07/17/20: Ava DuVernay finds a Home with NBC


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Friday July 17, 2020

Today’s Premieres
Amazon: Absentia
Netflix: Kissing Game, Cursed
WE tv: Love After Lockup at 9p

Tonight’s Finale
DIY: Beachfront Bargain Hunt at 9p

Sunday’s Premieres
CNN: United Shades of America at 10p
Discovery: Outback Lockdown at 10p
Reelz: Valerie Bertinelli: In My Own Words at 9p
TNTL: The Alienist: Angel of Darkness at 9p

Sunday’s Finales
Nat Geo: Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted at 10p
PBS: Granchester on Masterpiece at 9p, Beecham House on Masterpiece at 10p
Showtime: Black Monday at 8p


NBCUniversal unveiled 11 new ad formats for the 2020-21 season, offering marketers Content and Commercial Innovations across three categories: talent, storytelling and sensory experiences. “At NBCUniversal, we’re committed to freeing brands from the limitations of traditional advertising by empowering them to transform culture into connection, attention into engagement, and passion into purchase intent,” said Josh Feldman, EVP, Head of Marketing & Advertising Creative at NBCUniversal. “With these new formats, we’re bringing bold creative visions to life by democratizing access to our talent, and introducing new ways to engage the senses and hold attention spans.” For details, go to the Cynopsis Upfront Navigator.

It’s all about the pivot these days, a mantra echoed by agency and brand execs during the inaugural NBCU Creativity Summit on Thursday. “We were already working on our next generation when we headed into March, but we weren’t planning to launch a new campaign until September,” said Shelley Haus, CMO of Ulta Beauty, of the company’s accelerated launch for its See Beautiful Today campaign in conjunction with McCann NY. “The idea is that even in the darkness, a brand can be a light. We thought long and hard for a couple of weeks about how we could express that. that.” Given its DNA in the small business community, American Express recently “pivoted and launched our largest global shop-small campaign,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, AmEx CMO. “We’re trying to encourage our customers to shop small, as simple as that. Whether that means something related to curbside delivery, online shopping or contactless payment in a retailer, we want to be there for the small businesses and our customers in terms of delivering great value.” Echoed Jon Dupuis, global president of AmEx partner agency Dentsu, “We wanted to make sure we were hero’ing small businesses. They’re showing up for us, now it’s our time to show up for them.”

Tina Fey spoke at the Creativity Summit, talking about how NBC asked for a reunion episode of 30 Rock to pinch hit for the upfronts this year. “It made sense to us because the world of 30 Rock always blended commerce and comedy,” said Fey. But don’t ask the comedy crew for professional advice. “I would say we have a level of understanding of marketing and advertising that matches the level of medical knowledge that people have on doctor shows,” said Fey.

Netflix and Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer are being sued for copyright infringement. Irish Rover Entertainment claims the show copies “plot, sequence, characters, theme, dialogue, mood and settings” from Totem, a screenplay by Jeffrey Kennedy. Responded Netflix, “Mr. Kennedy has been peddling these far-fetched conspiracy theories for years, even though Netflix has repeatedly explained to him that The Duffer Brothers had never heard of him or his unpublished script until he began threatening to sue them. After we refused to give in to his demands for a payoff, he filed this baseless lawsuit.”

Charter Communications is expanding distribution of Black News Channel by making it available to Spectrum TV subscribers throughout the company’s 41-state footprint by early September. “It’s critical that we provide diverse perspectives on our lineups, and that we have programming that truly reflects the issues facing our customers and the communities we serve,” said Tom Montemagno, EVP of Programming Acquisition for Charter. BNC launched February 10 as the nation’s only provider of 24-hour cable news programming dedicated to covering the perspective of African American communities.

Twitter said it has taken “significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools,” after hackers gained access to the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Jeff Bozos and more. The hackers sent out tweets from the public figures offering to send $2000 for every $1000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.

