New soap opera Hacienda Heights attempts to mix traditional soaps with the popular Spanish telenovela format.
The year 2008 was not a kind one for the soap opera genre. Passions was canceled, ratings have fallen to never before seen levels and every soap opera went through major budget cuts, the hardest hit being Days of Our Lives. The NBC soap opera took the radical step in slashing its already reduced budget by firing its long time stars, Deidre Hall (Marlena) and Drake Hogestyn (John). Several top stars from Days of Our Lives and ABC daytime have taken severe pay cuts in order to stay with the show. But out of the gloom of 2008, a new named Hacienda Heights emerged. We Love Soaps’ Roger Newcomb first reported on this new daytime venture back in April 2008. Last month he reported Hacienda Heights has found a home. The new telenovela made its debut on KRON in San Francisco on Wednesday December 3rd. On Wednesday December 17th, KSWT/CBS and KSWT 13.2/CW also added the weekly soap to its daytime lineup.
Hacienda Heights is a one of a kind soap opera which stars an all Hispanic cast. The series follows the families of the town of Hacienda Heights and the everyday problems that the wealthy and middle class families endure. The soap promises political intrigue, emotional heartbreak and mystery and revenge. The families include the Garcia’s, the Castillo’s and the Sanchez’s. The cast is led by Mauricio Mendoza (Juan Garcia, SR) who has an extensive acting resume that includes stints on 24, Judging Amy and Cold Case as well as numerous stage credits including roles in Evita, Man of La Mancha and Much Ado About Nothing. The cast also includes Yolanda Perez, Raeann Giles and Jasmine Morales (who appeared on the NBC soap Sunset Beach or a few episodes).
This soap was the brainstorm of Executive Producer and co-creator Desmond Gumbs. Gumbs envisioned it as a cross between the conventional American soap opera and the traditional telenovela and to bring it to an English speaking audience. Hacienda Heights also has deep soap opera roots in the form of former Another World and As the World Turns star Tom Eplin (ex-Jake McKinnon). Eplin has signed on to direct the series.
This isn’t the first attempt of introducing the telenovela format to the US audience. At the end of 2000, ABC’s Port Charles attempted to shake up the series by abandoning the traditional, open-ended writing style of the soap genre and created 13 week story arcs reminiscent of Spanish telenovelas. In 2006, myNetworkTV, a channel consisting of left over WB and UPN affiliates, launched on the scene with daily primetime telenovelas. The move was a major flop and the network abandoned its strategy in mid-2007. Hopefully this approach will fare better than the last attempt.
The success of Hacienda Heights could prove well for the soap genre, which has lost many shows, but haven’t created any very successful replacements. Since 1990, soap operas Generations (1989-1991) , Santa Barbara (1984-1993), Another World (1964-1999), Sunset Beach (1997-1999), Port Charles (1997-2003) and Passions (1999-2008) have been canceled.
If you want to check out more of Hacienda Heights and look about getting the new soap onto your local affiliates, please check out . The show currently airs at noon and 12:30 PM on Wednesdays.
(Additional reporting and editing by Omar Nobles)