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Babel Synopsis

Babel
  Synopsis

Despite the moralistic streak at Globo, the network is not abandoning its lewd
characters. Already on the air or waiting in the wings there are four roles for
prostitutes, for example. It is a hooker the woman who lends its name to Hilda Furacão
(Hurricane Hilda), a very successful miniseries that has just had its run. For novice
actress Ana Paula Arósio it was a chance of a lifetime to play Hilda, a married socialite
from Minas Gerais, who makes some pocket money in a whorehouse. As a whore, gorgeous model
Arósio has become the toast of the country and proved to have the right interpreting
stuff.
The next Globo miniseries, Labirinto (Labyrinth), to première on October 20,
will have three girls selling their bodies for a living. Once again, two beauties expect
the role to work wonders for their careers, even though they are already two
global—who work for Globo—high-magnitude stars. They are Malu Mader, who will
play Paula, and Christine Fernandes, who will be Dora. Paula will be one of the few to
defend a businessman accused of a crime he did not commit. A third lady of the night will
be interpreted by Brazilian sweetheart Cláudia Abreu on a cameo appearance.
Labirinto is inspired by the Yankee TV series The Fugitive. In the
Brazilian version, André (Fábio Assunção), a man unjustly accused of murdering a
businessman during a New Year’s Eve party decides to go on the run. He will be helped by a
prostitute (Paula) with whom he will fall in love. Hollywood is the clear inspiration for
the series, which will have plenty of car chases and car crashes.
Christine is not worried that she will be often seen in bras and panties or even less.
Curiously, however, she declined the title role on Brida, a novela
premiering August on Manchete network and that is based in the work of worldwide
bestseller Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. She refused the role, the actress said, because
she did not want to appear naked. And she explains: "It doesn’t make any sense to
take my clothes off in that plot. I have no problem with nudity, but it seemed gratuitous
in the scenes I read. Yet as Dora, everything would fit."
Used to play fairy-like characters, Luana Piovani is all fired up since she was given
the opportunity to be Patrícia in "A Professional" (The Professional), an
episode of the Mulher (Woman) series. "This role was a gift," she said
recently and explained where she was getting the inspiration to compose its character:
"Every woman has a prostitute inside herself." Patrícia, a 22-year-old
communications college student, sells her body to pay the school. She has seven fixed
johns. "It’s as if she had seven sweethearts," said Piovani.
Why are prostitutes recurring characters in Brazilian TV shows? "The idea is to
show the prejudice society holds against these girls," says author Sérgio Marques,
who is writing Labirinto together with Leonor Bassères and Gilberto Braga. In an
interview with Rio’s daily, O Globo, Marques declared: "We are not taking a
deep dive in social problems, but we want to show how people condemned by society may have
a stronger and more righteous character than others who are more respected."

Half Century
in the Tube
Brazilian TV will be celebrating its 50th birthday on September 18, 2000. Despite of
what many people think, TV in Brazil started in São Paulo and not in Rio. "The Globo
network came later," says Yara Lins, 68, the first face to air on Brazilian TV saying
Tupi’s call letters.
The first station was PRF3-TV Tupi, channel 3, belonging to the Diários and Emissoras
Associados (Associated Dailies and Broadcasters), then a powerful media conglomerate owned
by legendary and folkloric Assis Chateaubriand (1892-1968), Brazil’s own citizen Kane.
Rio’s branch of Tupi was born four months later in 1951. Only in 1953 would appear the
first competition to Tupi, TV Record, also in São Paulo.
Imagens do Dia (Images of the Day), the first news show on Brazilian TV,
premiered the day after Tupi broadcast its first images. By 1953, Repórter Esso started
a brilliant career as the main news program in Brazil, a position it would keep until the
end of the ’60s, when under pressure from the military dictatorship the program lost its
independent voice and gave place to news shows more to the taste of the generals who
governed the country. Globo’s slick and offend-no-one-in-power approach would thrive and
reign supreme during the next three decades. The powerful network has been criticized for
being a mouthpiece for the military during the most repressive times of the generals’ stay
in power. The Jornal Nacional, Globo’s prime-time news show, created in 1969, is the
station’s most enduring first-place winner on its time slot.
Chateaubriand brought the RCA TV equipment from the US that started television in
Brazil more as a curiosity. It is believed that only five people had a TV by then and
everything was improvised at the beginning. As in the U.S., television in Brazil started
by imitating radio. There was no videotape, and programs as well as ads were shown live.
Initially some of the successful live programs were famous plays and educational and
kids shows. The videotape would be introduced only in 1962 in Brazil. It took a little
more than one year after the 1950 start for a kiss to be shown on the little screen. It
was an exchange between Vida Alves and Valter Foster on the teledrama Sua Vida Me
Pertence (Your Life Belongs to Me). It was a scandal.
By 1961 Tupi was producing a series called Vigilante Rodoviário (Highway
Patrolman), which obtained better ratings than Yankee enlatado (canned stuff) like Rin-tin-tin
and I Love Lucy. It was also Tupi, which revolutionized at the end of
1968—the novela premiered on November 4—the language of the soap-opera
with Beto Rockefeller in which Beto, the main character, was a contemporary
scoundrel who drew more laughs than sighs from an audience that knew only syrupy,
melodramatic soaps up to then.
Curiously some of the people who were part of the first TV images aired in the country
are still on the top. Hebe Camargo, then a popular radio singer, was turned into a TV
hostess. She has become and still is up to this date the queen of live TV interview shows.
After being featured on different TV networks through the years she is now a fixture and
one of the leaders of audience at SBT. Lolita Rodrigues, a ballerina and soap-opera
heroine in the pioneer days, and a colleague of Hebe, still works in novelas
although in smaller parts. As for former radio presenter Lima Duarte he is still today the
star of the Globo novelas he works in.
For all its power, Rede Globo only joined the competition late on the game. The network
started small in Rio in 1965. In the ’60s it was TV Record that became the catalyst for a
revolution in the MPB (Música Popular Brasileira—Brazilian Popular Music) promoting
extremely popular song festivals that launched singer-composers like Caetano Veloso,
Geraldo Vandré, and Gilberto Gil.
It was in 1973 that playwright Dias Gomes authored for Globo O Bem Amado (The
Well-Beloved One), a classic of soap that introduced memorable characters with a
distinctive language and touches of fantastic realism. The revolutionary novela
also became a microcosm and sounding board of the world. Soon after the Watergate scandal
broke in the news, the mayor in the novela wired the local church confessional for
sound.
Dias Gomes’ Roque Santeiro (Roque the Saint Maker) was vetoed by the military in
1975 and only had a chance to be aired in 1985 with the end of the dictatorship. In 1976,
prolific Gomes, who more than anyone used the concept of novela as an open work to
introduce characters, situations and dialogues reflecting the news or the public’s
reaction, went even further with Saramandaia. He incorporated here a series of
elements from the Latin-American magic realism including a man who sneezed ants, a fat
lady who exploded, and a werewolf.
In 1992, author Gilberto Braga in recreating the past in the miniseries Anos
Rebeldes (Rebel Years) inspired a new generation of students to go to the streets and
demand the resignation of then President Fernando Collor de Mello, who had won the
election thanks to the personal commitment of Roberto Marinho to this candidacy.
During these five decades, among the most celebrated novelas there were O
Direito de Nascer (The Right to Be Born), Tupi, 1964-1965; Redenção (Redemption),
Excelsior, 1966-1968; Beto Rockefeller, Tupi, 1968-1969; Irmãos Coragem (Brothers
Courage), Globo, 1970-1971; Selva de Pedra (Stone Jungle), Globo, 1972-1973; O
Bem-Amado (The Well Beloved One), Globo, 1973, the first novela in color; Mulheres
de Areia (Sand Women), Tupi, 1973-1974; Gabriela, Globo, 1975; Escalada
(Escalating), Globo, 1975; Saramandaia, Globo, 1976; Escrava Isaura (Slave
Isaura), Globo, 1976-1977; Dancin’ Days (original title in English), Globo,
1978-1979; Roque Santeiro (Roque, the Saint Maker), Globo, 1985-1986, and Pantanal
(Swamp), Manchete, 1990.
According to the 1996 yearly book Grupo de Mídia, Brazil has 257 TV stations
that broadcast their own signal and 7,497 that only rebroadcast other stations’ material.
Rede Globo has the most extensive number of repeating stations, placing the TV network in
99.84% of the county’s municipalities. Then comes SBT covering 81.74% of the territory,
Bandeirantes (62.99%), Manchete (45.80%), Record (22.42%) and CNT (Central Nacional de
Televisão—Television National Hub) (6.61%).
The total hegemony of Globo TV during the ’70s had a few cracks—nothing too
serious—during the 80s and 90s, challenged—not to seriously—by Bandeirantes
network (created in 1969), SBT (1981), Manchete (1983), and CNT (1993). Pay TV started in
1990, but instead of making room for more participants at the media’s table it has simply
distributed the new reaches to the already powerful players. Globo became a major
stockholder on Net Multicanal, and publishing giant April has joined American ABC and
Hearst media conglomerates to launch TVA.

