Univision Communications kicked off its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York on Tuesday with an unlikely endorsement from one of ABC's biggest stars.
"I might work someplace else, but this is where I live," Sofia Vergara, wearing a skin-tight leopard-print dress, said at the start of Univision's high-octane show, which unfolded at the New Amsterdam Theatre. "Univision is my home."
The Colombian beauty, star of ABC's hit comedy "Modern Family," told the crowd that she got her start on Univision, co-hosting a show with Fernando Fiore, "Fuera de Serie" (Over the Top), in the late 1990s. The show gave Vergara, a former model, exposure in the U.S. media market. From the stage Tuesday she gave a shout-out to Fiore.
Even now, Vergara said, she goes home at night to watch the telenovelas on Univision.
After Vergara introduced Univision Networks President Cesar Conde, the Spanish-language company unveiled its fall lineups for its three primary television networks: Univision, Telefutura and cable channel Galavision.
Another Univision star -- William Levy -- has similarly spread his wings and taken flight on ABC. Levy also appeared at the Univision presentation Tuesday via satellite from the company's flagship station in Los Angeles, KMEX (Channel 34). These days, Levy has been quick-stepping and foxtrotting as a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars."
When Conde asked how his ABC gig was going, Levy responded: "I want to go back to novelas."
Levy's and Vergara's appearances -- on the same day that ABC staged its presentation to advertisers -- demonstrated the growing alliance between the Walt Disney Co., owner of ABC, and Univision. Last week the two companies announced that they were forming a joint venture to create a 24-hour English-language cable news channel that is expected to launch next year.
Conde described the collaboration with ABC News as "groundbreaking." And, for the sharp-elbowed TV industry, sharing big stars on upfront day was something of a groundbreaking achievement in itself.
Sometimes it's hard to tell where Sofia Vergara ends and Gloria Pritchett, her "Modern Family" character, begins. Case in point: Vergara's visit to "Late Night" on Thursday, where the actress showed off her less-than-remarkable Pictionary skills, but, of course, did so in an utterly charming and amusing way.
Paired up with one very lucky audience member -- Billy from Nashville -- Vergara was the first contestant to pick a clue. Unfortunately for her, that clue happened to be "dog catcher."
"What is this?" she asked. "I don't even know what that is in English."
Host Jimmy Fallon offered some help, but she shooed him away, "Nooo. Then you win."
Despite not fully comprehending the clue, the Colombian-born Vergara gamely started drawing -- or, as she put it, "I paint it fast." And paint it fast she did, confusing poor Billy with a drawing of what appeared to be a self-portrait. Her decidedly unique interpretation of "dog catcher" didn't score her team any points, but it did garner a huge response from the audience. The sting of defeat was quickly forgotten in the next round, when Vergara correctly guessed "ATM machine," celebrating her triumph with a boastful little dance.
Vergara, who's set to host "SNL" this weekend, might not be the world's greatest Pictionary player, but something tells Billy didn't mind all that much.
A picture is worth a thousand words. But for this photo Jesse Tyler Ferguson of "Modern Family" spelled out 11 of them after a federal appeals court Tuesday declared California's ban on gay marriage under Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
Ferguson, who is gay and plays a gay character, Mitchell, on the ABC sitcom, sent out the picture above in a Twitter blast, saying: "Mitch & Cam have a question for you. @AFER #prop8 #MarriageEquality."
He followed it up with a series of tweets that voiced his opposition to the controversial proposition.
Although gay and lesbian couples have won the right to marry in some states, Tuesday's ruling marked the first time a federal court of appeals declared that same-sex marriage was protected by the U.S. Constitution. The backers of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal the decision.
