George Lopez on late night with Conan, golf and, yes, 'The Smurfs'
Indeed, the long-working Latino comic seems caught between the anointing of Conan O'Brien as his late-night TBS lead-in and the marital meltdown of his close pal and creative collaborator Sandra Bullock.
There's the cliche that no bad press exists as long as they spell your name right, but in Lopez's case, the secondary spotlight should call attention to what makes him worthy on his own.
"When you're a fighter, you want to win," Lopez said Wednesday, calling in as part of a long to-do list consisting of prep for his daily program "Lopez Tonight," his varied charitable efforts and lending his voice for any number of animated box-office giants.
"With Conan coming in November, we get along and we want to win. I think it's going to be a compelling block of television. He's going to help me."
Not that he needed much -- Lopez's audience hovers around the 1-million mark, consisting largely ...
... of the advertiser-coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic.
"To come in 600,000 short of numbers that are considered good for 'The Tonight Show' is pretty good," Lopez said, especially considering that cable network TBS had been uncharted territory for a late-night chat show.
He stressed that he's looking forward, not watching his back.
"With the climate of late-night talk shows, if you don't get traction, if I wasn't doing well -- they would've thrown me under the bus immediately," Lopez said.
He's not short on friends, either, many of whom will turn out May 3 for his third annual George Lopez Celebrity Golf Classic. The Audi-sponsored cup will draw names including Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Oscar de la Hoya and Samuel L. Jackson.
His charity, the Ann and George Lopez Foundation, supports underprivileged families in the areas of healthcare and education.
"No, thank God," Lopez said of the chance wife Ann would hit the greens. "[She'll] be there in an expensive scarf with little golf balls on it."
Luckily, he's gainfully employed, jamming film acting in between taping the show -- like his completed work on the upcoming "Marmaduke," the 3-D animation "Rio" with Anne Hathaway and the anticipated update of "The Smurfs" with Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry.
"I actually saw the first few minutes of the movie," Lopez said of a recent trip to New York for recording, "it really captures you."
We dare say Lopez is a thread there, as well.
-- Matt Donnelly
Photo: George Lopez sits court side at Staples Center as the Los Angeles Lakers face the Portland Trailblazers on April 11, 2010. Credit: Andrew Gombert / EPA.