Saturday, October 23, 2004

'Swan' creator adores challenge of reality TV

By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service

[IMAGE] Nely Galan
Nely Galan seems to be a powerful force for something - maybe good, maybe bad - on TV.

She's creator and producer of The Swan, which has a two-hour season-opener at 8 p.m. Monday on Fox. The controversial show, with drastic makeovers and a beauty pageant, is loved and hated.

"Someone told me, if you're doing exceptional work, you're going to polarize people," Galan says.

Galan doesn't seem polarizing. At 41, she is 5-foot-4, and has a cheerfully round face. Wearing a pink outfit, she looks like she could sell Avon cosmetics in an eye blink.

Appearances aside, she packs power. Galan has run one network (Telemundo) and advised several. She helped launch channels for Fox, MGM and Sony in Latin-American countries.

Now she produces and is a coach on The Swan, which was a ratings hit last year. "I expected it to be successful, because I'm a woman and this is something we're interested in," Galan says. "I was aiming to create a cultural phenomenon, rather than a TV show."

She's also producing reality shows, in English and Spanish.

"Reality is where the producers get to be writers, in a way," Galan says. "It's in your voice ...

"Getting a reality show on the air is like winning the lottery. It's hard to do, but worth it."

A cynic would say Galan is a natural beauty who has nothing in common with the women on her show. She insists she's worked at it. She's had Botox for her forehead and veneers placed on her teeth. "The teeth are the window of your soul."

She's in "maintenance mode" now, she says. Many others seem to want the full Swan makeover.

"We have a room in our office filled to the ceiling with applications," Galan says. "We've got so many applications from men ... the guys are jealous, because they all want to get some stuff done."

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