In class on Tuesday, we learned about the public life surrounding a telenovela, including events before the show airs, on the day of the premiere, as well as a party to celebrate the culmination of a telenovela on the night of a finale. I found this topic very interesting to learn about because it’s something I may be interested in pursuing for a career.
In this blog post, I would like to compare the promotion and celebration of telenovelas to something I am slightly more familiar with: the American film industry promoting box office films.
First I should point out the obvious differences in the structure of telenovelas and film. We will find multiple celebrations and viewing parties over time for a particular telenovela, however, a film only premieres once. The actors, producers, and writers for a movie may celebrate the premiere of their hard work multiple times in different cities and countries, but the movie does not change. In the world of telenovelas, the premiere party likely produces more tension for those involved (because they are eager to find out how the telenovela is consumed by the viewers) than the finale celebration because that is when everyone finally feels accomplished and they can rejoice. It’s sort of ironic how the finale celebration is more similar to the premiere of a movie, but that is obviously attributed to the movie capturing the premiere and finale in one 2-hour block.
About 3-5 days before episode 1, there is an event to present the telenovela to the press, which gives them an opportunity to conduct interviews with actors and writers so they can start writing about it. For example, Dr. A mentioned an event for the press before the first episode of Ciudad Bendita aired. This was held in a mansion that people rent for weddings in Venezuela, so the extravagance was apparent. This event was a sit-down dinner with giant TV screens everywhere, a red carpet, and the stars were present along with the writer. This event that Dr. A spoke of definitely made me think of red carpet events for movie premieres, which happen in cities like Los Angeles and New York City before the film is released to the general public.
Another similarity that occurred to me in this discussion is the mention of networks going into full-fledged promotion the morning of episode 1 by having actors and creators interview on morning shows. In the U.S. when a big movie is coming out, actors will conduct many interviews on morning shows as well as late night talk shows. Personally, I love watching the interviews of the stars because while there is a mention of the upcoming film, part of the discussion includes fun traits about that person or other cool things happening in their life. I wonder if that’s how the interviews with telenovela actors are conducted as well or if they really center around the telenovela itself (which wouldn't surprise me). I do believe that some interviews to promote movies in the U.S. are conducted much earlier than those to promote a telenovela, which I would attribute to the simple fact that a movie only premieres once and stays in theatre for a couple of weeks, so it's super important to get people to pay attention and think about your film for a long time to build the hype. Telenovelas, on the other hand, will premiere new episodes every weekday for many weeks, so it makes sense for the time of interviewing and appearances on morning shows to be closer to the airdate.
One thing that strikes me as unique to the world of telenovelas in this comparison is the closeness of the cast and crew in the telenovela family when they gather around to watch the episode premiere on television. This is something that I believe the film industry lacks due to the fact that a movie comes out in so many theatres and is shown at so many times; there simply isn't a feeling like the one those actors, producers and writers feel when everyone in the country gets to watch the episode together. This gathering can take place in an intimate setting, like the writer's house, or a fancier setting, such as a nice steakhouse-type restaurant (i.e., for Avenida Brasil). Based on our discussions in class, it seems to me that everyone involved in the production and creation of a telenovela becomes a family. Even though I am aware many actors become close friends with each other and directors after working on a [or many] movie(s) together, I don't get that same vibe from the film industry. I think this has to do with the schedule of production and the fact that many telenovelas are produced so quickly in such a high-intensity environment. This setting is an opportunity to see everyone at their best and their worst and that is what I believe gives the promotion and celebration of telenovelas a chance to be more intimate gatherings (although I am aware this is not necessarily the case for every single telenovela publicity event).
Lastly, I would like to talk about the final episode parties. What really stood out to me was Dr. A’s mention that the networks used to pay for the party, but that is over, so everyone pitches in (the actors, writer, director, executive producer, and any guests that will come) so that the technical crew doesn’t have to pay and can still enjoy the party. I think it’s hard to make a comparison to this event in the film industry, when like mentioned before, the movie premiere parties and screenings are really all-encompassing of the pre-episode 1 showing, broadcast of episode 1 party, and finale party in the telenovela world and this is simply due to the fact that we’re talking about hundreds of episodes created over time (even during the broadcast period) versus one final product being shown (even though that, too, could have been years in the making).
Dr. A mentioned that the publicity, promotion, and celebrations happen in every country differently, but in a way, something happens in each of them. I found this conversation particularly interesting and was excited to further explore similarities and differences between the public life and promotion of telenovelas in various countries versus the film industry in the U.S.