TBS is starting its first talk show ever starring George Lopez in November. He’d be the first Latino-American late-night talk-show host.
“There’s an aspect of being a Mexican-American in these turbulent times,” said Lopez in an interview Tuesday. “With the wall and the drug cartels and immigration, so many things beings negative, this is a good story for us. And I don’t want to divide. I want to make this inclusive.”
He hopes to fashion his show like Arsenio Hall back in the early 1990s: upbeat, fun, diverse, younger.
“I’m not afraid to call people out,” he said. “I’m not afraid to do material that’s edgy.” To Lopez, this will be a break from the relative white male hegemony of late-night TV.
He thinks the reason broadcast TV executives have not given another minority a shot since Arsenio is fear despite his success. In fact, Lopez is indebted to Arsenio, who had Lopez on his show 16 times. “What I saw was a guy who managed to bring everybody together. I don’t think that element is here on late night TV right now,” he said.
TBS has had great success catering to a minority audience with Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne,” which has averaged more than 3 million viewers a week.
Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, said the Lopez show will be TBS’s biggest financial investment for an original show in its history, with more than 150 new shows a year. “We feel we can really differentiate ourselves in late night,” he said. It will be shot in Los Angeles and air at 11 p.m. for an hour.
The competition will be heavy. Jay Leno will have already started his primetime show at 10 p.m. on NBC. Lopez will compete partly against David Letterman and Conan O’Brien at 11:35 p.m. And cable shows such as Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea Lately” on E! and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” on Comedy Central air at 11 as well.
Lopez broke it big in 2002 when his self-titled ABC sitcom became the first successful U.S. comedy starring a Latino American. The show ended its run in the fall of 2007. Lopez kept things low key the past 18 months until this announcement, focusing on standup comedy tours.
In fact, he was just in Atlanta a week ago at the Fox Theatre, almost selling it out, which he considered a good thing considering the economy. (He said his last appearance at the Tabernacle a few years ago wasn’t nearly as successful.)
Here’s a quote from the press release:
“George Lopez is a special talent, with an everyman appeal that makes him uniquely positioned to be the next great late-night host,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “George and TBS are going to change the late-night television landscape and bring a brand-new energy to the talk-show genre by giving it a street-party atmosphere. We’re excited to see this show come to life.”
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