April 17, 2015 / 8:29 PM / 4 years ago

After 53-year run, Univision to end 'Sabado Gigante'

Spanish language television host Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld, better know by his stage name Don Francisco, arrives at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 21st annual Hall of Fame Gala in Beverly Hills in this file photo taken on March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

(Reuters) - Univision Network will have a giant hole in its Saturday night line-up - “Sabado Gigante,” its top-rated variety show, will be going off the air after a record-breaking 53 years, the broadcaster said on Friday.

Created and hosted by Chile-born Don Francisco since 1962, “Sabado Gigante,” or “Giant Saturday,” is the No. 1 rated show on Saturday night among U.S. Hispanics and is the longest running TV variety show in the world, according to Guinness World Records.

With its mix of humor, talent contests, family reunions, celebrities and musical acts packed into a frenetically paced three-hour program, “Sabado Gigante” has been a staple of television throughout Latin America, as well as an object of scorn for intellectuals and comedians.

The last show will run on Sept. 19 this year and Don Francisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, will host entertainment specials and help develop on-air talent at the Miami-based network, which took on “Sabado Gigante” 30 years ago.

No reason was given for the decision to end the show, which is broadcast in more than 40 countries.

Perhaps like no other variety show, the “Sabado Gigante” formula held up to the passing of time and changes in the media landscape.

“From the start we made sure to ask, ‘What does the audience want?’” the 74-year-old Kreutzberger said in a statement. “And we have worked tirelessly for precisely that audience, with the utmost dedication, humility and deep respect.”

Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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