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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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

International "Betty" event at Roma Fiction Fest 2008

Contributed and Written by: Tony Lagarto
Source: Tony's "Ugly Betty"Fan Site

From its beginning in Columbia in 1999 to the exportation of the format, to the numerous international remakes, Roma Fiction Fest took an in-depth look at the chronicle and phenomenology of one of the most relevant and influential television series of the new century that has become an integrated aspect of pop culture worldwide. The event featured analysis and comparison of the many international "Bettys" with the original South American format, focusing on the development and adaptation adopted by different producers throughout the world, particularly in Europe. The conference was moderated by Marco Spagnoli, an Italian journalist and film critic. Among the international producers, broadcasters, and on-screen talent, the conference also welcomed Fernando Gaitán, the esteemed creator and writer of the original series.

(click read more below to continue)

Panel participants included:
• Veerle Baetens, Actress - protagonist of the Belgian version, "Sara"
• Nyncke Beekhuyzen, Actress - protagonist of the Dutch version, "Lotte"
• Angeliki Daliani, Actress - protagonist of the Greek version, "Maria, I Asximi"
• Alberto Carullo, Telecinco General Director (Spain) - "Yo soy Bea"
• Marianna Cortes McAllister, Grundy España: Head of Drama - Adapted "Yo soy Bea" for Spain
• Dieter Debruyn, Fremantle Managing Director (Belgium) - Producer of "Sara"
• Michael Esser, Screenwriter of Germany's version, "Verliebt in Berlin"
• Fernando Gaitán, Creator and writer of "Yo soy Betty, la fea"
• Roberto Sessa, Grundy Italia: Managing Director
• Francesca Tauriello, Walt Disney / ABC International Television: Managing Director
• Marco Spagnoli - Panel Moderator

Aggeliki Daliani (Maria), Veerle Baetens
(Sara), and Nyncke Beekhuyzen (Lotte)

The evening's festivities began with Fernando Gaitán at the podium. The creator of the original Colombian telenovela, "Yo soy Betty, la fea", spoke about his inspiration for Betty's story, a real-life secretary who worked at the television station where Gaitán worked. This woman was extremely capable and efficient, but she was completely overlooked by her boss, as if she didn't even exist, because of her lack of conventional beauty. The boss didn't appreciate her until a time came when he had to try to do his job without her there to assist him.

In an attempt to explain his story's universal appeal, despite the cultural differences among the peoples of all of the countries in which the tale has been told, Gaitá surmised that the ability of women to relate to Betty has a lot to do with their own issues regarding self-image. The fact that the story is humorous, yet rooted in reality, also helps viewers to identify with the protagonist. This sentiment was echoed by Fabrizio Rondolino, an Italian journalist and commentator, who added that this realistic fable is told by using archetypes that can be recognized as familiar throughout the world, wherever the story is told. Gaitán also discussed the importance of having the Betty franchise as a positive Colombian export. He said that too often the rest of the world only reads or hears about violence in his country, relating to government instability and drug trafficking. Betty has been a good ambassador for Colombia, presenting a persona and situations that people around the globe can relate to, no matter where they live or the particular situations of their lives.

Aggeliki Daliani ("Maria, i Asximi") commented that behind Betty's ugly face there is hope and potential. Betty's story is universal, like those of Cinderella and the Ugly Duckling. Betty only wants to be accepted for who she is, but the audience also holds a hope that she'll blossom into a beauty, reflecting their own desires to attain physical beauty and to find a great love. Nyncke Beekhuyzen ("Lotte") added that fans looked forward to seeing Betty's dreams evolving from mere fantasies into reality. She also highlighted how the hardships of Betty's didn't cause her to withdraw from life, but she always fought for her beliefs.

Michael Esser, writer of Germany's "Verliebt in Berlin", described the personage of Betty (and her counterparts) as larger than life. He also discussed how reality programs, such as "Big Brother", have chipped away at the way social differences are presented on television, changing the way people interact with others who are different. Esser pointed out that adapting Betty's story for German audiences was a particular challenge because of the great differences between the sunny culture of South America and that of Germany. He said that one of the goals of the German version was to carry a message of hope, as its protagonist, Lisa Plenske, tried to prove to herself and to everyone else that there indeed was a place for her in the world.

Dieter Debruyn, the General Executive Manager of Fremantle and producer of Belgium's "Sara", commented on the astounding outpouring of approval and affection that Belgian audiences showered on their local version. He credited the story's sparkling flavor of comedy for the show's success.

Francesca Tauriello, from Walt Disney/ABC International Television, talked about the difficulties in creating the American version, particularly relating to the change from a telenovela format to that of a weekly dramedy. She also explained that the success of "Ugly Betty" in the U.S. prompted the show's owners to broadcast the program in other countries, including Italy. Tauriello credits Betty's adorable personality, her great heart, and her sense of humor with her success. It still can't be asserted definitively whether or not Italy will actually get its own Betty, but in the meantime they'll still have the American Betty to enjoy.

Roberto Sessa, the General Executive Manager of Grundy Italia, a company that bought the rights to the original Colombian Betty format for adapting in Europe, said that he has been involved in advanced negotiations with Rai Fiction to make an Italian version of the Betty story as a daily afternoon comedic soap opera to air on Raiuno in 2008. He explained that the crafting of an Italian adaptation has been intended for quite some time, but there have been differences of language and culture that his team have had to address before the project could really get underway. Sessa stated that over 60 scripts have already been written for the Italian adaptation, with a total of 334 episodes being planned, but the difficult task now will be to find the beautiful, young, Italian actress who will be willing to get ugly for the lead role. The project is being overseen by Paolo Terracciano, head writer, and Alberto Bader, creative producer. Grundy Italia previously produced "Yo soy Bea" for Spain's Telecinco network.

In closing, Fernando Gaitán declared himself proud of the many manifestations that his creation has generated around the world. He said that the franchising of a television series can sometimes be suffocating, most of all for its creator, so for this reason he has given a great degree of freedom to those doing the adapting, which has served to give a universal personage like Betty a wide-ranging variety of faces and facets. Despite all of their differences, each Betty, in her own way, is a mirror of her country's culture and sensibilities.

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