NATPE 2010: Trifecta to Give Soaps a Try

Will distribute open-ended Hispanic drama to English-, Spanish-language stations

NATPE
2010: Complete Coverage from B&C

Hank
Cohen's Trifecta Entertainment has acquired distribution rights for Hacienda
Heights
, an original soap opera featuring an all-Hispanic cast. Trifecta
hopes to launch it this fall as a weekend block of two half-hours on both
English- and Spanish-language TV stations, as well as secure a cable run for it
if possible.

Hacienda Heights is not a telenovela in that it
doesn't have close-ended story arcs. It is aimed at both English- and
Spanish-speaking Hispanic audiences, and will be produced in both
languages.

"The
power of this show is that it features relatable characters living with the same
problems and challenges as our audiences," said the show's executive producer,
San Francisco-based Desmond Gumbs.

The show
stars Resurrection Blvd.'s Mauricio Mendoza, and will be shot in San
Francisco, where Gumbs owns a sound stage and production facility.

Gumbs
financed the production of the first 11 episodes himself. Those episodes were
test-marketed in four Western markets with strong Hispanic demographics: San
Francisco; Los Angeles; Yuma, Ariz.; and Santa Rosa, Calif. New York-based
Sahara Media has agreed to finance the production's next 89 episodes, bringing
the show to 100. Once the companies get enough episodes, they hope to turn the
show into a daytime strip, said Cohen.

Soap
operas would seem to be a risky business these days with the broadcast networks
cancelling shows and Fox-owned MyNetwork TV failing to gain traction
two-and-a-half years ago with primetime telenovelas featuring American casts.
But Cohen feels that the business of daytime dramas became too mature for the
broadcast networks to support: the soaps' costs kept growing while audiences
were shrinking. And telenovelas on MyNetTV didn't work, says Cohen, because they
weren't aimed at the correct audience.

Gumbs is
producing the show inexpensively so that it can turn a profit with reasonable
ratings expectations. Selling the show on multiple platforms--English- and
Spanish-language TV stations, cable and internationally --also will provide the
show with a financial assist.