|Also known as||
'Show Dominical (1962–1963)|
Sábados Gigantes (1963–2015)
|Created by||Don Francisco|
Rolando Barral (1986)
Pedro de Pool (1986–1991)
Javier Romero (1991–2015)
|Country of origin||
United States (1986–2015)
|No. of seasons||53|
|No. of episodes||2,800+|
Approx. 2 hours, 15 minutes (without commercials)|
3 hours (with commercials)
Canal 13 (Chile)|
|Original release||August 8, 1962 – September 19, 2015|
Sábado Gigante (English translation: "Giant Saturday" or "Gigantic Saturday"; known officially as Sábado Gigante Internacional outside Chile) is a Spanish-language television program that was broadcast by Univision in the United States. It was also Univision's longest-running program and the longest-running television variety series in history. Sábado Gigante is an eclectic and frenetic mix of various contests, human-interest stories, and live entertainment. From its start in 1962, it was hosted by Chilean TV star Mario Kreutzberger under the stage name of Don Francisco. Pedro de Pool and Rolando Barral began serving as co-hosts in 1986; that role was taken over by Javier Romero in 1991.
The three-hour program aired on Univision each Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. A new episode was produced every week throughout the show's history, with no reruns and only rare pre-emptions due to special programming (most notably by Teletón USA, an annual 24-hour telethon held each December, which Kreutzberger has hosted since its inception in 2012). On April 17, 2015, Univision announced that Sábado Gigante would end after 53 years, with its final episode (titled Sábado Gigante: Hasta Siempre; English translation: "Giant Saturday: Forever" or "Gigantic Saturday: Forever") airing on September 19, 2015. For the first time during the show's run, the final episode aired live in Chile, Mexico and the U.S. After the finale, Univision replaced it with a prerecorded Mexican show, Sabadazo, which premiered on October 30, 2010 on Televisa and September 2012 on Univision. It was later replaced with Crónicas de Sábado and Sal y Pimienta on Univision as Sabadazo was moved back to its original afternoon time slot on Univision.
Kreutzberger originated the weekly program on August 8, 1962, airing on Canal 13 in Chile as Show Dominical ("Sunday's Show"). He had been inspired by television shows he had seen in the United States and Argentina but, as he explained, "My idea was mixing all the programs that I saw into one program."
The program's broadcasts were subsequently moved to Saturdays, and henceforth, was renamed Sábados Gigantes in 1963 and quickly developed a loyal following in Chile, and then throughout Latin America. In Chile, during the 1970s and 1980s, the show reached peak audiences of 80%. During this period, some episodes of the program lasted up to eight hours.
In its early years, the series was broadcast live with the exception of short segments; notable among the pre-taped segments was the travelogue, where Kreutzberger visited different locations around the world.
On April 12, 1986 Kreutzberger and the program moved to Miami, Florida where it began to be produced by Univision (formerly the Spanish International Network, or SIN). At that time, the show's title was changed to the singular Sábado Gigante, although some longtime fans in Chile still call it by the pluralized title. On June 18, 2005 the series celebrated its 1,000th episode on Univisión, and on May 20, 2006 it celebrated its 20th anniversary on the network. On October 27, 2012, Sábado Gigante celebrated its 50th anniversary (counting both its runs in Chile and the U.S.).
