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ET Seeks To Broaden Its Base

Adds Latino star Ponce, style maven Cojocaru 8/03/2003 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Paramount's Entertainment Tonight last week added Latin singing and acting sensation Carlos Ponce to its roster as part of the show's continuing effort to expand its brand and its audience base after 22 years on television.

"Carlos Ponce is quite a huge star," says executive producer Linda Bell Blue. "He walked into Entertainment Tonight, and everybody stopped breathing. I flew down to Miami to woo him and said I am not leaving until you work at ET."

Ponce is the newest addition to the show, which also named style maven Steven Cojocaru a correspondent in June.

Bell Blue says both talents will take ET
in new directions. "Steven Cojocaru is a very edgy talent. Television is growing in that direction. It has more edge, and that is something we are seeking with him."

As part of his deal, Cojocaru also has an agreement with Paramount to develop his own first-run strip.

Part of Ponce's appeal, besides his personality and talent, is also his fame within the Latino community, which should help bring new viewers to ET. "The Hispanic portion of our audience is growing," says Bell Blue. "It's a very important part of our audience."

Ponce will appear on ET
as the show's first-ever "personality." Although he won't appear every night, he will be a frequent contributor. His first appearance was last week, when he interviewed Kate Hudson about her new movie, Late Divorce. Ponce will also appear on spinoff shows ET on MTV
and ET on VH1
with anchor Maria Menounos.

"He brings a unique quality to interviews with stars because he is a star himself," Bell Blue says.

Ponce already has a following in the Latin world, where he has starred in prime time telenovelaSentimientos Ajenos
on Univision. After singing one of the songs on the show's soundtrack, he won a multi-year record deal, has had several No. 1 hits and double-platinum albums, and has won awards from Billboard
magazine for "best pop album, new artist" and "best new artist."

He also has appeared on Fox's Beverly Hills 90210, ABC's Once and Again
and The WB's 7th Heaven. He will guest-star this fall on the season premiere of ABC's new drama Karen Sisco.