"Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera is teaming with Tony-winner Quiara Alegria Hudes ("In the Heights") to develop "Pedro and Maria," an interactive, bilingual telenovela for MTV — and yes, Ben Silverman and advertiser integration are involved.
The project– being unveiled this morning at MIP– is one of the first big scripted series to be spotlighted by MTV since David Janollari took over as head of scripted development for MTV. And it’s easily the biggest deal to be announced by Silverman since forming Electus, his new company based at Barry Diller’s IAC.
"P&M" will attempt to innovate by having being based on both MTV and the Internet at the same time, as well as by allowing viewers the chance to change the show’s Romeo & Juliet-inspired storyline, "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style. But rather than turning to a different page or calling an 800-number, viewers will have their say via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (#pedroandmaria FTW!)
"P&M" will be produced by both Electus and Procter & Gamble, the consumer giant that also has a rich history producing soap operas (two of which – "As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light" have been canceled in the past year). And it will feature both English and Spanish, allowing the show to tap into a broader audience.
On the Ben-o-meter, this one rates four (maybe) five "sicks": It’s got great talent, a cool idea, a dash of technology, some cultural relevance and a way for advertisers to get their messages out without relying on boring 30-second spots.
Even the most ardent Ben-haters gotta admit: This one could be cool.
Jannolari said "P&M" offered MTV a creative "trifecta."
Plus, "the Latino population is an under-represented and under-served segment of the audience," he added. "I am excited to help bring this relevant show to MTV."
Technically the show is still in development and not yet greenlit to series. But there’s a good chance that, as long as the scripted are halfway decent, MTV will move forward. The closest thing to a telenovela MTV has done before was the anthology series "Undressed," but that was more a "Love, American Style" with heavy petting rather than a full-on soap with continuing characters.
Silverman, for his part, described "P&M" not just as a show — but as The Future.
"World class marketers, content creators and top producers are beginning to recognize that their individual success relies heavily on their ability to join forces to create content platforms that are both engaging and entertaining, while over delivering a compelling message for their audience," he said. “America Ferrera, MTV and P&G are leading this charge alongside us with a groundbreaking new interactive platform that allows us to tap into this growing and important demographic.”
Ian Kleinert and Jarred Weisfeld of Objective Entertainment will co-executive produce "P&M." Ferrera, whose Silverman-produced "Betty" leaves the air this week, will exec produce via her Take Fountain banner.
The project was created by Silverman, though WGA rules will probably require that Hudes ultimately share that credit once scripts are in.
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