Latino Hollywood Highlights From 2013

By Bel Hernandez, Latin Heat Entertainment

As 2014 launches, Latin Heat wanted to take time to look back at some of the events, persons, projects and issues that helped Latinos begin to create the Latino power shift in Hollywood from here forward.

Instructions Not Included  Demands Attention

Eugenio Derbez's Spanglish film, Instructions Not Included caught the attention of not only Hollywood studios and network execs, but also but the People's Choice Awards.  The film was nominated for best comedy at the audience awards show and is now a red carpet favorite.  Derbez, just days after was walking the carpet at the Golden Globes.  He is taking meetings, talking deals and divulging info on how he made his film in Mexico for $5 million and translated that into $44 million in the U.S. and $86 million worldwide, while he waits to sign his next deal,  and you know it's coming. 

El Rey Network Launches

As part of its arrangement to acquire a minority interest in NBCUniversal, Comcast Corporation committed to carrying several minority-owned channels.  One of those channels was El Rey, an English-language American television channel targeting millennials (AKA U.S. Latinos) with deal in place with Univision.  With director/writer Robert Rodriguez at the helm the network officially launched on December 15, 2013 with their first series From Dusk Til Dawn set to premiere on March 11th.  Finally a network geared to U.S. Latinos that appears to not be relying on content from Latin America or reboots of old American TV shows, but actually has monies to produce original content.  Let's hope for stellar ratings.

"Devious Maids" Get the Last Laugh – Ratings

Almost as soon as it was announced, in January of 2012 that ABC had ordered the Devious Maids pilot, (executive produced by Desperate Housewives' Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria), the social media outrage began.  Why Maids – again?  Although ABC passed on the project Lifetime picked it up and it finally premiered on June 23, 2013.  The maids triumphed as Cherry recounted at the 2014 Television Critics Association press tour:

"I have to say I am still a bit surprised by all this," admits Cherry. "When ABC passed on this show two years back, I would have bet this show would never be made, let alone the success it has had on Lifetime. They bought it a year and a half ago and following its premiere, we became the fastest‑growing show in Lifetime's history.  We are No. 1 ‑‑ so they tell me – No. 1 with women on Sunday nights in all of cable." 

Unprecedented Development Deals For Latinos

For over a decade, about the only development deal any Latino had at a network or studio was Edward James Olmos' deal at ABC/Disney.  He has had that deal for over ten years and has developed four projects but none have been greenlighted.   We are hoping that is not the case with the development deals signed by the following:

Lionsgate's Pantelion and South Shore signed deals in the latter part of 2013 with George Lopez, Wilmer Valderrama, and Zoe Saldana.  Each celebrities' deal give them the opportunity to develop, star and produce films through their Pantelion Films venture and to produce scripted and reality TV projects through South Shore.

Louis CK Signs With FX

Comedian/writer and producer Louis CK signed an overall production deal with FX in December 2013 Louis C.K.,  of the FX comedy Louie will develop, create, executive produce and direct any of the shows developed.

Mario Lopez Signs With NUVO TV

NUVOtv network entered into an overall development deal with actor and television personality Mario Lopez in November of last year. NUVOtv ordered a second season of Mario Lopez One-on-One, and greenlit a sizzling new series, Salsa in the City (working title). Mario Lopez will also develop three new series projects for NUVOtv. Lopez's development efforts for NUVOtv are exclusive in regards to Latino-oriented programming in English.

"The Bridge" Crosses New Border Terrain  

The Bridge is not just one of FX's biggest 2013 TV hit show, it tackles issues that normally get seen in the news and then forgotten about.  The Bridge not only delves into the hot button issues of immigration, it is also about serial killers, human trafficking and drug cartels, on both sides of the border.

It's the writing that keep audiences tuning in every week and the talented cast headlined by Demian Bichir, as a Mexican homicide detective and Diane Kruger as an El Paso Detective thrown together find the serial killer.

The Bridge was the #1 new scripted cable series launch of the summer in 2013 in Adults 18-49 demographic.  Before the last episode of The Bridge FX had already ordered a second season.

"We've been blown away by the compelling performances of Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger and the writing of Meredith Stiehm, Elwood Reid and their team, and are thrilled to be able to continue this journey for another season," Eric Schrier, president of original programming for FX Networks

In addition to Bichir and Kruger returning Latino actors include:  Ramon Franco, Emily Rios, Alejandro Patino, and Diana-Maria Riva.  The Second season of The Bridge is set to premiere in the Summer of 2014.

Kennedy Awards Honor Two Latinos

In 2013 Carlos Santana and opera singer Martina Arroyo received the great honor of being recognized with a Kennedy Award.  Not since 2002 had a Latino been recognized by the Kennedy Awards and Latinos made it known in 2010 that it was time they take a look at the Latino talent they had been overlooking for far too long.

The campaign to bring this oversight to their attention was begun by several Latino organizations with Felix Sanchez, Chairman and Co-founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts took the ball and carried it all the way to this year, when the Kennedy Awards honored Santana and Arroyo.  Helping the Kennedy Awards to be more representative of the face of America is always a good thing.  Honored along with Santana and Arroyo were Shirley McLaine, Billy Joel, and Herbie.

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