The
Auditorium
Wars
The success of TV hosts has created a new class of nouveaux riches in Brazil. Besides
considerable paychecks these hosting stars fatten their bank accounts with merchandising
and getting a percentage from the ads sold during their programs. Maria da Graça
Meneghel, better known as Xuxa, the Queen of the Shorties, working at Globo, has become a
multimillionaire industry and the richest of them all. But other emerging names are
catching up fast.
In the same area as Xuxa, TV program for kids, there is Angélica and Eliana.
Angélica, who also is a hostess at Globo, has become the leader in products licensing in
all of Brazil. There are already more than 400 products bearing her likeness or her name.
She makes $4 million a year. Working at SBT, Eliana gets a $70,000 monthly salary. She
also has licensed more than 100 products, does other shows and has CDs with her songs.
Annual income: $4 million.
Gugu Liberato ($14 million a year) is the wealthiest of the emerging stars. He has 41
products licensed and is the owner of Gugu Produções, a company that promotes
entertainment events. Gugu, who presents Domingo Legal (Cool Sunday) on SBT, the
number one program on Sunday afternoons, would like to have his own TV station and has
been trying to buy one for some time. A big chunk of his earnings comes from the 12
minutes he gets in the show to sell as he pleases. A 30-second spot on Domingo Legal
costs $90,000, just a little less than on the Jornal Nacional, Globo’s daily
prime-time news show, where the same ad would cost $110 thousand.
Competing with Gugu at Globo on the same Sunday time slot is Fausto Silva, the host for
Domingão do Faustão (Big Fausto’s Big Sunday). Faustão also derives his money
from a salary plus merchandising added to his program. He is worth $4.5 million a year.
The competition among Gugu and Faustão last year ended up in an all-out war that only
finished when Faustão provoked a national scandal by showing in his program a sushi bar
where the food was served on the bodies of naked women. The long live scenes shot from
every angle while three actors ate and talked about the experience was shown on a Sunday
afternoon and provoked a deluge of indignant letters to the editor, comments and
editorials. The top brass at Globo—so much for the highly touted Globo standard of
quality—had to intervene and demand some cleaning up. Since then, at least at Globo,
the titillation decibels have lowered on live shows.
A lesser-known character, but who is already earning $6 million at SBT, is Celso
Portiolli. The 30-year-old show host has just signed a contract for three years
guaranteeing him a $100,000 monthly salary. If he is already earning an estimated $6
million a year is due to a clause that allows him to sell every day 1 minute and a half of
publicity in the show he presents. On Sundays he hosts Tempo de Alegria (Joy Time).
Earlier this year Portiolli’s salary was a mere $8,000. His value shot up, however, when
Globo showed interest in getting him. SBT is so fearful of losing the rising star that the
network introduced a $30 million penalty to be paid in case he wants to jump the boat.
Thriving in mondo cane, Ratinho (Little Mouse) has become a media phenomenon disputed
by different TV networks, including Globo, which reportedly wanted to tame him a little.
Now at Record but with a serious offer to jump to number-two SBT, host Carlos Massa, gets
a salary of $200,000 and earns some $6 million a year. He arrives at this amount by
getting 5% of all the 900 toll calls dialed during his programs. For the networks these
crowd-pleasing shows are a cash cow. While a novela might cost about $100,000 per
chapter, Ratinho’s program, for example doesn’t cost more than $25,000.
Colleague of Ratinho at Record, and also appealing to some lower instincts, hostess Ana
Maria Braga makes $3 million a year. Among other items bearing her name, Braga has already
released a recipe book, an engagement book, and a Christmas CD.

Babel
Synopsis
Set in São Paulo, the story of Torre de Babel revolves around a tower and a
former inmate who plots to explode it. The ex-jailbird is José Clementino da Silva (Tony
Ramos), a fireworks expert who goes to work as a bricklayer at Torre de Babel when his
business goes belly-up. A good man until then, da Silva becomes a murderer when he finds
his wife in bed with two men. He kills the three of them with an ax. The killing occurs in
1978.
The real action starts 20 years later, after the murderer has ended his prison term and
gets out of jail with all sorts of revenge plans against those who testified against him
during the trial, in special César Toledo (Tarcísio Meira), the owner of the Tropical
Towers shopping mall. All of this happens in the first chapter.
The murderer gets a job as a watchman at the tower and plans to explode it during the
night when nobody is there. The plans go awry, however, and the explosion ends up killing
many people.
The Names
By Alessandra Dalevi

Every night, at 8:40 PM, almost half of Brazil stops everything they are
doing—bring their plates if they are eating—and gather in front of the TV tuned
on Globo. It doesn’t matter what they are going to be watching tonight. The so-called 8-PM
novela (soap opera) for more than 20 years has been the top rated program for Globo
network, a virtual monopoly on the Brazilian airwaves that only in recent years has
suffered minor cracks. These days the attraction is called Torre de Babel (Tower of
Babel), a feuilleton filled with the common places of the genre: infidelities, Homeric
retaliation, and impossible coincidences. Torre de Babel is a synthesis of the
strengths and the foibles of television in Brazil.

Torre de Babel has been presented as Brazilian TV’s Titanic. Budgeted at
$17 million, it is Brazil’s most expensive novela to date, exceeding by at least $2
million other recent costly soaps. Each chapter costs $100,000, five times more than what
the closest competition, SBT (Sistema Brasileira de Televisão—Brazilian System of
Television), is spending on Fascinação (Fascination), its own soap being shown at
the same time slot.

The tower shopping mall alone, with 600 glass windows and the height of an eight-story
building, cost $1.1 million and it was built to be exploded. The structure was erected in
one month and a half by 200 workers. A junkyard and a slum were also built by order,
adding $300,000 to the scenery bill. Another $230,000 were spent on imported material for
special effects.

Globo has presented Torre as the novela with the largest number of top
stars ever. Curiously, in 1990 when the TV network had its audience eroded by Manchete’s
soap Pantanal (Swamp), the leader gave its answer with another
largest-number-of-top-star-ever novela starring the same Glória Menezes, Tony
Ramos, and Cláudia Raia who are present now and written by Sílvio Abreu, the same author
of Torre. Then the soap was called Rainha da Sucata (Junk Queen). Abreu says
that he was inspired by the Unabomber (American terrorist Theodore Kaczynki) in composing
the plot around the explosion in the tower that permeates the whole story of Torre.

