Celebrity Life Is 'a Minefield' for George Lopez
George Lopez's early life reads like a chicano Charles Dickens story.
Having been abandoned by his mother and raised by a grandmother who had little love to give, Lopez's childhood was one full of taunting and neglect. But, as an adult, he's turned his tragedy into material for a successful run in the stand-up comedy world. Then Sandra Bullock approached him to star in his own series, "The George Lopez Show."
When Lopez joined primetime television in 2002, there had only been three previous Latino celebrities who starred in a major network TV show: I Love Lucy"), Chico and the Man") and House of Buggin'"). The show ran successfully for five seasons and earned an even larger audience in syndication in Nick at Nite's line up. Since then, Lopez's career has been non-stop.
Adding co-host (Emmy Awards), host (Latin Grammys, "Lopez Tonight"), and best-selling author ("Why You Crying?") to his resume, Lopez has been called one of the "Top Hispanics in America" by TIME magazine. His return to television, "Lopez," was just renewed for a second season and offers a side of Lopez that he has yet to fully explore.
Moviefone: I've watched a few episodes of "Lopez" on TV Land, and I know it's semi-autobiographical. What led you to that concept?
George Lopez: You know, when we went to TV Land, they said to me, you know we've seen "family" George, we've seen the "stand-up" George, we want to see the George that nobody sees. I thought that was a great concept because of the misconception that people think that because you're successful or Latino, that everything is great, people are great and money fixes everything, and I don't think anything could be further from the truth. I think you attract people that are not right. You don't know sometimes, in meeting people, in dating, even in business, you kind of go through, like, a minefield. I thought that was a great way to approach the show, and I think we've been successful in showing a life -- and a side -- that no one had seen before.
What the show represents well is something a lot of first and second generation American-born Latinos are going through, and that is the feeling of being torn between two worlds. Do you feel that way, especially when it comes to your own children? Do you think that they are torn, and what do you do to help navigate that?
My daughter, who's 20, I don't think is as culturally identified with being a Mexican like I was. You know, the times changed, there's more information now. I like the fact that she has her own image of herself. For me, I don't even think at 55, that people's perception of Latinos change. This is a great way to show people that we have a sense of humor, we have problems like everyone else. I didn't want to make it just one particular color because that doesn't appeal to everybody, but the fan base that I had seems to like the fact that we made a show that crosses a lot of cultures.
One of the fun elements of the show is its variety of guest stars. One of my favorites was Ed Begley Jr. because he was just so unexpected. Do you have a list of dream guest stars?
Ed Begley Jr. was great ... the episode where he goes through my house, telling me I'm using too much power because he's such an advocate for clean energy and those things. But maybe, someone like Pepe Aguilar or Pitbull or someone people wouldn't expect to see. Vicente Fernandez would be amazing, like a mentor. Or, Tom Jones; I met him at a concert. I want him to be my, almost like a ghost, a guy you always run into at the same place who gives you advice because he follows you on social media. So he would be like, "Hey, I've been following what's going on, want to know what I think?" and I would be like "no!" but then he gives you an answer, and it's an answer that's good.
Speaking of social media ... I follow you on Facebook. You're very active, and interactive with your fans. What led you to start communicating with your fans on social media, and how do you take their feedback?
You really kinda get one good punch in, a lot of negative ... and I block ... I block a lot of people. If people give a criticism that I think makes sense, then I answer some of them; I don't answer some of them. Most people in the public eye don't answer any because people have a thin skin. I particularly have a tough skin because of the direction I chose to take people on and to be a voice in politics as well as for Latinos. Now, with Donald Trump, I get a lot of right wing people coming at me hard, telling me he's going to deport me, even though I was born in Los Angeles! I think, if you're going to talk about ignorance and people not being intelligent, you'll have things to talk about forever.
I was born in Los Angeles, too, and I know you're a big Dodgers fan. What do you think of the Dodgers this season?
I'd like them to finally wrap one up! In 2018, which is only two years away, it will be 30 years since we've won. So to think that the Marlins have won a couple of championships, the Red Sox, the Cubs look good, and we've put a lot of money into that team. Well, everybody that buys tickets has an investment into the team. We would like the Dodgers to go deep into the playoffs, not just make it and get wiped out. They play good until they get to the playoffs. You don't want to be that team that plays good all year, makes it and then ... chorro ... at the end.
"Lopez" airs Wednesday nights on TV Land.