Interview with George Lopez of "Lopez Tonight" on TBS - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

George Lopez

Interview with George Lopez of "Lopez Tonight" from TBS 10/20/09


Moderator: Erin Naman
October 20, 2009
4:00 pm CT

Operator: Good day everyone and welcome to today's George Lopez conference call. Just to remind you, today's call is being recorded. At this time I would like to turn the conference over to Erin with TBS. Erin, please go ahead.

Erin Naman: Hello and welcome to this conference call with George Lopez for his new late night show, Lopez Tonight premiering November 9th at 11:00 pm Eastern and Pacific on TBS.

Lopez Tonight is set to air Mondays through Thursdays at 11:00 pm Eastern and Pacific on TBS. For press materials and photography, please visit our press site at Also please check out for videos from George and interactive content surrounding the show.

We will provide a transcript of this call tomorrow via email. We will start in just a few minutes. I will now pass it back to Lorie to give instructions on how to queue up your questions.

Operator: Thank you Erin. And when we enter the question and answer session, if you'd like to ask a question, please press star 1 on your touchtone telephone. Once again, that will be star 1 for your questions. And we ask that you limit yourself to one question. And you may queue for another follow up question.

And we'll be starting the question and answer session shortly. Thank you for your patience. And please stand by. Mr. Lopez will be joining shortly. Once again, thank you for your patience today. Mr. Lopez will be joining shortly.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience today. Mr. Lopez will be joining us shortly.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Lopez has joined and we will take your questions at this time. We'll go...


George Lopez: First of all, let me apologize for being late. It has nothing to do with ethnicity. I was doing a A&E interview for Rodney Dangerfield so I know you guys are like callers and bloggers but he was somebody who was very funny but old. So I apologize for keeping you waiting.

Operator: Thank you. And we'll proceed with our questions today. We'll go to Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

Jamie Steinberg: It's a pleasure to speak with you.

George Lopez: Thank you very much.

Jamie Steinberg: Do you have a hand in picking the guests for your show?

George Lopez: You know, I do. But here's one of the things that's important is that, you know, as a - I don't want to say - well I'm younger than most of the hosts but I do want to make sure that the music is representative of everything that's happening, not just everything that's happening to me.

So bands who -- like Kings of Leon or bands that are starting out -- that are on the cusp, that are already younger, that you - will necessarily - you know, I don't want to be Carson Daly but I admire that of breaking bands.

But I do like to keep it current with all different genres of music, which includes salsa and Latino and meringue and Cuban and Afro and rock and pop and I just want it to be a place where everybody can perform. Not that you have to change the channel to see somebody that you might particularly like but not - won't be on that show. So no boundaries with the music.

You know, in a show like this there's somebody who boasts the music specifically. As an executive producer, yes, you know, you have a hand in who gets - in who gets booked. I don't want it to become a home for John and Kate discussions. I'm tired of that shit. I wish they would go away.

So no. We'd like to keep it more legitimate with real celebrities and just a more eclectic mix of color than what you might necessarily see on late night TV currently.

Jamie Steinberg: Is it live or taped?

George Lopez: It's taped at 5:00 and then aired at 11:00 and 10:00 Central. So it's live to tape. So we're going to try to keep it - obviously they tell me that the less they have to edit, the less expensive it is. But, you know, we may go off and I may keep somebody a little bit longer and we may just fill a little bit of the time that would be spent with trying to do a piece or a taped thing.

Look, if some band is playing (badass), I'll keep them for another song if they're really playing great. I'm not going to try to kill momentum of the show. I'll just try to make everything fit in the hour that I'm supposed to be on.

Jamie Steinberg: Great. Thank you so much.

George Lopez: Because, you know, people get bumped because an interview goes longer. They don't ask a band to play another song.


George Lopez: If you want to kind of change the way the late night format is and you bring a band on and they blow the roof off the place and they're only scheduled to do one song, let them do another song.

Jamie Steinberg: Right.

