that are running in California attacking Democratic candidates and incumbents.  They have one common thread-Iranian and Islamic terrorism.

They have painted all Democrats that signed the deal with Iran as siding with the terrorists.  Therefore Iran is terrorist. So are followers of Islam.

But the thing that they leave out is that we have had terrorist acts on our own soil.  They conveniently leave off the fact that most of the acts that hit on our soil weren’t from Islamic extremists but by other people who don’t have a tie to Iran or Islam.

Like the guy who shot up Sandy Hook.  Or the guy who shot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  Or the guy who shot up Virginia Tech.  The list goes on.  But the people who they want to keep in control did squat when it came to talking about sensible gun control measures, these guys are so scared of the NRA that for years they believed the lie that Obama was coming for your guns.  The NRA has Congress by the privates keeping the Surgeon General from discussing how gun deaths are a health issue.

For the record, Obama couldn’t get them unless 2/3 of the Congress writes off on it as well as 75% of the States agreed to let him do so.  So those of you who believed the NRA…pooj on you.

And even though one of the worst terrorist acts happened in San Bernardino, they heightened the fact that the people who committed the act were ISIS sympathizers and practice Islam, what they leave out is the fact that the person who got them the guns was American.  He did a ghost buy – he got them for the shooters because the shooters couldn’t get them.

I have got to the point to where I’m not watching regular television until the election is over.  I don’t have cable or I would be doing on demand a lot.  I have regular antenna that picks up most of the secondary channels.  So far, I’ve been digging Heroes & Icons because of the “All Star Trek all the time” thing (every “Star Trek” series including the cartoon), MeTV, This, and Decades, which is news, history and entertainment rolled into one…and better yet, just turning it off until it’s over with.

 

 

 

 

 

ANOMALY IN THE WORLD OF MUSIC

How Teddy Pendergrass became the anomaly in the world of music.

In 1982, the late great soul singer Teddy Pendergrass had an auto accident that left him a confined to his wheelchair for the remainder of his life.  So, even though he was in this predicament, he managed to work to get his singing voice back.  But even his then-label Philadelphia International found it hard to market Teddy as wheelchair-bound.  Even though This One’s For You and Heaven Knows were recorded before his accident, they tried to market him as having the ability to walk, thus dropping him from the label.  But his paralysis didn’t stop him.

He had recorded “Hold Me”, a duet with a then-future superstar Whitney Houston which was featured on her debut album.  Soon afterwards, he was signed to Elektra/Asylum and this is where the anomaly starts.

Record labels sometimes branch out to go into different genres.  Like the Christian label Light going from jazz in the late 60s, Elektra was looking to make changes to its sister label Ayslum.  Along with funk hard rock outfit Xavion, Pendergrass was the only other black act signed to the label, in my opinion, an anamoly.

Asylum itself went through a few changes on its own.  Joni Mitchell left in 1980 to go to Geffen, the Eagles broke up and eventually left, Linda Ronstadt started recording torch standards, and Jackson Browne was about to make them nervous with his politically charged Lives In The Balance.   It was a state of flux for Asylum.  Nevertheless, Pendergrass signed on.

One of the first moves that Asylum did was to make a music video featuring Pendergrass amidst footage of his accident from a  news report and show him as he was.  The song “In My Time” did that.  The album Love Language soon followed and it also spawned another hit, the Luther Vandross/Marcus Miller-penned hit “You’re My Choice Tonight (Choose Me)” for the movie Choose Me.   His next album Workin’ It Back didn’t do well on the Billboard Hot 100 but it did spawn a Top 10 R&B hit “Love 4/2”.

The anomaly came full circle in 1988 with the album and the single “Joy”.  Pendergrass produced by album along with Reggie and Vincent Calloway (ex-Midnight Star), Nick Martinelli, and Miles Jaye, an artist he produced the year before through his Teddy Bear Productions company.  Joy  was the shot in the arm that Asylum needed, but a few weeks after the album’s release, Elektra/Asylum became Elektra Entertainment and Asylum was shuttered.  Please note: it’s common when parent labels shutter other labels to consolidate their products; it’s uncommon when the parent companies shutter other labels just as they release a new album. Labels tend to wait for the release to gain notice and, with the re-issue or the follow-up single, they change hands.  Elektra didn’t wait: everybody that was on Asylum were immediately switched to Elektra, but unlike Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt who had albums coming out on the label, Pendergrass’s release happened as Elektra shuttered Asylum.  In other words, it was released with both labels.

teddy-pendergrass-joy

“Joy” by Teddy Pendergrass was released on both Elektra and Asylum at the same time.

 

ART OF THE DESIGN – OBVIOUS AND NOT-SO OBVIOUS ALBUMS DESIGNS LABELS WANTED TO YOU TO KNOW IT’S THEIRS.

You really like that album art?  You and everyone else who fell in love with the work.  Well, here are my top 10 interesting things about album art that you can see and other things you really couldn’t see or didn’t pay attention to.  I’m only counting the 12” vinyl album cover work as it relates to the label, so album covers by Yes won’t be counted here since it pertained to one particular group and not the label per se.

