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Upfronts: Univision delivers the passion ... and Ricky Martin

May 20, 2010 |  1:00 pm

Getprev Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications unveiled 20 new shows Thursday, including their first telenovela, a soap opera called "Eva Luna," produced by the newly created Univision Studios.  

The show was billed as a "modern love story" about a Los Angeles-based advertising executive, a character who might resonate with the advertising buyers whom Univision had been courting tenaciously. 

Despite attracting millions of loyal viewers, Univision traditionally has had difficulty increasing its advertising rates to match that of English-language broadcasters, including ABC and Fox.  But hope springs anew with the arrival of the television industry's May ritual, when the networks spend a week unfurling their new offerings in an attempt to persuade advertisers to spend heavily on their commercial time.

The rebounding advertising market has put broadcasters in a buoyant mood, and Univision executives are no exception.

Thursday, Univision put on its festivities at the Frederick P. Rose Hall/Jazz at Lincoln Center, which was capped by a performance by Ricky Martin.  The company announced a slate of new shows that included five new prime-time telenovelas that would run Monday through Friday on the Univision network, the nation's fifth-largest network behind CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC.

In addition to "Eva Luna," the network plans to air "Soy tu duena" ("You Belong to Me"), which tells the story of a woman whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down with her fiancé abandons her at the altar; "Mar de amor" ("Sea of Love"), a tale of a "humble, goodhearted woman" who falls in love with a rich man in town; "Zacatillo, un lugar en tu corazon" ("Zacatillo, a Place in Your Heart"), which follows an actress who secretly survives a murder attempt at the hands of her manager; and "Llena de Amor" (Big on Love), which is described as a "modern-day ugly-duckling story."

As you can see, Univision is very big on love.

Weekly series include "Cuna de lobos" ("Cradle of Wolves"), which is about some backstabbing family members attempting to get into line to inherit the riches of a pharmaceutical company; and "Los Exitosos Perez," about a seemingly perfect couple who work as TV news anchors but then the husband "suffers an accident," and an impostor steps into his place.  

Univision announced two reality shows, a dance competition and a "Survivor"-like program in which a group of contestants is taken to a tropical island and must perform tasks. The network is planning at least two specials, including "Bicentenario" ("Bicentennial"), which celebrates 200 years of Mexican independence. 

-- Meg James

Photo: Ricky Martin at the 2010 Billboard Latin Music Awards in April. Credit: John Parra / Getty Images

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