Cris Morena - Producer - Casi Ángeles

In March 2007, Cris' new kids and teen oriented show, Casi Ángeles, starring Emilia Attias and Nicolas Vasquez, finally premiered on Telefe after a big marketing campaign. Lali Espósito, Peter Lanzani, Eugenia Suárez, Nicolás Riera and Gastón Dalmau also starred and together they were the Teen Angels, the band that spawned from the show.

Initially, Cris planned to do a second season of Chiquititas with a whole new cast but at the last minute, she decided to rename and restructure the whole project. Cris revealed the title of the show for the first time in November 2006 to

Nicola Vasquez, who successfully replaced Mariano Martínez in Alma Pirata, and Emilia Attias, a popular model without no previous acting experiences, were chosen as the leads. Maria Eugenia Suarez (who worked with Cris in Rincón de Luz and Amor Mío), Mariana Esposito (who worked with Cris in Rincón de Luz, Floricienta and Chiquititas), Peter Lanzani (who worked with Cris in Chiquititas), Gaston Dalmau and Nicolas Riera would be the Teen Angels, the band that spawned from the show. The main cast was completed by Guadalupe Anton (worked with Cris in Chiquititas), Stefano de Gregorio (worked with Cris in Rincón de Luz, Floricienta and Chiquititas), Thomas Ross, Florencia Cagnasso and Nazareno Anton and with Gimena Accardi, Alejo García Pintos and Julia Calvo as the antagonists.

The show premiered, after a huge marketing campaign, on the 6 p.m. slot in April 2007. Despite good reviews by the specialized press, it was heavily criticized by Cris Morena fans. In boards like Los Ángeles de Cris and fans praised the impressive production but complained the show lacked originality, with Cielo (played by Emilia Attias) resembling Floricienta and with lots of plots being reused and resembling those from the 8 previous Chiquititas seasons, Alma Pirata, Rebelde Way and mostly Floricienta, with scenes that were exactly the same as the previous Cris show.

After good ratings in the first few weeks, the telenovela ratings started to decrease. As Patito Feo, the highly promoted soap targeted at the same public from rival channel Canal 13, debut date coming closer and ratings dropping, fans and Telefe started to worry.

Patito Feo was a huge success and caused big hysteria among the younger crowd easily beating Casi Ángeles not only in ratings, but also in merchandising sales. Ever since Chiquititas, no youth-oriented show had beaten a Cris Morena production in repercussion or sales and viewers numbers, so it was a huge shock the fact Patito Feo did it so easily.

Ratings from Casi Ángeles dropped drastically and the show was being beaten so heavily by Patito Feo that Telefe had to change the show to another time slot. This, alongside a few changes in the storyline to make it more teens-oriented and to resemble less other Cris productions, made the show start to gain viewers and it was finally ready to come back to its original time slot where it tied with Patito Feo for most of the year and won the fight in its final weeks.

Casi Ángeles season finale had 16 points according to Ibope, the company responsible for measuring ratings in Latin-America. Patito Feo had 14 points. Casi Ángeles first season average was 12 points only 0,6 less than Patito Feo (12,6 average).

In Teatro Gran Rex, Cris Morena wowed the audience again with another high-budget Broadway-style musical featuring the complete cast of the show. The musical stayed on Teatro Gran Rex from the end of June to the middle of August and was a huge success, attracting over 150,000 people.

Both shows, Casi Ángeles and Patito Feo, were renewed for a second season. Cris stated that she planned to fix the mistakes she did in the first season with an impressive and creative second season. In the season finale, the Teen Angels gave viewers the first glimpse of the soundtrack of the second season, debuting the song Estoy Listo. A trailer was shown during a Casi Ángeles concert in Punta del Este, Uruguay, during the summer, where the cast also sang for the first time the song Un Paso, which was also part of the second season soundtrack.

Casi Ángeles debuted in April with over 30 chapters already shot. A week before the debut, a free live presentation was done at Luna Park for 8,000 fans, where the new cast was presented, a big trailer was shown and most songs from the 2nd album were sung for the first time.

