So far, the symbiotic relationship between Telemundo and its NBCUniversal siblings had gone mainly in one direction — with Telemundo doing Spanish-language versions of programs on its English-language counterparts, like La Voz Kids (The Voice Kids), Top Chef Estrellas and Access Hollywood Al Rojo Vivo. Now the flow will start moving the other way too, with NBC committing to develop an English-language version of El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord Of The Skies), Telemundo’s highest-rated novela last season, and USA Network putting in development Telemundo’s upcoming novela Mujer de Acero (Woman Of Steel). The adaptations will be produced by Universal TV and Universal Cable Prods., respectively. This marks the first time that NBC and USA have optioned content from Telemundo. The move comes a year after the Spanish-language network was placed under the purview of NBCUniversal’s Bonnie Hammer, who also oversees USA, and Joe Uva was put in charge of it. NBC had been interested in cracking the telenovela genre. Last fall, the network inked a deal with Electus to develop three telenovelas with an eye toward airing one as a 13-episode series — with multiple episodes running each week, following telenovelas’ traditional air pattern.
Inspired by true events, the action-filled El Señor de los Cielos tells the story of Aurelio Casillas (Rafael Amaya), one of the most prominent Mexican drug lords from the ’90s, whose ambition was to become one of the richest and most powerful men in Mexico (watch the English-language trailer below.) It ranked as Telemundo’s #1 novela last year averaging 2.3 million total viewers and nearly 1.5 million adults 18-49. The season finale averaged over 3.6 million viewers and beat Univision among adults 18-49 and 18-34 in its period.
Mujer de Acero, from Telemundo Studios, is in the vein of Red Widow. It tells the story of a woman who goes from a simple housemaid to rocking the foundation of the Mexican government. After her husband is killed at their wedding, she finds out he lied about his background and is, in fact, a wanted criminal. Her life becomes a race to evade the authorities and her husband’s enemies, as she becomes the “queen of organized crime.”