TV series have gone into overdrive with star cameos in recent years, particularly during ratings sweeps periods. Here are some of our favorite guest appearances of 2011:
Matt Dillon on "Modern Family": Bringing back classic TV actors to play parents on contemporary sitcoms has become something of an art, and "Modern Family" nailed it when the series cast former "Cheers" star Shelley Long as DeDe, Claire's and Mitchell's mom. Even better, DeDe arrived with Matt Dillon as Claire's creepy ex-boyfriend, whose visit caused havoc during little Lily's princess-themed birthday party. He's not exactly competition for Phil, though. “The truth is, I am rich," Dillon boasts. "But not with money. I’ve got my abs, I’ve got my hair, and I’ve got a super sweet job ridin’ that limo outside.”
Steve Buscemi on "Portlandia": The sketches on IFC's cult comedy may be built around the talent and charm of its two cult stars, musician Carrie Brownstein and "SNL" star Fred Armisen, but the series quickly proved that it can throw in a low-key guest star when it cast Kyle McLachlan (who did his time as a northwestern character in "Twin Peaks") in the role of the whimsical faux-mayor of Portland. Even funnier is the use of Steve Buscemi, dropping his "Boardwalk Empire" period garb to play a regular guy who foolishly attempts to use the bathroom in the local feminist bookstore, Women & Women First. Word is that Season 2 will feature even more cameos, from the likes of Eddie Vedder, Kristen Wiig, the Smiths' Johnny Marr and several "Battlestar Galactica" cast members.
Parker Posey on "Parks and Recreation": If you've ever wondered why Parker Posey doesn't have a quirky yet sweet NBC comedy of her own, the actress' hilariously snooty appearance as Amy Poehler's best-friend-turned-archnemesis Lindsay Carlisle Shay probably soothed the pain slightly.
Honorable mention: Posey gets extra points for her sharp turn on "The Good Wife" as Alan Cumming's ex, a presidential campaign worker who offers to do him a favor — in exchange for something she needs, of course.
Condoleeza Rice on "30 Rock": Jack Donaghy has had plenty of famous lady friends (played by Edie Falco, Isabella Rossellini, Salma Hayek, Julianne Moore), but the former secretary of state is the most unlikely. Rice was game to play silly, defending her love of "Mars Attacks!" and agreeing to help rescue Jack's wife from the clutches of Kim Jong Il.
Which brings us to honorable mention Margaret Cho, who impersonated that now-deceased North Korean dictator on that very same "30 Rock" episode.
Michael J. Fox on "Curb Your Enthusiasm": Larry David knows how to put a guest star to work. Past seasons have featured stars such as Ben Stiller and Jerry Seinfeld, and this season Ricky Gervais, Rosie O'Donnell, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and ballplayer Bill Buckner showed up to great effect. But Fox closed the season with a self-deprecating wink, leaving Larry convinced that the actor's shaky behavior isn't related to his Parkinson's disease — it's just rude.
Sarah Silverman on "Bored to Death": Silverman plays it straight as a rather unorthodox "friendship therapist" trying to help Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) and his mentor George (Ted Danson) mend their relationship. By massaging her feet.
Josh Holloway on "Community": No list of clever and wacky cameos would be complete without "Community," which brings referential comedy to a new level.This fall featured an amusing appearance by Luis Guzman as a graduate of the community college returned to make a promotional video for the school, but the Season 2 finale wins the prize by bringing in Josh Holloway — a.k.a. Sawyer, lost to us since "Lost" — who swaggers in like a gunslinger in a spaghetti western. Sure, the guns are loaded with paintballs, but still, he darkens Greendale's halls with hints of a giant conspiracy all around them. “Sweetie, this thing is so much bigger than you can imagine," he mutters, before dashing out to catch a Coldplay concert.
What great guest appearances did I miss? Let me know below in the comments.
Melissa McCarthy of "Mike and Molly" and the Showtime drama "Homeland" were among the huge raves of the TV season, but both were surprisingly among the missing when the TV nominees for the 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced.
McCarthy scored an upset in September when she won an Emmy for lead actress in a comedy series for the CBS sitcom, but on Wednesday she was left out of SAG Awards' outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series category (though she did get a movie nod for "Bridesmaids"). Those nominees include Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock") and Betty White ("Hot in Cleveland").