Nick Cannon apologized for anti-Semitic comments he made on a podcast released last month. “I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth,” tweeted Cannon. While ViacomCBS had cut ties with the Wild ‘N Out producer over the remarks, he will remain host of Fox hit The Masked Singer. “Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends,” said a statement from Fox. “On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly.”

Telemundo Deportes is adding the exclusive US media rights to Liga MX’s Club Deportivo Chivas de Guadalajara to NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises’ sports content portfolio, starting with the 2020 Apertura tournament set to kickoff later this month. The multi-year agreement includes rights to all Chivas home games in Spanish and English across all Telemundo platforms. In addition to the men’s team, Telemundo Deportes will also carry rights to the women’s club, Chivas Femenil, and their youth team Cantera Rojiblanca.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences does not want Valerie Harper’s four Emmy trophies sold the the highest bidder. Claiming a sale would tarnish the image of the award, and that its statuettes are loans, not gifts, the academy is suing Julien’s Auctions to keep the late actress’ awards off the block. The lawsuit wants the trophies returned to the academy, and seeks a trial for damages.

Vox Media announced it will lay off 6% of its workforce, or 72 people, a majority of whom had already been furloughed due to the health crisis. “The roles affected have experienced substantial changes in workload or business priority; in some cases, they are in areas undergoing a strategic shift accelerated by the crisis and its hastened changes to our industry,” said CEO Jim Bankoff in an email obtained by TheWrap. Bankoff said the move comes “as a consequence of the pandemic and its devastating impact on the economy.”

The Virtual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards: AUG 12 | 2PM ET
Sponsored by Twitch
Get in on the action as winners are announced, luminaries are celebrated and new connections are made during this virtual celebration. Finalists represent a range of sports media’s elite, including: ESPN, FOX, NBA, NBC Universal, New York Jets, NFL Media, Showtime Networks, SiriusXM, Telemundo, TUDN/Univision, Turner Sports, WWE and MANY more. Click here to view them all.


Supporters Include: WWE, BLOK Sports, SiriusXM, NBCSports and Showtime


NBC has ordered 10 episodes unscripted family social experiment Home Sweet Home, created by Ava DuVernay. Warner Horizon Unscripted Television will produce the hourlong series with DuVernay’s production company, ARRAY Filmworks. In each episode, participants exchange homes for a week and experience the life of someone unlike them. “Led by Ava’s powerful and hopeful creative vision, these stories will reveal genuine moments of change that we hope will spark thought-provoking conversations and encourage compassion, empathy and understanding,” said Meredith Ahr, President, Alternative and Reality Group, NBC Entertainment.

Ty Burrell (Modern Family) has launched Desert Whale Productions, and entered a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox TV. Under the agreement, Desert Whale comedy Yours, Mine & Paul’s, about a surrogate parent arrangement, is in development at ABC. “While Modern Family recently came to an end after 11 incredible seasons, we are so happy that our relationship with Ty continues through this new deal,” said 20th TV President Carolyn Cassidy. “Yours, Mine and Paul’s proves his considerable talents extend well beyond performing to developing and producing as well. He brought us this fantastic script from a promising young writer he identified, and ABC loved it as much we did.”

Kate del Castillo (Jane the Virgin) will reprise her role as Teresa Mendoza for a third season of Telemundo “Super Series” La Reina del Sur, a co-production between Telemundo Global Studios and Netflix. The streamer holds global rights; Telemundo will air the show in the US and Puerto Rico.

ID gave the green light to season four of Reasonable Doubt. The true crime series re-examines murder cases to determine whether justice was served.

Sweet dreams: Idris Elba, Nicole Kidman and Keanu Reeves are among the celebrities who will be helping viewers relax in HBO Max’s A World of Calm, a collaboration between Nutopia (One Strange Rock) and sleep app Calm. The streamer ordered ten half-hour episodes it said will take audiences “on an immersive visual journey into another world.”

