Category Archives: Television

SyFy’s ‘Three Inches’ Pilot: Well, at least it had Latinos

No thanks for the memories, 'Three Inches'

Carlos uses his power. After this "Stink On!" scene I knew I could have no love for "Three Inches"

Three Inches, a mutant heroes team story, debuted recently on SyFy. Originally intended as a series, only its pilot was aired and for that I am thankful. There was no way this story could have survived a season. There are good genre actors in it, but the writing made the characters seem like they belonged in a sitcom, not an action show. There are a couple of Latino actors in this pilot from what I could tell. Anthony Del Río’s character Carlos, a.k.a. ‘The Human Smell,’ can emit a powerful odor from his pores while talking about himself in the third person.

Security guard Mel on his way to get whacked (again)

There’s also a minor role by Pedro Miguel Arce, who plays a security guard called Mel that discusses sports and Alicia Keys with his coworkers. They both did excellent jobs, as did most of the cast, but the overly witty dialogue and the lack of anything new in the unlikely-superhero theme made it hard to like Three Inches, much as I wanted to.

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A Latino POTUS on NBC’s The Event? Science Fiction Rocks

The Event First Family Of all the new shows this season on American television, the one I looked forward to the most was NBC’s The Event. Not only is it science fiction and potentially conspiracy related, but it has a solid cast and a Latino First Family (!!!).  So did I like it? Why yes I did! After watching the first two episodes, I found it has the mystery of The 4400 (which has some similarities) and LOST before we started to wonder if the writers knew what they were doing. Unfortunately The Event is flashback heavy- it makes the storytelling unnecessarily convoluted.  I’m hoping that this frenetic jumping around will simmer down soon because it will get old fast. The story doesn’t need more help in being complicated.

[Skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers] So what’s it about? Well so far, a group of individuals with advanced physiology and technology are kept prisoner in an Alaskan facility at Mount Inostranka (meaning foreigner/alien in Russian). After 60 years, the U.S. President learns of these people (let’s call them the Inostranka Group). He tries to get them out but events in the first two episodes change his mind. The Inostranka Group has people outside, and, tired of waiting, are poised to react, possibly violently. Usually these stories have an average character who gets thrust into the middle of things- someone to root for. In this case it’s Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), a guy who just wants to propose to his girlfriend but all this conspiracy stuff gets in the way.

The Event features a U.S. President of Cuban descent, President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood), the First Lady Christina Martinez also of Cuban heritage (Lisa Vidal, Puerto Rican) and their son, David (Sayeed Shahidi). There is  another Latino actor in the series besides Vidal- Gonzalo Menendez (of Cuban heritage). He plays an Air Marshal called Gonzalo MenendezDan Taylor- a minor character listed in 4 episodes on IMDB. Not sure what is up with his accent but I wanted to mention him since he’s had small parts in at least three other genre works- 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Island, and Sliders. All we know about this character is his job, his weird accent, and that he wears a wedding ring. At least he has a name, so who knows? We may see more of him in the series.

Apparently there’s been some controversy about Blair Underwood playing a Latino character of such stature (major character, primetime network TV). I admit I would have preferred a Latino actor because of the shortage of good roles that are custom-made for a Latino. But Underwood is doing a good job so far, and he definitely looks the part. Sure when he speaks Spanish he’s probably going to have a terrible accent that will make me cringe, but so do many second generation Latinos raised in the United States. Plus, the character is a bona fide Afro-Latino which is super rare on TV. Most Latinos on television or in movies are white or light skinned, and that goes for Latin American productions too.

Out of curiosity, I looked up other fictional Latino U.S. presidents. Here they are:

  • Jimmy Smits (Puerto Rican) as President Matthew Santos (Mexican American) in The West Wing
  • John D’Aquino (Italian American) as President Richard Martinez in Cory in the House

In written works (now added to my reading list!):

  • President Juanita Alvarez in Sunstorm by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (President in 2037)
  • President Joseph Armando in Mars by Ben Bova (first Hispanic president, elected sometime in the early 21st century)
  • President Maria Juarez in: The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (First female President of the United States, for at least one term (2037-2041))

So according to this brief research, President Elias Martinez is the first U.S. President of Latino heritage on a science fiction TV show. But if you’re thinking sci-fi movies, then look no further than President Camacho of Idiocracy:

President Camacho Idiocracy

Yeah, that's right

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2010 Imagen Awards Nominees in SciFi and Fantasy

The Imagen Awards will celebrate its 25th anniversary on August 15th in Los Angeles. These image awards were created specifically to “honor positive portrayals of Latinos and Latino cultures in entertainment.”  This year some of our favorite genre Latinos are nominated. Sadly, the TV show LOST is no more and Wizards of Waverly Place will only go on for one more season so we have major losses of Latinos in genre productions. The cancellation of Flash Forward (not nominated here) also had us lose Sonya Walger (Dr. Olivia Benford). We also never got to see the rest of the Gina Torres (Felicia Wedeck) story in Flash Forward. Here are the relevant categories, with genre shows in red.

Latinos on Lost  

Best Primetime Television Program or Movie-of-the-Week:
One Hot Summer (Lifetime Movie Network)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Lost (ABC)
Cold Case (CBS)

Best Actor/Television:
Jorge Garcia, Lost (ABC)
Nestor Carbonell, Lost (ABC)

Danny Pino, Cold Case (CBS)
Ricardo Antonio Chavira, Desperate Housewives (ABC)

Best Actress/Television:
Sofía Vergara, Modern Family (ABC)
América Ferrera, Ugly Betty (ABC)
Alana de la Garza, Law & Order (NBC)
Selena Gómez, Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel)
Caitlin Sánchez, Dora the Explorer (Nickelodeon)

Wizards of Waverly Place Best Supporting Actress/Television:
María Canals-Barrera, Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel)
Paola Turbay, The Secret Life of the American Teenager (ABC Family)

Naya Rivera, Glee (FOX)
Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Best Children’s Programming:
Dora The Explorer (Nickelodeon)
Handy Manny (Disney Channel)
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee (Nickelodeon)
The Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel)

Best Actress/Feature Film:
Ana de la Reguera, Backyard (Maya Entertainment)
Lisa Vidal, Dark Mirror (Cut Glass Prods.)
América Ferrera, Our Family Wedding (Fox Searchlight)
América Ferrera, The Dry Land (Maya Entertainment)

See all the categories and nominees at the Imagen Awards Website. Let’s hope our genre shows represent! I’m especially rooting for LOST, as I also mourn.

UPDATE:  The only genre winner was Maria Canals Barrera for Best Supporting Actress/Television, Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel) . Here are the rest of the winners for 2010.

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Anonymous Rex Series and Movie (Review)

velociraptor detective Eric García (Repo Men) wrote three novels about the dinosaur detective Vincent Rubio: Casual Rex, Anonymous Rex, and Hot and Sweaty Rex.   Detective Rubio is a velociraptor, not a Rex, so I suspect that the author wanted a catchy and suggestive title.

In Rubio’s world, dinosaurs have not died out, but remained disguised members within human society to protect themselves from the humans that would hunt them down if they knew of the reptiles’ existence. Maybe they watched too much V series and took it to heart. Because dinosaurs are at all levels of society, they can tweak paleontological data so that dino research ‘proves’ their extinction. If a human isn’t fooled or discovers the true nature of the disguised dinosaurs, dinos have full authority from ‘the Council’ to kill them.  Most dinosaurs, including Rubio, look down on humans as inferior beings. This comes as no surprise if you can fool them for millennia into thinking you are extinct.

Detective Rubio unguised In the novels the dinos are costumed as humans and interact with them normally in their daily lives, even as children. It is a very difficult premise to believe in, even for this reader who ‘accepts’ holosuites and hidden schools of magic. The costumes are so wrong- the high tech suits are made of latex and are supposedly so authentic-looking that it looks real even when the dinos are naked. The dinosaurs keep their snouts and tails in check with straps and buckles! I can ‘accept’ that evolution made dinosaurs smaller –even human-sized– because the story offers the plausible explanation that the fossil record has been severely tampered with. But the hiding in latex thing (and hiding for centuries pre-latex) was really hard to get past to enjoy the stories.

Thankfully in the TV movie Anonymous Rex (2004) the technology used to disguise dinosaurs included high tech holographic images as far as I could tell. Except they could feel their transformation and their bodies’ volume changed (?!). I’m still unsure what they did about their tails. I admit that I never really got over the ‘dinos in costume’ idea, but that didn’t make me hate the storylines. Although flawed in practice, it is an amusing premise. The dinosaur society quirks are amusing too. In their world, for example, dinosaurs get addicted to herbs like basil, whereas alcohol has no effect. Dinos can identify one another through pheromone scents, and tend to sniff one another on the back of the neck when they meet. Here’s a summary about each book in the series and the TV movie.

Rubio and Watson doing their thing Casual Rex (2002) was written after Anonymous Rex (2001), but it is a prequel so I’ll cover it first. It introduces us to Vincent Rubio and his partner Ernie Watson of Watson & Rubio Investigations. Although Watson has a terribly unoriginal name, he is the sweetheart of the two and infinitely more likeable than Rubio. Watson is a T-Rex, fatherly, and wiser than the younger Rubio. He’s obsessed with his ex-wife. Vincent  is obsessed with his clothes and drug (herb) habit.

In the story, Watson & Rubio investigate a dinosaur cult called ‘The Progressives,’ in which dinosaurs strive to connect with their primitive  side even though they grew up as human as possible to fit into society at large. ‘Progress’ entails becoming more of a natural dinosaur. The problem is not this philosophy, but when the Progressive leaders take it to the extreme.

Anonymous Rex The TV movie Anonymous Rex was based on the Casual Rex novel, and not the Anonymous Rex book. The movie plot is similar to Casual Rex but the core conspiracy was at a much smaller scale in the film.  The movie adds a daughter (Stephanie Lemelin) for Ernie Watson (Daniel Baldwin) who is mostly there to get rescued. Vincent Rubio is a much more likeable character (being Sam Trammell helps of course). The book has two amusing subplots sadly missing from the movie: an investigation for the detectives’ landlord and a great costume maker/drag queen called Jules that I would have loved to see in the movie. Both the book and the movie deal with Vincent’s ambiguity towards the ‘Progressive’ cult ideas. Something refreshingly toned down in the movie was the constant intolerance towards humans and ‘lesser’ dinos- Compys being the lowest of the low- it made Rubio that much more unlikeable. Another problem with the book is that some of its humor is dated.

The second book, Anonymous Rex, is definitely the best of the trio. If you read just one book in the Rex series, make it this one. The story is about Vincent Rubio hitting rock bottom: bereft of a partner, doing herbs, and not being able to get out of debt because the agency isn’t taking on enough jobs. He had recently been thrown out of the local Council, which unlike the movie, doesn’t play Mahjong to make decisions- they fight it out (sometimes literally). He manages to land a job at a big detective agency, Trutel, and while investigating the case of a nightclub fire, finds it links back to what happened to his old partner.  This book covers more dinosaur idiosyncrasies like how they get hospital care without blowing their cover, the taboo world of sex with humans, how dinos procreate, and black market guises.

