Telemundo Enters New Territory With Musical TV Series 'War of Idols'

The series is the first such production on U.S. Spanish-language television.
Courtesy of NBC
'War of Idols'

Telemundo is getting ready to make history Monday night with the premiere of its latest original series.

Following in the footsteps of musical TV shows like Empire and Nashville, the network will unveil the first-ever musical series on U.S. Spanish-language television in War of Idols (Guerra de Idolos).

"Music for Hispanics is a big thing. It's really at the center of Hispanic culture," Telemundo president Luis Silberwasser tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's something that really goes beyond borders, and it's an integral part of our culture."

Launching Monday at 8 p.m., the series is described as a combination of music, action and romance and features multitalented performers who can act, sing and dance. 

Ordered to series last May, the drama is set in Los Angeles and examines the struggles in front of and behind the camera of those who are pulling the strings in the music industry. 

Daniel Elbittar stars as Julio Cesar Solar, a regional Mexican music idol involved in a creative partnership with his younger brother Mateo (Alberto Guerra). The cast also includes former Playa Limbo lead singer Maria Leon as up-and-coming vocalist Manara Matamoros, with Juan Pablo Medina set as her older brother, Amado. Alejandro de la Madrid rounds out the cast as Ranchera music superstar Rafael Zabala. 

Created by Mariano Calasso, War of Idols is directed by Max Zunino and Liliana Bocanegra, with Martha Godoy as executive producer. 

The series is a big move for Telemundo as it has to pushed to expand beyond the telenovela genre that has dominated the primetime landscape in recent years and move more towards action-oriented super-series like El Chema. Thanks to this new direction, Telemundo famously ended Univision's 32-year streak at No. 1 in 2016.

"We’re on a journey to redefine Hispanic television," Silberwasser says. "We believe that Hispanic television can be of great quality, can be great drama, in many ways similar to what we have in English-language television, and this is part of our journey. In many ways, we're reinventing our primetime, and this plays into that strategy of trying to always offer something new."

Musical series Empire, Nashville and, going further back, Glee and Smash, have also proved lucrative thanks to their musical libraries. Featuring a mix of original tunes and covers, Glee famously produced 16 soundtrack albums, 460 singles and two tours during its six-season run. Nashville has followed suit and expanded to touring in recent years, with several actor-singers from the show set to head across the pond later this year.

The music of War of Idols is comprised of entirely original songs, ranging in genres from pop to regional Mexican, and features appearances by famed musicians including Nicky Jam, Pepe Aguilar, Zion & Lennox, Ozuna, Sebastian Yatra and Banda Los Recoditos. Telemundo released the first soundtrack for the series, which is made up of 30 songs, on Monday across multiple platforms including iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora, Amazon Music and iHeart Radio. 

"It's a very new way of doing television, in at least in our sphere, so we're proud of the series," Silberwasser says. "We think it's something that Hispanic viewers will like and hopefully appreciate the type of innovation we’re bringing to the table."

Watch the official trailer below.