There is a problem though in all these surpassing facts. The 42% ratings share enjoyed
by Torre de Babel, which would be a dream number to any of the American networks,
has brought author Sílvio de Abreu and the whole Globo production team back to the
drawing board. Focus groups are customarily used halfway through a show to gauge the
success of a novela and they help decide what changes to make during the course of
a soap. This time, the use of this resource was anticipated. Globo’s top bosses panicked
when Torre de Babel’s audience fell to 36% in its fourth day of presentation and to
35% one week later on chapter 10. Globo honchos seemed to be justified in their panic: Por
Amor (For Love), the previous 8-PM novela, reached 52 points in its final
episode.

Carlos Manga, the dramaturgy nucleus director, personally made changes even in
already-shot chapters. Among the changes: Agenor became more simpatico abandoning the
spitting habit and cuss words of the initial chapters; nasty former inmate Clementino
gained a more docile image and lots of love scenes with Clara; and an oral sex scene
between Sandra and Alexandre in the mall’s bathroom was left in the cutting room. In an
unheard of save-face strategy even in the show opening—in which the credits are
presented—the dark sky gave place to a brighter late afternoon landscape.

Newsweekly Veja’s TV critic Eugênio Bucci screamed: "Torre de Babel was
doing well while the ratings were bad. (…) In retreating as it retreated Globo committed
a worse error: it gave up presenting the different and embraced the sameness. Researches
are useful for listening to and interpreting the TV viewer not for obeying him."

Behind Globo’s rush to the rescue is the fear of losing top publicity money. While the
price for a 30-second ad insertion during the prime-time novela is now $102,000, it
will have to be lowered at the end of August when it is time to sign new publicity
contracts if the ratings continue their downward march.

To deal with some ratings-busting characters, author Sílvio Abreu has used the
explosion at the Tropical Tower, which gives the name to the novela. With that he
was able to eliminate the lesbian couple Leila (Sílvia Pfeifer) and Rafaela (Christiane
Torloni) who die in the explosion. Apparently there was strong reaction to them from the
public not due to their relationship—other gay couples have been shown without any
incident in the past—but because they are happy and adjusted together. One of the
ideas was to kill one of the lovers and give the other a male sweetheart, but the solution
seemed far-fetched even for a made-by-polls soap.

Thanks to the public reaction, Vilma (Isadora Ribeiro), who according to the initial
synopsis should die in the explosion, was spared. Catastrophes have been used frequently
to change directions in novelas. Late Janete Clair, who wrote some of the most
memorable and campy soaps, once used an earthquake—an unknown occurrence in
Brazil—to completely change her story line. As for Torre de Babel the changes
have worked so well that the soap has already reached peaks of 52 points after the
alterations.

While Globo shocked the masses, far-away second place, SBT Sistema Brasileiro de
Televisão—Brazilian System of Television) launched its own prime-time novela to
compete against Torre. It is Fascinação (Fascination), a soap that is
everything Torre is not. While Globo uses its top stars, names guaranteed to draw
public, like Tarcísio Meira and Glória Menezes, Édson Celulari and Cláudia Raia, Tony
Ramos, Adriana Esteves, and Isadora Ribeiro, Fascinação has a cast of mostly
unknowns.

Contrasting with the violence, drug-infested, sexual deviant characters of Globo’s
soap, author Walcyr Carrasco from SBT brings a melodramatic love story set on the ’30s
with a love triangle involving one man and two girlfriends, one rich and the other poor.

Soap Land

With 16 novelas being shown currently, Brazil only loses to the US (20) and
Colombia (18) as the world’s soap-opera queen. On second thought, it should get the prize.
While the Yankee novelas are spread through a much larger range of channels and are
normally shown far from prime time, in Brazil every commercial channel carries novelas and
the main ones are all shown on prime time.

For all its fame as a producer of high quality shows, Rede Globo wouldn’t survive on
the top without its soaps. Brazil’s by-far-leading network has six novelas being
presented daily. It starts at 11:15 AM with Caça Talentos (Talent Search). At 2:15
PM it is time for O Salvador da Pátria. (The Country’s Savior). Then it is
novela after novela starting with Malhação (Pumping Iron) at 5:30 PM
followed by Era uma Vez (Once Upon a Time) at 6, and Corpo Dourado (Golden
Body) at 7. Just a little breather and it is time for Torre de Babel (Tower of
Babel) at 8:40 PM.

Second-place in the ratings, SBT has three novelas: Marimar at 11 am, Chiquititas
(Little Girls) at 8 PM and Fascinação (Fascination) at 8:50 PM. Record, Manchete,
and Bandeirantes, all have a soap apiece. They are respectively Estrela de Fogo (Fire
Star) at 8 PM, Mandacaru at 9:40 PM and Serras Azuis (Blue Hills) at 6:45
PM. Thanks to cable Brazilians can now also follow the daily adventures of the grandmother
of soaps, American General Hospital (8 AM) and Sunset Beach (9 AM) on
TeleUno. At 10 AM Sony channel brings Days of Our Lives. Pay channel Zaz ends the
daily novela offering with "Cebollitas" at 10 PM. That gives a total of
more than 14 hours of soap every day.

TV
d’Auteur

In the Brazilian TV novela is an author’s medium. Soap writers are in demand and
some of they are as famous and powerful as the actors they help to project. Top writers
not only have freedom to develop their months-long plot, but also have their saying on the
choice of the cast and even the director of their novelas. Says Sílvio Abreu, the
writer for Torre de Babel: "I am not a writer. I am a novelist. That’s
why I never create a character without linking it to the image of some actor. After all
they are the ones who give life to my creations. I write the whole time thinking in each
of them."

And more: "I will not shy away of talking about something only because the public
rejects it. I simply write in the novelas what’s bothering me. It is not my
intention to defend such and such vision or such and such moral. I only want to expose
what I consider harmful or positive." Abreu spoke all this on early May, before the
first chapter of Torre de Babel was aired and the ratings juggernaut forced him
into changes he had vowed not to make.

Differently from the U.S. where soaps are the result of more or less anonymous writers
working as a team, Brazil’s TV auteur often writes the whole novela all
alone. Or at least that’s what happened until 1980, when Gilberto Braga, after writing all
by himself the anthological Dancin’ Days (in English in the original), asked for
help when Água Viva (Live Water) got to chapter 30. Star soap authors Walcyr
Carrasco, Benedito Ruy Barbosa and Glória Perez still do all the work by themselves,
however, putting as many as 16 to 18 hours of work a day to produce a close-to-an-hour
show.

Writing novelas is hard work and only the fittest survive. One of the finest
soap script writers, Dias Gomes—he is also a renowned playwright—, who wrote the
Roque Santeiro (Roque, the Saint Maker) novela and the miniseries Dona
Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (Miss Flor and Her Two Husbands) said recently: "Writing
a novela is very tiring. I hope I will never have to write them again."

It’s doubtful that his wishes will be heard. There is a pressing need for good novela
writers and few of them available. Some of the talent that might be drawn to the well
rewarded task give up when they become aware they will have to forgo a whole year of their
lives and dedicate 15 or more hours every day to devise plots and dialogues that will
survive the daily massacre of the ratings.

Torre de Babel, the current 8:00-PM story, was written by Sílvio de Abreu, but
only because the author that should fill up that prime-time spot, Gilberto Braga, was tied
up writing Labirinto (Labyrinth), a mini-series to be aired in November.

