General Hospital's Jill Farren Phelps to Nickelodeon; Univision's new telenovela English subtitles

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Jill Farren Phelps (c) Kathy HutchinsBig news today in the world of seralized drama.  Nickelodeon's Reach for a Star, a soap opera for teens to be executive produced by Jill Farren Phelps (General Hospital, One Life to Live) and Univision's Spanish language telenovelas to get English subtitles.

First, it was announced today by Nickelodeon via Cyma Zarghami, President of Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group; and Jose Baston President of Television and Content from Televisa, that they have green lit a new daily drama called Reach for a Star, about a teenage girl whose life changes completely when she becomes a star and wins the love of her teen idol.

The smart, shy and independent high school senior, Loren, has ambitions of being a songwriter and secretly sends her song lyrics to her celebrity crush, rock superstar Eddie Wild. Loren’s wildest dreams come true when she not only wins a songwriting competition sponsored by Eddie, but strikes up a friendship with her idol. Eddie sees beyond Loren’s potential as a songwriter and gives her a first break as a singer, and when the truth about his less-than-faithful girlfriend Chloe is revealed, Eddie and Loren’s friendship blossoms.

The tie-in to ever dwindling genre of daytime soap operas is that Reach for a Star will be co-executive produced by six-time Emmy Award-winner Jill Farren Phelps (General Hospital, One Life to Live) and Hisham Abed (The Hills and The City). Josh Griffith (Young and the Restless, As the World Turns) will serve as head writer.

“We have experienced first-hand the popularity of the daily scripted format with our kid audience through the success of House of Anubis and our teen audience with DeGrassi: The Next Generation,” and our Nick Latin American channel has already had great success in producing telenovela’s with Televisa,” Ms. Zarghami said. “This partnership brings together Televisa’s un-matched leadership in the telenovela genre with our expertise in making content, and we’re looking forward to introducing this first true English-language telenovela to Nick at Nite’s family audience.”

Reach for a Star will be produced in association with Sony Pictures Television and is set to premiere later this year on Nickelodeon’s nighttime block for families–Nick at Nite. Production begins in March in Los Angeles, Calif.

Then in more telenovela/soap opera news...

Later today, Univision announced that it was going to run English subtitles on it's Spanish-speaking prime time soaps, er, telenovelas.

According to the LA Times, beginning next week, the Spanish-language media giant will begin offering closed captioned English-language subtitles for its prime-time telenovelas, or soap operas. The move, announced Tuesday at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives convention in Miami, underscores the belief by  TV executives that the enormously popular Latino series, which run five nights a week and can last for several months, have commercial appeal beyond their loyal Spanish-speaking fan base.

Talk about turning the tables...

In a statement, Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, said: "The continued success of the telenovela genre speaks to its broad appeal that crosses culture and language, which is why, as part of our commitment to connect audiences to our culture, we are delivering our novela block with closed captioning in English."

Univision is now the nation's fifth most popular network says the LA Times.

So have no fear, all you seralized drama naysayers. Soaps are not dead. They are just going to primetime.