TV just got a lot 'whiter,' says a canceled George Lopez
George Lopez, the first Latino to lead a television series successfully, isn't laughing. "TV just became really, really white again," he said.
ABC, he said, has "unceremoniously" canceled his self-titled comedy, which over the years chronicled his personal life from his sad childhood growing up with an abusive grandmother, to his alcoholism and kidney transplant.
"The George Lopez Show" will live on in syndication, but that's not making Lopez feel better about not getting the chance to tell one final season of stories. Lopez said Steve McPherson, ABC president of prime-time entertainment, called him over the weekend to explain that "financially" it wasn't working out, that the network would lose money if it picked up the show again.
That explanation was painful to hear, Lopez said, considering the way the network has shuffled his show over the years -- four different time slots in five years -- and putting it up against "American Idol" time and time again.
It all contributed to the show's low ratings, a point not lost on Lopez who noted that this season his show out-performed two freshman comedies that were renewed: "Notes from the Underbelly" and "Knights of Prosperity."
"I’ll take the good and the bad," Lopez said. "I took the five years of good and I did a lot with the good. My popularity, I was involved in charities, I overcame my illness, all on TV. I shared all of that with America—every secret I had. Every personal feeling. Every emotion. Everything was open to the show. And what happens?"
Lopez said he attributed the cancellation in part to the fact that the show is produced by Warner Bros. Television, and not ABC Television Studios. Using some colorful language that cannot be printed in a family newspaper, Lopez scoffed in particular at another ABC pickup: "Cavemen," about two brothers and one best friend, described as sophisticated cave dudes living in modern-day Atlanta, who will continually find themselves at odds with contemporary society.
"I get kicked out for a...caveman and shows that I out-performed because I’m not owned by [ABC Television Studios]...So a...Chicano can't be on TV but a...caveman can?" Lopez said. "And a Chicano with an audience already? You know when you get in this that shows do not last forever, but this was an important show and to go unceremoniously like this hurts. One hundred seventy people lost their jobs."
For his part, Lopez will be fine. He has an HBO special and a movie coming in the summer, and a deal with Warner Bros. to produce television movies.
"They dealt with us from the bottom of the deck," Lopez said. "Which is hard to take after what was a good run."
** Editor's update: Whoa! Hold your fire, "ATJ" fans!
No sooner did we report the cancellation of the Jim Belushi comedy "According to Jim" that we heard from seemingly everyone who watches the show that we were wrong, wrong, wrong. Well, they may be right, the show might very well be renewed after all. But ABC won't confirm that. We'll keep checking back.
--Maria Elena Fernandez