AMC Studios and Movistar+, the pay-TV division of Spain’s Telefonica, are partnering for a series from Alejandro Amenábar (The Others). The six-part adventure thriller with an international cast is co-written by Amenábar and Alejandro Hernandez and inspired by the Spanish graphic novel, “El Tesoro del Cisne Negro” (“The Treasure of the Black Swan”) by Paco Roca and Guillermo Corral. The series will premiere in 2021 on AMC in the US, Canada, the UK, Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Movistar+ in Spain.

Nucleus Media inked a deal with fantasy author Jeff Wheeler to adapt his bestselling Kingfountain book series for TV. Under the licensing agreeent, Wheeler will be involved on the creative side of development for the series. Production is expected to begin next year.

Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) is adapting Israeli drama When Heroes Fly, following two men searching for a young scientist against the backdrop of a secret war, for Apple. Keshet Studios and Apple will produce the series, set in South America.


Jeopardy! will go back in time – way back – for a four-week retrospective series, including the 1984 series premiere of the daily syndicated version, starting Monday, July 20. The show has been in reruns due to the pandemic since mid-June. A goatee-d Alex Trebek shared the news in a video, during which he also said his pancreatic cancer treatment is paying off. Not only is he “feeling great” (and looking good), the host revealed that during the break from the studio he wrote a book that will be coming out July 21.

Discovery and Science Channel are paying tribute to Grant Imahara with a marathon of MythBusters and other engineering programs. Discovery’s lineup runs from 8a-1p today; Science Channel’s airs from 3p-9p tomorrow. Imahara, a co-host of MythBusters and White Rabbit Project, a BattleBots champion and famed engineer, passed away July 13 from a brain aneurysm at age 49.

Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life! debuts on WE tv Thursday, July 30 at 10p. The docu-series centers on Braxton, whose roller coaster life was chronicled in the net’s Braxton Family Values and who will now deal with a new boyfriend, a relaunched music career and co-parenting with her ex.

On Saturday, August 8 at 8p – the eve of “Shark Week” – Discovery revs up with three-hour “stuntacular” Diesel Brothers: Monster Jam Breaking Records. The special features attemps at seven record-breaking stunts.

Ready for more Joe Exotic? Animal Planet special Surviving Joe Exotic, premiering Saturday, July 25 at 10p, features the Tiger King star’s last formal interview before his arrest, and tells the stories of the animals exploited at the G.W. Zoo.

Documentary film Howard, following the story lyricist Howard Ashman (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast), will premiere on Disney+ on Friday, August 7. The film made its debut at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

Showtime documentary feature The Go Go’s is on the move. Originally scheduled to premiere August 1, the doc will instead make its debut Friday, July 31 at 9p, with an encore the next night. The film chronicles the first all-female band to play its own instruments, write its own songs and top the album charts.


Seventy-nine percent of media companies believe that key stakeholders rely on research and analytics to make business decisions, with 84% rating their companies as above average or best-in-class in their ability to translate research into business recommendations, according to the Advertising Research Foundation’s Organizational Benchmark Study on media companies. Additional insights in the report include:
* 72% of small media companies have primarily or fully centralized departments, while 47% of large media companies have decentralized structures, with multiple centers for research and insights.Media companies report sales as the most important KPI for expenditures on research and insights (67% of large and 41% of small companies). However, smaller media companies also place value in brand equity (28%), brand lift (28%), and efficiency (24%).
* 52% of media companies with centralized research and analytics departments say they are investing about the same in market research and data analytics as in the prior year, while 30% have invested somewhat or significantly more.“
* While stakeholder value was highest for research companies and lowest for advertisers in our previous reports, we found that media companies rank highest in the percentage believing that key stakeholders rely on research and analytics to make business decisions,” said Paul Donato, chief research officer, the ARF.

GroupM’s Mindshare is launching a programmatic private marketplace for publishers focused on the Black community. “The goal of this PMP is to help tell and amplify Black stories and voices across journalism and the arts, and to drive real inclusivity in media,” said Sherine Patrick, Manager of Digital Investment for Mindshare USA. “Supporting these publishers with ad dollars is critical to that.” The PMP is launching with 25 publishers; the launch brand is Kimberly Clark’s U by Kotex. This is Mindshare’s second “inclusion PMP” this year – the agency’s LGBTQ PMP launched in February.