George Lopez: And adjust to the time.

Jamie Steinberg: Great. Thank you.

George Lopez: Yes. Thank you.

Operator: We'll go next to Chandra Williams with Comedy Centric.

Chandra Williams: Hi George.

George Lopez: Hello.

Chandra Williams: Thanks for answering our questions today.

George Lopez: Yes. Thank you.

Chandra Williams: Congratulations on your new talk show.

George Lopez: Thank you.

Chandra Williams: Can you tell us a little bit about what Lopez Tonight will also view that other talk shows don't besides you, of course?

George Lopez: Well, let's say that when I tell people that they do not have to adjust their sets for color, I'll mean it. Usually the color of the shows are a little bit lighter. This one I intend to have it be a little bit more diverse, to have it become at a faster pace.

You know, I was around 20 years ago when Arsenio in my opinion did it right for five years and I was there a lot of the five years doing standup and learning myself. But I was able to spend a lot of time with him. Not that I had the intention of being a talk show host. I just wanted to hang around somebody that was cool. And at that time, he was really making some strides in black and white relations, not so much of Latino back then.

But 20 years later, to be in the largest growing population but not having an ax to grind where you're trying to divide the audience, I want to just provide an audience that is younger, that has a fresher approach to a show that you can see somebody you like and somebody that you've never heard of on the same show.

But the music will vary and that it doesn't look like the same show every night. I think a little bit of the problem that I personally have with some of the talk shows, it just looks like the same night every night. This show will not look like that.

Chandra Williams: Okay. Thank you.

Operator: Moving on, we'll go next to Jessica Rae with Small Screen Scoop.

Jessica Rae: Hey George.

George Lopez: Hey.

Jessica Rae: What do you think will be the most stressful part about hosting this late night show and how will you battle that stress?

George Lopez: Well, I think the most stressful part of the show, obviously because now people are - you know, there is no incubation period. I mean you have to like hit the ground running. And I have a Twitter account that, you know, I maintain probably 90% of the time.

I'm not used to having somebody tell me - well I am actually used to it. It hasn't happened since my childhood. But I'm not really used to having somebody tell me I'm going to fail before the show has even been on.

So there is such an intolerance and such a divisive nature of humanity already and something sounds as sweet as Twitter, but there's a lot of defeat and there's a lot of hatred and there's a lot of divisiveness on that. And it's unnecessary at a time when it's expected.

So in my approach for this show, the challenging thing is to get people to hate less and give an opportunity for something that is about something good and not about something bad. And hate's a way overused term. I don't particularly like it. And I think it's way overused.

So, you know, just let me have an opportunity to succeed and fail as anyone else would have. And be as impatient with me as you are with them.

Jessica Rae: That's good. Well I really like your optimistic approach and we're all looking forward to the show. So thank you.

George Lopez: Thank you very much.

Operator: Our next question today is from Sebastian Fryer with the Western Herald.

Sebastian Fryer: Hi George. How are you today?

George Lopez: What's going on Sebastian?

Sebastian Fryer: Not a whole lot. Thank you very much for finding the time to talk with us today.

George Lopez: My pleasure dude.

Sebastian Fryer: All right. My question is it sounds like you're (trying to do) something different than, you know, all the traditional late night shows are doing. So I'm kind of wondering - you've discussed this a little bit but what specifically are you bringing to the table that's new and exciting for viewers?

George Lopez: Well first of all, my set, I don't have a desk. I don't have a city behind me. I don't - I'm trying not to use cards. It looks more like a club. If you go to, there's a little bit of a pilot episode and it shows you the energy and it shows you what the stage looks like.

The band is able to play different kinds of music. Michael Bearden who is the musical director of Michael Jackson, the This is It documentary and the guitar player and the base player are in my band. And Michael is the - as the musical director is the leader of my band.

So, when the show premiers, the movie will still be in theatres and I will have that guy opening my show every night. And he's a huge asset because he's such a talented musician. And one of the - I think the only person that Paul Shafer from Letterman show has filled in for Paul Shafer when he's not able to be there.

