Chico and the Man," "John Leguizamo's House of Buggin'," "Que Pasa USA" -- beyond these, American television hasn't had much to offer the Latino community.
Hoping to rectify that is Norman Lear, the producer who made black ghetto life ("Good Times"), alcoholism and abortion ("Maude"), politics and bigotry ("All In The Family") part of the commercial television landscape. (Lear was also the producer of 1984's brief-lived "a.k.a. Pablo," which starred Paul Rodriguez.) How better to develop a sitcom about modern Latino family life than to find a playwright who's dealt successfully with the subject for years?
That's why, according to the Associated Press, Lear is developing a pilot for "The Chavez Family" with dramatist Josefina Lopez. A former staff-writer on "Living Single," Lopez's plays include Simply Maria, or the American Dream,, which was then filmed for public television and won an Emmy Award, and the semi-autobiographical Real Women Have Curves. The latter caught Lear's eye, thanks to its details on the life of an illegal immigrant working in a sewing factory. Lopez, now 29, was so angered by her treatment, she spent evenings writing the plays that eventually got her recognition.
As for "The Chavez Family," Lopez told AP, "Everybody wants a Latino show, but nobody wants to take a chance. This could be the project."
-- By David Lefkowitz