Advertising Week is doing a pandemic-prompted pivot to virtual, with a reimagined conference running September 29-October 8 in place of live regional events. AW2020 will be “a digital-first experience with a laser focus on getting back to business, purpose-driven connections, and global scale mixed with local reach,” says the event’s web site.


Netflix announced 10.1 million new subscribers signed on to the service in 2Q20, but warned investors that huge growth so far this year (26 million paid net adds versus 12 million the prior year) likely means “less growth” for the second half of 2020 versus 2019. The streamer also promoted chief content officer Ted Sarandos to co-CEO, a role he’ll share with Reed Hastings.

Extraction topped the list of Netflix original movies in viewership its first four weeks, racking up 99 million viewers. Bird Box came in second with 89 viewers, followed by Spenser Confidential (85 million), 6 Underground (83 million) and Murder Mystery (73 million).

Insight TV is making eight of its original series available on Amazon Prime Video: Access All Areas; Dracula: Escape the Castle; Hunting Fish; King of the Hammers: The Ultra4 Saga; MTB Heroes: Trailblazers; Road to Gymkhana Grid; and Around the World in 80 Tricks. “To have Insight TV shows included on the service is a great way to introduce our content to new audiences and expand the distribution of our incredible unscripted programs,” said Jack Solesbury, Head of Content and Format Sales, Insight TV.

Topic, the streaming service from First Look Media, is now available to customers in the US and Canada through Apple TV channels. After a seven-day free trial, viewers can subscribe on the Apple TV app for $5.99 per month. Launched in November 2019, Topic focuses on “intensely curated content from creators who have passionate points of view.”


Zoom Video Communications topped TikTok’s record for most App Store downloads in a quarter during 2Q20. Sensor Tower reports Zoom was downloaded 94 million times – or 303 million times, counting Google’s Play Store. TikTok clocked 67 million Apple Store downloads during 1Q20, the previous record.

Instagram Shop, a new destination in Explore, rolled out in the US on Thursday, with global expansion planned soon. A double arrow on a product means it can be purchased without leaving the app; a new Shop tab will be added in the navigation bar later this year. Payments for purchases will be processed through Facebook Pay, announced last year and rolling out in the coming weeks.

Cross-screen advertising technology company Sabio shared the results of aCTV fraud analysis from its technology platform App Science, which cross-referenced data to identify some of the telltale signs of fraud in the CTV space. While fraudulent methods like server-side ad insertion, platform mismatch, and app ID spoofing have been behind the high profile CTV fraud schemes, other indicators that can serve as early warning signs include:
· Improper Site IDs: Only 12.5% of Roku site IDs meet the IAB standards. The remaining 87.5% have their own naming convention, which is not necessarily fraud but opens up risks when buying inventory.
· “One-Time” Devices: A large portion of devices (22.4%) are classified as “one-time,” meaning they have device IDs that have been seen only once in the system. This is suspicious and needs to be investigated further, since people typically use the same connected TV or streaming stick to view video content repeatedly.
· Operating Systems: Five percent of CTV devices and operating systems are obsolete, which should be monitored to ensure that traffic coming from these sources is declining. When traffic from these sources increases in certain weeks, this needs to be evaluated further.
“CTV fraud schemes like ICEBUCKET, DiCaprio and Monarch have already siphoned billions of dollars from advertisers,” said Sudha Reddy, VP of Product Innovation at App Science. “The industry must learn from these operations, identify the tactics behind them, and proactively put measures in place to weed out this suspicious behavior in the future.”

Applicaster announced it has secured $11 million funding, led by Viola Growth, to support continued technology and customer growth amid record demand for streaming content services. “In the past few months companies have looked to adapt direct-to-consumer app strategies to support this competitive OTT market,” said Eran Westman, partner at Viola Growth, who is also on Applicaster’s board. “Applicaster is uniquely positioned to meet this historic demand by providing agile and flexible solutions for its clients. We believe the category will continue to grow.”


