Eva Longoria and America Ferrera DESERVE BETTER!

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This winter NBC debuted a pair of new workplace comedies “Telenovela” and “Superstore” starring two popular and talented Latina actresses.  Sadly, neither of the shows is deserving to the immense talent of their leading ladies.

First, Eva Longoria whose comedic timing was one of the bright spots of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” stars as telenovela star Ana Sofia Calderon. Ana is the leading lady on her show “Las Leyes” but her life is anything but glamorous.  In this “show within a show” Ana has to contend with jealous co-stars, wacky sidekicks and her sexy ex-husband who has been added to the cast by the network. Longoria is a master at slapstick and brings a great deal of charm to the role.  One fun aspect of the character is that although Ana is a telenovela star, she’s not actually fluent in Spanish.

Unfortunately not even Eva Longoria can save the lackluster writing of “Telenovela.” It’s a shame because her supporting cast is quite strong, but after watching multiple episodes i come to same conclusion of just not caring about the world with in they operate.

With the popularity of real telenovelas, I wish a network would develop and English language version of a show that’s not a comedy (“Ugly Betty”, “Jane the Virgin”) but instead a straight forward interpretation of of the genre.

Next, Emmy winner America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) stars in “Superstore.”  I don’t have the words to describe this show, other than NBC was trying to replicate the late comedy “Community.”  I never got that show, and I don’t get “Superstore.”  It’s writing and directing is sluggish. We’re given no reason to care or root for any of the characters.  This show is a mess and I can’t get through an entire episode without either rolling my eyes or turning it off.

America Ferrera and Eva Longoria are great talents who deserve better than what they’re being given on these shows and they should demand better.  It’s shows like these that make me want to give up on broadcast comedies.

It’s frustrating that NBC is spending a lot of time promoting these two shows while basically ignoring the best comedy on their schedule “Undateable Live.”

 

 

 

CRISTELA ALONZO Deserves Another Shot at a TV SERIES!

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This past season, ABC made history when it picked up the sitcom CRISTELA.  Series creator Cristela Alonzo was the first Latina to create, produce and star in a network sitcom. The show starred Alonzo as a struggling law student trying to prove herself at a top law firm all while living with her sister, brother-in-law, their children and her often disapproving mother.  That was a lot for a half hour sitcom, but the show often got me to laugh and care about Cristela and her family. ABC scheduled the show on Fridays which is a tough night for a show filled with mostly unknown actors.  At the end of its first season, CRISTELA was cancelled.

I wouldn’t give up on Cristela Alonzo as a comedic leading lady.  She’s smart, funny and has a lot of rooting value. I think one of the challenges of CRISTELA was getting viewers to connect with the law firm stories, especially since the stories were rarely about the cases. Instead, CRISTELA used the law firm as a way to show the challenges a young, Mexican-American woman faces in the corporate world.  I do think it is an important issue to explore, but I don’t think the law firm was the right setting for a half hour sitcom.  While I understood the aspirational aspect of the story, I could never quite invest in that world.  The material with Cristela’s family was much stronger, I believe in part because Alonzo drew upon her own life in those storylines.

I would love to see Cristela Alonzo return to tv in a workplace sitcom set in a newsroom. Cristela would be an aspiring on-air talent, living in a town light on diversity, who can only get a job producing fluff segments covering local events like the county fair. When the reporter with whom she works is fired for swearing during a live interview with a kid who pukes on her, Cristela quickly jumps in and saves the story. While she’s given the chance to continue covering light stories for the newscast, her executive producer tells her that although she has a masters in journalism from an Ivy League school, she doesn’t have the “right look” for any serious news stories and most certainly will never sit at the anchor desk. Cristela takes this as a challenge and is determined to use the small on-air opportunity she has to get the job she really wants.

Sitcoms with female leads set in newsrooms have a proven track record (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, MURPHY BROWN) and is aspirational enough to entice a broad audience. The seasoned female news anchor could take Cristela under her wing and be a mentor. At home, Cristela would be sharing a two bedroom apartment with a guy friend that she went to college with, setting up a potential love interest for her. I would cast her former costar Carlos Ponce in that role. They were great sparring partners as in-laws and I think they’d have great romantic chemistry.  Roseanne Barr guest-starred on two episodes of CRISTELA and I’d love to see her as Cristela’s landlady and surrogate mother who is willing to lend her a sympathetic ear and good kick in the pants all within the same scene. Alonzo could still keep her edge and address the social topics important to her.

Cristela Alonzo is a great talent with a strong point of view and should be given another chance to headline a series. She deserves it, as do we.

Take a look at Cristela Alonzo doing stand-up on The Late Late Show with Craig Fergerson below.

CASTING CORNER: 3 ACTRESSES WHO SHOULD BE SERIES LEADS!

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These three talented women are familiar faces to tv viewers but none have ever headlined their own tv series, which is a shame. It’s time for Hollywood take notice and cast these women as series leads.

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KHANDI ALEXANDER

Khandi Alexander has most recently been recurring as “Mama” Maya Pope on SCANDAL.  Whether she’ll be returning for the upcoming season is unknown, as the show keeps its storyline spoilers close to the vest. But, Alexander’s talent is too powerful for her to be sitting on the sidelines. Her performance on SCANDAL is proof.

I would love to see Khandi Alexander as a corporate mogul fighting to keep the business she built from nothing into an international powerhouse. Alexander’s character would be single, by choice, but not lonely. She can have any man she wants, whenever she wants him, but on her own terms.  While she’s confident and proud of her success she struggles with her relationship with her parents who think she abandoned her past in her quest for her fortune.  Khandi Alexander would have no problem playing a strong, poweful, smart and sexy woman. She’s done it in supporting roles on a number of shows and now it’s her turn to take center stage.

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JUDY GOLD

Judy Gold is a brilliant comedian. I’ve seen her do stand up a lot and her sets consistently keep the audience laughing.  Gold has had a few guest spots on sitcoms 2 BROKE GIRLS and LOUIE and delivered standout performances.

Judy Gold should headline a show on Netfiix, Amazon or Hulu where she can have the freedom bring her unique sensibility in a fresh and uncompromising way.  Gold should star in a comedy based on her relationship with her family, a constant subject of her standup. The story could focus on Gold’s character, a divorced lesbian, who is in a new relationship but also in constant contact with her ex-wife because they share a son.  If that’s not enough Gold would ask be struggling to keep her family business afloat while caring for her elderly, spitfire mother. She has such a gift for storytelling that she would be sure to appeal to her current fans while drawing a whole new audience who have yet to discover her.

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ROSIE PEREZ

Rosie Perez is an Oscar nominee who this past year co-starred in the critically acclaimed Broadway play FISH IN THE DARK while serving as a co-host on THE VIEW.  Now that Perez is done with her hosting duties, she’s free to headline her own series. Not only is she an amazing actress, Perez is well versed in politics and science. She’s a social activist who has spent years fighting for issues impacting the Latino community, inner city youth and HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

Rosie Perez should star in a gritty cable drama about a woman who wants to save the world through her social activism. When she’s asked to run for a local political office she’s at first reluctant but then considers the impact she could make by working on the inside. In the “fish-out-of-water” story Perez’s character would have to learn how to navigate the politics of politics in order to make  a difference for her community. She would be torn between her new professional world and colleagues as she tries to maintain the relationships with her community in which she still lives. Some of the activists with which she once worked will consider her a sell-out while others will try to leverage their relationship with her to move their agenda forward.  Rosie Perez is a star who deserves a star vehicle that shows off her amazing acting chops.