Small screen: How Telemundo changed television; soap opera castings and cancellations

Though soap operas may be categorized by dramatic gasps and secret twins out to ruin characters’ lives, they’ve drawn massive audiences consistently for years. (And, not every one includes a secret twin.) Perla Farías, current senior vice president at Telemundo, is a contributing factor to the genre’s success. In this week’s column, catch up on news, castings and history of telenovelas; check out Kerry Washington’s new show; and get ready for the Emmys right around the corner. For these stories and more, read on:

Network: Telemundo wasn’t always the reigning telenovela champion. In the past few months in the US, the network ranked fourth in the 18-49 demographic, lagging only behind NBC, ABC and CBS. Its success has to be credited at least partially to Perla Farías, who talked to NPR about how she helped update the genre for a modern audience. Farías started out as an actress for a telenovela that she found creatively draining, and requested her character be killed off. After that, she moved on to write shows that would break the mold, starting with the famous Juna le virgen, which has since been adapted into CW’s Jane the Virgin. Farías introduced complex female characters and risky plot choices that revolutionized how the genre is run. To listen to the full interview, listen below.

If Farías inspired you to get involved in the world of soap operas, here’s your chance. CBS’s The Bold and the Beautiful has put out a casting call for a 40-50 year old Hispanic actress with heavy credits. Spanish speaking and comedic training are pluses. This is great news for the soap opera, because while it tackled diversity issues like featuring a transgender character earlier this year, it typically lacks strong Hispanic representation.

Much like their faithful viewers, Aaron D. Spears can’t get enough of soap operas. He’s jumping ship from The Bold and the Beautiful to The Days of Our Lives, traversing networks from CBS to NBC. The actor announced via Twitter he would start appearing in September as Lieutenant Raines. The African American actor played Justin Barber in 143 episodes of Beautiful from 2009-2016. Spears has appeared in a number of shows including Being Mary Jane and Bones.

Outside of the scandalous world of soap operas, Kerry Washington is developing a female LAPD series. The Scandal star with executive produce Patrol on ABC after inking a deal with the network in April. The drama will follow four female LAPD officers who attended police academy years ago who must deal with a haunting secret from their shared past. This is Washington’s first gig under her deal with ABC. Scandal will return to television midseason due to Washington’s pregnancy.

The Emmys will air September 18 in a ceremony filled with diverse representation. Nominees of color include, but are not limited to:

  • Black-ish (ABC) for best comedy series;
  • American Crime (ABC), The People Vs. OJ Simpson (FX), and Roots (History) for outstanding limited series;
  • All The Way (HBO), Confirmation (HBO), and Luther (BBC) for outstanding television movie;
  • Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) and Aziz Ansari (Master of None) for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series;
  • Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) for outstanding lead actor in a drama series;
  • Idris Elba (Luther), Cuba Gooding Jr. (The People Vs. OJ Simpson) and Courtney B. Vance (The People Vs. OJ Simpson) for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie;
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series;
  • Taraji P. Henson (Empire) and Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) for outstanding lead actress in a drama series;
  • Audra McDonald (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill) for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie

Cable: Devious Maids has seen the end of its lifespan on Lifetime. The cable network cancelled the show after four seasons, ending the first English-speaking show with an all-Latina cast. Ratings peaked at around 3 million viewers during the show’s first season, then gradually dwindled down to an average 0.923 million per episode in the fourth. Executive produced by Eva Longoria, the show was one of Lifetime’s most established programs, and was used to help launch the critical darling drama Unreal.

Donald Glover’s Atlanta premiered September 6 to 1.1 million viewers, a promising start. The comedy-drama is already on its way to being a critical success, earning a perfect 100 percent approval rating from critics. The ratings put the show ahead of another FX comedy, Baskets, which is the most-watched scripted comedy series on cable. Also the show’s creator, Glover plays a manager trying to get his cousin’s rap career off the ground. The show also stars Brian Tyree Henry, Keith Stanfield and Zazie Beats.

Mara Brock Akil is proving to be a television superhero. She and her husband Salim Akil are working with Greg Berlanti to pitch a show about DC superhero Black Lightning to networks. Berlanti is behind the CW’s slew of superhero shows like Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Black Lightning is an African American superhero who can produce lightning from his body. He tries to hide these powers, but will get pulled back into vigilantism at the beginning of the show. Brock Akil is on a roll, having just sold her romantic comedy Documenting Love to ABC.

Speaking of superheroes, Syfy is jumping on the craze. Georgina Campbell will play the female lead in Syfy’s upcoming Superman show Krypton, which follows the grandfather of the man of steel. Campbell will play Lyta Zod, a military cadet on Krypton, Superman’s home planet. She will also be the romantic interest to Seg-El, the to-be-cast grandfather of Superman. Campbell previously won a BAFTA award for her role in UK drama Murdered by My Boyfriend.