Lopez adds Latino hue to late-night
Randy Cordova - The Arizona Republic, Nov. 9, 2009
George Lopez has proved himself to be a concert headliner. The Richard Pryor disciple is equally popular on TV with his self-titled sitcom ending a healthy six-season run two years ago.
His next challenge? The 48-year-old comic is launching "Lopez Tonight," a late-night talk show that takes some inspiration from early '90s fave "The Arsenio Hall Show." During a recent phone call, Lopez promised a party atmosphere and a possible guest star from the U.S. Supreme Court on his show, which premieres tonight.
Question: You mention Arsenio Hall in a lot of the show's publicity. Is that the kind of feeling you want the show to have?
Answer: It will have that kind of vibe. Because of viral (marketing) - the MySpace, the Facebook, Twitter - there is more diversity. Arsenio was very Black and White. Now, you've thrown in Asian, Middle Eastern, Latino. White and Black are really blending together well with Latino.
Q: You seem to be really using viral marketing to promote the show.
A: Look at what Barack Obama did with it, and what John McCain didn't do with it. Since I donated to Obama, as soon as he was done speaking, I'd get a message from him on the BlackBerry. It's a great way to get the message out. It's the one thing everyone has now: It's either on them, on their desk or in their house. You have your phone on even before your TV is on.
Q: It seems vital if you're trying to reach a young audience.
A: Young people aren't watching the news. I think I can offer them a little bit more color, high energy, a faster pace than what's on TV. Very much like Arsenio did. People that got it watched it, and people that really didn't get it watched it to see what everybody else was talking about.
Q: Arsenio is such an influence. Will you have him as a guest?
A: I hope so. I've talked to him. I've known him for 20 years. A couple of months back, all the ladies in church were telling him about how nice I was talking about him.
Q: You played at the White House recently. Did you ask Obama to guest?
A: I did. I asked him and Michelle and (Supreme Court Justice) Sonia Sotomayor. I think I'd be the most excited if Sotomayor did it, because she speaks to so few people.
Q: What do you think of the other talk-show hosts?
A: I love Jimmy (Fallon). I've been on his show, and he's great. Craig Ferguson is making some serious headway. And I've always been a fan of David Letterman. He's the king.
Q: Are you worried about competing?
A: Well, I start at 11, which is good because it's not the same time as Letterman.
Q: Growing up, you didn't see a lot of Hispanics on TV. Do you feel pressure now being so visible and such a role model?
A: I appreciate that (people) want someone to say, "We belong here, too." Kids want to aspire to be one of their own. All my idols were African-American. All the baseball players I liked were Black, and the comedian I liked was Black. Now, if you're a 10-year-old kid, you can say, "Hey, I want to be George Lopez," or Mario Lopez or Manny Ramirez or Eva Longoria. You can say, "Hey, I want to win an Oscar like Penélope Cruz."
Q: Was it difficult coming up in the business when Hispanics weren't so visible?
A: Look at the way I look. I'm not passable. If I looked like Mario Lopez, I don't know if I would have worked as hard. With beauty, the door opens a little bit wider. I didn't have that luxury. I had to be funny and self-deprecating (laughing). It took me forever.
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