September 5, 2003

Fall’s Primetime Latinos

TV networks bring back old favorites, shine spotlight on newcomers

By Julio Martinez

Despite the loss of NBC’s Kingpin and WB’s Greetings From Tucson, due to cancellations, Latino performers will be present on all three major broadcast networks when primetime television launches its 2003 Fall season.

The ABC network will be introducing seven new comedy and drama series and actually managed to bring some new Latinos in as regulars. The new drama series, Threat Matrix (Thursdays, 8 p.m.), features two: Kurt Maceres, who graduates from his daytime role as Matteo Santos in ABC’s All My Children; and Anthony Azizi, who is a member of Tony Plana’s East L.A. Classics Theatre Company. Another action drama set in the streets of L.A., 10-8 (airing Sundays, 8 pm), created by veteran producer Jorge Zamacona, will feature Alex Meneses, Miguel Sandoval and Christina Vidal as sheriff deputies, who work alongside series star Danny Nucci.

Of course, The George Lopez Show continues to be the guiding light for Latino success on primetime TV. ABC has such faith in the series they are re-introducing the TGIF block of comedy shows with George Lopez and family anchoring the Friday slot at 8 p.m. “Getting the Friday 8 pm slot puts a lot of burden on us,” Lopez quipped. “We’re gonna have to start being funny on purpose.”

The Lopez “family” continues to feature Constance Marie (pictured), Masiela Lusha, Luis Amand Garcia and Belita Moreno, with Valente Rodriguez holding forth as friend Ernie. Not to be slighted, the long-running NYPD Blue continues its Tuesday (10 p.m.) slot, featuring the talents of Esai Morales and Jacqueline Obradors.

CBS barely made it into the positive Latino column with the return of Adam Rodriguez, a series regular on the hit spinoff series, CSI: Miami. CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves keeps mouthing that he is “committed to cultural diversity on our programming,” but not one of the six new series announced for the CBS Fall season has a Latino actor as a series regular.

NBC is also guilty of an absence of Latinos on any of the four new series they are introducing this fall. But they certainly are keeping loyal to the continuing Latino series regulars from NBC shows that have been extended into the next season.

Imagen Award-winner Lana Parrilla continues as Teresa Ortiz on Boomtown; and Shelley Mor-rison is still going strong as dour, much put upon Rosario on Will and Grace. Also holding onto their jobs quite nicely are Anthony Ruivivar (Third Watch), Tessie Santiago (Good Morning Miami) and Judy Reyes (Scrubs).

On the Spanish language front, NBC owned Telemundo has tabbed daytime star Eva Tamargo from Passions to serve as a host of the upcoming reality dating series, La Cenicienta. “It’s a great job,” she laughs. “I serve as a kind of modern day fairy godmother to a beautiful young Latina single mother who must choose a mate from among 20 gorgeous Latin men.”

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