So what we're going to try to do different is just pick up the pace of what has been traditional and then everything that they've done, try to not do that.

Sebastian Fryer: Great. Thank you very much.

George Lopez: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question today is from Francis Bea with the Badger Herald.

Francis Bea: Hey George.

George Lopez: Hey.

Francis Bea: So it's been quite the year for late night talk show hosts. I mean considering that Leno has his own show, Conan's succeeded Leno and Letterman slept with his co-workers; do you think the timing of your show is ideal? And are you ready to bring your A game to the war of late night talk show hosts?

George Lopez: Yeah. I'm ready to bring my A game. I think the war is a little bit - you know, if everybody was at the top of their game and the ratings were at fever pitch, the highest they've ever been, it might be a little intimidating to enter the late night genre or the late night war.

I don't particularly think, and it's not a secret that the experiment at 10:00 isn't working as well as Jay Leno or NBC would have hoped it would be working, which is affecting I believe Conan. And I start at 11:00. So they're not competition.

And listen; being of a different ethnicity and a different comedic approach, I don't think we're going after the same audience. I don't think that there's an African American audience or a - or a Latino audience that's watching Conan O'Brien that he has to worry about me taking.


So TBS has a younger viewership. I think the average age is 34. It's already wildly successful with African American people and usually successful with Latino. That's even before I get there.

Now I've crossed over and I don't want to be divisive. I want to be inclusive. So if I can already pull that audience and you're talking about 5 million people when 93 million people have cable, I like those odds.

And if I don't succeed, I fail. And there is no - there is no shame in failing as long as you tried the best that you can. That's all I will do. If this show doesn't succeed, I don't think it hurts me. I gave it an opportunity.

Hey man, there are tens of guys that didn't work, a lot of them. There's probably more that didn't work than worked. So what makes me think that I'm going to be the one to work? Because I believe that I offer something different than want what Keenan Williams did, that Magic did, than Chris Spencer when he hosted Vibe or Chevy Chase did.

I offer some - those - look; that's as black and white as you can get. I'm not black or I'm not white. I'm Latino and I've crossed over. And I'm not afraid. And I speak perfect English. And I speak pretty good Spanish. I would be afraid of that if I was another talk show host.

Francis Bea: At least you can beat out Kimmel.

George Lopez: Well no. You know, that - he's at 12:00. There's no really direct competition.

Francis Bea: Oh.

George Lopez: You just try to pull your own number. That's - you know, when you run in a race, you might be running with a thousand people. You're just trying to pull your own number and then compare it to theirs.

Francis Bea: All right. Thank you.

George Lopez: Yes. Thank you.

Operator: We'll go next to Sara Hagey with the Wheel from Emory University.

Sara Hagey: Hi. How are you?

George Lopez: How are you?

Sara Hagey: I'm great. I just wanted to know how it was filming your promo with President Obama.

George Lopez: Well, you know, I have known President Obama before he was even candidate Obama. I met him in February of 2008 and then we - he called me at my house and we spoke about how do we try to get him the Latino vote. And I decided that I would go out to Texas and the different states and try to get people to vote for Barack Obama.

It wasn't easy in the beginning because Hillary Clinton was still in the race. It was pretty difficult for me. But I hung in there. So by the time we decided to shoot this pilot in August, he was already candidate Obama. So what we did was since I had a personal relationship with him, we asked, it wasn't even the White House back then; it was just his campaign, if he would consider doing it. And he did.

So in San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel, we shot this promo and in a hotel room. He was already two hours behind in his schedule of fundraising and being out there. And he gave me, you know, a nice bit of time to do this thing. Never said don't put it on. He actually wanted it to be on. So we held it for a while because he was running for President and they didn't want it to come out while campaigning.

