Welcome to a blog dedicated to enthusiasts of the colorful and exciting world of Betty La Fea. Philippine's "I Love Betty La Fea" soap opera is based on the Columbian telenovela ,Yo soy Betty, la fea, that has spawned over 20 editions worldwide. This website has been established to offer a portal connection for fans of any Betty La Fea adaptations around the globe. The Betty La Fea saga is not just a franchise but a universal organization for everybody to share their country's culture and sensibilities.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fernando Gaitán: Creator of Yo soy Betty, la fea

Source: worldscreen.com

ABC’s decision to place the series Ugly Betty in its prime-time schedule during the fall at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday night was a risky one. Ugly Betty is based on the Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea. And while Betty was a mega hit across Latin America and local adaptations have delivered high ratings in countries as diverse as Germany, India and Spain, the telenovela genre had yet to prove itself with the American audience.

But ABC was taking a well-calculated risk. Not only had the concept behind Betty—an unattractive girl who uses her considerable brains to reach success in the business world—resonated with viewers from various cultures, but the U.S. show came with some very important talent attached. Salma Hayek serves as executive producer as does Ben Silverman, whose production company Reveille has successfully adapted the BBC hit The Office for NBC.

As it turns out, Ugly Betty emerged as the highest-rated new show in the U.S. network fall season that began in September.

No one has been more surprised by the success Betty has enjoyed around the world than the creator of the original telenovela, Fernando Gaitán.

(click read more below to continue)

He created Yo soy Betty, la fea for the Colombian broadcaster RCN. “No one ever thought that Betty would be such a hit, because from the beginning we thought of it as an experiment,” says Gaitán. “We made Betty with trepidation and without great ambitions, because it contained a number of unconventional elements for a novela.” In fact, this was the first telenovela in which the female lead was not a beautiful woman. In addition, contrary to traditional novelas, the first kiss took place only midway through the novela, and not at the beginning, and the male lead was wicked and immoral. “We had no reason to believe this would be a hit, rather, we wondered whether it would work at all,” says Gaitán.

As Gaitán explains, he got the idea for Betty while he was working at RCN. “The station consists of two different worlds; the first is the home of the stars, of divas, beautiful actresses, presenters, models and the most handsome men,” he says. “It’s a glamorous world. The other is more conventional and ordinary—the world of secretaries and messengers. I was always intrigued by that group of secretaries and how they gazed at the other women with a certain fascination, and even with ferociousness.”

It was then that Gaitán started to explore the world of these secretaries, who were basically outcasts, and they became the focal point of Yo soy Betty, la fea—in particular at a time when society was so obsessed with cosmetic surgery. “I can say that in Colombia there are no ugly women, except for those married to poor husbands,” he quips.

Even before creating Betty, Gaitán had already made a name for himself on the small screen when he wrote Café con aroma de mujer, which was the first Colombian telenovela to gain international notoriety and success. He had already been writing comedies, which not only allowed him to earn a living, but in the process, to create a form of high-quality television that was akin to feature films.

Gaitán’s resumé includes the teen novela Francisco el matematico, and more recently Hasta que la plata nos separe, a new novela now airing on RCN and that the broadcaster is also selling internationally.

“There are three characteristics that define my work,” says Gaitán. “The first is investigating, which is due to my background as a journalist. The second is comedy, which I really like, and third I am intrigued by the mix of comedy and drama.”

Latin American telenovelas must adhere to a strict production schedule in order to churn out 100-plus episodes and a plot that incorporates a beginning, a middle and an end. In order to enable this type of production, Gaitán typically lays out the whole story line of the novela and writes scripts in groups of five or ten episodes well before they go to air. This allows him the flexibility to make changes as necessary as the novela progresses. “I follow the telenovela very closely and I control production,” he says. “This ability to manipulate a novela is part of the genre’s essence—even though the general story line is already set.”

While telenovelas in Latin America are stripped across schedules five days a week, the American Ugly Betty on ABC airs once a week. And as Gaitán notes, “I believe this will be the most interesting of all the Betty adaptations that have been produced around the world—to see if Latin vision and flair can be accepted and become part of the North American world.”

1 comment:

TLW77 said...

I think Fernando Gaitan is a great writer to have written such a hit. I learned he got the inspiration when he doing a job with a fashion outfit and discovered that the life of the secretaries (though hardworkers) is boring. He then decided to do a case study about them and began writing this block buster.

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