Other prominent actresses that were omitted included Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"), Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl"), Laura Linney ("The Big C"), Laura Dern ("Enlightened") and Christina Applegate ("Up All Night").
Meanwhile, Ed O'Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were the only adult cast members of "Modern Family" who did not score an individual SAG nod. In addition to Bowen's and Vergara's nods, Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell were nominated for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series. O'Neill and Ferguson were included in the comedy ensemble nomination for "Modern Family."
Also missing among major actors in the comedy categories were Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") and Louis C.K. ("Louie").
"Homeland," starring Claire Danes ("Temple Grandin"), Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin, has been one of the critical highlights of the season, but the show and its performers were left out of the nominations.
A major surprise in the drama category was the nomination of Patrick J. Adams in USA's "Suits." Lewis beat out more well-known performers, such as Hugh Laurie ("House") and Kelsey Grammer ("Boss").
Who do you think should have been nominated? Vote in the poll below or let us know in the comments.
Ed O'Neill's backstage trailer on the set of "Modern Family" is bare, with only his brown leather shoes near the door showing any signs of living.
"I don't like to decorate because I never know if a show will last," O'Neill, who plays patriarch Jay in the series, said during a recent day of filming.
Note to Ed: It's pretty safe to say the ABC comedy will be around for a while.
The series is even being heralded as the vanguard of a sitcom revival. When Fox's "The X Factor" was put up against "Modern Family," few thought the comedy, even with its multiple Emmys, would come out on top in the ratings. But it's done just that every week of the new season. Meanwhile, the first show this fall to be picked up the for the full season was a comedy — "New Girl," starring Zooey Deschanel. Overall, half-hour comedy series — including "2 Broke Girls" — had a big showing during fall premiere week among adults ages 18 to 49.
"If comedies are back, good for TV," said Eric Stonestreet, who plays flamboyant Cam on the series. "I think the sooner we can get back to valuing scripted comedies and scripted dramas, the better. If we have anything to do with even one ounce of that, that's amazing. The goal everyday is to just do the best show we can. We’re in a very serious business of comedy here."
Julie Bowen won an Emmy for playing high-strung mom Claire Dunphy on "Modern Family." Based on her appearance on Tuesday's "Tonight Show," Bowen's got a pretty good range.
The best thing about "The Tonight Show" is that guests usually stick around for the whole hour. It gives the show a slightly more spontaneous vibe and often leads to amusingly incongruous celebrity pairings.
Take last night, for instance.
Bowen was the first guest to grace Jay Leno's couch, followed by animal trainer Dave Salmoni, who brought along an enormous pelican for a little show-and-tell. Leno had a bucketful of fish for the giant bird, but it was Bowen who got the pelican's attention. In a moment of inspired improvisation, the gangly actress locked eyes with the bird and contorted her limbs to look like him: knocked knees, outspread arms, cocked head.
The pelican looked utterly mystified, but Leno's audience lapped it up. See for yourself below.
Sofia Vergara may have lost at the Emmys on Sunday night, but to her family back in Colombia she was the clear winner--but then again, they're not entirely clear what the awards are for.
On Thursday's "Late Show," David Letterman asked Vergara about "Modern Family's" awards sweep. (Or, as he put it, "The family show did great with your Emmy awards.") "You had your family and friends all there?" he wondered.
"Yeah, of course, everybody from Colombia wants to come and join," she said.
"How many family members do you have?" he asked.
Slightly confused, Vergara responded with a question of her own. "How many I have? I think like more than 400." Not to worry, though; she had only 13 of them with her on Sunday. "They did the red carpet with me, they met everybody from my show, it was fantastic."
Though Vergara was happy to see castmate Julie Bowen take home the award for supporting actress in a comedy, her family was not quite as gracious in defeat. "They don't understand. They start calling me from Colombia. They like, 'Why you didn't win?' They really think it's a beauty pageant," she said. "So they're like, your dress was the best, and the hair, by far."
