- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Comic George Lopez will start a new talk show on TBS next fall, saying he wanted to reach a diverse audience that generally isn’t spoken to in late-night television. The hourlong show, which doesn’t have a title yet, will air Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m.

TBS is moving to establish a new talk show at a time of change in the genre. Jay Leno is moving to prime-time at NBC, Conan O’Brien takes over the “Tonight” show in June and Jimmy Fallon recently started in O’Brien’s “Late Night” time slot.

“I’m a pretty visible Mexican-American guy who has managed to cross over,” said Lopez, who had a six-year run with his own ABC sitcom. “I’m not a singer. I’m not Antonio Banderas. I’m a guy who came up the hard way on the street, and I speak to people who have the same life story.”

Late-night television, and TV entertainment in general, “is a place where everything is geared toward Caucasians,” Lopez said.

He said he wants to be inclusive, not divisive, in much the same way as Arsenio Hall’s early-1990s talk show.

Lopez and his producers approached TBS with a pilot episode filmed on an outdoor soundstage, with Eva Longoria, Dane Cook and Samuel L. Jackson as guests. Lopez sat audience members close to the stage, let them ask questions and didn’t sit behind a desk.

“The music was from salsa to Led Zeppelin,” he said. “Look, you can either go to Nieman Marcus or you can go to a flea market. When you go to a swap meet, there’s just a ground-level feel that you can find anything there. At Nieman Marcus, you’re not going to find tube socks and pliers. This will be a flea market feel.”

TBS was sold by the pilot, said Michael Wright, the cable network’s programming chief.

“They took George Lopez and his style and his spirit and this is the best way to do this,” Wright said. “Rather than jamming him into a show, they built a show around his personality. They basically made it a street party.”

Besides sensing that the time may be right to introduce a late-night talk show, TBS was looking into an uncertain future for its typical late-night fare. The network has done well then with reruns of “Seinfeld” and “Sex and the City,” but when viewers eventually tire of those, there are few network sitcoms that eventually will hit the syndication market to replace them.

TBS also has a relatively diverse audience. It is basic cable’s top-rated network among young Hispanic adults, in large part because of its coverage of major league baseball playoffs. And TBS’ “House of Payne” was the top series last fall among young black adults, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Lopez’s show, which will be produced in Los Angeles, will premiere in November to take advantage of promotion during the playoffs and because that month usually brings a bumper crop of celebrities available to talk shows to pitch new projects, Wright said.

Lopez said he had already received a message from Longoria asking to be a guest on his first show.

“I told her that if she managed to get pregnant and announce it on my show she’d be in the pole position to be my first guest,” he said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide