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Hayek has 2-yr./2-tongue deal with Col, Telemundo

By JENNY HONTZ, January 21, 1999
Actress Salma Hayek has inked a two-year, first-look deal to create TV shows in English for Columbia TriStar TV and in Spanish for the Sony-run Telemundo network.

Hayek's production company, Ventanarosa, is already active in feature production with such projects as "The Velocity of Gary," the Mexican feature "No One Writes to the Colonel" ("El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba") and a film based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, in which she stars as the title character.

The Sony deal is Hayek's first TV production venture, although she has done some TV acting, including a regular role on Fox's "Sinbad," a recurring role on HBO sitcom "Dream On" and several series in Mexico. Hayek was a big star in Latin America before she began her U.S. acting career.

Spanish is in

"I started out doing TV, and I know the Spanish TV market very well," Hayek told Daily Variety. "I have a lot of ideas for shows that are commercial and high-quality, that can raise the level of Spanish-language TV…. And I have access to talent in Mexico that nobody knows about."

Hayek's bilingual production deal is unusual, perhaps even unprecedented, but will likely become more common now that Sony is investing heavily in Spanish-language programming for Telemundo and its Latin American networks.

The deal was made by Eric Tannenbaum, president of Columbia TriStar TV and Peter Tortorici, president and CEO of the Telemundo Network.

"This is a great example of how we can combine the strength of the two companies to attract people who can work in both languages and cultures," Tortorici said. "I was enormously impressed with (Hayek's) skills and enthusiasm. She blew me away …. So many of these deals are nothing more than announcements, but I'm convinced she's a serious player."

'Outrageous saints'

Hayek has already begun developing projects for Telemundo, including a half-hour documentary show about saints and enlightened people that Hayek says will have "dramatic and outrageous" saint stories and a "style of religious kitsch, with textures and color and everything moving really fast."

Hayek said she had so many ideas for projects that "I don't sleep - I'm an idea machine." Most of her projects are "innovative, very new and modern," and while the English- and Spanish-language markets are very different, she thinks some concepts will work well in both languages.

Unknown roots

"There are a lot of things about my roots that are unknown to the world, and there are a lot of wrong images," she said. "I'd like to change that."

Hayek said she has no plans to star in any of the projects at this time. "If I feel like it, maybe I'll do something, but they don't need me in front of the camera," she said. "These ideas will stand on their own."

In addition to the film projects in the work at Ventanarosa, Hayek has starred in such films as "El Mariachi," "54," "Fools Rush In" and "From Dusk Till Dawn." She also is starring in the upcoming feature films "The Wild, Wild West" and "Dogma."

Hayek is repped by John Fogelman and Greg Lipstone at the William Morr