For several years, two programs were recorded each week from identical sets:
- One in Miami, Florida for broadcast in most Latin American countries, as well as Spanish-language stations in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
- One in Santiago, Chile for broadcast in that country (Kreutzberger's home country)
In 2000, the show was remotely broadcast from Los Angeles, California to coincide with the Mexican Independence Day celebrations. In June 2010, the final hour of the show was again remotely broadcast at the StubHub Center in Carson to celebrate the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
El Chacal de la Trompeta
One of the show's signature segments, six contestants are given the chance to sing a song, with the bad performers being eliminated mid-song by "El Chacal", a ghost-like character who blows an old trumpet to end such acts (similar to The Gong Show). Unlike The Gong Show, El Chacal does not have to wait a specific amount of time before eliminating someone (on many occasions, contestants have been eliminated almost immediately after beginning their performance). Don Francisco would always get into the act, and wear silly hats and wigs to intimidate the contestant. On some occasions, the eliminated performer would be "fed" to a lion in his cave, with Don Francisco chanting "A los leones". The "Lion" character was later phased out and would be "replaced" with an Alex the Lion doll. The "surviving" performers are voted on by the audience, with the one receiving the most applause winning a prize or cash (in this case, $1,000). The performer also has the chance to win an additional $1,000 by acquiring "La Córona", which would pre-qualify that performer into the "Reyes del Chacal" competition, which is held every two to four years (although this competition has not been held since 2010). From 1986 to 1993, any performer who advanced also received a six-pack of Coca-Cola.
Often whenever Don Francisco sings during this segment, El Chacal would blow the trumpet mid-song, effectively insulting the host, who responds by kicking El Chacal. He would also kick the character if a bad call was made.
El Chacal's name roughly translates to "the Jackal," and his antics are more in line with such, similar to a laughing hyena. However, there is a bit darker (or dark humor) meaning behind the character and his appearance. He actually has more similarities to an "Executioner" or a "Hooded Hatchetman", who used to kill people on the gallows or guillotine while wearing such a mask. Only in this case, he "kills off" acts of performers by playing the trumpet and not wielding an axe or guillotine.
A parody of beauty pageants, six women compete in swimsuits or other revealing attire for the title of Miss Colita. It is similar to the Brazilian contest "Miss Bumbum". The contest is usually held the Saturday before the Miss Venezuela, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, although it – or variants of the segment – are frequently held every two to four weeks. A Christmas-themed version, Miss Santita, is held the Saturday before Christmas. Another version, "Miss Colita Petite", features mainly smaller women. From 2003 to 2005, it was succeeded by a similar contest, "Miss Curvilinea", which focused more on the body type and form. The final Miss Colita contest took place on August 22, 2015, the same night as the Miss Teen USA 2015 pageant.
It is also well known for the song "Mueve la colita", where the idea of the contest was conceived from; it has been an unofficial "hymn" of Sábado Gigante. Don Francisco had stated that the popularity of the song (and its accompanying dance) saved the program from an early cancellation in 1986, although this was not publicly revealed until 2015.
This segment has been criticized by several former Miss Universe delegates (including Alicia Machado, Justine Pasek, Mónica Spear and Taliana Vargas), due to the main focus of the contest being the buttocks. This led to the creation of Miss Curvilinea, among other similar contests.
This contest featured girls (usually children) competing for the title of Miss Chiquitita. The contest was held between 1994 and 1996, and was held in a two-month period; it was revived on July 2012 after a 16-year hiatus. The structure was similar to Miss America, sans the swimsuit and evening gown rounds.
El Detector De Mentiras
Whenever someone is accused of infidelity, Don Francisco puts that person to a lie detector test, conducted by Miami-based polygraphist Joe Harper. While this is a serious segment, there is some humor, whenever Harper mispronounces the words in the questions since he is not fluent in Spanish, only to be criticized (and corrected) by Don Francisco.
This segment is a dance competition. The first round has contestants perform a freestyle dance before a panel of judges. Only three are selected for the final rounds of the contest.
At some point during the show, Don Francisco gets interrupted (and sometimes annoyed) by "La Cuatro" (played by Chilean singer and actress Gloria Benavides). She has a semi-romantic interest in Don Francisco, but would frequently pester him, including the use of bad jokes and bothering the audience. If La Cuatro pokes fun at various celebrities, Don Francisco warns her (numerous times) to not mess with them.
