Groundbreaking American TV — Four Latinas Headline TV Series This season
The Full Line up Latinos in this Coming TV Season
By Bel Hernandez
The 2014-15 pilot season saw a drop in ordered pilots from 2013. This year out of the hundreds of pitches the broadcast networks ordered only 95 projects. This year diversity took a front seat of note this pilot season Latinos were definitely part of the equation. A first in U.s. English-language television history, this year goes on record as the year not one but four (4) Latinas were cast as headliners for their own series, Gina Rodriguez in the CW’s Jane the Virgin, comedian Cristela Alonzo in her self-titled Cristela on ABC, and on ABC Callie Hernandez on The Club, and if the announced Shades of Blue headlined by mega star Jennifer Lopez airs mid-season that makes it the fourth series. Latinas are making major strides this TV season.
After the whirlwind process, which started late last year with the selection from the “pitches” that made it to a pilot order; followed by the viewing and testing of the pilots for the final “greenlight” to series; and always with an eye on what the advertiser would find attractive enough for them to commit ad dollars for air time “upfront” at the annual TV Upfront Presentations in New York which concluded last week.
A first in U.S. English-language television history, this year goes on record as the year not one but four (4) Latinas were cast as headliners for their own series”
Here Latin Heat breaks down the final tally of Latino regulars on the ordered series by the networks.
ABC comes in as the leader when it came to casting Latinos in their 2014-15 TV pilot season. According to casting director Keri Lee they cast more diverse actors overall and in more leading and significant roles this pilot season. Latinos were cast in twenty-three roles in the 27 pilots ABC shot.
This year out of the ten series ABC picked up for series, four have Latino series regulars. Here are the fifteen Latinos that made it to series.
CRISTELA – (Comedy)
Starring are Cristela Alonzo, Carlos Ponce, Maria Canals-Barrera, and Terri Hoyos. Cristela is the show that almost didn’t get seen. ABC ordered Cristela, however it didn’t make the cut. The producers decided to do a pilot presentation anyway — and it paid off big time. The pilot tested through the roof and the results was an order to series. Cristela is inspired by Alonzo’s life, is the story of an American Latina (Alonzo) working on getting her law degree, straddling two cultures while not fully belonging to either. Executive produced by Becky Clements, with Alonzo and Kevin Hench co-writing and producing along with 20th Century Fox TV and Marty Adelstein and Shawn Levy’s studio-based 21 Laps/Adelstein.
AMERICAN CRIME – (Drama)
Benito Martinez (Sons of Anarchy), Johnny Ortiz, and Richard Cabral star alongside Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) in American Crime. Set in California’s Central Valley, the series centers on a racially charged murder and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. The case takes on greater meaning in the community, bringing to the forefront America’s hardened views on race, class and gender politics. Also stars Timothy Hutton (Leverage), W. Earl Brown (Deadwood), and Penelope Ann Miller (Mistresses). Executive produced by John Ridley (The Wanda Sykes Show, Third Watch), and Michael McDonald.
FOREVER – (Drama)
Alana de la Garza plays detective Joe Martinez in Forever a show set in New York about a star medical examiner who studies the dead, Dr. Henry Morgan (Judd Hirsch) who is immortal. With the help of detective Martinez the show peels back the layers of Henry’s colorful and long life through their cases. Also cast Loan Gruffudd (Ringer), Joel David Moore (Bones), Barbara Eve Harris, and Donnie Keshawarz. Executive produced by Matt Miller (Chuck), Dan Lin, and Jennifer Gwartz.
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER – (Drama)
Karla Souza (Instructions Not Included) plays Laurel Wilding in Shonda Rhimes newest TV series How to Get Away With Murder thatis headlined by Viola Davis. The series is a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that will rock the entire university and change the course of their lives. Other cast members include Matt McGorry (Orange Is the New Black), Liza Weil (Scandal, Gilmore Girls), Aja Naomi King (The Black Box), Charlie Weber (90210), Katie Findlay (The Carrie Diaries), Billy Brown (Hostages), and Tom Verica (American Dreams). The series is Executive produced by Peter Nowalk (Grey’s Anatomy), Shonda Rhimes, and Betsy Beers.
