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Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment partners with Univision for 'La Banda'

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell
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"The X Factor" creator Simon Cowell is hoping to find a Latino version of One Direction in the reality TV series "La Banda" (English translation: "The Band"), which debuts on Univision sometime in 2015. Univision made the announcement on May 13, 2014, the same day that the network had its annual upfront presentation in New York City. Cowell attended the event to promote "La Banda."

The contest is open to singers from Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. The winning group will get a recording contract with Syco Music (the record company co-owned by Cowell and Sony Music) and Sony Music Latin.

One Direction came in third place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010. Since then, One Direction (which is signed to Syco Music) has become the biggest-selling act worldwide to emerge from "The X Factor." One Direction was formed by Cowell and other "X Factor" decision makers who put five solo "X Factor" U.K. contestants into one group.

In a press release, Univision Communications president of programming and content Alberto Ciurana stated,“Univision’s collaboration with Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment is part of our commitment to innovation and to raising the bar in entertainment for our audiences and partners. ‘La Banda’ will tap into Hispanic America’s passion for music unlike any other program on television and will bring millions of fans the next international musical sensation.”

Cowell added, “I’m delighted to be partnering with Univision on this new format. They are fantastically ambitious and most importantly for ‘La Banda’ they are totally focused on discovering and creating the next music superstars. There is a huge opportunity for this band and we are going to be giving the power via this show to the millions of teenage fans.”

Syco Entertainment senior producer Kelly Belldegrun commented, “Univision are the perfect partner for our format La Banda; they are a multi-media powerhouse and the undisputed leaders in entertainment for the Latino audience. With such engaged live viewing this is the best place for our show.”

"La Banda" might remind people of "Making the Band," the TV series that aired on ABC in 2000 and then on MTV from 2001 to 2003. The first two seasons of "Making the Band" were about O-Town, a boy band created by Lou Pearlman, a former manager of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. (O-Town broke up in 2003 after having a few hits, and then reunited in 2011. Pearlman was in imprisoned in 2008 for conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding.) Later seasons of "Making the Band" were led by Sean Combs.

And, of course, any Latino boy band is going to be compared to Menudo, the original superstar Latino boy band created through talent contests and auditions. Ricky Martin is the most famous former member of Menudo. In 2007, MTV had a short-lived reality show called "Making Menudo," which featured future "X Factor" contestant Carlito Olivero as one of the Menudo members. That version of Menudo broke up in 2009. In 2013, Olivero (who is now a solo artist) came in third place on "The X Factor" U.S.

The news about "La Banda" comes less than a month after it was announced that Syco Entertainment has partnered with T-Mobile for "Ultimate DJ," a TV talent contest for electronic/dance music DJs. There is no word yet on where and when "Ultimate DJ" will be seen or how people can enter the contest.

Syco also recently inked a deal with Animal Logic Entertainment to produce animated movies.

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