But never has the White House ever said don't run it. I mean TBS is running it as a promo with the approval of the White House. And the greatest part of knowing the President and asking him to be in a promo for a show that hasn't aired yet was the fact that he said George, I want you to change late night because that's change I can believe in. I mean you - nobody's been able to pull that one off.

Sara Hagey: Well awesome. Thank you so much.

George Lopez: Thank you.

Operator: And once again it is star 1 if you would like to ask a question. Moving on, we'll go to Kristyn Clarke with

Kristyn Clarke: Hi George. Great to talk to you.

George Lopez: Thank you very much.

Kristyn Clarke: I was reading that you plan to incorporate audience interaction into...

George Lopez: Yes.

Kristyn Clarke: ...this format. Which - how do you plan to go about that exactly?

George Lopez: Well, how about at the end of every show the audience is welcome to join me on stage and dance...

Kristyn Clarke: Oh.

George Lopez: ...while the band - while the band plays and I say my good night every night? I think GreenDay does it with much success. I love - I love that aspect of a late night show at the end that the party looks like it's continuing beyond the hour it's supposed to be on.

They will be able to ask questions of musicians and of actors and actresses if they are fans of theirs. And, you know, they'll be able to ask a question. So I don't want it to just seem like you come to a show, you're only asked to applaud by somebody's waving their arms or they flash a sign.

We're not having no applause sign and we're not having anybody standing off to the side of the stage waving people to clap. That's bullshit. It's going to be inherently energetic or it's not going to be energetic at all. And that will come across on the screen whether it's real or it's false.

Kristyn Clarke: That's good. That's awesome. And we're definitely looking forward to the show.

George Lopez: Yeah, I mean look. It's an hour. With commercials it's probably 40 some minutes. And with music, the talk is very minimal. I mean in a conversation in doing standup and being a guest on talk shows, if you're not able to sit there and engage yourself in a conversation for seven minutes, I mean really, I would be in trouble.

Kristyn Clarke: Right.

George Lopez: I'd consider myself in trouble.

Kristyn Clarke: Well thank you so much.

George Lopez: Thank you.

Operator: And we'll go to Paul Hernandez with the Daily Aztec.

Paul Hernandez: Tough loss last night George.

George Lopez: What's that?

Paul Hernandez: Tough loss last night; those Dodgers blew.

George Lopez: Oh no. We're getting killed bro. Not tough loss. How about the other night when we got routed? No. We're out.

Paul Hernandez: Well at least they got three at home.

George Lopez: Yeah. Are we done there now? No.

Paul Hernandez: No. No. No. It's today...


George Lopez: There's one more.

Paul Hernandez: Chavez Ravine tomorrow.

George Lopez: Oh yeah. Right.

Paul Hernandez: Well my question...

George Lopez: I don't know man. At least - look, the longer they play, the more promos I get. So I'm hoping they go seven and I don't care when.

Paul Hernandez: I'm with you.

George Lopez: But I do want the Dodgers to win. But at least let them at least win one or two more games. I got to get - I got to get promos more closer to November 9. My promos are connected to that series.

Paul Hernandez: Given that some of the subjects you touch upon that I've been listening to - I mean you've covered a lot of your bases with your late night show here. And you did touch upon, you know, the Arsenio Hall show.

George Lopez: Yes.

Paul Hernandez: On that show - you were on his - you were on his show 16 times which was most of any comedian.

George Lopez: Right.

Paul Hernandez: And I also - I've noticed on - and some YouTube and stuff that you stated like it's time to take it to the next phase. And given your, you know, your straightforward energy and your common status with just the everyday man, I was wondering though if you could just elaborate a little bit more on that as far...

George Lopez: Yes.

Paul Hernandez: your approach. And taking it to another level which seems like you have stated earlier is being needed in late night shows and just in, you know, general on TV because it does seem, you know, you could close your eyes and almost not tell the difference between shows anymore.

George Lopez: Yes. Absolutely. Well first of all, if you're talking about - most of those talk shows are on network TV; the Tonight Show, Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly network. Network is very strict when it comes to advertisers, content.

