An unprecedented race to put a hit Latino family series on broadcast network TV is on. The most recent announcement comes from NBC where Ligiah Villalobos (pictured) (Under The Same Moon/La Misma Luna, Go Diego Go, Ascending Diego) has been hired to write the script with top choreographer/director Kenny Otega and Steve Stark, who will executive produce with Todd Robinson serving as a non-writing producer.
The, as yet untitled, project is in development and centers around a multi-generational Latino family who run a Latin dance studio in Miami. Ortega is also set to direct.
Ortega, Stark and Robinson developed the world and the characters on the show, drawing on personal stories centered around their families and their connection to dance. Universal Television is producing with studio-based Steve Stark Prods.
The other Latino family drama series announced earlier this season, also about a Latino family in Miami, is Fox's dramedy written and executive produced by Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta and executive produced by Jennifer Lopez. Over at CBS, a pick up of 8 episodes of the Untitled Rob Schneider Project has been ordered. The comedy is writted by Schneider and Lew Morton. Morton, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men) are executive producing. The comedy is scheduled to begin airing in 2012.
Villalobos has worked as both a network and studio executive and successfully transitioned into a career as a TV and film writer/producer. She produced the 2000 Emmy Nominated film Dancing in September as well as the 2006 HBO film Walkout directed by Edward James Olmos. However, it was in 2007 that she hit gold with Under the Same Moon, (La Misma Luna) the US/Mexico co-production indie film that was made for about $1.7 million and went on to gross $23.3 world wide, exhibiting in only 454 theaters at its highest distribution number.
Villalobos' goal is to write and develop projects that change the images of people of color in media. She has definitely been doing that. As to her reaction to working on the upcoming series for NBC, Ligiah said, "I am thrilled to be writing this pilot for NBC, the network that bought my very first project as a writer over 10 years ago when I decided to make the transition from entertainment executive to writer. It is great to see a network actively looking for diverse projects that reflect our society."
Paradigm-repped Ortega career is already Hollywood lore. From choreographing the original Dirty Dancing (which he is now on board to direct the remake) to directing the hit High School Musical franchise and the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It, his involvement in this project is key. He not only brought his background in dance to the story but his understanding of the Latino community as well, which will speak volumes in the storylines.
CAA-repped Stark executive produces USA's Fairly Legal. Villalobos is with ICM and Levity.