I like George Lopez. I didn’t much care for his sitcom, “The George Lopez Show,” but after watching the PBS documentary, “Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream,” I realized just how funny the guy was. I mean, when he talked about his battling with ABC over his attempts to portray a typical Latino-American family on television (“They said, ‘There’s nothing here that indicates that a Mexican family lives here. There’s not a tortilla maker.’ I said, ‘My tortilla maker was my grandmother!’”), it made me laugh harder than I ever did at an episode of his actual sitcom. As such, the idea of seeing Lopez in a situation where he’s able to be himself rather than a scripted character is one that intrigues me, and after seeing the way he handled himself in front of an audience of jaded TV critics, I have no doubt that his wit is quick enough to serve him as the host of his very own TBS talk show, “Lopez Tonight.”
Of the clips which were offered up of the show, the best was unquestionably the one that featured a filmed conversation between Lopez and President Obama.
And, yes, it’s real.
“I supported Barack Obama during his campaign,” said Lopez. “He spoke to me, and he said that he needed the Latino vote, never thinking that, in the Presidential candidate, those 38 votes would mean the difference between a Democratic president and a Republican president. He called me three weeks ago, and we had a very lovely conversation, a little bit about the kids and a lot about Iran. He is a great guy, and I can consider the 44th President of the United States a close friend of mine. Thank you. And I grew up poor.”
So does that mean that we can expect to see the President turn up on “Lopez Tonight” as a guest?
“Well, I would say that, if he came to Los Angeles again with Michelle and his mother-in-law, I would like them to stop by,” he replied. “Listen, Barack Obama is Kenyan descent, but he also has some Latino in him. I think you see the Latino: he lives in a house that’s not his, his mother-in-law lives with him, helping him raise his two kids. He’s one of us. He’s a man for all people. And, yes, I would say that, if they came to Los Angeles and didn’t come on this show, I would personally be offended.”
If it seems a little iffy for Lopez to try and take on the late-night big boys with a series on basic cable, you can’t sense any concern from him. “We feel that TBS and cable is the right place because they do have an incredibly diverse audience,” he assured us. “Between Tyler Perry doing what he’s doing, which he’s amazing at, a little bit of Bill Engvall, so you have the 8 percent Caucasian population that’s still left in the United States, and myself, it’s a Neapolitan night. It’s fantastic.”
Lopez was full of great one-liners throughout the panel:
* At one point, he asked a writer to stand up…and she was already standing – “Oh, shit. I can’t see you. Are you really standing? Well, we are going to be very diverse and have a lot of little-people guests on the show as well.”
* On concerns about whether breaking new ground as a Latino talk-show host puts any added pressure on him – “I only feel added pressure because apparently in some parts of the country, I’ll be up against novelas. I don’t think I can win that battle.”
* On why they filmed the pilot on an outdoor stage, then opted to recreate the set in a studio for the series – “We got a lot of complaints from ‘Two and a Half Men,’ so we decided we had better move it inside.”
* After trying to set a critic up on a date, only to find that he was engaged – “So sorry. It’s not too late! How old is she? 18 to 34? I need her.”
* On how his set will be different from other talk shows – “I’m not going to have a desk, and I don’t want to use cards. My furniture will be covered in plastic. I keep it very real.”
* On a possible booking war – “I don’t think ‘The Tonight Show’ is going after Menudo.”
“Lopez Tonight” premieres on Nov. 9th on TBS at 11 PM.