There have been numerous comedic segments throughout the show's run. They were best known for helping launch the career of the Argentinian model/vedette/actress Nanci Guerrero, who starred in a majority of these sketches. Most have included:
- La familia Fernández: A sketch involving a dysfunctional Mexican family.
- La oficina de Producción: One of Sábado Gigante's most well-known sketches, it follows five network executives – La Cuatro (played by Gloria Benavides), Karina, Anabel (played by Nanci Guerrero), Mr. Douglas, and Ñañito (played by Armando Roblan) – at a production office. Don Francisco precedes the sketch by calling one of the characters, while each sketch would end in bad luck.
- Hospital Gigante: A similar sketch in a hospital setting. This sketch was known for its suggestive themes, as La Doctora Cosabella (played by Guerrero) would often strip into her lingerie. Rómulo (played by Miguel González), a paramedic, has a romantic interest in Cosabella. La Cuatro has a role as another doctor. González and Guerrero returned in-character in 2006, attempting to take Don Francisco to their hospital.
- Hotel Gigante: A sketch set in a hotel. It is similar in format to "Hospital Gigante", albeit with different characters.
- Nave Espacial: A parody sketch of various science fiction films, mostly Star Trek. It is set in a space station.
- Cuatro Para Las Cuatro Con La Cuatro: Itself a parody of telenovelas, it follows La Cuatro as a maid in an apartment (later a mansion). Regular characters included Doña Concha (played by Adonis Losada) and Doña Eufrocina (played by Norma Zuñiga) as the residents. It was followed by two "sequels", La Posada and Don Medical Center, the latter a reboot of Hospital Gigante.
- La cosa está dura: A sketch involving Mexican immigrants adjusting to typical American life.
There have been contests involving animals, usually pets. One of them, La gracia de mi mascota, features pets performing certain talents. Ron Magill, from the Metro Zoo in Miami, is a guest on the show whenever these contests are held. Another game, Los huevos de Ron Magill (named after Magill himself), has audience members attempt to replicate an animal's sound which, if one is performed successfully, then that person can reach their hand in an oversized egg for a chance to win up to US$1500. The name of this contest is sometimes mocked by Don Francisco, who would intentionally use the more vulgar term of the word "huevos" (which is also a Spanish slang term meaning testicles), much to Magill's chagrin.
It is noted that Magill had also been frequently criticized by Don Francisco, as well as (in some occasions) made fun of by the audience due to his poor Spanish-speaking ability. However, Magill has stated that he learned the language through his tenure on Sábado Gigante. During an interview, Magill (jokingly) stated that if he was fluent in Spanish, he would have not been allowed to participate in the show.
Throughout the show's run, there have been competitions involving romantic themes, often rotated weekly. The contests have included the following:
- Solteras Sin Compromiso: A competition involving single women vying to win a date with one of the single men featured in the segment. This competition was primarily played in the Chilean version during the early years of the program. A similar contest played in the Univision version, Solteros y Solteras features single men and women and uses a battle of the sexes format.
- Todo Por El Amor: A series of competitions involving married and unmarried couples. The competitions are done in rounds, with the couple with the most points at the end of the contests wins a cash prize of $5000 USD. A running gag of these contests involves Don Francisco slapping the husband/boyfriend if he was not behaving during his relationship with his significant other.
The car games, aka "Final de Automóvil"
Throughout the show's run on Univision, a disclaimer said by either Don Francisco, Javier Romero or one of the co-presenters precedes the car games by stating: "Neither Sábado Gigante or Univision ask for money in exchange for prizes, if you receive a call asking for money in exchange for a prize [from someone claiming to be on behalf of Univision or Sábado Gigante], please call the corresponding authorities." while the same disclaimer is shown on-screen at the end of the program. A similar disclaimer is also used for the Chilean version of Gigante hosted by Don Francisco's daughter, Vivi. Contestants must be 18 and older to compete for the car. It has been revealed that the winning contestants have to wait 30 days for their cars to be delivered to them and that the actual car varied from the one shown in the program.
