Call Cristina's a circuit court

Published on .

After a successful five-year run on Telemundo, Cristina Perez will debut this fall as the jurist on Twentieth Television's new English-language courtroom show "Cristina's Court." Born in the U.S. to Colombian parents, Ms. Perez, 37, is no stranger to syndication. Her Telemundo show, "La Corte de Familia," was the Hispanic network's No. 2-rated daytime show for four straight years, and aired in the U.S. and 15 countries internationally. Ms. Perez spoke with correspondent Jeff Zbar about her show, her audience and the state of U.S. television. Below is an edited transcript.

ADVERTISING AGE: Is this switch from Spanish-language to English-language TV an indication of Hispanic interest in syndicated shows or a move toward general market? What's the leap?

CRISTINA PEREZ: Whenever we talk about crossing over, as a Latino I consider myself part of both worlds. ... I wanted to represent that Latinos are more than just a one-dimensional culture. We have different professions and abilities.

AA: Is this more for the Hispanic market, or to draw the general-market consumer into the multicultural market, or both?

Ms. Perez: There's no doubt I have a very strong and significant fan base from my Telemundo show. It's been existing nationally and internationally for 51/2 years. A lot of those people are Spanish speaking, but there also are perfect English-speaking people. If you see us as the fastest-growing ethnic community with strong buying power, when you talk about doing a show, you're attracting a fan base I already had. But you're also attracting people from both cultures.

AA: What makes the courtroom model work for Hispanic audiences?

Ms. Perez: Court shows are an intriguing genre of TV. They have proved people's love of analyzing the law. It's not only entertainment. These shows tend to tell great stories, get into people's lives and educate people about the law.

AA: Will this show create inroads for other Hispanic women or other Hispanic programs?

Ms. Perez: At first [at Telemundo], I had the fear that traditional men wouldn't be receptive to a woman in an authoritative role. But my old-school values with the modern-day twist of really getting into people's lives really changed their perception. Men who loved that show have no problem accepting me in that role.
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