SECRETS & LIES – (Drama)
Natalie Martinez (Under The Dome) stars in Secrets & Lies about a family man who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect. He has no choice but to try to find the real killer as his marriage, his kids, his reputation, and his sanity are all at stake. The series is headlined by Ryan Phillippe and also stars Juliette Lewis, KaDee Strickland (Private Practice). Executive producers are Barbie Kligman, Tracey Robertson, and Nathan Mayfield
THE CLUB – (Drama)
Callie Hernandez was the first actor to be cast in The Club, which David O. Russell was originally set to executive produce when it was ordered straight to series. Hernandez headlines in this drama described as an upstairs/downstairs soap centered on a private country club. The cast also includes Chris Conroy, Betsy Brandt and Boris Kodjoe. This series is executive produced by Susannah Grant who also wrote the pilot for ABC Studios.
THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB – (Drama)
(Pushed To Midseason 2015)
JoAnna Garcia Swisher and Odette Annable will both play “astronauts wives” in this 1960s, modern feeling series about the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Cast also includes Zoe Boyle, Dominique McElligott, Aaron McCusker, Azure Parsons, and Desmond Harrington. Executive producing are Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Michael London, Len Goldstein, and Nick Cassavetes
THE WHISPERS – (Drama)
Colombian born Catalina Denis is a regular in this drama about aliens who have invaded Earth by using our most unlikely resource to achieve world domination—our children as the race is on to save humanity. Denis joins other cast members who include Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane, Derek Webster, Milo Ventimiglia, and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf. The series is executive produced by Soo Hugh (also writer) Dawn Olmstead, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Steven Spielberg, and is directed by Mark Romanek. An ABC Studio and Amblin TV production
CBS, which already has some of the top rated shows on broadcast television, this year picked up only nine new series. Of those nine two include Latino regulars, Victor Rasuk in Stalker and Tessa Ferrer (whose grandfather is the late Puerto Rico born Jose Ferrer). The other Latino on their TV line up is Roberto Orci as executive producer for Scorpion.
EXTANT – (Drama)
Picked up for Summer Series
Tessa Ferrer stars alongside Halle Berry in CBS Studios’ Extant about an astronaut (Berry) who returns home from a yearlong solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Greg Walker, Mickey Fisher, Brooklyn Weaver, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, with Adam Rodin co-executive producing. Other cast includes Goran Visnjic, Michael O’Neill, and Grace Gummer.
SCORPION – (Drama)
Roberto Orci is one of the executive producers of Scorpion. The series is about an eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age. The cast includes Elyes Gabel, Robert Patrick, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ari Stidham, and Ernie Hudson. Also executive producing this series for CBS TV Studios are Nick Santora (also writer), Justin Lin, Alex Kurtzman, Walter O’Brien, Heather Kadin, Scooter Braun, and Danny Rose who is co-executive producer along with Danielle Woodrow.
STALKER – (Drama)
Victor Rasuk (Fifty Shades of Grey, Godzilla) stars in thispsychological thriller that revolves around a pair of detectives who handle stalking incidents for the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD. Rasuk stars alongside Dylan McDermott, Maggie Q, and Mariana Klaveno. Produced by Warner Bros TV for CBS with Kevin Williamson as writer and executive producer and Liz Friedlander directing.
NBC comes in with thirteen new series pick-ups. Only three Latinos are cast in three of these shows. The much buzzed about series picked up by NBC with Latinos headlining is the with Jennifer Lopez’s Shades of Blue detective drama which was ordered straight to series and is scheduled a mid-season replacement. Although it is not listed in the network’s final tally, it was announced as a midseason replacement.
THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA – (Drama)
Laz Alonso is cast as “Billy” in this single-mom NYPD homicide detective story based on the popular Spanish series Los Misterios De Laura. It follows the life and relationships of a female homicide detective who can handle murderous criminals — but not her evil twins.
Debra Messing headlines with Josh Lucas playing her husband who ends up being hired as her boss at the police station. Executive produced by Jeff Rake (also writer), Greg Berlanti, Aaron Kaplan, and McG (also directing) and Melissa Kellner as co-executive producer.
ODYSSEY – (Drama)
Daniella Pineda whose character of Sophie had to be killed off in the CW drama The Originals, stars in this Traffic-like thriller revolves around three families whose lives are torn apart when a stranded female soldier, a disillusioned corporate attorney and a disrespected political activist are pulled into the same shocking international military conspiracy. The cast is headed by Anna Friel, Jake Robinson, Peter Facinelli, Nate Moooney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Elena Kampouris, Treat Williams, and Jim True-Frost. Executive produced by Simon Maxwell, Mikkel Bondesen, Kristen Campo and Henrik Bastin.
SHADES OF BLUE – (Drama)
Ordered Straight to Series – announced for Mid-Season
Jennifer Lopez is Harlee McCord, a single mother and detective, who is recruited to work undercover for the FBI’s anti-corruption task force. Harlee has become compromised by her colleagues — all of whom also pitch in to help her raise her daughter — as she finds herself faced with the moral dilemma.
