NBC Greenlights Eva Longoria Series ‘Telenovela,’ Developing Projects With Dolly Parton

TCA 2015: Zachary Levi joins cast of “Heroes Reborn”

Last Updated: January 16, 2015 @ 9:54 AM

NBC has given the go-ahead to a new series, “Telenovela,” which will star and be executive produced by “Desperate Housewives” alum Eva Longoria, NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt announced at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena on Friday.

Greenblatt also said that the network is developing multiple projects with country singer Dolly Parton.

“Telenovela,” which has received an order for 13 episodes, will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a telenovela, with Longoria portraying the star of the show.

“There are few actresses with as much international appeal as Eva Longoria,” said Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. “She is a perfect fit for ‘Telenovela.’ Her character will try to navigate the hysteria and high jinks that everyone must endure in putting together a daily show.”

“Telenovela” is being produced by Universal Television and Unbelievable Entertainment,

Greenblatt also announced on Friday that Zachary Levi has joined the cast of the upcoming “Heroes” reboot “Heroes Reborn.”

The development deal with Parton will find the network developing a slate of two-hour movies based on the songs, stories and life of the country music icon, in conjunction with production partner Sam Haskell of Magnolia Hill Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television. Parton will star in and produce the movies.

“I am so excited to be involved with my friend Bob Greenblatt, who produced the Broadway version of ‘9 to 5: The Musical’ with me, and my longtime friend and former agent Sam Haskell,” Parton said. “We want to create projects for NBC that are both fun and inspirational with a family audience in mind.”

Among the other projects that Greenblatt announced ahead of the executive session Friday was an eight-hour miniseries tentatively titled “Freedom Run,” about the underground railroad of the slavery era, which counts Stevie Wonder among its producers. Adapted from the Betty DeRamus book “Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories From the Underground Railroad,” will focus on three specific epic journeys and love stories, each based on actual people.

The network will also develop a potential stage musical based on the miniseries, with Wonder writing the score.

While details about Levi’s role on “Heroes Reborn” are being kept under wraps, the former “Chuck” star declared himself to be a fan of the original series, saying that he’s “honored to have the opportunity to bring more of that world to life.”

“One of my first, and fondest, memories of joining the NBC family in 2007 was having the pleasure of getting to know Tim Kring, and the cast of ‘Heroes.’ I was a fan of their collective work and always thought it was such a fantastic and fun world they got to play in,” Levi said in a statement. “With ‘Heroes: Reborn,’ I’m honored to have the opportunity to bring more of that world to life, and excited to help in offering the fans of the franchise an epic new installation of a series that made such a huge impact on entertainment.”

Along with his role as Chuck Bartowski on “Chuck,” Levi played Fandral in the Marvel franchise “Thor: The Dark World,” and also made his Broadway debut in the musical “First Date” for which he received critical acclaim.