By early July, Globo still didn’t know who was going to write its next 8:00-PM novela,
the noblest of all the time slots for soaps. Benedito Ruy Barbosa and Aguinaldo Silva were
asked to present synopses of new stories as soon as possible. Barbosa, who wrote the
recent hit O Rei do Gado (The Cattle King), had been promised some rest until 99,
but these plans had to be scrapped. Silva wrote A Indomada (The Untamed Woman),
which aired in 1997 up to November. To sweeten the deal, Globo promised Silva that his
work would be directed by his favorite director: Daniel Filho.

Globo’s authors pool still includes Glória Perez, who will write the next 6:00-PM novela;
Manoel Carlos who has just finished writing Por Amor (For Love) and Lauro César
Muniz, who says he feels exhausted after writing non-stop two novelas: Quem é
Você? (Who Are You?) (1996) and Zazá (1997). They are all experienced
veterans, in some cases with decades of practice.

Getting new novela writers is complicated. In an interview with daily Folha
de São Paulo, Aguinaldo Silva, who wrote classic soap Pedra Sobre Pedra (Stone
Over Stone) and the recent miniseries Tieta based on Jorge Amado’s book Tieta do
Agreste, said: "A novela writer needs to have a spirit of self-abnegation.
Writing novelas is a work that requires 10% of talent and 90% of obsession."

Ricardo Linhares and Alcides Nogueira are two of the few emerging names in the
soap-writing metier. Linhares, who is writing the next 7:00-PM novela under the
"Terra do Sol" (Sun Land) working name, is seen with enthusiasm by his veteran
colleagues. Humble, however, he tells that he doesn’t feel ready to join the 8:00-PM big
leaguers: "I will still need to eat a lot of rice and beans," he said recently.

To get fresh blood, in 1984 Globo created a school for authors in São Paulo, even
though its headquarters are in Rio. People from all ages and backgrounds, but mainly
students and youngsters, have been drawn to the program. The monetary reward is enticing.
A novela writer from the first team can make as much as $100,000 a month when you
add to his salary the merchandising he introduces in the novela (for example: a
character uses an Apple computer to write a letter).

The number of people interested in the course has jumped from 350 to more than 700 in
recent years. From those who apply, only 14 are chosen to participate in the three-month
course and no more than three end up getting a contract with Globo. Sometimes they spend
months doing nothing while drawing a salary and waiting for their chance to break in the
business.

Glory and
Decline

If Globo is the dominant force on Brazilian TV today, its grip on the audience was
still much stronger in the ’70s and ’80s. By 1989, Jornal Nacional, Globo’s
prime-time news show was getting ratings of 60 points in its most important market, the
greater São Paulo. In 1994 this number had fallen to 45, a 25% decline. During the same
period, the 8-PM novela fell 20.6% from 63 to 50 points and the 7-PM novela
declined 18.3% from 60 points to 40. The loss of audience started in 1991.

These three programs constitute the backbone of Globo’s programming schedule and were
of major importance to consolidate the network as the hegemonic force that it has become.
It was the late Walter Clark who in 1968 had the idea to present a news show in between
two soap operas. The new news program presented by Hilton Gomes at 7:30 PM only got the
name of Jornal Nacional in 1969 though. Sandwiching news between soaps was a
strategy to get an audience for a journalistic program during a time in which Tupi,
Excelsior, and Record still represented a serious competition at least in the state of
São Paulo, the most populated one. Up to this date the period is the most coveted by
advertisers who pay premium price for a spot during the Jornal or the 8-PM novela.

Projections see a continuous eroding in audience, which will mean ratings of less than
30 points for the 7-PM novela in the year 2000. While the Jornal Nacional
has been losing an average of 2.6 points a year, the 8-PM novela loses 1.5 points
yearly. At this pace, the Jornal Nacional will also be getting less than 30 points
instead of the 37 that it enjoys now. And the 8-PM novela will be only slightly
over 40 points.

Globo has been losing its public to several networks and a growing pay TV service.
According to Ibope, in 1989 SBT had eight points during the 8-to-8:30-PM slot. More
recently the SBT ratings jumped to 15 points during that period, while all the other
networks put together had an increase from five to nine points. In an interview with Folha
de São Paulo, Laurindo Leal Filho, a telejournalism professor at USP (Universidade de
São Paulo), explained why Jornal Nacional has been losing audience: "It lost
public because it was not able to create a credibility aura since it was created in 1969.
If we had real alternatives from the competition the fall would have been even
bigger."

Despite the fall in audience, Globo continues to have record earnings in advertising.
While it made $1.2 billion in 1996, this amount increased 20% to reach $1.5 billion in
1997. Rede Globo is the world’s fourth biggest private network behind only the three
Yankee TV sisters and its owner, Roberto Marinho, is always listed among the world’s
wealthiest men, according to Forbes magazine, the Bible of the sector. He is also
known as a kingmaker for his personal involvement in the election of the last two
Brazilian presidents: Fernando Collor de Mello and Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

In its July 6 issue, Forbes lists him as "one the world’s 200 working
rich", having a net worth of $6.3 billion. Says Forbes: "At 93, the media baron
still carries political clout. His Globo group dominates Brazilian TV and is challenging
publishing tycoon Roberto Civita (owner of Editora Abril) with a new weekly newsmagazine, Época,
launched in May. With his three sons, he owns nearly all $4.8 billion (net revenues) of
the Globo organization."

The Globo TV chain is just part of an ever-growing conglomerate started in 1925 with
the creation in Rio of O Globo daily newspaper. Today the Marinho group controls
and holds shares in about 100 companies that employ more than 12,000 people. The Globo
conglomerate earned $2.4 billion in 1995 making it the 18th largest private company in
Brazil.

TV Globo’s ranking as the world’s fourth largest private network does not translate
into equally top-place earnings. A list of the most profitable TVs on the world published
in 1995 by Television Business International showed Rede Globo in 32nd place, behind
smaller American conglomerates like Cox Entertainment and Comcast. While Time Warner
appeared on top of the list with earnings of $4.8 billion a year, Rede Globo had $1
billion to show for.

Globo clings as long as it can to its monopoly over the airwaves. One of its
stratagems—a costly one for that matter—is to maintain a cast of 300 under
permanent contract even though it cannot use more than 180 actors at any given time. The
surplus is the Globo’s way of preventing the competition from using these artists in their
productions. Aging leading man Tarcísio Meira, for example, makes 50 grand a month
working or not. That translates into $14,000 per novela chapter in which he works.
"It ‘s better to pay Tarcísio to do nothing than to have him working at another
station," says an executive at the network. Since SBT started its own teledrama
nucleus Globo has raised by 80% its budget for acting talent.

End of
an Era

On November 24, 1997, a brief and cold memorandum changed forever the way things are
done at Globo. On that date, Roberto Irineu Marinho, the eldest son of patriarch Roberto
Marinho, took control of Globo, by ending the executive attributions of José Bonifácio
de Oliveira Sobrinho, 63, better known as Boni. Boni had the title of vice-president of
Strategic Coordination, but he acted as if he were the network’s owner. The memo stripped
him from that title giving him a new one: personal adviser for the younger Marinho. Seven
months after the changes his new services hadn’t been used yet and probably never will.

Roberto Irineu went by the title of vice-president executive, but it was Boni who had
the last word and the owner’s son had been uneasy about the situation for a long time.
Boni had become a synonym for Rede Globo and is responsible for the so-called Globo
standard of quality. He was brought to work for the company by Roberto Marinho on March
22, 1967, when Globo was giving its first steps. He was already an experienced executive,
having worked at TV Rio and Excelsior.

