Locally produced and Americanized versions of steamy telenovelas, the pan y mantequilla of Hispanic broadcasting in Latin America and the United States for decades, are coming to KCOP Channel 13 this fall.

L.A.'s UPN has scheduled the programs in the slots currently occupied by shows such as "Veronica Mars" and "My Name is Chris." The move comes in the wake of UPN's merger with The WB, which will result in new television network that will air on KCOP's cross-town rival, KVTA Channel 5.

KCOP is among 10 stations owned by News Corp.'s Fox Television Stations, Inc. that will air two hours of prime time soap operas filled with greed, lust and blind ambition Monday through Saturday supplied by the My Network TV.

Nine of the stations are UPN affiliates that were left in the cold when the new CW network gave first dibs on its programming to stations operated by UPN and WB financial backers CBS Corp. and The Tribune Co.

My Network TV is a hastily created partnership between two other News Corp. subsidiaries, Los Angeles-based Twentieth Television and New York-based Fox Entertainment Group.

Its first offerings, starting Sept. 5, will be two evening soap operas based on characters and story lines from popular telenovelas. The shows are a cross between a daytime soap and a mini-series in that new episodes will air five times a week but be replaced by a new story after several weeks. Saturday evenings will be devoted to recaps of that week's episodes.

The format of one show, "Desire," which is licensed from Columbian media company Caracol S.A., will have its scripts translated into English using American actors. The show chronicles the adventures of two brothers on the run from the mafia who discover they love the same woman. The second show, "Secrets," a drama about the violent corporate takeover of a fictional fashion firm, was licensed from Miami-based Xystus LLC. Both will be shot in Southern California.

Both shows, which will start production this month, were originally planned for first-run syndication, according to Twentieth spokesman Les Eisner. "The creation of CW gave us the opportunity to launch My Network TV with these shows, but all along we had always viewed "Secrets" and "Desire" as strong prime time programs."

Other potential shows under development for later in the season include "Catwalk," a supermodel search reality show similar to UPN's "America's Next Top Model"; another reality show called "Celebrity Love Island"; and a crime investigative series called "On Scene."

A Channel 13 spokesman said the station plans to air My Network TV programming in its current UPN slot between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. The station now airs syndicated programming at 10 p.m. that leads into its late evening local newscast, but won't be announcing its full fall schedule until late summer.

Univision Beats Deadline
Univision Communications Inc. is on track to meet federal antitrust requirements that it reduce its stake in Entravision Communications Corp., which owns the most Univision and Telefutura affiliates outside Univision itself.

Santa Monica-based Entravision said it has bought back 7 million common shares held by Los Angeles-based Univision for $51.1 million, or $7.30 a share.

Separately, Univision bought two Entravision radio stations and used Entravision stock to make that purchase.

The two transactions have reduced Univision's stake in Entravision to less than 15 percent, the companies said in a statement.

As part of its acquisition in 2003 of Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., now known as Univision Radio, Univision agreed to reduce its stake in Entravision to 15 percent by March 26. The company still has to further reduce its stake to 10 percent, but has until March 2011.

Pet Project
Penthouse Media Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., is building a 50,000-square-foot production studio between Glendale and downtown Los Angeles to help supply programming for its new cable TV channel, Penthouse Channel.

Penthouse plans on producing films at the studio for the premium cable channel and a separate pay-per-view and video on demand services, as well as talk shows, celebrity sex reports and specials such as "Penthouse Goes to Spring Break."

The studio, located in the Los Angeles Media Tech Center, is scheduled to be completed in June.

Penthouse currently has only a West Coast advertising and licensing office in Los Angeles. "We decided to build the studio here because Los Angeles is the heart of the adult industry," said Chief Executive Marc Bell. He leads the investor group that took over the 40-year-old adult entertainment company, which was founded by Robert Guccione, following a Chapter 11 reorganization in 2004.

Many of the movie plots will be based on sex tales submitted by readers to Penthouse's Forum and Letters columns, which includes many women contributors, Bell said.

Marc Bell Capital Partners LLC, which specializes in telecommunications and entertainment investments, and another Boca Raton investor group, PET Capital Partners LLC, raised $48 million last year in private placements for Penthouse Enterprises and plans another $20 million to $30 million in private offerings this year, Bell said. A public offering within the next 36 months is under consideration.

This and That
Los Angeles-based Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc.'s TVGuide.com has launched an enhanced search engine that integrates online video from 17 participating channels with TV Guide's database of listings, photos, show and episode descriptions, news, reviews, ratings, celebrity information, podcasts, TV Guide magazine covers, and other information. Participating channels include Fox; FX; HBO, MTV Networks, Comedy Central, Showtime Networks and Discovery Networks.

Los Angeles-based public relations and marketing consulting firm JS2 Communications has added two agency-of-record clients to its roster and renewed contracts with four others. The new clients are Miami-based Pure Pharmaceuticals LLC and Los Angeles-based Fluidesign, a creative branding and Web development agency. Clients renewing contracts are the Los Angeles-based specialty coffee and tea retailer The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Inc., Pacific Theatres Inc. (operator of ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood), Caesars Entertainment, and the 676 Restaurant at the Omni Hotel in Chicago.

*Staff reporter Deborah Crowe can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 232, or at dcrowe@labusinessjournal.com .

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