Pictured at left, the REAL original "Ugly Betty." "UB" telenovela was produced by the RCN network in Colombia, became a phenomenal hit and was exported successfully to many other countries in the world. Very often TV programs, motion pictures and muscial acts that have huge followings all over the world fail to appear on consumers' radar here in the US.
The first time I saw a promo on TV for the new series "Ugly Betty," they spliced in a shot of "Executive Producer" Salma Hayek. That's where the alarm bells went off. ("Oh geez, who gives a crap, and who cares about Salma Hayek!!!") It reminded me of that ill-fated mystery show--- "Push, Nevada"--- that was supposed to be "audience interactive" and the "Executive Producers" were Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. These two were all over being interviewed about it and everyone was sure it was the next big thing. It had a very short run on... was it ABC? Unfortunately, if "Ugly Betty" is a big success, we're likely to see other shows materialize with "Executive Producer" so-and-so and such-and-such.
So, they think "Ugly Betty" is the next big thing. The original title is Yo Soy Betty la Fea, literally meaning, "I am Betty the Ugly." I think the show will do well it's first outing due to all the publicity and the time-slot it's been given. But I predict a big drop-off in audience after the second or third show airs. You see, there are a set of reasons as to why certain people will tune in:
- Latinos will tune in because they're being sold a bill of goods that "UB" is based on a Colombian telenovela. (Which is true, but so what?)
- Salma Hayak fans of both hetero and homo persuasion will tune in, well, because it's Salma Hayek!
- People who want to make sure they don't miss the season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy" will be tuned in.
- From all the buzz I've seen and heard, nobody is making a big deal out of the STAR of the show, America Ferrera.
But despite that, MM seems to think UB is worth watching. I may tune in myself--- oh yeah--- that's another group who will tune-in, "the curious."
America Ferrera: the ultimate success or failure of the Americanized "Ugly Betty" rests on this actresses' shoulders! But if it works, Salma will get all the credit... if not, America will be blamed!
My friends in New York City are going to be watching for a very different reason: Vanessa Williams appears on the series! At first, I thought my friends were just some sort of "odd bunch." Then this morning in NYP TV Week, which covers the new shows this week, "Ugly Betty" is profiled on page 3, and if you hadn't seen all the other publicity out there, you'd think Vanessa Williams was THE STAR of the show.
I'm not sure where the overnight ratings may turn up: Matt Drudge's Drudge Report may have the results... Drudge sometimes prints a breakdown, and I'll betcha "UB" pulls in big numbers in NYC thanks to Vanessa, in Chicago thanks to the "Latino" promotion, in L.A. thanks to Salma, and we'll just have to wait and see after that!
Again, I predict big numbers the first week or two, followed by a rapid decline, UNLESS America Ferrera endears herself to American viewers in the week or two she'll have to pull it off!