Pablo Escobar TV Biopic Hits Record Ratings in Colombia
BUENOS AIRES – Pablo Escobar is becoming the most popular figure in Colombia all over again. The leader of the Medellin Cartel –and the country’s most-wanted person in the 1980s until he was gunned down by police forces in 1993– is now the main character in a biopic show that was produced by the drug lord’s victims and hit an all-time record 70.8% market share when it premiered on Caracol TV, on May 28th.
Escobar, the Lord of Evil was created by Juana Uribe and Camilo Cano, whose families were both victims of drug violence. Uribe’s mother Maruja Pachon was kidnapped by the Cartel (Pachon’s uncle Luis Galan was assassinated in 1989 by Escobar orders) Cano’s father, journalist Guillermo Cano, was gunned down by hit men in 1986. He was the head of newspaper El Espectador, which revealed in 1983 that Escobar –who had been elected as a substitute Congressman the year before– was actually a cocaine trafficker who had made his way into the Legislative branch fueled by drug money. The revelation pinned down Escobar’s political ambitions for good.
Other shows based in Escobar and the Medellin Cartel (commonly called narco-novelas) had been produced before in Colombia, but this is the first one that openly focuses on Escobar’s life. “More than three years ago, Juana Uribe and I sat down”, recalls Camilo Cano, “and said it was time to tell the genesis of all those nameless mafia shows that had been made in Colombia, only this time we would show it from the perspective of the people who faced this monster”.
Real life characters include Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara (Ernesto Benjumea), who fought against "El Patron" and was murdered by Escobar’s men (the episode referring to the hit aired this week) Guillermo Cano’s assassination will also be featured in the show. “25 years later, we’ll be reliving and recreating it together with one of the few who was brave enough to tell the story no one dared out of cowardice, fear, or convenience”, said his son Camilo.
Directed by Carlos Moreno and Laura Mora, the show has the biggest budget ever for local standards (USD 10 million for 60 episodes) and was shot entirely on location (more than 450, in places like Miami, Medellin, and Bogota) The story, focused on Escobar’s life, is based on the book La Parabola de Pablo (Pablo’s Parable) by former Medellin mayor Alonso Salazar. Main roles are played by Colombian stars Andres Parra, as Escobar, and Angie Cepeda as his mistress Regina Parejo –a character based on popular TV news anchor Virgina Vallejo.
Ever since its all-time record premiere, Escobar is leading the country’s prime time ratings. “With an average of 60 share points, this is unseen in Colombian TV history and will be a worldwide success, no question about it”, says Cano.
“The show’s success lies in something we had planned right from the beginning: we’re going to tell the story the way it actually happened, using the actual name of the biggest criminal Colombia has ever seen, and withoutmanipulating the events. No one had dared to tell this gruesome story before. But we did, and from the point of view of the victims, since we, the two original producers of the show, were direct victims of Escobar”.
The show is expected to air soon in the US on Telemundo.