It seems that Boni’s fall started in 1995 after a series of conflicts between him and
executive superintendent Marluce Dias da Silva, 48, brought to the network by Roberto
Irineu four years earlier to trim expenses and make Globo a leaner enterprise. Legend has
it that during a meeting in 1995, after a comment by Marluce, Boni said: "If I had
more power I’d fire you."

In May 1997, Boni signed a four-year contract by which he gets a monthly salary of $500
thousand. There is a $30 million penalty for both sides in case the contract is not
honored. The fallen all-powerful boss has indicated that he would forgo the penalty if
Globo liberates him from the contract. But the network prefers having him doing nothing,
but at their side.

In the just-published book Pilares Via Satélite—Da Rádio Nacional à Rede
Globo (Pillars Via Satellite—Nacional Radio to Globo Network), Paulo César
Ferreira, former partner of Roberto Marinho makes some juicy revelations. Ferreira worked
for Globo for 21 years and he had a privileged inside spot from where to look.

Among the bombs: 1. Marinho had in 1969 the help of then Finance minister Delfim Netto
to obtain a $3.85 million line of credit, the price for the buyout of American media group
Time-Life. Marinho has always denied having received any money from the military
government. Rede Globo also never admitted having accepted Time-Life capital. Such
investment would be irregular because the Brazilian legislation barred all foreign
participation in the media.

2. The so-called Globo standard of quality was not a voluntary effort to improve
quality, but an imposition by the military disgusted with the series of exploitation shows
Globo aired at the start of the ’70s.

3. Globo catered so much to the military that it maintained a military aide called
Edgardo Manoel Erichsen. He was in charge of promoting such government-friendly programs
like Amaral Neto, o Repórter, which showed the accomplishments of the dictatorship
and Olimpíadas do Exército (Army’s Olympic Games).

Ferreira also talks about total lack of infrastructure at Globo and tells anecdotes
like the one with the company’s number one star, Glória Menezes, who was almost bitten by
a snake when relieving herself in the bushes during the shooting of a novela.

And Now
the Rest

Runner-up SBT has adopted a new slogan recently: ’16 years in second place so you can
stay in first.’ Apparently resigned to keep a distant second place to Globo’s unbeatable
lead SBT (Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão—Brazilian System of Television) has been
threatened to lose even this position by Record, an old decrepit network that has recouped
some terrain since being bought by controversial Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus
(Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), which is pouring some good money on new
equipment, respected professionals and star hosts.

Among Record’s recent acquisitions there are those of highly-regarded news anchor
Bóris Casoy, who was lured from SBT and Carlos Massa, better known as Ratinho (Little
Mouse). Ratinho usually carries a nightstick that he uses in his indignation rampages and
fills up his daily programs with all kinds of psychological and physical crippling for
attraction.

At SBT, the boss, former street vendor Senor Abravanel, better known as Sílvio Santos,
is also the network’s main attraction with a day-long Sunday program that has lasted for
39 years. In May, SBT’s owner announced: "I want to be out of the limelight in one
year and a half or two." The popular host, though, admits that he might change his
mind and stay put "if the repercussion of my departure and the vanity of my possible
successors create a problem."

Sílvio Santos has prepared Gugu Liberato to succeed him, but it is no secret that the
chosen one has loftier plans, and dreams of one day having his own TV station. More
recently, Santos has started training newcomer Celso Portiolli to take his place.

Differently from Marinho and its Globo empire, Sílvio Santos, 67, has a hands-on
approach. He not only is the main attraction of his network, he also controls every little
aspect of its operation. His collaborators have their hands so tied that in a recent trip
of the boss to Mexico, SBT stayed without a prime-time news show, waiting for his return
and his decision on what do about the whole news department. At the end the news sector
was practically zapped out with the firing of 75 professionals from São Paulo, Rio and
Brasília.

Sílvio Santos has also been actively engaged in finding a partner for his network.
Disney is one that has been approached. SBT owner’s trip to Mexico was for a week-long
program of meetings with Televisa’s (Mexico’s powerful TV network) executives for a
possible alliance. SBT already has an agreement with Argentina’s Telefe from which he gets
Chiquititas, a series with a band of orphanage children, one of the network’s hit
shows. Thanks to CBS Telenotícias, Sílvio Santos is also being able to guarantee some
minutes of news in his schedule. But he is ending this partnership.

Sílvio is known for changing schedules at his whim. One extreme example of this habit
is Serginho Groisman’s Programa Livre (Free Program), an interview show for
youngsters, which in seven years had its day and time changed 36 times. The schedule is so
absurd at SBT that Groisman’s program for sometime had to conform to the exhibition of a novela
at Globo, which also alters times and duration of shows according to the competition. More
than once Programa Livre was taken off the air in the middle of an interview.

Impatient to see results and with an eye at the bottom line, SBT’s owner trusts his
instincts to at the last minute change schedules, cancel programs and not air ready shows.
Right now SBT has two completed novelas in the can waiting for his OK. They are Direito
de Nascer (The Right to Be Born) and Pérola Negra (Black Pearl), two
melodramas.

Sílvio Santos also likes to bestow shows on people who become media stars, even though
they have no TV or media experience. It happened twice recently with two girls who
generated a lot of publicity after posing in the nude for Brazilian Playboy. For
Débora Rodrigues, who was a poor girl working for the landless movement, he created the
afternoon Fantasia , a daily show in which dozens of pretty teen-age girls in
little clothing sing, dance and appear in enticing close-ups sending kisses and asking
amid erotic sighs that people call their 900 number. The program airs opposite Globo’s Malhação
, a novela in which the main attraction are skimpy-dressed young bodies working
out in an exercise academy.

The newest attraction is national sensation dancer Carla Perez, 20, who for three years
was the main feature of Baiano musical group É o Tchan. Better known for the size of her
buttocks and her ability to shake them, Perez has premiered in June her Carla Perez
do Brasil. She has been hired with a monthly salary of $100,000. Inspired by
Argentinean show Hola, Suzana, Carla calls people who sent letters and gives them
prizes. To get the prize though they have to say, "Alô, Carla Perez." (Hello,
Carla Perez). She also does interviews, having started with coach Zagallo just before he
left for France with the Brazilian soccer team.

Déjà Vue

Someone who left Brazil as long as 40 years ago might feel tricked by time upon
returning today. He will be able, for example, to see on SBT Praça da Alegria (Joy
Square), a comedy show created in 1956 and that is part of the Brazilian TV foundation. It
is true that due to copyright concerns the program has changed its name to A Praça é
Nossa (The Square Is Ours) and that Manoel da Nóbrega, the creator of Praça
has long passed way. But it’s Carlos Alberto da Nóbrega, the son of Manoel, who directs
today the show and some of the original actors are still interpreting the same old
characters.

Chacrinha, Flávio Cavalcanti, J. Silvestre, Moacyr Franco, all of these names had a
huge following during the ’60s and the ’70s with their live variety programs. They were
disputed by the networks and Cavalcanti and Abelardo Barbosa Chacrinha galvanized the
country with their more or less tasteless shows and guests. While suit-and-tie-dressed
Cavalcanti played the serious-above-any-reproach journalist and Chacrinha came in a clown
suit throwing codfish at the public in the auditorium, they were very similar. Cavalcanti
and Chacrinha passed away, but their legacy goes on. Music-inclined Moacyr Franco and J.
Cavalcanti even had a recent revival getting their own program again, without the old
public adulation, however.

The auditorium program has become a hot item again. There are no less than 27 of these
shows being aired right now. Similar to some live programs in the U.S. the new wave of
auditorium shows—some of them on prime time—bring more of the worst that real
life has to offer: physically handicapped and desperate people, fights between couples,
smutty intimate revelations. Anything for a few more points on the Ibope.