Now if you look at cable with Curb Your Enthusiasm and True Blood and Bored to Death and Mad Men and Breaking Bad and Weeds and Californication and the true - I mean anything that people are watching and are talking about the next day pretty much is happening on cable.

So TBS now in getting into the late night business has chosen me who appears to be fearless for all intents and purposes. I have nothing to prove to anybody other than I believe in myself that I can create a talk show that makes network look like they're standing still.

Now how am I going to do that? First of all, I'm on cable. Language may be a little bit more liberal with language, with content, within intent. Somebody who's not afraid to throw a punch and directly hit a target; somebody who's not afraid to - of retribution, not afraid of it.

Somebody who's Latino in a society where to most people if you look at their monologues it's all about immigration. It's all about negative. I watched Jay Leno. The only Latinos I've seen on that show was a spoof that he did with a guy from the Dan Band at a carwash. That's not - that's not the intent of this show.

We're Supreme Court Justices, Interior - Secretary of Labor, Secretary of the Interior and doctors and lawyers and illegal immigrants. But not just that.


George Lopez: And that's what you see when it comes to Latinos. You see a one sided approach from the white side. This is coming from somebody who - hey I was born in the United States. I'm not an illegal alien. And I am the epitome of the American dream. The American dream is not just for somebody who's white. It's for everybody.

Paul Hernandez: Well, once again, that goes back to your kind of straightforward and, you know, make it happen typical everyday man. And it almost...


George Lopez: Yes. And it's not that I have anything against anybody other than, you know, we're here too. Every man, every man works hard. Every man's trying to provide. Every man wants to be entertained. Every woman wants to sit down at the end of the night and not be disturbed by images and things. Let's give them a show where they can sit around and watch together.

You know, you got - you got situations, you got a man watching one show and a woman watching another show. How about at 11:00 they should do what they did with Johnny Carson and watch together in bed and laugh in bed.

Paul Hernandez: I think that's needed. I think it's needed. And I think that goes back to what you I believe said earlier with one of the previous interviews with the same audience and more or less intertwines because we all kind of believe the same - we all believe the same color, you know.

George Lopez: Yes. And they're getting information and they're getting numbers about those particular shows all from the same piece of the pie. I'm not looking for that piece of the pie. I'm not even going for that pie. I believe that there's another audience. Look, there's 93 million people who have television sets. You're talking about five million people. That's a small piece of the pie. If it was a real pie, I wouldn't want any of that shit.

Paul Hernandez: That makes two of us. You're not alone.

George Lopez: Yes.

Paul Hernandez: And that's the audience that...


George Lopez: Come on. We all see it. We all see it, you know. And not to say anything disparaging about anybody else. You're just dealing in facts. If you deal with the facts, the facts speak for themselves.


George Lopez: You don't need me challenge anybody what's happening at 10:00, what's happening at 11:30.

Paul Hernandez: Right.


George Lopez: And I'm at 11:00. I have no incentive for anybody to succeed or fail. I want everybody to succeed. It just makes it better. Makes better business if everybody succeeds. I'm only worried about TBS from 11:00. When I'm up there performing and doing standup and interviewing guests, nothing else will enter my mind.

Operator: We'll take our final question today from Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

Jamie Steinberg: Hello again. I was just wondering if anyone gave you advice; any of the fellow talk show hosts had given you advice about what to do for your late night show.

George Lopez: Jimmy Fallon sent me a nice card and told me to get my - told me to start sleeping. But he does five nights a week. I'm four and I'll shoot Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So it was nice that he took time out.

Craig Ferguson has asked me to be a guest on his show, which I think I will be. And I had a very nice conversation for about 45 minutes with Arsenio who couldn't be prouder of not only the way I've spoken about him and his influence on me but also in support of this new show which I know for sure he'll be an early guest on.

Jamie Steinberg: Wonderful. Thank you again so much.

George Lopez: Thank you.

Operator: And that does conclude our conference for today.

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