Rashida Jones, Wiz Khalifa and Joy Osmanski have been promoted to series regulars in season two of Fox animated comedy Duncanville, set to debut in 2021….Caitlin McGee (Bluff City Law), Karla Souza (How to Get Away With Murder) and SNL alum Sacheer Zamata have been added to the cast of ABC family comedy pilot Home Economics.


SundanceNow will feature the US, Canada and Caribbean premieres of Des after its UK debut on ITV. European deals for the three-part serial killer drama starring David Tennant include C More Entertainment for Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Further pick-ups in Europe include VRT (Flemish Belgium), Siminn hf (Iceland), TV2 (Norway), Virgin Media Television (Eire) and BritBox (UK), and Dazzler Media has signed UK DVD/DTO rights. TVNZ has also acquired rights to Des for New Zealand.

Studiocanal, along with CPB Films (Savages, A Prophet), and Leyland Films (Murder in Provence), are developing an English-language TV drama series about Josephine Baker, the entertainer and civil rights activist, who became the first Black global star performer.

Netflix grabbed six films and two series from India. “We know our members have unique tastes, moods and needs,” said Monika Shergill, VP Content, Netflix India. “We are so proud to bring these diverse stories created by acclaimed and emerging storytellers and producing partners.”


We’re searching for the most innovative executives in digital media who excel in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media to take their place on Cynopsis Digital’s “It List.” These are the people who shake up the status quo and are shaping digital media’s future.



The premiere of ABC comedy United We Fall on Wednesday topped ratings with 0.6 among A18-49 and 4.23 million viewers. Univision was #1 for the night, averaging 0.6 in the demo.

Broadcast Nielsen Ratings for Wednesday, July 15
Show, P2+ 0000s, (A18-49)
ABC: United We Fall 4.23 (0.6), United We Fall 3.61 (0.5), The Conners 2.33 (0.4), American Housewife 1.73 (0.3), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.38 (0.3)
CBS: Tough as Nails 3.45 (0.4), Game On! 2.33 (0.3), SEAL Team 1.92 (0.2)
CW: The Hundred 0.61 (0.2), Bulletproof 0.36 (0.1)
FOX: MasterChef 1.34 (0.4), Ultimate Tag 1.16 (0.3)
NBC: Chicago Med 3.39 (0.4), Chicago Fire 3.68 (0.4), Chicago P.D. 3.49 (0.4)
Telemundo: Cennet 1.16 (0.3), 100 Dias Enamorarnos 0.76 (0.2), Enemigo Intimo 0.70 (0.2)
Univision: Te Doy la Vida 2.11 (0.7), Medicos Linea de Vida 1.62 (0.5), Como Tu No Hay 1.56 (0.6).
Source: Nielsen live + same day time period averages


CBS News has named Johnny Green Jr. as VP of News Services. Green, who starts August 10, was most recently VP and News Director at WBZ-TV in Boston.

Ian Lambur has joined Cloudco Entertainment as EVP of Content Strategy and Co-Productions. Lambur was previously EVP, Production, Distribution and Co-Productions at Zag Entertainment.

Dailymotion announced the promotion of Bichoï Bastha to Chief Revenue and Business Officer. Bastha was previously Chief Ad Tech Officer.

This Day in History
1954 – Construction on Disneyland began.

Friday Fun Fact
Oregon is the fastest-speaking state in the US; Mississippi is the slowest-speaking.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
Which series was set in the year 2021, 15 years after a virus had killed almost everyone over the age of 13? Jeremiah (2002-2004). Kudos to: Paul Blutter-Walk and Talk Production Rentals/Burbank, Raj Moorjani-The Walt Disney Company/NYC, Marni C. Gold/Hawthorne, NJ, Charles Lore/NYC, Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo, CA, David Garber-Loyola Marymount University/Playa Vista, CA, Frank Costa-CBS/NYC, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/LA, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

Today’s Trivia Question
What was the first weekly US family drama series focused on a Black family? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: a limit of four.)