Magic Box

The main reason why the Brazilian public gets what it wants on TV and almost
instantaneously is Teletron, an audience measuring device used by Ibope (Instituto
Brasileiro de Opinião Pública e Estatística—Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion
and Statistics), the Brazilian Nielsen, which follows on real time the evolution of the
audience tuning in on a certain program. The recent invasion of the remote control has
eliminated the habit people had of leaving the TV tuned on the same channel for days.

The Ibope service allows TV stations—and they use it in the most creative
ways—to follow minute by minute their own performance and that of the competition.
With these numbers guests who are not popular and subjects that draw little attention are
cut short while ratings picker-uppers can be maintained in the air and exploited for half
an hour or more. Oddly enough, shows in Brazil can have their time altered on the spot. It
is common that high-ratings programs be prolonged to harm the competition. On the other
side, the competition is also watchful, waiting for the best time to start its program.

And what are good show baits? First of all, novelas stars, say the Ibope data.
Pretty women and successful music stars come next. Tarcísio Meira, a veteran sweetheart
of novelas, for example, was able to raise a Domingão do Faustão—a
Sunday-afternoon variety program—ratings by 14 points, from 25 to 39. As for the most
unpopular characters, politicians come in first, followed by less popular singers. This
system has provoked some humiliating scenes for some jewels of the Brazilian culture.
Maria Bethânia, Ivan Lins, and Jorge Ben Jor, all heavyweights of the MPB (Música
Popular Brasileira—Brazilian Popular Music), among many others, had their
participation in live shows abbreviated when their presence made the ratings go down.

Although the Ibope machine is connected to a mere 660 TVs and all from the city of São
Paulo, it is believed that it portrays the whole nation’s TV universe. Every point
represents 80,000 homes in the Greater São Paulo.

Sex
on TV

While the audience leader Globo has been forced to moderate the amount of nudity and
sex it shows, the constraint does not apply to smaller networks, like Manchete and
Bandeirantes, whose programs rarely reach double digit.

Veteran novela director Walter Avancini, has become an expert in provoking
scandals and getting free publicity and with luck also some public to his novelas
at Manchete. His last coup was to cast transsexual Roberta Close in Mandacaru, which
doesn’t get more than 8 points compared to more than 30 for Globo’s novelas. La
Close created an instant factoid threatening to sue any actor who refused to kiss
her on the mouth.

It was the pressure from a much wider and diversified audience that forced Globo’s
director Antônio Calmon to stop the erotic teasing in Corpo Dourado, the current
7:00-PM novela at Globo. In that soap, fast-rising star Daniele Winnits often
appeared naked on the beach, with an electronic black stripe covering strategic spots on
her nude body.

On the wee hours, however, everything seems allowed even on the over-the-air channels.
Some pornographic shows have become cult during that time slot bringing to smaller
channels ratings they cannot dream of during the day. Bandeirantes, better known as Band
these days, is betting that sadomasochism is the ideal recipe for its H show.
Hostess Tiazinha gets up to 6 points in São Paulo, which represents 480,000 homes. Band
complements its late-night programming with Cine Privê, a selection of pornographic
movies sponsored by telesex 900 numbers.

Veteran show host Raul Gil in his Saturday Programa Raul Gil on Manchete is surrounded
by six temptations in the shape of six models during his "O Divã do Raul"
(Raul’s Divan) segment. They are Sônia Almeida, Jennifer Garcia, Magáli Vaz, Vanessa
Pontes, Simone Morena, and Simone Loura (morena means brunette and loura,
blonde.) Each one has a specialty, Simone Morena, for example specializes in asking
risqué questions.

Gugu Liberato from SBT’s Domingo Legal has been using eroticism with great
success for a long time. One of the most-popular attractions of the show is the one in
which gorgeous model Luíza Ambiel in a skimpy bikini struggles with a man to see who can
get the largest number of soap bars from a water-filled bathtub.

Roaring
Mouse

The biggest phenomenon of Brazilian TV today is Carlos Massa, better known as Ratinho
(Little Mouse). He is the son of a bricklayer who worked picking coffee grains, as a
clown, and even washing corpses for a living. In 1983, he was selling food on the streets.
Five years later, at age 29, he was elected city council of Curitiba, a large city and the
capital of the state of Paraná. Since June 1996 he worked at CNT/Gazeta hosting 190
Urgente, the cops-and-robbers show that gave him an audience and drew the attention of
the big TV networks. In July of last year Ratinho was making $7,000 at CNT. By the end of
the year his monthly earnings had multiplied 37 times and he was already getting $260,000
a month.

In November 1997, it was reported, Sílvio Santos tried to entice the TV host offering
him a $180,000 monthly salary plus commissions on 900-number earnings. "I didn’t go
to SBT so I wouldn’t be like a mercenary," Ratinho explained. The host’s contract
with Record runs until 2002. A clause establishes that he would have to pay a $25 million
penalty to unilaterally break the agreement.

Sweet
Whores

Despite the moralistic streak at Globo, the network is not abandoning its lewd
characters. Already on the air or waiting in the wings there are four roles for
prostitutes, for example. It is a hooker the woman who lends its name to Hilda Furacão
(Hurricane Hilda), a very successful miniseries that has just had its run. For novice
actress Ana Paula Arósio it was a chance of a lifetime to play Hilda, a married socialite
from Minas Gerais, who makes some pocket money in a whorehouse. As a whore, gorgeous model
Arósio has become the toast of the country and proved to have the right interpreting
stuff.

The next Globo miniseries, Labirinto (Labyrinth), to première on October 20,
will have three girls selling their bodies for a living. Once again, two beauties expect
the role to work wonders for their careers, even though they are already two
global—who work for Globo—high-magnitude stars. They are Malu Mader, who will
play Paula, and Christine Fernandes, who will be Dora. Paula will be one of the few to
defend a businessman accused of a crime he did not commit. A third lady of the night will
be interpreted by Brazilian sweetheart Cláudia Abreu on a cameo appearance.

Labirinto is inspired by the Yankee TV series The Fugitive. In the
Brazilian version, André (Fábio Assunção), a man unjustly accused of murdering a
businessman during a New Year’s Eve party decides to go on the run. He will be helped by a
prostitute (Paula) with whom he will fall in love. Hollywood is the clear inspiration for
the series, which will have plenty of car chases and car crashes.

Christine is not worried that she will be often seen in bras and panties or even less.
Curiously, however, she declined the title role on Brida, a novela
premiering August on Manchete network and that is based in the work of worldwide
bestseller Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. She refused the role, the actress said, because
she did not want to appear naked. And she explains: "It doesn’t make any sense to
take my clothes off in that plot. I have no problem with nudity, but it seemed gratuitous
in the scenes I read. Yet as Dora, everything would fit."

Used to play fairy-like characters, Luana Piovani is all fired up since she was given
the opportunity to be Patrícia in "A Professional" (The Professional), an
episode of the Mulher (Woman) series. "This role was a gift," she said
recently and explained where she was getting the inspiration to compose its character:
"Every woman has a prostitute inside herself." Patrícia, a 22-year-old
communications college student, sells her body to pay the school. She has seven fixed
johns. "It’s as if she had seven sweethearts," said Piovani.

Why are prostitutes recurring characters in Brazilian TV shows? "The idea is to
show the prejudice society holds against these girls," says author Sérgio Marques,
who is writing Labirinto together with Leonor Bassères and Gilberto Braga. In an
interview with Rio’s daily, O Globo, Marques declared: "We are not taking a
deep dive in social problems, but we want to show how people condemned by society may have
a stronger and more righteous character than others who are more respected."

