In a groundbreaking gesture of unity within the world of U.S. Hispanic media, Telemundo honored one of rival network Univision’s television personalities in a major way during its Aug. 20 Premios Tu Mundo (Your World Awards) broadcast. But it wasn’t just any old TV host: the man of the hour was 74-year-old Mario Kreutzberger, better known as Don Francisco, the beloved host of Spanish-language variety show Sábado Gigante.
The timing is no coincidence. In exactly one month, on Sept. 19, Univision will air its last episode of Spanish TV’s longest-running variety show after an unparalleled 53-year cycle, a decision it announced in April. The show, which launched in Kreutzberger’s native Chile and moved to Miami in 1986, has an average of 2.2 million viewers and is also broadcast to more than a dozen countries throughout Latin America. The Chilean TV icon will continue his relationship with the network by contributing to special projects and hosting entertainment specials, such as his long-running Teletón USA special, which for decades has helped raise funds for disabled children.
In recognition of Kreutzberger’s extraordinary career and philanthropic spirit, Telemundo presented him with the Giant of Giants award on Thursday’s awards show.
“Thank you for many years of devotion, of entertainment, of hope and of unforgettable moments,” said Mexican superstar Lucero while presenting the award to Kreutzberger. A tribute video featured a special message from Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, who referred to Kreutzberger as “an icon who has been in the homes of so many people” for decades, “putting aside politics and religion” to help those in need via his star-studded telethons over the years. Another montage featured soundbites from everyday Chilean people, thanking Kreutzberger for representing their country.
Kreutzberger didn’t miss the opportunity to speak about the significance of the moment. Traditionally, Telemundo and Univision have refused to cover or even acknowledge the other rival network’s shows or talent. “I hope this can be the beginning of a new era,” he said, thanking his home network and Televisa. In closing he added, “I happily take this award home…all of us who work in [Hispanic] media, especially here in the U.S., we work for you and we are united by one language. Now we are the largest minority in this country, so as I say goodbye I insist, your world is my world and it’s our world.”