The third book, Hot and Sweaty Rex: A Dinosaur Mafia Mystery, is about a recovering herbaholic detective Rubio who finds himself enmeshed in a mafia war between Velociraptors and Hadrosaurs down in South Florida. Rubio is coerced into working for the Tallarico (Velociraptor) family. In this case he’s working with Glenda Wetzel, a Hadrosaur, previously introduced in the series as a detective friend.  To complicate matters, Vincent is friends with the Hadrosaur family boss. (This book is where the Anonymous Rex movie gets its Mahjong idea- it’s what the Raptor mobsters play.) I’m not into mafia books or films so I’m  biased here but I found the story quite boring. It is definitely the weakest of the three for me, although it had its fun moments.

Summing up, I would recommend seeing the Anonymous Rex movie and the Anonymous Rex book for campy fun. Read Casual Rex if you want more of partner Ernie Watson and dinosaur alt-history, and skip Hot and Sweaty Rex unless you really like your mob stories.

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Smallville Fans Make Tribute to Cherished Character Chloe and Actress Allison Mack (Part Two)

Elizabeth De Razzo

In the previous post I wrote about the Smallville tribute commercial that fans have been working on this year. I had the opportunity to interview Elizabeth De Razzo, who is a co-producer of the Legendary Chloe project along with Maggie Bridger. De Razzo is an actress currently residing in California. She grew up there and in Texas, where her parents were born. Her family has roots in Texas, Mexico (Monterrey and Zacatecas), and Spain. She also lays claim to Native American and French heritage. Quite a nice mix!

Ms. De Razzo has played several small TV roles. I had the opportunity to see her in Cold Case, a role she is very proud of. She plays a young college student who is an unwitting participant in a cruel frat boy prank. This was her first TV role, and you really can’t tell it is! She is also proud of her work in the Real Women Have Curves on-stage musical, where she had the chance to sing to a diverse repertoire including rancheras, tejano, and pop rock. De Razzo is very passionate about her acting and singing career. Of course she is also passionate about her work on the Legendary Chloe project. Here De Razzo speaks of her charity work, which started with a love for the X-Files, and her job on Legendary.

Besides working as an actress, you are part of a charity organization called IBG, Inc. Can you tell us about that?

IBG, Inc. was something that four friends came up with in a diner. Two of us grew up watching the X-Files (me from the age of 12 and my friend Caileigh, 9) and we really admired the character of Scully and the actress Gillian Anderson. Two of us were inspired to become actresses [because of her].  IBG, Inc. started as a thank you to Gillian for inspiring us to follow our dream. She kind of gave us that first push. We did an event and raised over $6,000 for her favorite charity and we thought this could be really great and something we could actually do. We were all philanthropic in our own way, donating whatever we could. We thought “why don’t we use this passion of being philanthropic and also what we do in the business to make events, try to get people to go meet and greet a celebrity or have something signed by a celebrity, and then all that money can go to charity?” We recently had two successful charity events and raised over $25,000 in November, then one with Rob Bowman, an executive producer of Castle, who donated set visits and we raised $15,000. We want to keep doing this and keep helping underfunded charities. Now IBG, Inc. has five members: four co-founders and our CEO who later joined us.

What genre shows do you like?

I love the X-Files. I’ve been a fan since the show started when I was 12 years old and have been a fan ever since. Scully is my all-time favorite character. She was the first strong woman that I saw on television that was in the boys’ club and taking charge. She wasn’t a damsel in distress! I also love Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) from Smallville. Other shows that I enjoyed were Dark Angel, and Battlestar Galactica with Edward James Olmos. I really liked Dollhouse, because I loved Amy Acker’s character [Dr. Claire Saunders] and Echo’s handler. A show can disappoint me, whether it’s the direction that they’re taking it or the writing, but I get attached to characters especially if the actors portray them in such a way that you just can’t not watch the show even if you’re dissatisfied with it. That’s what happened with Smallville. I’m characters first- I got invested in characters like Chloe Sullivan, Lionel Luthor, and Lex Luthor. It’s Clark’s story but they brought in all these interesting characters that made Smallville so much juicier. [SPOILER] Now Lionel and Lex are gone and Chloe has been relegated to the background so what I grew to love about the show is kind of slowly fading in Season 9. This really inspired me to help out in this project any way that I could.