Half Century
in the Tube

Brazilian TV will be celebrating its 50th birthday on September 18, 2000. Despite of
what many people think, TV in Brazil started in São Paulo and not in Rio. "The Globo
network came later," says Yara Lins, 68, the first face to air on Brazilian TV saying
Tupi’s call letters.

The first station was PRF3-TV Tupi, channel 3, belonging to the Diários and Emissoras
Associados (Associated Dailies and Broadcasters), then a powerful media conglomerate owned
by legendary and folkloric Assis Chateaubriand (1892-1968), Brazil’s own citizen Kane.
Rio’s branch of Tupi was born four months later in 1951. Only in 1953 would appear the
first competition to Tupi, TV Record, also in São Paulo.

Imagens do Dia (Images of the Day), the first news show on Brazilian TV,
premiered the day after Tupi broadcast its first images. By 1953, Repórter Esso started
a brilliant career as the main news program in Brazil, a position it would keep until the
end of the ’60s, when under pressure from the military dictatorship the program lost its
independent voice and gave place to news shows more to the taste of the generals who
governed the country. Globo’s slick and offend-no-one-in-power approach would thrive and
reign supreme during the next three decades. The powerful network has been criticized for
being a mouthpiece for the military during the most repressive times of the generals’ stay
in power. The Jornal Nacional, Globo’s prime-time news show, created in 1969, is the
station’s most enduring first-place winner on its time slot.

Chateaubriand brought the RCA TV equipment from the US that started television in
Brazil more as a curiosity. It is believed that only five people had a TV by then and
everything was improvised at the beginning. As in the U.S., television in Brazil started
by imitating radio. There was no videotape, and programs as well as ads were shown live.

Initially some of the successful live programs were famous plays and educational and
kids shows. The videotape would be introduced only in 1962 in Brazil. It took a little
more than one year after the 1950 start for a kiss to be shown on the little screen. It
was an exchange between Vida Alves and Valter Foster on the teledrama Sua Vida Me
Pertence (Your Life Belongs to Me). It was a scandal.

By 1961 Tupi was producing a series called Vigilante Rodoviário (Highway
Patrolman), which obtained better ratings than Yankee enlatado (canned stuff) like Rin-tin-tin
and I Love Lucy. It was also Tupi, which revolutionized at the end of
1968—the novela premiered on November 4—the language of the soap-opera
with Beto Rockefeller in which Beto, the main character, was a contemporary
scoundrel who drew more laughs than sighs from an audience that knew only syrupy,
melodramatic soaps up to then.

Curiously some of the people who were part of the first TV images aired in the country
are still on the top. Hebe Camargo, then a popular radio singer, was turned into a TV
hostess. She has become and still is up to this date the queen of live TV interview shows.
After being featured on different TV networks through the years she is now a fixture and
one of the leaders of audience at SBT. Lolita Rodrigues, a ballerina and soap-opera
heroine in the pioneer days, and a colleague of Hebe, still works in novelas
although in smaller parts. As for former radio presenter Lima Duarte he is still today the
star of the Globo novelas he works in.

For all its power, Rede Globo only joined the competition late on the game. The network
started small in Rio in 1965. In the ’60s it was TV Record that became the catalyst for a
revolution in the MPB (Música Popular Brasileira—Brazilian Popular Music) promoting
extremely popular song festivals that launched singer-composers like Caetano Veloso,
Geraldo Vandré, and Gilberto Gil.

It was in 1973 that playwright Dias Gomes authored for Globo O Bem Amado (The
Well-Beloved One), a classic of soap that introduced memorable characters with a
distinctive language and touches of fantastic realism. The revolutionary novela
also became a microcosm and sounding board of the world. Soon after the Watergate scandal
broke in the news, the mayor in the novela wired the local church confessional for
sound.

Dias Gomes’ Roque Santeiro (Roque the Saint Maker) was vetoed by the military in
1975 and only had a chance to be aired in 1985 with the end of the dictatorship. In 1976,
prolific Gomes, who more than anyone used the concept of novela as an open work to
introduce characters, situations and dialogues reflecting the news or the public’s
reaction, went even further with Saramandaia. He incorporated here a series of
elements from the Latin-American magic realism including a man who sneezed ants, a fat
lady who exploded, and a werewolf.

In 1992, author Gilberto Braga in recreating the past in the miniseries Anos
Rebeldes (Rebel Years) inspired a new generation of students to go to the streets and
demand the resignation of then President Fernando Collor de Mello, who had won the
election thanks to the personal commitment of Roberto Marinho to this candidacy.

During these five decades, among the most celebrated novelas there were O
Direito de Nascer (The Right to Be Born), Tupi, 1964-1965; Redenção (Redemption),
Excelsior, 1966-1968; Beto Rockefeller, Tupi, 1968-1969; Irmãos Coragem (Brothers
Courage), Globo, 1970-1971; Selva de Pedra (Stone Jungle), Globo, 1972-1973; O
Bem-Amado (The Well Beloved One), Globo, 1973, the first novela in color; Mulheres
de Areia (Sand Women), Tupi, 1973-1974; Gabriela, Globo, 1975; Escalada
(Escalating), Globo, 1975; Saramandaia, Globo, 1976; Escrava Isaura (Slave
Isaura), Globo, 1976-1977; Dancin’ Days (original title in English), Globo,
1978-1979; Roque Santeiro (Roque, the Saint Maker), Globo, 1985-1986, and Pantanal
(Swamp), Manchete, 1990.

According to the 1996 yearly book Grupo de Mídia, Brazil has 257 TV stations
that broadcast their own signal and 7,497 that only rebroadcast other stations’ material.
Rede Globo has the most extensive number of repeating stations, placing the TV network in
99.84% of the county’s municipalities. Then comes SBT covering 81.74% of the territory,
Bandeirantes (62.99%), Manchete (45.80%), Record (22.42%) and CNT (Central Nacional de
Televisão—Television National Hub) (6.61%).

The total hegemony of Globo TV during the ’70s had a few cracks—nothing too
serious—during the 80s and 90s, challenged—not to seriously—by Bandeirantes
network (created in 1969), SBT (1981), Manchete (1983), and CNT (1993). Pay TV started in
1990, but instead of making room for more participants at the media’s table it has simply
distributed the new reaches to the already powerful players. Globo became a major
stockholder on Net Multicanal, and publishing giant April has joined American ABC and
Hearst media conglomerates to launch TVA.

The
Auditorium
Wars

The success of TV hosts has created a new class of nouveaux riches in Brazil. Besides
considerable paychecks these hosting stars fatten their bank accounts with merchandising
and getting a percentage from the ads sold during their programs. Maria da Graça
Meneghel, better known as Xuxa, the Queen of the Shorties, working at Globo, has become a
multimillionaire industry and the richest of them all. But other emerging names are
catching up fast.

In the same area as Xuxa, TV program for kids, there is Angélica and Eliana.
Angélica, who also is a hostess at Globo, has become the leader in products licensing in
all of Brazil. There are already more than 400 products bearing her likeness or her name.
She makes $4 million a year. Working at SBT, Eliana gets a $70,000 monthly salary. She
also has licensed more than 100 products, does other shows and has CDs with her songs.
Annual income: $4 million.

Gugu Liberato ($14 million a year) is the wealthiest of the emerging stars. He has 41
products licensed and is the owner of Gugu Produções, a company that promotes
entertainment events. Gugu, who presents Domingo Legal (Cool Sunday) on SBT, the
number one program on Sunday afternoons, would like to have his own TV station and has
been trying to buy one for some time. A big chunk of his earnings comes from the 12
minutes he gets in the show to sell as he pleases. A 30-second spot on Domingo Legal
costs $90,000, just a little less than on the Jornal Nacional, Globo’s daily
prime-time news show, where the same ad would cost $110 thousand.