10. ALMOST LIKE ADIDAS (Phonogram)-On their albums, labels that were under Phonogram began sprouting barely-there three thick diagonal stripes located in the upper right hand corner on the cover where the record comes out.  Primarily focused on Mercury, Philips and Vertigo labels under Phonogram, these stripes usually blended in without being conspicuous.  Some labels like Casablanca and Capricorn didn’t get this treatment.

9. DIAGONAL STRIPES AND VERTICAL NUMBERS (CBS/Sony)-In the 1970’s, CBS began doing extreme diagonal stripes below the album’s serial number on the spine of the cover.  There were very few exceptions where the diagonal stripes were omitted, but it was the norm until 1984 when the stripes were done away with completely and the numbers were vertical.

8. SIX STARS (MCA)-Like CBS/Sony, the spine gave it away that the release was/belonged to MCA.   They had three stars on the top of the spine and three stars at the bottom.  The information was situated in-between.

7. IN THE CORNER (Montage)-Montage was a very short-lived label that was handled by EMI under an autonomous deal, which in this case, they kept the same pricing scheme but different numerical sequence.  Their logo was a woman’s hand peeking over window blinds with the label’s name written in red.  Whereas labels would make a secondary logo for the cover with just the name, Montage made their logo fit into the upper right corner, effectively making it part of the cover design.

6. MULTICOLORED WORLD (Real World)- When Peter Gabriel founded WOMAD, he began world music powerhouse Real World, he did something that tend to escape a lot of music labels that tried to do world: put multicolored bands on the back cover which represented the continents and parts of continents where the artist would come from and then would write the name of the country in the corresponding color stripe.  On vinyl, the label was colored the same way.

5. NORMAN MOORE ERA (Private Music)-If you want to know about Norman Moore, he is a graphic designer and chances are if you picked up nearly any cover from Private Music, he was their main designer.  Moore’s designs were very layered and gave you the mood of what you were about to buy.   He gave new age a contemporary edge.

4.  WHATEVER THE MUSIC IS (Narada)-In the late 80s, Sacramento used to have a radio station called The Point, and The Point was a breath of fresh air for its’ time.  It played contemporary jazz and new age.  One of these labels that benefitted with The Point as far as airplay was Narada.  And Narada divided their music under three different labels and designs to match.  Narada Lotus was new age acoustic, Narada Exquinox was contemporary jazz and new age and Narada Mystique was electronic new age.  These labels had their own distinct designs (Lotus resembled Windham Hill, Equinox had the main photo in a square with the title on top and bottom of the square, Mystique had an illustration in the middle of the cover with a sandstone-like backdrop).  They got contemporary in the mid-90s and switched under one moniker when Narada went from MCA to Virgin.

3. RAISED SCRAPBOOK (Meadowlark)-This short-lived new age label (not the hip-hop label under the same name) set itself apart by making their covers look like a raised scrapbook using water paper with the main cover photograph torn around the edges.

2. A WALK THROUGH A PHOTO GALLERY (Windham Hill)-Windham Hill’s covers were like going through a photo gallery in the record store.  Primarily the covers would be bathed in white with a photo on the front and back to represent introspection, sometimes even with an illustration.  So bold was this label they even had their own section in the record store with each artist having their own index cards.

1. JUST ABOUT ANYTHING GOES (ECM)-From day one, ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) is the boldest in its’ cover designs because just about anything goes.  From using nice photos to just having the artist’s name on the cover by itself with the title.  From using regular fonts to actually using a typewriter (no joke) for some of their covers, ECM pretty much was at the forefront of groundbreaking design since 1969.  Photos used on their covers spawned two photo books.  And they still write their name plain on the front cover.ecm covers

THE LOGO THAT REFUSES TO LEAVE

Epic_Records_1979Meet the logo that refuses to leave: Epic’s classic motorcycle vintage logo and the more they change away from it the more it comes back.

This logo was introduced in late 1978 and it is one that it refuses to leave, lol.

Epic had given us the vibrant stereo look and the “orange groove” designs, but once this one entered, there was no turning back.  [EVIL LAUGH].

How powerful was this one?  It wasn’t like Nonesuch which changed during the Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch redesign years when it went from a classically-styled N to a more blocky one and then came back after a 23-year hiatus.  This one gobbles the one that it changed to.  In 1991, the logo was changed to a stacked records logo and this one ruled the roost still.  It changed back to the vibrant stereo logo completely in 1998 and then the classic motorcycle logo ran it down to ensure dominance…[EVIL LAUGH WITH LIGHTNING STRIKES].

Then in 2006, it was sidelined again by the red print logo which was an improvement, but then it struck again in 2011.  All other logos beware because THIS ONE’S A MONSTER!!! [EVIL LAUGH WITH LIGHTING AND THUNDER AND WEREWOLVES HOWLING].