Cars given away in the US program have included those from Ford Motor Company (1986-89, 1999-2014, 2015 for the final show), Toyota (1986-1987), Honda (1990-99), Daewoo (2000), Hyundai (2005-09) and Kia Motors (2014-2015). In Chile, some cars given away include Volkswagen, Lada, Renault-Samsung, and Subaru. During the show's early years in the U.S. and during the final episode, the cars were provided by Miami-based dealership Gus Machado Ford.
In the Chilean version, cars may be used as one of the regular prizes during some of the games.
In 2000 and from 2005-2009, another car prize (usually from a different manufacturer) was offered at the end of the first hour of the show.
Prior to the revamping in 2008, the games played for the car were similar to the pricing games seen on The Price Is Right, but were based on luck rather than having the contestant guess the actual price of the car. These have included a game with a staircase of buttons in any of these three colors (red, green, or blue) with the contestant trying to avoid a "broken" button (indicated by an alarm) to win (this game was relaunched in 2005 with a man in a cherry picker, usually a stunt double, falling out of it if the broken button was pushed). A similar version was played in Chile and in some occasions on the Univision version, where Don Francisco uses a pistol and the contestant would lose if the pistol fired. The concept is loosely based on The Price Is Right's "Ten Chances" pricing game, albeit largely unrelated.
This game is similar to The Price Is Right's "Any Number" pricing game. It's where contestants can call out digits one at a time, revealing them in the retail prices of four prizes on the gameboard, and wins the first prize whose price is completely revealed. A gameboard contains spaces representing five digits in the price of a car, four digits in the price of a trip anywhere in the world (usually a Spanish-speaking country), four digits representing an amount of money that is valued at more than $1,000 (similar to a piggy bank), and three digits in the price of a smaller prize. The first digit in the price of the car is revealed at the beginning of the game (a rule implemented after cars valued at more than $10,000 were used in the game).
Another game involved 10 keys with the contestant having to choose the key (with a set number of chances) that opens the large "vault" containing the car inside (similar to The Price Is Right's "Master Key" and "Safe Crackers" pricing games). In 1995, the "vault" changed color from gold to blue. In 1999, a relaunch of the game had all the finalists choose one key each and was expanded to 16 keys, whilst the 2006 relaunch returned to the old format, but with a makeover (it resembled a bank vault and the keys in-game were modeled after real keys). From 1993-95, a giant die rolled from the bleachers determine the number of keys to pick (a fish bowl was used from 2006-08). If the vault opens in which they pick the winning key number, a siren went off and the contestant wins the car. Otherwise, the buzzer will sound if the vault does not open in which the contestant picks the wrong key number (with Don Francisco showing the audience the winning key number in an envelope and, occasionally, using that key to open the vault). There have been multiple occasions where contestants won the car on the first key. This game was considered the most popular car game of the show and is the first car game played. This game now appears occasionally, with all finalists each picking the key they believe opens the car door. And if the car door opens, they will win a new car. During gameplay, whenever contestants are on their sole/final key, Don Francisco would offer a cash prize (up to $2000) in exchange for their key. The final episode in September 2015 had a guaranteed winner of a car, as five members of the audience were allowed to pick a key from a bowl and try it in the door lock. The third contestant was successful.
There are games similar to The Price Is Right's "3 Strikes" pricing game, but gameplay varied depending on that game's concept (with the El Chacal de la Trompeta character image used as the "strikes"; if the contestant finds the Sábado Gigante logo, it will eliminate one strike and awards a $500 bonus, which the contestant gets to keep regardless of outcome). Each wheel adds $1,000 to the player's score, and if the contestant successfully finds all 4 wheels, the contestant wins $4,000 and a brand new car and the prizes they have accumulated. A variant of this game uses people holding large cards containing El Chacal, the Wheel and the Sábado Gigante logo. This version appears only in special episodes of the show and wherever the show is broadcast remotely outside Miami. Notable participants have included Nuestra Belleza Latina/Miss Venezuela contestants, Sábado Gigante characters, Miss Colita contestants among others.
