'Desperate Housewives,' Latin Style

May 15, 2006 — -- "Desperate Housewives" is such a phenomenon in the United States that it would inevitably be imitated throughout the world.

Now Wisteria Lane is under construction in South America -- the land of melodramatic "telenovelas," or soap operas.

"It's exactly the same. We got the blueprint from the designers in Burbank, [Calif.]," said Leonardo Aranguibel, an executive producer with Buena Vista international television. "The same locations, the same sets, and the same street we are building here for different countries."

Located 40 miles outside of Buenos Aires, the Argentinian Wisteria Lane is called Manzares or Apple Orchard Way. The homes will be exact replicas of the ones inhabited by Susan, Edie, Brie, Gabriella and Lynette.

A few miles away in the city, the interior sets are nearly finished. Most importantly, the Spanish-speaking cast has already been chosen. They are huge stars here from movies, TV and theater.

Susan Mayer will be called Susanna Martini. The woman playing Gabriella is a hugely popular model and actress. The Argentinean Lynette has the closest physical resemblance to the American Lynette. Edie is played by a redhead because in Argentina, red, not blonde, signals trouble. Brie, on the other hand, is a blonde. She is played by Argentinean movie star Carola Reyna, who said Marcia Cross intimidated her.

"So bye-bye Marcia because let me be myself because for me she is the perfect Brie," she said.

The cast began filming last week, and the first season will begin this fall. Every season, two different movie crews film at least four different casts, each from a different country. The normally peaceful Wisteria Lane has become a whirlwind, but producers promise to maintain the high production values and spirit of the original.

"The clothes, the hair, the makeup," said Sebastian Pivotto, the director. "We have a lot of people working. We are taking very care with the details of every house of the street."

Jim Avila originally reported this story.