'Kingpin' to have triple exposure

Drug-cartel drama will air on NBC, Telemundo, Bravo

— NBC's new drug cartel drama "Kingpin" will be pulling triple duty, airing in Spanish on Telemundo and in a racier version on the Bravo cable channel.

NBC, which owns Telemundo and Bravo, is labeling the Bravo incarnation a "director's cut," which usually refers to a film version that is more faithful to a director's vision.

"Kingpin" on cable will include new footage and more profanity and sexuality than the network series, NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker said.

The drama debuts with six episodes on NBC airing at 9 p.m. CST on Sundays and Tuesdays starting Feb. 2. It will include a Spanish-language track available through Secondary Audio Function, or SAP.

The Spanish-language version on Telemundo and the Bravo edition will show in March. Specific dates were not announced.

"Kingpin" stars Yancey Arias as Miguel Cadena, a Stanford-educated businessman who runs his family's drug operation with the help of his attorney wife, played by Sheryl Lee.

Zucker called it "the drama we are most excited about." He denied that "Kingpin" is NBC's answer to HBO's critically acclaimed hit "The Sopranos."

Both shows are about crime families headed by an emotionally conflicted man. But Zucker said NBC's show is closer to the "conflict and internal guilt that a Hamlet or Macbeth feels" about power and killing.

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AP Photo

Two-time Emmy Award-winning executive producer/writer David Mills, left, comments on his new series, "Kingpin," during the 2003 NBC Winter Press Tour in Los Angeles. Other participants, from left, are Angela Alvarado Rosa, Brian Benben and Shay Roundtree. "Kingpin" will debut next month on NBC, and will air later on Bravo and the Spanish-language channel Telemundo.

"Where some see 'Sopranos,' I see Shakespeare," Zucker said.

NBC has been seen as searching for a "Sopranos"-type series since a 2001 memo from NBC Chairman Bob Wright to NBC executives in which Wright wondered why "The Sopranos" was such a hit.

Zucker was asked if he was concerned about airing a series that depicts Hispanics as "essentially drug pushers."

"No, we're not," he said. "When we set out to make 'Kingpin,' we set out to make a great television show."

Mexicans do head major drug cartels operating in the United States, Zucker said. While "Kingpin" shows Hispanic criminals, it also includes a Mexican-American Drug Enforcement Administration agent trying to bring down Cadena's operation.

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