What would bring Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony together again? Univision’s Television Critics Association breakfast, of course! We were there…
Showing no signs of awkwardness, exes Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, joined by Jamie King, appeared genuinely comfortable with each other at Saturday’s TCA breakfast while promoting their new show, Q’VIVA: The Chosen. (Photo: Univision).
There were no shortage of VIP’s at Saturday’s Television Critics Association (TCA) breakfast in Pasadena, Calif, hosted by Univision. All guests were asked to show up at 7:15 a.m. sharp —and if, like me, you like your zzz’s on the weekend, it’s definitely tough to get it together that early. Then again, when you’re told Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are both coming for a special presentation, you show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, reporter’s notepad and recorder in hand.
Members of the TCA, along with guests, were treated to egg-and-chorizo burritos and bloody mary’s, among other things, in the Georgian Ballroom of the fancy Langham Hotel, before Ronald Day, Univision’s Senior Vice President of Programming and Promotions, took the stage to present a video with highlights from the network’s exciting 2012 slate.
After the video, Alfonso “Poncho” de Anda, the host of Dale Con Ganas, brought up the show’s executive producers Emilio Estefan and Dave Broome (also the creator of The Biggest Loser) for a panel discussion. The two veterans talked about their hopes for the show, such as inspiring Latinos to lead healthier lives, and why the show will connect with audiences. Broome even joked, “How can you go wrong with a Hollywood Jew and a Cuban from Miami?”
A second panel discussion followed around Q’VIVA: The Chosen, moderated by Lourdes Stephen, co-host of Univision’s Sal y Pimienta, with special guests Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. The two stars were joined by their Q’VIVA co-executive producer and co-host Jamie King, hailed by Variety as the “Billion Dollar Show Director” for his work on 19 pop music tours (Madonna, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, to name a few). Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, one of the show’s key partners, introduced the panelists.
Anthony described the show as “a passion project on so many levels,” and “an opportunity to show the world what Latin America is really like and what it has to offer,” while King talked about how much the show has taught him about Latin culture. “As the person on the team that only speaks English, I was a little nervous, wondering, ‘How am I gonna understand this?’” King confessed, “but really the performance translates, and I’m learning as I’m going and I’m growing. So it’s an interesting opportunity for the viewers to not only feel something, but to learn something.”
But, as usual, all eyes were on Lopez, who showed up in a fitted, bright blue leather dress and nude heels and roused the subdued crowd with an animated, “I said, good morning, everybody!” upon ascending the stage. At one point during the panel, Anthony touched Lopez’s hand, pointing to her bling. “It’s just four stars,” she said of her diamond-encrusted rings, adding that signature Lopez laugh.
The crowd couldn’t get enough of the Q’VIVA panelists, with one grouchy TV critic demanding that the moderator’s remarks be cut short in order to allow for more open questions from the audience. One critic addressed the elephant in the room by asking, “How was it working together [with Anthony] again?” to which J.Lo responded, “It’s just like any other time. Working together has been great. We have a ball.”
The highlight of the morning was by far the special live presentation of three acts participating in Q’VIVA. First up was Musica Maya Aj from Guatemala, a trio playing beautiful Mayan music using handmade bamboo instruments, followed by a malambo group from Argentina whose zapateo was electrifying, and lastly, a 13-member swing Latino troupe from Cali, Colombia donning colorful sequins.
While most of the people in the room were in awe of the performance (including myself and Mario Lopez, who kept yelling “Ohhh!’’ in my ear), the message seems to have gotten lost among others. When I asked one (non-Latina) Us Weekly TV critic her thoughts after the performance, she looked at me wide-eyed and said, “Honestly, I thought it was kind of crazy; my heart’s still racing.”
It’s an interesting reaction, and one that speaks to the crossover potential for the show among mainstream American audiences (the type that Lopez already speaks to via American Idol on Fox, which will air Q’VIVA in the U.S. for the English-speaking market).
But Lopez is bullish about the universal appeal of it. “It just translates,” she said during the panel on Saturday. “It really does translate. I think because of all these other shows that are out there right now, like The Amazing Race, where people go to other countries, it’s not a big leap for anybody. Plus, the music and the dance is really the star of the show. I know everyone who watches it is going to be so pleasantly surprised, so elated, so lifted.”
Me and my new friends from the Guatemalan group, Musica Maya Aj, one of the acts featured in Q’VIVA: The Chosen. Group leader Luis Cali thanked Lopez, Anthony, and King in a video by saying, “Thank you for unearthing 900 years of our ancestors’ music.” (Photo: Angie Romero)
Later, when asked if she always envisioned it as a show that would live on more than one network, Lopez added: “We think really big over in this area and we always thought of it as something that would live on English and Spanish networks, and Portuguese networks as well. There will be slightly different edits for each territory [with sub-titles]. It will be successful and yes, we will have a Season Two.”
Anthony added an important point: “There’s a huge misconception as to what the show is. We’re not judges. We’re producers putting together a live show and we’re documenting the process. Everybody asks ‘what do you win?’ You don’t win anything; you either get cast in the final show, which is a live extravaganza [in Las Vegas] with Latin talent, or not.”
Whether mainstream audiences connect with it or not—and we’re betting/hoping they will, learning about the diversity within Latin culture along the way—one thing’s for sure: we’ll be watching.
Check back in with us closer to January 28, when we’ll take you behind the scenes of Q’VIVA with exclusive interviews, photos, and video.
Meanwhile, here’s what to look out for in 2012 on Univision:
Dale Con Ganas, which we’ve described as part novela, part weight-loss competition series, premiered on January 11, and airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST.
The highly anticipated new novela El Talisman, starring Blanca Soto, Aaron Diaz, Rafael Novoa, and Lola Ponce, premieres January 30 at 8 p.m. EST. Check out a preview here.
Don Francisco will have plenty of reasons to celebrate in 2012, as his baby, Sabado Gigante, celebrates its 50th birthday. The show will return to its usual slot on Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m. EST.
Riding on the success of Pequeños Gigantes, the new show El Gran Show de los Peques will show kids doing more singing, dancing, and acting on Sundays starting January 29 at 8 p.m. EST.
Nuestra Belleza Latina returns March 4 at 8 p.m. EST for it sixth season. Auditions are currently happening around the country.
Q’VIVA: The Chosen, with hosts Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, and Jamie King, will make its Spanish-language debut in the U.S. on January 28. Univision will air 12 one-hour weekly episodes every Saturday at 7 p.m. EST.