Since 2008, the number of panels is determined by the number of players competing during the show. One of them has the word "Auto" in it, while the others have El Chacal (older versions included amounts of cash (up to $300) and a "Muchas Gracias" marker). The player who finds the Auto panel, moves on to the car game.
There was one game where contestants are given a survey question and must correctly guess five responses related to the question (similar to Family Feud).
The new car games introduced in 2008, which are essentially updated and digitalized versions of older games, have included:
- A car puzzle, which contestants find the parts of a digitalized car. Each piece adds $1,000 to the player's score, while El Chacal takes money away. The first one takes $1,000 from the player, the second deducts $2,000 and everything for all three; thus it is possible to have a negative amount after the first and/or second mistake. If the player successfully finds all 7 parts of a digitalized car without finding El Chacal 3 times, the player wins a brand-new car and whatever money has been accumulated (up to $7,000). The older version has players spell out the word "Gigante", similar to The Price Is Right's "Spelling Bee" pricing game and is played using the 3 Strikes.
- A virtual race, where contestants select a colored stock car (Red, Green or Blue) – which closely resemble Formula One cars – and wins if the chosen color places first. This preceded a similar game where the 2001 to 2005 versions included a car, El Chacal, and a cruise ship (if the ship placed first, the contestant wins a cruise to an unspecified location). The 2006 to 2008 versions have depicted a horse race and is similar to the current format. This game was played twice during the final episode with three contestants choosing each colored car. This was similar to The Price Is Right's "Rat Race" pricing game.
- A roulette game, where players spin a virtual wheel and try to stop at the car space five times. There are 6 parts of a car spinning around a virtual wheel including a gallon of gasoline, license plate, car door (replicating a Ford Fiesta door), steering wheel, car key, and a car tire/wheel. Each parts of a car adds $1,000 to the player's score, and if the contestant successfully stops at the car space 5 times without stopping at the "Chacal" space 3 times, the contestant wins a brand-new car and whatever money has accumulated. The older versions have the word "Auto" and "Chacal" and amounts of cash (between $500 and $1500) on the wheel. Additionally, the 1998-99 version also had the actual car center stage, with the wheel on the right side, drawings of cars on the top center and those of El Chacal on the left. The 2000-08 version was downsized to a single game board, eliminating the center stage. This was similar to Let's Make a Deal's "Go For a Spin" game.
- There was another game in which a contestant picks a door up or down, and are then shown a number and the contestants are asked if the next door's number is higher or lower. Each correct answer adds $1,000 to the pyer's score, and if the contestant successfully gets 5 out of 7 right without making 2 mistakes, the player wins $5,000 and a brand-new car. This is similar to the Big Money round from Card Sharks. The 1996 to 1999 version was played differently, where the contestant must collect cards containing five pictures of a disproportionate car (equaling 1 part each), with the adjacent card being a drawing of a monster (named after El Chacal de la Trompeta despite it not looking like the character). Additionally, If the contestant draws a card with a gold medal of that disproportionate car, the player automatically wins the car and whatever money accumulated. The 2000 to 2008 version is similar to the current format and was first played using large playing cards (with Jacks, Kings and Queens being equal to 10, and Aces either 1 or 11; Should multiple rows of cards contain the same number and all rows have exhausted before winning the car, the contestant wins whatever money accumulated). The game board also was overhauled with ice-platinum borders, wheel lights, a cardboard cut-out of a car and two El Chacal silhouettes. In 2002, the "playing cards" were replaced by large flash cards with the Sábado Gigante logo and a number (1-12) on each side.
La Cámara Viajera
La Cámara Viajera ("The Traveling Camera") is the show's travelogue segment – which only appears occasionally – where Don Francisco visits a selected country where he mainly talks about the culture and its attractions. The segment has taken him to over 185 countries worldwide, many of them more than once.