Cynopsis Team

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Editorial Director
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Division President
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Cynopsis Ad Sales
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Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
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Director of Operations

Check out more jobs in Cynopsis Classifieds »
Job of the day
Newsmax Media

Are you a hot-shot video journalist looking for a big break? Field produce, shoot and edit news stories, feature reports, live events and multi-camera productions. Min 2yrs exp as a videographer / editor (incl demonstrated achievements during your course of study). Full info HERE (7/31)


New 24/7 streaming network aimed at gaming and pop culture audiences is seeking a candidate to plan, schedule and analyze promos and graphics across linear platform. 5+ yrs in broadcast field, media scheduling and analytics perf’d. Full info HERE (7/24)


Leads all aspects of the recruitment function for the enterprise. Works in tandem with sr. mgmt to understand the company’s current and forecasted business priorities. 10+ yrs TA exp, pref within a media envir. Full info HERE (7/23)


Ring2Media: Highly motivated & self-starter type candidate with guerilla mktg mentality & strong tech ability to fully mng/grow our outbound mktg efforts & dvlp new relationships. Strong comm skills are a must to fully understand our data-driven business model & communicate that to prospects. Full info/apply HERE (7/22)

Ring2Media: Great opportunity for a passionate person to learn how TV advertising works from ground up. Having strong analytical skills, you will own the day-to-day operations of our insurance-focused TV ad campaigns airing nationally. Highly organized & able to multi-task in fast-paced environment a must. Full info HERE (7/22)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Resp for working with show hosts, preparing the rundown of new stories, identifying and integrating guests, overseeing and executing the production of key video and graphic elements. 3+yrs exec producing exp or overseeing newscast prod. Full info HERE (7/22)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Write for fast paced prime time and overnight newscasts. You are an exceptional storyteller with a dedicated command for news and cultural trends. At least 3 years of national or large market local news exp. Full info HERE (7/22)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Responsible for the production of live newscasts and recorded video segments for television, and digital platforms. 3 years’ experience line producing a newscast. Full info HERE (7/22)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Responsible for the production of live newscasts, news shows and recorded video segments for television, and digital platforms. BA Deg pref’d. Full info HERE (7/22)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Responsible for the administration, organization and secretarial work involved in producing a television program. At least 1 yr of news prod. Full info HERE (7/22)

Weather Channel
Identify, negotiate, and secure product placement and brand integration deals across The Weather Channel and Entertainment Studios live and long-form original programming. 7-10 years in Product Integration or Branded Content. Full info HERE (7/22)

A+E/NY: Support the Int’l, Corp Dev & Corp Divisions, incl domestic & int’l mergers & acquisitions and general corporate matters. Min 7 yrs legal exp at a major law firm or in-house counsel at a media co., exp in an active M&A practice, content licensing exp & strong negotiation & drafting skills. APPLY HERE (7/21)

Insight TV Studios US/NYC: Ambitious candidate to leverage their own ntwk of ad and media agencies as well as direct advertisers to expand our reach. Oversee campaign executions w/support teams incl mktg, acct mngmnt, Insights, OTT Programming & Media Plan’g. 5 yrs exp OTT sales and/or multi-platform dig. Full info HERE (7/21)

Weather Channel: Identify, negotiate, and secure product placement and brand integration deals across The Weather Channel and Entertainment Studios live and long-form original programming. 7-10 years in Product Integration or Branded Content. Full info HERE (7/21)

ABC: Shark Tank, 20/20
CBS: MacGyver, Magnum P.I., Blue Bloods
CW: Masters of Illusion, Masters of Illusion, Masters of Illusion, Whose Line Is It Anyway, Whose Line Is It Anyway
FOX: WWE Friday Night Smackdown
NBC: The Wall, Dateline
PBS: Washington Week, Firing Line With Margaret Hoover, Great Performances at the Met
Telemundo: Cennet, Mi Querido Viejo
Univision: Te Doy la Vida, Medicos, Linea de Vida, Como Tu No Hay Dos?


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