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New VH1 Show Puts the Reality into Telenovelas

LatinaLista — For most third, fourth and fifth generation Latinos, telenovelas are as foreign as the land their abuelos immigrated from. How does one seriously take over-the-top acting, politically incorrect sexual innuendos and plots so convoluted that suspending belief is a requirement just to watch?
Unfortunately,and understandably, the popularity of telenovelas, aside from making fun of them, wanes with each new generation. Yet, a new “reality” show that debuted last night on VH1 hopes to show those viewers, who have only channel surfed over the telenovelas, just exactly what it’s all about.

While it’s a bit of an oxymoron to call Viva Hollywood a reality show when the whole premise centers on recreating the most popular cliche scenes that telenovelas are famous for, it does offer an excellent, not to mention fun view into what goes on behind recreating such scenes.
The reality show has 12 bilingual Latino and Latina wannabe actors trying to master the “7 Deadly Sins of Telenovelas” — passion, lust, charisma, drama, fire, seduction and scandal. Each are vying for the title “America’s “Numero Uno Telenovela Star,” along with, a prize package that includes $100,000, representation by a known Latin talent agency plus a starring role in a Telemundo telenovela.
These young Latinos represent the major Latino subgroups: Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, etc.
Of course, they’re all sexy, gorgeous and have back stories that are as interesting as any telenovela writer could create. While competing for the grand prize, they live as a “familia” in La Casa de los Locos (The Crazy House).
Maria Conchita Alonso, assisted by Puerto Rican crossover star Carlos Ponce, and other guest judges, must decide who stays and who — dies.
In true telenovela style, each of the guests are given various scenes to act out with one another. Though the scenes are acted in Spanish, there are English subtitles. The scenes are death scenes where two characters are pitted against one another and only one lives. However, nobody knows who lives or dies until Maria Conchita Alonso declares someone “muerto.”
Once they’re killed off, they’re banished from la casa forever.
It was interesting to note that in the premier episode, the first contestant to get axed was a young mother named Jainmy Martinez, a 30-year-old (the oldest woman) plus-size model from New Jersey who also is a mother of a 9-year-old. It was evident from the beginning that Jainmy didn’t have the “usual” telenovela glamour, and obviously that made a difference.
No doubt, there’s going to be a lot of drama with this show.
Viva Hollywood airs every Sunday night on VH1. If you miss it, full episodes of the Sunday show are available to watch on the VH1 website, but only on Mondays. They also run a repeat of the Sunday episode on Monday – check your local listings.
To get caught up on who all the characters are, and just what it takes to be a telenovela star, check out the series sneak premiere.

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