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Television for spanish-speaking Americans

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She walks like Oprah, she talks like Oprah, she cries like Oprah — but she ain’t Oprah. She’s Maria Laria (pronounced LAHR-e-ah), star of the Telemundo network’s Spanish-language gabfest, Cara A Cara (Face to Face). The show, which premiered last month, is one of five new Telemundo programs designed to resemble English-language originals. There’s also Siempre Hay Una Suegra (There’s Always a Mother-in-Law, a Spanish-language version of The Newlywed Game, with the added twist of in-law participation), Ocurrió Así (It Happened This Way, Telemundo’s version of A Current Affair), Marcano…El Show (Marcano…The Show, a variety program starring Hector Marcano, billed as ”the Arsenio Hall of Spanish-language TV”), and America Baila (America Dances, a Latin- styled American Bandstand). ”We now produce 54 percent of our own programming,” says Carlos Barba, senior vice president of programming for the three-year-old all-Spanish network, which reaches 7 million households. ”Rather than importing all our shows from Mexico and Venezuela, we wanted to provide our viewers with something they could relate to. We wanted to offer programs for Spanish-speaking Americans.”

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