Executive producers: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Seacrest, Nina Wass, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, and Benny Medina. Adi Hasak is the writer.
Out of the eight new series ordered for the 2014-15-television season at FOX two of the series feature Latino talent. Of note is Red Band Society that not only features multiple Latinos in lead roles but it is also executive produced by Sergio Aguero, who picked up the property, which is based on the award-winning TV series Polseres Vermelles in Spain and decided to adapt the series for American TV.
RED BAND SOCIETY — (Drama)
Nolan Sotillo and Wilson Cruz star in this series that takes place in a hospital where a group of teenagers meet as patients in the children’s wing of a hospital and become unlikely allies and friends. Part comedy, part drama, with a tone that’s unique unto itself, the series is narrated by a twelve-year-old who is in a coma in the hospital. The cast is headlined by Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spencer who stars along with Griffin Cluck, Charlie Rowe, Rebecca Rittenhouse, and Dave Annable. Executive producing are Margaret Nagle (also writer), Sergio Aguero, Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, and Darryl Frank.
GOTHAM – (Drama)
Zabryna Guevara (Burn Notice, 3 lbs.) plays Captain Essen in Gotham. The stories are of Commissioner James Gordon from the Batman comics and films at a point when he is still a detective and has yet to meet Batman — and the villains who made Gotham City famous. Guevara stars alongside Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Robin Lord Taylor, Sean Pertwee, Erin Richards, Jada Pinkett Smith, Drew Powell, Cory Michael Smith, and David Mazouz. Bruno Heller is writer/executive producer and Danny Cannon directed. The pilot episode includes several Latinos in non-regular roles including Victor Cruz, Victoria Cartagena and Sara Paxton.
Out of the four series the CW picked up for their 2014-15 television slate two of their series The Flash and Jane The Virgin feature Latino talent, Carlos Valdes and Gina Rodriguez respectively. Of special note, Jane The Virgin is one of four series announced this season overall that has a Latinas headlining the cast. In this case we have Rodriguez (Filly Brown) in the title role of Jane the Virgin.
THE FLASH – (Drama)
Carlos Valdes stars in this drama series about an assistant police forensics investigator who is looking into a series of unexplained robberies that may have a connection to a tragedy in his past. The series regulars also include Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, Rick Cosnett, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanaugh, John Wesley Shipp, Michelle Harrison, and Patrick Sabongui. Produced by Warner Bros Television with executive producers: Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, who are also writers), Geoff Johns (writer), David Nutter (also director), Melissa Kellner Berman (co-exec. prod.)
JANE THE VIRGIN – (Drama)
Gina Rodriguez, Jaime Camil, Maria Canals-Barrera, Ivonne Coll, Andrea Navedo, all star in this series about Jane Villanueva who as a young girl was convinced by her grandmother of two things: telenovelas are the highest form of entertainment and women must protect their virginity at all costs. A series of surprising and unforeseen events causes a hard-working, religious young Latina to be accidentally artificially inseminated. Adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela. Cast also includes Yael Grobglas, Brett Dier, Justin Baldoni, and Ryan Devlin. Executive Produced by: Jennie Snyder Urman (& writer), Ben Silverman, Gary Pearl, Jorge Granier with Brad Silberling directing.
Although a cable network we cannot resist giving props to the Latino friendliest cable network. The home of The Bridge with Demian Bichir headlining a stream of talent featured in this show; Sons of Anarchy with a parade of Latino talent which has included Jimmy Smits, Emilio Rivera and countless other well known Latinos; Louie with the red headed Mexican Louie C.K.; Anger Management with bad boy Charlie Sheen (AKA Carlos Estevez); and Saint George with George Lopez. And, well add one more Latino driven TV series Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain coming this summer, which stars Mia Maestro and Miguel Gomez.
THE STRAIN – (Si Fci)
Mia Maestro and Miguel Gomez star in Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain. Eph Goodweather, who investigates biological threats for the CDC, teams with ex-professor and Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian and they assemble a ragtag group that represents mankind’s only hope when a swarm of vampires quickly turn civilization into a buffet spread. Based on the novel trilogy. Cast: Corey Stoll, Kevin Durand, John Hurt, Robert Maillet, Lauren Lee Smith, Sean Astin, Jack Kesy, and Natalie Brown Guillermo del Toro (writer/director/executive producer), Chuck Hogan (writer/executive producer), Carlton Cuse (executive producer/showrunner), Gary Unger (executive producer).
Please share your comments below.