Teatro Máscara Mágica in Association with the Latino Theatre Company, Present
“How To Pitch a Latino Sitcom That Will Never Air”
Opens Thursday, Sept. 7th through Sunday, Sept. 17th LATC – Downtown L.A.
By Elia Esparza
Veteran actor, Mike Gomez, has been at his craft for nearly 40 years and he has portrayed just about every role imaginable—from priests, sailors, marines, lawyers, cowboys, policemen, police captains, gang members, coyotes, bartenders, hit men, field workers, detectives, to homeless—but in Paul Rodriguez’s new comedy, The Pitch, Mike portrays “Mike Perez,” an actor who happens to be a close friend and colleague of Paul Rodriguez. Imagine that, art imitating life, and in The Pitch, it is a very funny and satirical interpretation.
Gomez, who is best known for his roles in Zoot Suit on Broadway, Star Trek, Heartbreak Ridge and The Big Lebowski, has an on stage buddy chemistry with Rodriguez that is pure magic. Together they yield priceless collaborations. They were first teamed up by Director William “Bill” Virchis in the remake of The Odd Couple, which enjoyed a successful 2015 run in San Diego. So it is no surprise that when Paul wrote his first play, The Pitch, Virches would direct and Gomez would co-star.
Jerry Velasco Puts On His Producer’s Hat
Jerry Velasco was tapped to produce and for the first time since he retreated from Hollywood to fulfill his civic duty commitments—El Monte City Councilman and Mayor pro tem— he is back! For years, Jerry, a veteran Hollywood producer, produced Ricardo Montaban’s annual Golden Eagle Awards for the Nosostros organization. In addition, under his Velasco & Association banner, he represented artists like Apollonia, Dionne Warwick, Ricardo Montalban, Cesar Romero, and Laura Harring, at the height of their careers. In 2014, he suffered serious injuries as a result of a horrific automobile accident. It took him more than a year to recuperate but once he did, he dove back into his political work with great fervor. But at the heart of Velasco’s passions, is his love of the arts and performing artists. He read The Pitch‘s script and couldn’t resist. He had to produce it.
“The Pitch Exposes Angst of Hollywood Towards Green-lighting Latino Projects”
“From the first moment I started working with Ricardo [Montalban], I have loved working with nonprofit organizations like Teatro Máscara Mágica. The Pitch is a perfect fit,” Velasco admitted. “Projects that entertain and at the same time contribute to making positive social change, well there was no way I could resist.”
The Pitch, which Rodriguez kids should really be called “How to Pitch a Latino Sitcom That Will Never Air,” is a sneak peek inside the world of television programming and exposes why quality Latino shows will never be realized. It is entertaining, while at the same time, truly frustrating.
I ran into Gomez recently and cornered him with two questions and as always, he was gracious.
LATIN HEAT: Is there a role that you’ve ever rejected because of a stereotype character?
MIKE GOMEZ: I have rejected roles in the past because of what I felt was a stereotype of Latinos or that reflected negatively on Latinos. Once, I was offered a role as a Latino puppeteer who was mentally off, who would look at his creations in a erotic and sexual way and want to have sex with them. I turned it down because I felt it was not something I wanted to play and which I felt would be detrimental to the Latino image. When you’re up for something that might be interpreted as a Latino stereotype or may be a negative character, you have to make a decision whether you want to audition and/or do the role. The good thing is that once you get the role, you can always interpret it your way—hopefully bringing some positive aspects to the character. Of course we all need to work, so we audition as much as we can and do all types of roles.
It was an opportunity to turn a twisted situation into a twisted comedy.” – Paul Rodriguez
LH: You and Paul [Rodriguez] should have your own buddy show – how can Latinos help TV executives remove those darn blinders that keep Latinos invisible?
MG: That’s a great question. Yes, it would be great if Paul and I were cast in our own show. I think we proved our buddy chemistry worked when we did The Odd Couple, and it was a critical success. This is reason why we’re so excited about our new collaboration in The Pitch, which is about this very question you ask.
I believe that we need to continue writing our own shows, continue producing our own projects and we need to continue telling our own stories,” Mike Gomez
The Pitch is a comical, satirical look at our journey, and of what Paul has experienced when he pitched a Latino show for TV. I hope everyone who has ever asked ‘why don’t we have shows that reflect our community,’ come to see the play. Being supportive of productions that tell our stories is the best way to keep strengthening our advocacy for more positive Latino roles and shows we write and produce. But our community has to show up and fill those box-office seats.
Thank you, Mike Gomez!
“We buy over 25% of all movie tickets in the country, and we’re more than 50% of the population just in Los Angeles County alone—and all this needs to be reflected on television and film, not in five or ten years, but now.” – Mike Gomez
The Pitch, opens Thursday, September 7th , 8th, 9th, 10th, at 7:30 PM and Sat/Sun Matinees 2:00 PM and runs through Thursday, September 14th, 15th, 16th at 7:30 PM, Sat 2:00 PM and closes on Sunday, September 17th, 2:00 PM. Venue: The Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC), 514 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Admission: $25; Students: $15; Group Rates ($10/groups over 10. For tickets call, (866) 811-4111 or visit website: http://www.latc.org
The Pitch reflects the need in our community for more Latino-themed shows with roles that aren’t defined by color or religion or stereotypes.
Teatro Máscara Mágica’s The Pitch
Director: William Virchis
Written By: Paul Rodriguez
Producer: Jerry Velasco
Cast: Paul Rodriguez (Paul), Mike Gomez (Mike Perez), John Lopez (P-Rod), Erika Toraya (Natasha)
Doug Friedman (Mr. Madden), Paul Lauden (Mr. DeWinters), Melissa Hamilton (Molly and Holly Twin Executive Secretaries), Joey Molina (G.D. & Casting Directors, TV Executive), Walter Murry (Casting Director & Dr. Jennings), Christina Murguia (P.A. Casting Director & Nurse Tucker), Paul A (Cameraman, T.V. Executive, Nurse), Timothy Paul Evans (TV Executive), Anthony (Herold in focus group), Tamara Rodriguez (Rose the product placement person), Cesar Gracia (Understudy), Sky Molina (Understudy)
About Mike Gomez
Best known for his performances in The Big Lebowski and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gomez has costarred in numerous films including Heartbreak Ridge and Milagro Beanfield War, Zoot Suit, The Border, and El Norte, to name a few. His TV credits include: Criminal Minds, Bones, The Shield, Resurrection Blvd, Desperate Housewives, and a series regular role as Capt. Gallardo on NBC’s Hunter, among many others. His theater credits: Zoot Suit at the Winter Garden on Broadway and the Pre-Broadway run of Selena.
About Paul Rodriguez
Mexican born. Hollywood made. Paul Rodriguez is a stand up comic who got his TV series start when he impressed Norman Lear as warm-up comic for one of his shows. Lear went on to create the sitcom, a.k.a. Pablo in 1984. Other comedy series followed: Trial and Error, and Glam Slam, which were gateway to his movie credits: D.C. Cab, Born In East L.A., A Million to Juan, among many others. He executive produced and starred in the comedy concert film, The Original Latin Kings of Comedy. Since the start of his career, Paul Rodriguez, has mastered the art of TV pitching. In fact he wrote a play about it, The Pitch, making its L.A. debut on September 7, 2017 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC). For more info on Paul, click HERE.
About Teatro Máscara Mágica (TMM)
Co-founded by William Virchis and Jorge Huerta in 1989 to increase the production of multicultural theatre and to provide professional theatrical opportunities to underrepresented segments of the population. Virchis is the Producing Artistic Director of Teatro Máscara Mágica.