One of the problems of the first season, was that it wasn't clear who the show was targeting with some elements gearing to young children, other to tweens and others to teenagers. This caused a confusion and presumably affected the program since, at the end, it didn't cater completely to any of this groups. In the second season this was fixed with the show being completely teen oriented, with a huge focus on the teenage cast and their problems. Furthermore, the show was implemented with lots of mystery and action sequences, in the same vein as US shows like Lost. Also, each episode had a title and ended with a monologue, recourses that are popular in weekly series but never in daily shows and which were very well received by the audience. Pop culture references also became a huge part of the show. The changes had a good effect: the 2nd season debuted with big 16 points, a series high (beating the first season finale) and the entire season had an average of 14 points of rating, 2 points higher than last season.

Besides, the show was the leader in its time slot during the entire year, easily beating the second season of Patito Feo. The breakout hit of 2007 which overshadowed Casi Ángeles couldn't hold its audience during its second year, which was heavily criticized for a huge decrease in quality. Many times, Casi Ángeles more than doubled Patito Feo numbers. In October, Adrian Suar, Canal 13's chairman, decided to end Patito Feo two months before originally planned.

From June to September, Casi Ángeles came back to Teatro Gran Rex for another impressive high-budget musical. The live concert broke all records and surpassed every single Cris Morena production to become the 2nd biggest Teatro Gran Rex ticket seller ever (the biggest ticket-seller is still Chiquititas 98), surpassing the first season production attendance by more than 100.000. In October, the Teen Angels alongside the rest of the teen cast started a national tour and in December, to attend the huge demand, six additional final concerts were presented in Gran Rex.

In May 2008, Cris Morena Group and RGB also opened a huge store (Fans Store) at Unicenter. The store mostly sell Casi Ángeles merchandising and also has signings, dance and acting classes, among other events.

In September, rumors started to float that Nicolas Vasquez, the show male lead, would leave the show after an argument with the production company. Despite the fans campaigning against this story twist, he disappeared as Cielo did at the end of the first season, but with the difference that this time it wasn't clear if he was ever coming back. While many fans menaced to boycott the show, ratings were not affected by this and the show head scriptwriter, Leandro Calderón, stated at boards that Nico's disappearance was planned from the beginning and it had nothing to do with rumored internal fights. It was also confirmed Nicolas Vasquez would be back for the season's final episodes and that Casi Ángeles would be back for a third season. In the chapter 151, Nico came back and he stayed on the show until the season finale. Although it was heavily rumored he would be killed, his character had a happy ending with Cielo.

In November Atracción x 4, Ideas de Sur new teen-oriented show, debuted on the 7 p.m. slot. Although it was originally planned for the 6 p.m. slot, it was decided the show would debut one hour later instead, in a more 'visible' time slot and to avoid a direct confront with Casi Ángeles final weeks and a similar faith as Patito Feo second season. Atracción x 4 had a cast full of popular actors and actresses including Rebelde Way's Luisana Lopilato and Camila Bordonaba, which were being reunited after five years.

Atracción x 4 had good numbers during its first week but Telefe decision to move Casi Ángeles from the 6 P.M slot to 7 p.m., where it would compete directly with Atracción, severely damaged Canal 13's show rating, which dropped 50% compared to its first week.

Casi Ángeles continued to be one of Telefe's most popular show and since it was responsible for Telefe's supremacy in the afternoon slot, the channel decided to stretch the show by cutting its episode in half during its last week, so it would last one more week. The 30-minute episodes (45 minutes with the Team Angels segment) started airing on Monday, November 17 and all the original 1 hour episodes were aired as two-part chapters. The last 6 episodes were aired in 12 segments of 30 minutes each while the season finale was aired in its original 60 minute format.

Under large speculation Nicolas Vasquez character would die as would Thiago (Juan Pedro Lanzani), the second season reached its finale on December 1. Neither of the two died (instead, Salvador and Franka were the two casualties). The finale reached 19 points in ratings and was a new series high.

