It’s “upfront season,” the time of year when TV networks announce next season’s programming slates as they pitch the shows to advertisers. The Spanish-language networks’ roster of new telenovelas and reality shows usually goes unnoticed in the English-language media, but this afternoon Univision got some attention—for all the wrong reasons.
Among the shows announced for Unimás, Univision’s second broadcast network, which targets young Hispanics, were Metastasis and Gossip Girl Acapulco. According to a Univision press release, Gossip Girl Acapulco is about the “scandalous lives of Acapulco’s elite,” while Metastasis is “based on” Breaking Bad: The story of a high-school chemistry teacher “turns to crime, producing and selling meth with a former student” after he’s diagnosed with lung cancer. Sure enough, the Metastasis logo was a direct riff on the AMC original.
On a conference call this afternoon, a Univision spokesman told me its adaptation of Breaking Bad would be “customized in a culturally relevant manner,” use original Spanish-language scripts, and feature “stars our community knows.”
The problem was that Univision hadn’t signed the deal when they made the announcement. As Tim Molloy revealed in the Wrap, Sony, which owns Breaking Bad, “is in talks with several potential partners” for Latin American markets, “and Univision is only one of them.”
After years of pulling in monster ratings to little notice, Univision suddenly has the big story of this year’s upfronts. Too bad it’s this one.
Update, Monday, May 13: Sony has announced that the show will indeed go forward on UniMas, a Univision channel.