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María Celeste Arrarás: 1960—: Journalist

Left Univision For Telemundo And Nbc

In 2001, when Arrarás's contract with Univision expired, she chose not to renegotiate. Instead, she jumped ship to rival network Telemundo, and her decampment was made public the same week that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced its approval of NBC's bid to acquire Telemundo. Arrarás's bold move was considered such a coup for Telemundo that her hire was announced at a press conference in April of 2002 by NBC president Andrew Lack and Telemundo president Jim McNamara. NBC announced its intention to give her a show as well as reporting assignments for NBC news shows like Dateline and the Today Show. Arrarás, Lack told Ojito in the New York Times, "is a star, along the lines of talent like Diane Sawyer and Jane Pauley. I have confidence that she will bring her enormous talent to some of our programs in NBC."

Arrarás's new show was slated to debut that spring as well. The name Al Rojo Vivo con María Celeste was concocted by her best friend, she explained to Hevrdejs in the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service report, and meant loosely "red hot"; it was also a pun on her middle name, Celeste, or "sky blue" in Spanish. "You can say, 'Oh my God! That interview was al rojo vivo.'" she told Hevrdejs. "Why? Because that person spoke out. They said everything. A confession." As both host and managing editor, Arrarás wanted Al Rojo Vivo to serve as a kind of "'paella noticias,' like a news paella," as she told Hevrdejs. "You have chicken, you have fish, you have sausage, you have rice and vegetables. And what happens is, in one hour, you have news from everything that is going on in the afternoon."

Al Rojo Vivo was a ratings success for Telemundo right from the start, but Arrarás's debut on Dateline was, again, a news story in itself. In August of 2002 she filed a report on ten-month-old conjoined twins from Guatemala who came to the United States for surgery that would separate them. "Wearing a blue sanitary paper hat and a matching UCLA Medical Center gown," noted Los Angeles Times writer Dana Calvo, "the glamorous María Celeste Arrarás made her NBC debut on Dateline and in the process made herself into the most prominent player in a blossoming media experiment." The Los Angeles Times article noted that Arrarás and other journalists who file stories for both networks would need to be extremely fluent in both languages. NBC president Lack, it was reported, had been a bit nervous about Arrarás's Dateline debut and her bilingual skills, but Lack told Calvo that Arrarás "was credible, so I didn't think viewers were sitting around thinking, 'Why is this Spanish-accented person doing this story?' I think they thought, 'This person knows the place, knows the story, and it's important and authoritative.' She's a serious, smart journalist."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: (Hugo) Alvar (Henrik) Aalto (1898–1976) Biography to Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974) BiographyMaría Celeste Arrarás: 1960—: Journalist Biography - Found Career In Television Journalism, Left Univision For Telemundo And Nbc, News Star For Twenty-first Century