Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Freddie Does Drama; Riva Does Crime & Rivera Does Vocals

TeleVISION By Julio Martinez

The second season has begun on broadcast TV and Latino life has begun to stir on the TV network that doesn’t claim to be a TV network. FOX Broadcasting Company has never been known for its “affirmative action” chops when it comes to putting Latinos to work. However, as the winter months move toward spring, there are some positive indications on FOX’s broadcast grid.

FREDDIE DOES DRAMA…Could it be that light romantic comedy perennial leading man Freddie Prinze Jr. is actually being groomed to step into the very dramatic shoes of aging Kiefer Sutherland? As a new series regular addition to FOX’s 24, Prinze portrays Davis Cole, a recently returned Marine who runs CTU Field Ops and has left no doubt that he wants to follow in Jack Bauer's footsteps. Whether that comes to pass, Prinze is kind of pleased to be playing a character who does more than just smile at the pretty girl.

“’Kind of pleased’ doesn’t really describe it,” Prinze affirms. “I don’t get offered this kind of a job, period. For most of my career, if I’m in it, I’m struggling to fall in love for 96 minutes, and I always get the girl.

“I received the sides for this part when I was in New York, and they were casting out of L.A. I went to the casting director’s office, and there were no other actors there. When they brought me in, I said, ‘Look, you’re not waiting for anyone else to get in here, so we’re doing this audition ’til I get it right.’ And she was nice enough to let me get a few cracks at it. I sent her a big box of cookies when I got the part. To get a chance to
do this is something, as an actor, that I’ve been hoping for since I was 21 years old. So, you can say I am very, very pleased.”

Executive produced by Sutherland and Howard Gordon, 24 began its 8th season on January 17. Negotiations are underway for Season 9. Who knows what the future might bring for Davis Cole and Prinze.

RIVA DOES CRIME…Scheduled to premiere on May 12, FOX’s police action-comedy series, Code 58 (working title), pairs Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Colin Hanks (LMad Men) as two oil-and-water Dallas police detectives who are forced to partner up. Making sure they stay firmly wedged under her thumb is Lieutenant Ana Ruiz, played with no-nonsense dispatch by Diana Maria Riva (Side Order of Life, Castle).

“I hope I get to be funny, too,” says Riva. “My character takes a lot of Alka-Seltzer because clearly, the characters played by Bradley and Colin are going to be a daily pain in her ass. So I think it’s going to be that constant trying to keep things under control, trying to get the job done. But in the process, I get to say some pretty damn funny stuff.”

Riva certainly gets to be funny on the big screen. She is featured in the upcoming romantic comedy, Our Family Wedding (due March 12), starring America Ferrera, Forrest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia.

Code 58 is executive produced by Matt Nix and Mikkel Bondesen. The series will have special previews on two nights, Wednesdays, May 12 and May 19, before making its series premiere on Monday, June 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).

RIVERA DOES VOCALS…When FOX offered a preview taste of their hyper musical teen series, Glee, in may 2009, Naya Rivera’s character, Santana, was little
more than the sneering underling to the school’s haughty head cheerleader portrayed by Diana Agron. “But in the first season episode of Glee that aired in September, the viewers got to see a little bit more of the cheerleaders and learn more about my character,” says Rivera, who is anticipating the show’s second season debut on April 13.

“On one level I can really relate to her,” Rivera affirms.” She is very competitive and so am I. But I don‘t think I could ever be as mean as she can be. But it sure is fun playing her.”

Rivera, who is half Puerto Rican, a quarter German, and a quarter African American, grew up in Valencia, a suburb of Los Angeles, made her television debut as a series regular in 1991 at age four on The Royal Family and has worked regularly since, also appearing in six episodes of the Bernie Mac Show (2005-06).

“The great thing about being in Glee is there is room to grow and evolve on this show. Who knows how Santana will turn out? She may even turn out to be nice. But the main thing that is great for me is I get to sing, dance and act in every episode. That is heaven.”

LATIN HEAT welcomes breaking news, especially if you have landed a role on the little screen. Send submissions to submissions@latinheat.com and interview requests to Julio@juliomartinez.net.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jon Seda in The Pacific; Wilmer Valderrama & Mireya Mayor in Mystery Gorillas

TeleVISION by Julio Martinez

The mid-season primetime television season is well underway, but it is not too early to spotlight some notable programs and performances coming up in the not-too-distant future. This season is not flavored with an abundance of Latinos, but there are some notable efforts coming up.