What makes Chloe’s character so special to you?

Well the show started when I was twenty; I was just out of my teens. It’s almost like I grew up and became a young adult watching this show. What spoke to me was that she has elements of characters that I already loved, like Scully. She reminds me of a young Scully with her determination and spunk, not afraid to take on the world and fighting for what she believes in, following her dreams and pushing towards that goal. She really resonated with me and that’s who I got attached to from the beginning. I think it’s hard to get invested in the story because one thing that we’re constantly hit over the head with is that that story, that future, has already been written. Even being invested in a character like Chloe Sullivan that doesn’t exist in that story- what happens to her? That’s who I like. I know where Clark Kent ends up. I know where Lois Lane ends up.  I want to know what happens to [Chloe].  It’s really hard to take an interest in some of the story lines when that future is predestined. It’s almost redundant, and you’re just waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Working on the project

What has been your role in the Legendary Chloe Project?

I am one of the executive producers. I’m out in LA so I was in charge of gathering everyone behind the scenes- getting the director, the grip, the sound person, and set designer; casting actresses,  getting the location, and making sure things were flowing properly. Also I was in charge of reaching out to the CW, Warner Brothers and Smallville production to get permission to do this. I had dealt with Fox before for X-Files related charity events so I knew what I needed. I talked to like 50 different people until I actually spoke to the person I needed. This person was really helpful. They got us permission to use some Chloe Sullivan stills with the highest resolution. They sent us some of the Supergirl T-shirts that have the Supergirl shield the night before we shot the commercial. They knew that this was a fan-driven project, a thank you to Allison Mack for bringing to life the character of Chloe Sullivan, and a thank you to the creators, writing team and the producers for bringing that character to us.

Originally it was intended as a thank you to Allison Mack for nine great years because there’s been rumors that this was going to be her last year. We don’t know if she’s coming back or not. Her character is not promoted as much as others are, so we’re going to promote her! It’s a combination of appreciation, and saying “hey, we want her promoted too.” So, here we are: fans that love her and really want to see her out there.

How long did the commercial take to produce?

A bit stressed during production!

We started in the middle of January. First the idea got thrown out there and we thought “oh, there’s no way we can afford that.” Then when we found out the numbers, we thought it was actually feasible. Then came the process of getting the budget together, permission, getting people- some people donated their time. The actual commercial was shot in one 12-hour day.  It’s a full-blown production. Everything was professionally done. Right now we have our editor working on it and we’re adding more. We’re getting our second rough cut Thursday and we’ll go over it again. Once we get that final phase we should have our final cut and then we get our airtime- hopefully within two weeks. It will be 45 seconds long and we’re working to have it air on KTLA, the Los Angeles CW affiliate. We’re hoping to get it to other affiliates, and we’ll get it out for viral release so that people who aren’t in those areas get to see the final product.

What was this experience like for you?

It was a really great experience, getting everyone on board. Once we got on set, the feeling and the fact that people took this and ran with it- some of whom had never seen the show or really didn’t have an idea of what this was for- was wonderful. Once [its purpose] was explained they took ownership of that. Watching it happen, the vision come to life, was extraordinary and satisfying.

What can fans do now?

We’re still fundraising to try and hit other markets outside of LA. Fans can go to LegendaryChloe.com for more information. Also you can follow us on Twitter @legendarychloe.  We also have a Facebook Fan Page. Come out and support Chloe and Allison Mack!

Rally on Smallville fans! Thanks to Elizabeth De Razzo for the interview and the pictures! Remember to check the Legendary Chloe official sites for updates. Also, follow Ms. De Razzo on Twitter @ederazzo.

UPDATE 4/16/2010: Catch Elizabeth De Razzo in Season 2 of HBO’s Eastbound and Down as a recurring guest star! She’ll be filming soon in Puerto Rico.

UPDATE 5/17/2010: Full commercial here!

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