El Chacal and the much-loved and very funny Don Francisco (whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger), are about to bid adios forever with todays very sad news: The Spanish-language TV staple “Sábado Gigante” will end Television’s variety show which is calling it a wrap after 53 long years. “Sábado Gigante,” which means “Giant Saturday,” is Univision’s longest-running program and It was also is the longest-running variety show in TV history.
The Miami-based Univision network made the fateful announcement on Friday that Sabado Gigante will end its weekly broadcast on Sept. 19. “Sábado Gigante” show has aired for an amazing 3,000 Saturday nights on Spanish to Spanish/American mainstream television without ever being cancelled. Host Don Francisco is a very much respected and beloved man in all hispanic cultures. He not only was a funny man but a serious man when he needed to be. Interviewing people like Bill Gates and even President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (OK he did wear a silly hat on that one). It has always been a wonder when the old man would go but now that the news is here……I am very sad to hear this.
Don Francisco and “Sábado Gigante” were a great delight to my entire hispanic family growing up. It would still astound me to see that the show was still going on last year and seemed to be doing just the same. Well, that is the problem indeed, it was exactly the same kind of variety slapstick humor show with lots of sexy ladies mixed with everything in-between…..that is how it has always been. Univision and it’s executives wanted to plan a graceful exit for “Sabado Gigante” and Don Francisco since the show had been such an important part of the history of Univision as well as Latin television in the U.S.
The 74-year-old showman will host entertainment specials on Univision and help develop future projects for the network. He will continue to host “TeletonUSA,” a telethon that is held every year to raise money for disabled children.
In a statement, Don Francisco thanked the network and all the show’s long time dedicated fans.
“From the start we made sure to ask, ‘What does the audience want?!’ And we have worked tirelessly for precisely that audience, with the utmost dedication, humility and deep respect,” he said.
He continued: “To all those who joined us by tuning in to ‘Sábado Gigante’ with their constructive criticism, work and loyalty, I would like to say from the bottom of my heart and in capital letters, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.”
The show that aired in more than 40 countries worldwide and boasts tens of millions of weekly viewers, including about 2 million in the United States, the show will be greatly missed by the latin community collectively.
“Sábado Gigante” had its origins in 1962, when Kreutzberger launched a loud and flamboyant program on Sundays called “Show Dominical” in his native Chile. It soon gained traction and moved to Saturday nights with a name change. It eventually landed at Univision in 1986.
Univision look back at Don Francisco