There also have been numerous talent competitions throughout the program's run (which are held every 1-4 years). They have included:
- Gigantes de Mañana/Estrellas del Futuro: A singing competition for children and young adults. The competition was themed at one point around specific genres (Regional Mexican music and Reggaeton).
- Idolos de la Canción: A competition with participants emulating various singers.
- Reyes del Chacal: A competition consisting of past winners of the "El Chacal de la Trompeta" segment.
- Ritmo Dieta: A Zumba-style weight loss competition similar to Póngale Ritmo.
- Diva Latina/Viva la Diva: A singing competition consisting of young women.
Throughout the show's run, product placement has been a vital part of Sabado Gigante. Whenever a certain product is advertised during the show, Don Francisco, along with the audience, would sing that product's jingle. Otherwise, he will describe the product. Most products, such as Cookie Crisp and Chex cereals (when they were produced by Ralston), would often alternate weekly or monthly. Other products advertised on Sabado Gigante have included AC Delco, Allstate, American Airlines (for the show's travel segment "La Camara Viajera"), AutoZone, Cap'n Crunch, Coca-Cola, Colgate, Dog Chow (alternates with its Puppy Chow counterpart), Domino's Pizza, Ferrero Rocher, M&M's (alternates with its sister brands Snickers, Skittles and Starburst), Mazola, McDonald's, Miller (for the musical segments), Oreo (alternates with its sister brands Chips Ahoy!, Ritz, Nilla and Premium Saltines), Pampers, Payless ShoeSource, Pepto-Bismol, Polaroid (for the car games), Quaker Instant Oatmeal (most often for El Chacal de La Trompeta; alternates with Aunt Jemima), Secret Deodorant and Sprint.
Adonis Losada's arrest
In September 2009, comedian Adonis Losada, who played Doña Concha on the show, was arrested and subsequently charged with 30 counts of possession of child pornography after detectives in Boynton Beach, Florida alleged that he uploaded one of the images to a social networking site. Police found 18 images of child pornography on a hard drive in his home. Following the arrest, the Doña Concha character was scrapped from Sábado Gigante. On July 7, 2016 Losada was found guilty and sentenced to 153 years in prison.
- Sábado Gigante was parodied in the Family Guy episode "Stewie Loves Lois".
- The series was spoofed, as Sábado Muy Loco, in the Sealab 2021 episode "ASHDTV".
- Stephen Colbert often parodied Sábado Gigante on The Colbert Report, with his "correspondent" Esteban Colberto (Colbert in a white suit and fake mustache) from Colberto Reporto Gigante, featuring "chicas" who danced around him while he "discussed" an issue relating to Hispanic America with Colbert.
- In one episode of the Spanish dub of Garfield and Friends, in the Orson's Farm Quickie following "Attack of the Mutant Guppies", the Guppies say they want to go on Sábados Gigantes (in the original English version, the Guppies wanted to go on Muppet Babies).
- Don Francisco and the "El Chacal de la Trompeta" segment are heavily parodied in the Venezuelan TV show La guerra de los sexos. In this segment, contestants in the show (and the show's hosts and crew) participate in a parody of the El Chacal segment (with background dancers, "El Chacal" (affectionately called "Chacalito") and "Don Francisco" (portrayed by Venezuelan comedian Larry Hernández) dancing along as the contestant sings), only to be "eliminated" mid way through. In such cases, the eliminated contestant continues to sing while carried out by the "background dancers".
- "Longest Running TV Variety Show". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- El chacal de la trompeta" hablará sobre su despido de "Sábado gigante
- 'Chacal de la Trompeta' Reveals His Identity After Being Fired From Sábado Gigante
- David S. Seltzer (2009-10-05). "Actor From Popular Univision Show Arrested for Possessing and Distributing Child Pornography".