Giorgio Aresu is the former producer of TV Azteca's successful reality show franchise La Academia, which has garnered strong ratings both in Mexico and the U.S. Earlier this year, he ended his relationship with Azteca but his production company, Nostromo America, was quickly signed to a two-year production deal with Telemundo. Aresu began his career as a dancer on Italy's public broadcaster RAI before eventually becoming a television producer. He recently sat down with Hispanic Television Update to discuss Hispanic television. An edited transcript follows:
Q: Why did you sign up with Telemundo?
A: The motivation was that [Telemundo executive] Marcos Santana was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about my work. Perhaps that was the deciding factor. This can be a good deal. We are preparing a program called !Quinceañera¡ Mama: Quiero Ser Artista, which will be a very fun show. The teen-age girls will compete against one another in singing, dancing and fashion. The mothers will have an important role and act as managers. I have been very impressed with the amount of talent in the U.S. There are many people here who sing and dance very well. We have to take advantage of this.
Q: What is your assessment of the competitive landscape of Hispanic television? What is missing? What is there too much of?
A: I think it is a very creative market. I have always maintained that the American market is the pioneer in broadcast creativity. It is true that Europe has caught up but the U.S. is a very creative market. Insofar as the Hispanic market, I have always said that good program formats and good ideas work well everywhere.
Q: How will you go about attracting the entire family to watch your show considering that in the U.S .you have different levels of Spanish-language skills within the same family?
A: That's a good question and it is something I constantly think about. In my day-to-day activities in Miami I find many Latinos have difficulty speaking Spanish. With this new show we will have contestants sing maybe ten or twelve songs. Well, some of the songs will be in English. I have also told the show host to slip a phrase in English every now and then. We will also play a bit with Spanglish.
Q: Do reality shows still have any life in them?
A: I believe reality shows like La Academia are a winning format. Viewers become quite fond of the contestants. I know there are thousands of reality shows out there, but I think it is a winning format. It is very hard for people to grow bored with the format as long as you stagger the shows over a period of time.
Q: Why is it called Nostromo?
A: It is very simple. I own a yacht and in Italian “nostromo” means “harbormaster.” I always loved that word.
Q: Many Mexican newspaper articles describe you as difficult to work with.
A: Look how difficult I am that I spent six years at the same station. It is clear that when you leave the field, people start criticizing you. There is nothing I can say to that. Now, am I a demanding producer? Well, yes. Do I fight on behalf of the show? Yes. Am I willing to confront anyone so that the show is a good one? Yes.