Competing with Gugu at Globo on the same Sunday time slot is Fausto Silva, the host for
Domingão do Faustão (Big Fausto’s Big Sunday). Faustão also derives his money
from a salary plus merchandising added to his program. He is worth $4.5 million a year.
The competition among Gugu and Faustão last year ended up in an all-out war that only
finished when Faustão provoked a national scandal by showing in his program a sushi bar
where the food was served on the bodies of naked women. The long live scenes shot from
every angle while three actors ate and talked about the experience was shown on a Sunday
afternoon and provoked a deluge of indignant letters to the editor, comments and
editorials. The top brass at Globo—so much for the highly touted Globo standard of
quality—had to intervene and demand some cleaning up. Since then, at least at Globo,
the titillation decibels have lowered on live shows.

A lesser-known character, but who is already earning $6 million at SBT, is Celso
Portiolli. The 30-year-old show host has just signed a contract for three years
guaranteeing him a $100,000 monthly salary. If he is already earning an estimated $6
million a year is due to a clause that allows him to sell every day 1 minute and a half of
publicity in the show he presents. On Sundays he hosts Tempo de Alegria (Joy Time).
Earlier this year Portiolli’s salary was a mere $8,000. His value shot up, however, when
Globo showed interest in getting him. SBT is so fearful of losing the rising star that the
network introduced a $30 million penalty to be paid in case he wants to jump the boat.

Thriving in mondo cane, Ratinho (Little Mouse) has become a media phenomenon disputed
by different TV networks, including Globo, which reportedly wanted to tame him a little.
Now at Record but with a serious offer to jump to number-two SBT, host Carlos Massa, gets
a salary of $200,000 and earns some $6 million a year. He arrives at this amount by
getting 5% of all the 900 toll calls dialed during his programs. For the networks these
crowd-pleasing shows are a cash cow. While a novela might cost about $100,000 per
chapter, Ratinho’s program, for example doesn’t cost more than $25,000.

Colleague of Ratinho at Record, and also appealing to some lower instincts, hostess Ana
Maria Braga makes $3 million a year. Among other items bearing her name, Braga has already
released a recipe book, an engagement book, and a Christmas CD.

Babel
Synopsis

Set in São Paulo, the story of Torre de Babel revolves around a tower and a
former inmate who plots to explode it. The ex-jailbird is José Clementino da Silva (Tony
Ramos), a fireworks expert who goes to work as a bricklayer at Torre de Babel when his
business goes belly-up. A good man until then, da Silva becomes a murderer when he finds
his wife in bed with two men. He kills the three of them with an ax. The killing occurs in
1978.

The real action starts 20 years later, after the murderer has ended his prison term and
gets out of jail with all sorts of revenge plans against those who testified against him
during the trial, in special César Toledo (Tarcísio Meira), the owner of the Tropical
Towers shopping mall. All of this happens in the first chapter.

The murderer gets a job as a watchman at the tower and plans to explode it during the
night when nobody is there. The plans go awry, however, and the explosion ends up killing
many people.

The Names

César Toledo (Tarcísio Meira), the owner of Tropical Towers, has three grown
children. He is a pretty decent guy, but he is accused of negligence when his mall
explodes.

Marta Toledo (Glória Menezes), César wife, after separating from him gets
romantically involved with another woman.

Henrique Toledo (Édson Celulari), a womanizer, he manages the Towers for the father.
Widowed he is desired at a distance by Ângela Vidal (Cláudia Raia), a top executive at
the Towers.

Alexandre Toledo (Marcos Palmeira), a young attorney who falls in love with Sandra
(Adriana Esteves), his father’s fiercest enemy. Conveniently, Sandra is the daughter of
Clementino, the man who wants to explode the Tropical Towers. She is only interested in
Alexandre’s money.

Guilherme Toledo (Marcello Antony) is the Toledo’s clan black sheep. He is a drug
trafficker.

José Clementino da Silva (Tony Ramos), a former inmate intent on getting even with
César Toledo whose testimony was fundamental to put him behind bars.

Agenor da Silva (Juca de Oliveira), father of José Clementino who owns a junkyard.
Another son, Gustinho (Oscar Magrini) makes a living singing. Agenor and brother Boneca
(Ernani Moraes) dispute the same woman: Bina (Cláudia Jimenez). She is a poor waitress
who gets suddenly wealthy due to an inheritance.

Rafaela Katz (Christiane Torloni) and Leila Sampaio (Sílvia Pfeifer) live together in
a happy homosexual relationship. Rafaela own a shop at Torre de Babel. Leila, who left an
abusive husband, is Rafaela’s business partner.

Lúcia Prado (Natália do Vale), an attorney and an old flame of César Toledo, she
falls in love again with him. They end up becoming business rivals. Lúcia is loved by
Edmundo Falcão (Victor Fasano), the owner of a restaurant chain.

Clara Soares (Maitê Proença), Marta Toledo’s adopted sister, is governess at the
Toledos’ house and falls in love with Clementino, her boss and brother in law’s worst
enemy.

Jamanta (Cacá Carvalho), a mentally retarded man. Nobody pays attention to him even
though he has witnessed some key occurrences in the plot.

Celeste (Letícia Sabatella), a prostitute, has a child with Guilherme Toledo, but
older brother Henrique is also drawn to her.

FEBRUARY
1998 RATINGS

RANKING …SHOW ……………………NETWORK …AUDIENCE SHARE

1 ……………..8 PM novela Por Amor …Globo ………….39 …………….59

2 ……………..Jornal Nacional …………….Globo ………….36
……………58

3 ……………..7 PM novela Corpo……… Globo ………….33 ……………59
………………..Dourado

4……………… Praça TV 2nd Edition ……Globo ………….32 ……………61

5 ……………..6 PM novela Anjo Mau…. Globo…………. 32…………… 61

6 ……………..Torneio Rio/SP ……………..Globo…………. 30
……………53

7 ……………..Globo Repórter ……………..Globo ………….30
……………48

8 ……………..Fantástico…………………….. Globo………….
29…………….47

9 ……………..Você Decide…………………. Globo ………….29
……………45

10 ……………Fera Ferida ……………………Globo …………..27
…………..58

11……………. Tela Quente…………………. Globo………….. 27
……………48

12……………. Sai de Baixo ………………….Globo
…………..27…………… 43

13 …………….Torneio Rio/SP ………………Globo …………..26
……………42

14……………. Copa Ouro de Futebol …….Globo …………..23 ……………56

15……………. Supercine ……………………….Globo …………..23
…………..40

16 ……………..Plantão Médico……………… Globo …………..23
……………37

17 ……………..Globo Esporte ………………..Globo …………..21
……………51

18 ………………Vale – Felicidade …………….Globo …………..21
…………..48

19………………. Jornal Hoje ……………………Globo ………….20
…………..48

20 ………………..Video Show ………………….Globo …………20
……………48

21 ………………..Riacho Doce ………………….Globo …………20
……………47

22 ………………..Temperatura Máxima ……….Globo……….. 20
……………43

23 ……………….Praça TV 1st Edition …………Globo ………..18
……………51

24 ………………..Sessão da Tarde ……………..Globo
………..18……………. 49

25………………… Torneio Rio/SP – Sat ……….Globo ………..18
…………….46

26 …………………Planeta Xuxa …………………..Globo
………..17……………. 46

27 …………………Sessão Aventura ………………Globo ………..17
…………….45

28 …………………Cine Radical ……………………Globo ………..17
……………..43

29…………………. Domingão do Faustão……… Globo ………..17
……………..35

30 …………………..Sílvio Santos ……………………SBT………… 17
……………..29

Source: PNT/ AIP February 98 (Brasil)

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