So, wait: This mean awards shows aren't just beauty contests? Who knew?
Stars and producers of several scripted series appeared to take pleasure in the disappointing ratings of the highly touted "The X Factor," which premiered Wednesday on Fox.
"Modern Family" executive producer Steve Levitan and star Eric Stonestreet both took shots via Twitter at the talent competition series. The ABC series, which just won its second consecutive Emmy for outstanding comedy, scored higher ratings in its one-hour season premiere against "The X Factor."
Tweeted Levitan: "It's extremely gratifying that a scripted comedy finally beat an overhyped karaoke contest. Thank you, #Modern Family fans!"
Stonestreet, who plays Cameron Tucker on the series, tweeted, "Thank you modern family fans for watching our show(s) last night. We did great against the XYZ factor."
"Community" star Joel McHale also weighed in. The season premiere of the NBC comedy is pitted against the second installment of "The X Factor" Thursday.
"I hear the Emmyngtons are on X-Factor tonight," tweeted McHale in a reference to his singing group, which performed during Sunday's Emmys. He asked viewers to tune in to "Community" instead.
"Parks and Recreation" executive producer Michael Schur, who tweets under the name Ken Tremendous, also tweeted that viewers should turn in to the season premieres of the NBC comedies "The Office" and "Parks" rather than "The X Factor."
"Hey goofballs, you should watch #The Office too," he tweeted. "Just don't watch people singing at Simon Cowell. Seriously, what's the point in that?"
Not everything Simon Cowell touches turns to gold.
Ratings for the British impresario's new singing competition, Fox's "The X Factor," delivered an underwhelming 12.2 million total viewers in its two-hour Wednesday premiere, according to early figures from Nielsen.
Considering the level of hype surrounding the show — and the involvement of Cowell, who left "American Idol" to start "Factor" in America — the numbers were low. Cowell had said he wanted the show to beat "Idol," but so far it looks to be well under half of "Idol's" peak numbers.
And, in what has to be concerning to Fox executives, "X Factor" built very little during its two hours and actually dipped slightly at 9 p.m., when the one-hour season premiere of ABC's hit sitcom "Modern Family" delivered 14.3 million viewers.
Fox executives, however, found a silver lining in the numbers. In the ad-friendly demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, Fox grabbed a 4.2 ratings/12 share, narrowly beating ABC for the night.
"I'm relieved," Mike Darnell, Fox's reality chief, said in an interview. "For us, the expectations have been ridiculous. All we were hoping to do was be competitive in the fall.
"Fall is tough for us," he added. "This is huge — this is the first Wednesday we've won in the demo in 18 years." Darnell predicted that if "X Factor" could maintain the ratings it did in its premiere, Fox would win the season "hands down."
And let's not forget the promotional talents of Cowell, who has a proven knack for salesmanship. Here's betting this guy won't let "X Factor" sink without a fight.
The secret for all of "Modern Family's" wins on Emmy night: Sofia Vergara's underwear line — specifically, the tiger-print ones — at Kmart.
OK. That's a slight stretch. But the undies did get an honorable mention backstage when a reporter asked what the actress was wearing under her form-fitting gown. That led co-creator and executive producer Steve Levitan to ask what Vergara's onscreen husband, Ed O'Neill, was wearing under his suit.
"My Kmart underwear too," Vergara quipped.
On a more serious note, O'Neill said the ABC comedy's win for a second straight year was more enjoyable.
"I wanted to win it very badly," the former "Married ... With Children" star and Emmy nominee confessed. "To me, it was better than the first time. To repeat is difficult. For us to have done it ... I'm relieved."
Now that the hard part is over, the cast plans to celebrate. How?
"Getting the kids really drunk," joked Julie Bowen, who picked up an Emmy in the supporting actress in a comedy category.