After more than half a century on the air, Univision announced Friday it will discontinue the popular show “Sábado Gigante.”
The show’s 74-year-old host, Mario Kreutzberger -- better known as “Don Francisco” -- will continue to work with America's largest Spanish-language broadcaster, but will leave behind the show that has aired for some 3,000 consecutive Saturdays.
Univision did not explain the reasoning behind the cancellation, but Don Francisco will offer remarks on this Saturday’s episode, The Miami Herald reports.
“During my 40 years in the industry I have met few people with the same energy, creativity and passion for television and the audience as Mario, and I join in celebrating him and his team at ‘Sábado Gigante’ for the great success and the milestones achieved in broadcast television,” Randy Falco, Univision’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “Mario is an important part of the Univision family, and his knowledge of the industry and commitment to innovation will help us to continue defining the future of the media industry.”
“Sábado Gigante” has become a staple of Spanish-language TV thanks to its light-hearted mix of comedy sketches, contests, human-interest stories, celebrity interviews and commentary -- at times delivered while Kreutzberger donned goofy hats. It's the longest-running variety show in television history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Kreutzberger, the son of Jewish parents who fled the Holocaust before he was born, first launched the show in 1962 on Channel 13 in Chile.
In 1986, it began broadcasting in the United States. It now airs in more than 40 countries and has tens of millions of viewers per episode -- two million of them in the US.
“When we began in the United States in 1986, we told them that we were ‘separated by distance and united by the same language.’” Don Francisco said a statement. ‘Today I can say with great pride and satisfaction that that distance turned into closeness and affection. 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.”