The COOList: Hollywood Insight
By Bel Hernandez Castillo
So are we seeing the glass half full or half empty? Some say the presence of Latinos on TV is dismal and has not changed in 20 years. I say, let’s take a closer look.
President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Janet Murgia’s recent article “A Disappointing Television Season for the Latino Community” makes a powerful case for more Latinos on mainstream media. Citing the latest Census statistics that “There are now 52 million of us residing in the U.S.–nearly one in five Americans,” she decries the cancellation of “…CSI: Miami, Desperate Housewives, and Rob, all of which had lead Latino characters.” Coming from the leader of one of the largest Latino advocacy groups in the U.S. this should send a strong message to Hollywood. But Hollywood has always been hard of hearing when it comes to Latinos.
Murgia is right “20 years later, there will be no Latino family starring on a prime-time network television this September.” Should there be more Latinos on TV? Yes! And to have a national organization like the NCLR address this discrepancy is what Hollywood needs to hear. It’s how the African-American community has made strides in Hollywood, by being vocal whether it was through the NAACP or Black Hollywood creatives speaking up.
Let’s take a look at the sole Latino themed show of last season, CBS’ sitcom Rob. It was given a chance and aired 8 episodes. But let’s be frank, it was not picked it up for a second season, not because some in the Latino community criticized it for being stereotypical, what killed it were the ratings and the writing. It just wasn’t good. The cast was great! Cheech Marin, Diana Maria Riva, Lupe Ontiveros, Claudia Bassols, Eugenio Derbez, all wonderful talents — they just weren’t given much to work with. A Latino show runner or story editor might have helped the show, the token Latina junior editor they hired just did not have much input.
Now let’s talk about the “Glass half full.”
In the 20 years as publisher of Latin Heat Entertainment, still the only entertainment trade to focus on Latinos in Hollywood, we have seen the strides — agreed Janet, not nearly enough, but to say that there have been no advances in twenty years would be disingenuous.