Originally published at Se Fija!. Republished by permission.
It's officially a trend now: the networks are all putting money where their mouths have been for years, Developing actual Latino-themed projects with Latinos in the creative catbird seat. Sadly, the late Jenni Rivera's project will not move forward, but it's important to note that it wasn't simply another sitcom for a star, but was to be based directly on her own life as a Latina; we're seeing the same with the Salma Hayek-produced pilot Bastards, underweight at ABC. And now John Leguizamo's long-time semi-autobiographical comedy is back on the front burner.
Actually, the history of this project tells the story of studio development with Latino stars in general. ABC has been interested in Leguizamo for quite a while; they started talking about this project almost a year ago, but then put him in a multi-camera pilot called "Only Fools" and "Horses," the Americanization of a British sitcom about a family of ne'er do wells, that ABC liked enough to actually put through the process twice, shooting two pilots (the second time it was called "The King of Van Nuys").
When they finally and completely passed on the project a couple of weeks ago, they didn't let Leguizamo go: quite the contrary, they revived his original project. They teamed him up with Chris Sheridan, former exec producer for "Family Guy," to pull together this story that Deadline said is "based on his life as a husband, father and fish out of water on the upper West Side of New York. Woven into this world are his privileged wife, his friends from his life back in the Bronx, his mother and grandfather who try to keep him grounded in his Latin roots, and his own kids who he worries are getting spoiled and losing touch with reality."
John Leguizamo has proven himself as dramatic actor in TV series like "ER," an action hero (of a sort) in movies like "Spawn" and "The Ministers," a voice actor in "Ice Age" and its many sequels (with more to come), and an edgy live performer in "Ghetto Klown" and many other productions. A weekly showcase for his talents is long overdueÔÇªand apparently only part of a rising wave of Latinos-as-Latino projects building across the networks.