NEW YORK – Republicans aren't the only ones courting Hispanics right now.
NBC is seriously considering some new dramas that would feature Latino actors speaking un-subtitled Spanish during parts of the shows.
It's a tactic that worked earlier this year on hit shows ER and Scrubs," NBC execs say.
"The Hispanic part of the audience is the fastest growing segment of this country," NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker says. "I think to ignore them would be silly, so we're developing shows that will target the Hispanic audience."
NBC is expected to pick up only a few of the new shows out of about 20 pilots under consideration for its fall schedule. But at least two are dramas featuring Latinos as main characters.
The first is an Aaron Spelling produced show called Kingpin which is being compared to The Sopranos.
It follows the U.S. DEA's battle against a brutal, family-run drug cartel led by a charismatic boss named Miguel Cadena (played by Yancy Arias The Time Machine) who is torn — a la Tony Soprano — about the right and wrong of how he makes his living.
The second drama, tentatively titled Miss Miami, stars Roselyn Sanchez (from Rush Hour 2) as a brassy FBI agent named Vannessa Jonze who juggles caring for her wayward younger sisters with a dangerous undercover job in Miami.
"Many networks have already experimented with this [bi-lingual] concept," says Mark Robinson, a managing partner of SR Communications Alliance, an agency partnered with BBDO New York that specializes in multicultural and urban marketing.
"It's certainly not new, but it is an evolving and growing phenomenon on mainstream television," Robinson says.
"As to whether it'll increase Latino viewership, I think it does probably trigger some curiosity, some sampling and is likely to get a number of Latinos to investigate the show."
"Whether the show can hold their interest is more a function of the quality . . . and not really a function of the novelty of speaking in Spanish," he says.
NBC has burning interest in generating buzz among the Latino community.
The network recently bought Telemundo, the second-ranked Spanish-language channel.