The second season involved a book with 7 locks. To open those locks, seven 'guardians' had to find their respective keys during drastic moments in their life. Rama, Tacho, Mar, Jazmin and Thiago were the firsts to find their keys. Later on, Lleca was discovered as the 6th key. In the finale, Salvador, which had his body occupied by the villain Juan Cruz, killed himself to save the life of the others and the 7th key was found in him. However, the 7th guardian wasn't him but all the teenage cast and Justina (Julia Calvo), which were the ones he died to protect.

The second season ended with all of them finally unlocking the book and disappearing. After the scene, a very intriguing preview of the third season was aired. The preview, with lots of unimaginable situations and couples, caused huge shock.

After the finale, on December 1, the show started a four months hiatus. After the last episode was aired, the cast did 6 final sold-out presentations in Teatro Gran Rex.

After a three week vacation, the cast resumed their tour with two sold out concerts in popular summer destination Mar del Plata. The Teen Angels were also chosen as the spokespeople for Coca Cola in Argentina, singing Coke's 2009 summer anthem Hoy Quiero and opening a Coca Cola stand in litoral city Pinamar in front of 5.000 fans.

In the start of March, the first preview of the third season started airing in Yups TV, CMG new on-line television channel which debuted on March 12.

Also in March 2009, after a huge marketing campaign, Casi Ángeles debuted in Disney Channel in Central America, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Panama. The show is aired since 2007 in sister-channel Jetix in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Uruguay. Floricienta and Patito Feo, extremely familiar shows that almost didn't deal with taboo themes, were severally edited for objective content during their showing in Disney Channel and Casi Ángeles was edited even more in the Jetix version since it deals with themes like sexuality, inappropriate language and scenes of violence. In the end of March, the five Teen Angels, alongside Cris Morena herself, visited Mexico City for a showcase in El Lunario del Auditorio Nacional and radio, television and press interview to promote the show and the release of the special CD+DVD for the Mexican market.

The third season started airing under huge expectations on March 20 at 7 p.m. in Telefe. It is the most-watched non primetime show in the country and beat all the competition, including new Canal 13 youth-oriented soap Enseñame a Vivir.

In Israel, the first season of the show aired with lukewarm ratings in the local Nickelodeon. As it happened before in Argentina and Uruguay, the show finally exploded in popularity when the second season started airing. Following the footsteps of Chiquititas and Rebelde Way in the early 2000s, Casi Ángeles became a huge phenomenon among tweens and teens.

In May, Mariana Esposito and Peter Lanzani visited Tel Aviv for a four day promotional visit. They caused chaos at the airport and at the hotel, taped a television special, gave interviews and shot commercials for a popular hair product brand.

In September, Eugenia Suarez and Pablo Martínez also visited the country for extra promotion. They also gave interviews, had a signing session and played a showcase for over 20,000 fans at Kiryat Motzkin.

Over 55,000 tickets are already sold for the Teen Angels concerts in Nokia Stadium, Tel Aviv which will happen in October.

The third season is breaking audience's records, outnumbering the first two seasons (although the repercussion is not as big as season 2). The third album is also double platinum and is, to this point, the highest-selling album of the year. Furthermore, Clarín, the newspaper that a few years earlier destroyed Chiquititas, Rebelde Way and Jugate Conmigo, gave the third season of the show an extremely positive critic, praising the show to be outbreaking, thought-provoking and a breath of fresh air among teen shows. Mario Pergolini, which in the early 1990s was extremely negative over Cris Morena and Jugate, also praised the show and Cris herself, declaring he was too judgmental when he was young and now he can see Cris is not only very talented but also a visionary. He even invited her for a chat in his radio show, Cual Es?.

A fourth season is currently in pre-production and there are rumors for a feature film. If season four happens, it'll be the first Cris Morena show since Chiquititas in 1998 to surpass four seasons. Jugate Conmigo, Chiquititas and Casi Ángeles were the only Cris Morena productions to exceed two seasons with Chiquititas being the longest, with seven seasons and two spin-offs (or, overall, nine seasons). Jugate had four seasons and one spin-off (Jugate con Todo).

Casi Ángeles third season is the highest-rated non-primetime show in Argentine television.

In September, the cast will visit Madrid to promote the debut of the second season in Spain. In October, they'll do a series of concerts in Mexico.

Read more about this topic:  Cris Morena, Producer