Span­ish lan­guage ‘Sabado Gi­gante’ ends 53-year run


Tele­vi­sion’s long­est- run­ning va­ri­ety show is call­ing it a wrap af­ter 53 years.

The Miami- based Univi­sion net­work said Fri­day the popular “Sabado Gi­gante” will end its weekly broad­cast on Sept. 19.

Cre­ated by its Chilean- born host, the bois­ter­ous pre­sen­ter with a huge grin known as Don Fran­cisco, the weekly three- hour show “Sabado Gi­gante” long has been Univi­sion’s most popular pro­gram.

With an av­er­age of 2.2 mil­lion view­ers, the show re­mains No. 1 on Satur­day nights among His­pan­ics in the U. S. and was up this sea­son among younger view­ers, ac­cord­ing to the Niel­son com­pany. The show also is broad­cast to more than a dozen coun­tries through­out Latin Amer­ica.

Univi­sion did not say why it was end­ing “Sabado Gi­gante,” nor what kind of pro­gram­ming will fill its slot. The net­work said Don Fran­cisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, will con­tinue to work on spe­cial pro­grams and a telethon that has raised hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars over the years to ben­e­fit dis­abled chil­dren.

The de­tails of the de­ci­sion will be re­vealed by Kreutzberger on the broad­cast this Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to a net­work spokesper­son who was not au­tho­rized to be quoted by name.

A Univi­sion ex­ec­u­tive who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the per­son was not au­tho­rized to speak for Kreutzberger said the host had de­cided it was time to end the show, and to end it with the closing of the broad­cast sea­son.

“Sabado Gi­gante,” which means “Gi­ant Satur­day” in English, aired for the first time in Chile in 1962, and moved to Miami in 1986.

The va­ri­ety show mix­ing hu­mor, am­a­teur tal­ent con­tests, celebrity in­ter­views and hu­man­in­ter­est sto­ries went on to be- come a weekly sta­ple for many His­panic fam­i­lies in the United States, some­times with sev­eral gen­er­a­tions gath­ered around the tele­vi­sion set on Satur­day evenings.

Guests have in­cluded His­panic artists such as Enrique Igle­sias, Shakira, Paulina Ru­bio and Glo­ria Trevi, and U. S. pres­i­dents Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama. Latin Amer­i­can politi­cians also have ap­peared on the pro­gram.

In a re­lease from the net­work, Al­berto Ci­u­rana, pres­i­dent of Pro­gram­ming and Con­tent for Univi­sion Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Inc., called the 74- year- old Kreutzberger “one of the most beloved and leg­endary en­ter­tain­ers in the world” and an “in­no­va­tive and in­spi­ra­tional force in the tele­vi­sion in­dus­try through­out his ca­reer.”

“We join Mario’s fans in wish­ing him all the best as he en­ters his next chap­ter,” Ci­u­rana said.

Kreutzberger, who long has di­vided his time be­tween Chile and Miami to pro­duce the pro­gram, thanked the show’s view­ers for their “sup­port, loy­alty and en­thu­si­asm.”

He said his fans had “al­lowed the show to be­come an un­prece­dented suc­cess in the his­tory of this medium.”


In this photo taken on Feb. 3, 2012, Chilean born host of the Univi­sion net­work va­ri­ety show “Sabado Gi­gante,” Mario Kreutzberger, pop­u­larly known as Don Fran­cisco, poses on the set of his show in Miami.

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