Finally, a late-night TV show just for South Florida! "We're gonna have a Castro death-watch clock in the corner of the screen," promises George Lopez of his new TBS talk show. "It'll be part of Castro Week
on TBS. And I plan to do the show one day from Hialeah Auditorium, and I'll have KC and the Sunshine Band doing the music."
A certain amount of that -- approximately 100 percent -- is said with Lopez's tongue firmly implanted in cheek, even though he's sort of a local boy because wife Ann Serrano is a Cuban American who grew up in Broward.
But there's no question that Lopez's 11 p.m. show, which will debut in November, will be a little different than what you see from Jay, Dave, Conan or the rest of the late-night gang.
"For whatever reason, I have the ability to connect with people regardless of color or age," says the comedian, who leveraged a wildly successful stand-up career into George Lopez, a sitcom that ran on ABC from 2002-07 and lives on in syndication and on the cable network Nickelodeon. "This opportunity allows me to go after an audience that's not being serviced on late-night: young Latinos, young black people. There's a hybrid America now, and this will be a hybrid show . . . I'm not a white male, and I look like the people who are looking at TV."
So, what are some regular features he plans to appeal to that audience?
"We're going to have a segment called Celebrity Car-Stripping," Lopez promises. ‘‘It'll be two celebrities. One will be Eva Longoria -- we're going to have to give her a Mini Cooper because she's tiny. And the other will be Jennifer Aniston. They'll strip cars and see who can sell them for parts the fastest."
Even in the event that Longoria and Aniston aren't available -- there's an approximately 110 percent chance of that -- Lopez says he'll still offer guests who aren't part of the regular late-night rotation. For instance, Bryan Cranston, who won an Emmy for his portrayal of a sympathetic meth-maker on in the little-watched AMC show Breaking Bad.
"I'm a huge fan of Breaking Bad, and I think Bryan Cranston is doing great work," says Lopez. "But the show isn't well-known, and I haven't seen him on late night. Forrest Whitaker is another guy I'd like to get. Juanes, Gloria Estefan, Slash -- I just saw him at my daughter's school, and he's great."
It's a little surprising to hear that Lopez is returning to television, given his explosive comments when ABC canceled his show. Enraged that the network was not only keeping lower-rated sitcoms but adding Cavemen, a show based on insurance commercials, he exploded: "So a [bleeping] Chicano can't be on TV but a [bleeping] caveman can? ... TV just became really, really white again."
Lopez says he wouldn't have returned for another scripted series.
"This is not a sitcom," he says. "I wouldn't have done it if they offered me a sitcom. ... I loved network TV, I grew up with sitcoms, I loved sitcoms, but after the way my show was treated by ABC, never again. They moved us five or six times in five years, and we still built an audience, and they still canceled us. Listen, you know how they say that if you know how they make hot dogs, it makes you not want to eat a hot dog again? Well, I know how how they make sitcoms, and it makes me not want to make a sitcom again."