SEDA IS DANDY…Though the HBO 10-part mini series, The Pacific, isn’t premiering until mid-March, the television press is already talking about Puerto Rican American Jon Seda’s transcendent portrayal of real-life Italian American World War II hero, John Basilone. Sgt. Basilone’s exploits on Guadalcanal during the early days of the fighting in the Pacific were legendary, earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor, and immortality as the inspiration for the comic book hero, G.I. Joe. Seda infuses himself within the spirit and character of a truly humble average guy who heeds the call to duty as naturally as he breaths.

“I believe everyone in the cast felt a deep responsibility to make sure we got this right,” says Seda. “I think there was a certain point in time for all of us when we realized how important this was. This isn’t just another show, another film. We had the task to be the voices for so many men, the real heroes. And I think this was especially true for me. Basilone was raised in New Jersey, and I was raised in New Jersey. So I wouldn’t be able to show my face at home if we didn’t get this right. I think overall, we did get it right, not just for all the Marines out there who are going to
be seeing this, but also for the producers, directors and writers who were involved in making the series. They poured everything into getting this done. And we wanted to make sure we made them proud.”

The Pacific, a Playtone and DreamWorks production, is executive produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman. The series premieres Sunday, March 14 on HBO.

WILMER IS HANDY…Disney Channel’s Emmy-nominated preschool animated series, Handy Manny, starring the voice of Wilmer Valderrama, is going primetime with it’s 2nd special, Handy Manny Big Race, guest starring NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. and N'Sync's Lance Bass, airing Saturday, March 20 (7:00-7:25 p.m., ET/PT). In the special, Valderrama, Bass (who recurs on the series as surfer-dude Elliot) and the cast of Tools perform the new song "One Step at a Time." A music video for the song will premiere Saturday, March 6 on Disney Channel and online at Disney.com/HandyManny.

A Top 10 TV series with preschoolers age 2-5, the show is set in a multicultural, multi-generational community and follows a curriculum that models problem-solving. It is available in over 140 countries and in 23 languages. The first primetime special, Handy Manny Motorcycle Adventure, delivered the series' largest Total Viewer audience ever (Source: NTI, U.S. ratings, 10/4/09).

The show, which premiered in 2006, features the adventures of Manny Garcia, a bilingual Hispanic handyman, and his anthropomorphic, talking tools. “I am very proud to be associated with this series,” Valderrama affirms. “In addition to imparting life lessons about working together, communication and setting goals, the series also teaches viewers Spanish words and phrases and exposes them to various aspects of Latin Culture.” The series also features Carlos Alazraqui as Felipe. The series' cultural consultant is Marcela Davison Aviles, president and CEO of
Mexican Heritage Corporation. Language specialist Dr. Rose Marie Garcia Fontana is the series' language consultant. Rick Gitelson is executive producer and story editor of Handy Manny, which is a production of Nelvana Limited in association with Disney Channel. Handy Manny airs weekdays at 9:00 a.m., ET/PT and weekends at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

MAYOR GOES APE…Later this Spring, National Geographic is launching NatGeo Wild, a new cable network dedicated to bringing audiences extraordinary wildlife programming. A highlight is the premiere of Mystery Gorillas with Mireya Mayor, featuring the former NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins turned fearless and indomitable scientist, cozying up to one of nature’s most powerful primates. Long since putting down her pom poms, Dr. Mayor, a Ph.D. in anthropology, went on to become the first female wildlife correspondent for NGTV’s Ultimate Explorer series, and has spent more than ten years exploring some of the wildest and most remote places on earth, often armed with little more than a backpack, notebooks and hiking boots.

“In the promo footage to the series, it shows me being chased by a gorilla, and that was indeed frightening,” Mayor admits. “In all of the years of experience that I’ve had with gorillas, I’ve been charged by them dozens of times, and never once did I move out of its way or run like that. Generally, I act like a gorilla, and I react to them in a way a gorilla would, which is to get into a submissive posture and just let him know that, yes, I know you are boss. In this case — and this comes from years of experience out in the field — I knew that he wasn’t
just doing a bluff charge.”

Looking back on her upbringing, Mayor knows it is ironic that she lives a good deal of her life in the wildest most untamed areas of earth. “I grew up in a big city as the only daughter of Cuban immigrants,” she recalls. “I couldn’t join the Girl Scouts as a little girl because my family thought it was too dangerous.” Since then, our Latina scientist has slept in remote jungles teeming with poisonous snakes, gone diving with great white sharks, has not only been charged by gorillas but chased by elephants as well.

“It is a part of the job I willingly accept,” Mayor affirms. “What Geographic has enabled me to do is go to these places and team up with some of the best scientists out there, with these amazing film crews that are capturing these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, and then share this experience with a worldwide audience that wouldn’t have the chance ordinarily to get face-to-face with a Central African gorilla and see all of these amazing behaviors and discoveries for the first time. I have a great job.”