TCA 2011: Cristina Saralegui moves to Telemundo, wants Tom Cruise
When Spanish TV talk show queen Cristina Saralegui takes her skills from Univision to rival Spanish-language network Telemundo in the fall, her measure of success will be one English-language viewers can appreciate:
"My hope is to see Tom Cruise jumping on my couch," Saralegui said. "That’s what I want. I would like to be able to cross-pollinate, to introduce my chickens to the English market."
Saralegui appeared Tuesday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Beverly Hilton to promote her return to the talk show format. Developed and executive produced by Saralegui, "Pa'lante con Cristina" is a two-hour weekly talk/variety show on Telemundo that she'll also host. And though on the surface it might seem like a rehashing of her former talk show "El Show de Cristina," which aired on Univision, Saralegui said one difference will be the ability to step outside of the Spanish-only bubble that she was limited to on that other network and take a more global approach.
"I'm going to allow my guests to sing in English," she said. "[Univision] didn’t not allow English language use. If I said something in English, they would bleep it out."
"Pa'lante con Cristina," like other Telemundo programming, will feature English captions -- a supplement not employed at Univision. "They know better, so I'm happy," she said referring to Telemundo.
Despite showing enthusiasm about her new gig on a different network, she insists there's no animosity. Last fall Univision canceled "El Show de Cristina" after 21 years. Though it was spun as an amicable decision to end the show in light of what was billed as Saralegui's retirement, the Spanish-language TV personality soon became vocal about getting pushed out by Univision. But Tuesday, her stance was more of one of gratitude.
"The experience at Univision was awesome; all my friends from all my life are there," she said. "I would not be sitting in this chair if it were not for the change they gave me. I don’t think that a person should speak badly or poorly about their employers.... I don’t want to talk about the past, I want to talk about Telemundo who brought me here to you."
"I left because the upper-echelon management changed, the people I had been with changed," she added. "It's like Washington.... The new people that came in wanted to give the network a younger image, it wasn’t about my person, it was about the show being so classic. They wanted to try new things, which they are entitled to do."
"Pa'lante con Cristina" will premiere in October and air Sunday nights.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Cristina Saralegui presides over final episode of "El Show de Cristina." Credit: Pablo Blum/CSE