We reported yesterday that comedian extraordinaire George Lopez will be bringing his particularly unique brand of comedy to a brand new late-night talk show on TBS. Not long after the announcement, we were told of a conference call with Lopez talking about his revolutionary new show, and we couldn't pass up a chance to get in on this call. Here's what Lopez had to say in this hilarious half-hour call.
Have you been paying attention to Jimmy Fallon and what he's been going through the last you know couple months with his show just kicking off?
George Lopez: Why do you say it like that, going through?
Just you know the attention, the press, not like - I didn't imply anything bad.
George Lopez: Let's see, that's a good question. I have been - you know I've been aware - you know I know Jimmy. I know Jimmy pretty good from Saturday Night Live and I've talked to him a few times over the years. And he played - I invited him to the Bob Hope golf tournament that I hosted last year and he was amazing. I mean, really, I mean, a talented cat.
I, unfortunately, am sleeping at that time, and I haven't TiVo'd it because I didn't want to - I didn't want to be influenced by what he was doing or I didn't want to say anything because I'd rather not know and only speak of him as you know trying to get his feet on a show taking over for somebody, which can't be easy. You know? You know what I mean?
Like I know he's working hard. I know it's a difficult job to do and I didn't want to either have an opinion or give an opinion either way you know because I know it's difficult to step into somebody, especially Conan O'Brien's shoes. Was that a good answer? Also I'll say - I'll say to my benefit, I've never been happier not to be a white male than I am today.
As I'm talking to you there's a Chihuahua asleep on my lap and he's snoring. So if you hear snoring, it's not me, it's my dog, I promise.
George Lopez: Male or female? I'll tell you what your house smells like?
David Martindale: Oh, OK. He's a boy.
George Lopez: Oh man.
Anyway, correct me if I remember the story wrong but you were the first guy to say, "Gentlemen, start your engines," at a NASCAR race in Spanish. Do you see, with this show, the ...
George Lopez: Actually, I didn't say, 'Gentlemen, start your engines.' I said, 'Is there anybody out there who has an extra (churro),' but it just - nobody understood what I was saying at a NASCAR race.
George Lopez: Right. They didn't notice.
Do you feel like, with this show, do you see yourself as being a trailblazer in another way?
George Lopez: Well, I feel that Arsenio was the original trailblazer. I was fortunate enough to be on his show from June of 1989 to May of 1994. I think I made 16 appearances. And he and I became very friendly during that time. And in that time, I did The Tonight Show in 1991 on November 21, one of the last comedians to do The The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
And Johnny Carson was very - was very nice to me not only during the show but after the show. And I've been on The Tonight Show a couple of times with Jay Leno. And you know I've been on nine times on Ellen and I think ten times on Jimmy Kimmel's show. And it's all been great.
You know I've watched The Tonight Show and Letterman and you know Mike Douglas, like everybody, man. You hear everybody talk about Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore and Dick Cavett, fantastic. And you know those shows - because I was a child of TV. I was an only child and I wanted to be a comedian. You know this year's my 30-year anniversary of being a comedian.
Now what I feel with this talk show is that there's an audience, obviously even just by looking at the people that I'm going to talk to in the next 40 minutes, that's incredibly diverse and ethnically enhanced now that wasn't there 30 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.
So, we're in a position now where it was tough to have a Latino guy who would cross over and appeal to everyone. You know with the success of George Lopez on Nickelodeon and for the 6 years it was on ABC, I have that luxury of - it's almost become like one word, George Lopez, it's never just George. I mean, I'm actually thinking about having the space removed and have it just be GeorgeLopez, one word. So I'm not afraid of a challenge. I'm not intimidated by having a camera on me. And over the last 10 years of being in Hollywood, I've made some pretty good high profile friends. You know Samuel L. Jackson was in my production pilot because I called him and so was Eva Longoria and Dane Cook and Kaley Cuoco and I used Shakira's band.
So you know I've already been endorsed by some pretty high profile celebrities as wanting to be on this show. So I think those are all pluses in my favor.
You probably - you answered a little bit of my question. It's who would be your top five must-have guests on your show? And why?
George Lopez: Well, I'd love to have Michael Jackson on because he's black and white. So he would appeal to a universal demographic.
No you know he's doing shows again. I was thinking about actually going to London to see one of his shows. I testified in his trial because I knew the accuser because I was his coach at a comedy camp at the Laugh Factory. And you know if Michael Jackson is performing it becomes a huge musical act.
But also, I'm a huge fan of Mana, and Mana is like a Latino version - I don't want to compare him to anybody, but they're like U2, that politically relevant and that socially relevant. And I can't remember the last time I saw Mana on English speaking TV. Now they have an opportunity to do that. I mean, they're one of the biggest bands that's ever performed and an incredibly successful, popular group for all fans.
But you know why not Latinos? Why shouldn't Latinos have a show that - where they can see Denzel Washington and Mana on the same show?
Any other must-haves?
George Lopez: Must-haves, let's see. Well you know I became friendly with Barack Obama because I was out there campaigning with him. And I went to - from Texas to Michigan to Virginia to Miami the day before the election. So he helped me with a little piece that we did for the production pilot. So you know I'd love to have Barack Obama on.
But also, I'd love Michelle. You know Jay Leno had Barack but I'd love to have Barack and Michelle at the same time, baby. Why should only 60 Minutes get that? That is my - and you know what, I'd love to have his mother on. So yes you know obviously you know from Juanes to Santana to will.i.am to Garth Brooks, they're all - everybody's in play, except maybe Erik Estrada.
George Lopez: Not a fan.
So we're more of a standup publication so I kind of had a question geared more towards your - the monologue of the show. You were saying earlier that you you know obviously you've watched every other talk show that's ever been on, basically.
George Lopez: Here's the beauty of that. Let me interrupt your question. Here's the beauty of that. All of those shows have been on ABC, NBC, or CBS. Now, I don't know if this dude's going to regret saying this to me because I am a little bit out there when it comes to standup.
But the head of TBS said, "Listen, George, we're cable so take some liberties with the language." I think they may come back to bite him in the ass.
I think that might.
George Lopez: So there's certain - I think what Bill Maher - you look at Bill Maher on HBO. Incredibly funny and it is - it does have some bite to it because of language. And you know you don't have that option on NBC. I have the option on TBS and I'd rather have that bullet in my gun than not have it. I'm sure a motherf*&ker will slip out now and then.
Well, what I was curious is I know that like Ellen makes a point to specifically only - that she only writes her monologue every show. And she talks about how difficult it is. And everybody else you know they use their team and they select materials. Do you have - like how much writing versus administrating are you kind of do on the show?
George Lopez: What's beautiful - even though it doesn't work in basketball, I think it works in comedy. Player coaches never work in basketball. Like when Michael Jordan, I think, tried to be a player coach it didn't work because you're not going to take yourself out of the game or be objective. I actually love collaborating because I have my own - I have my own path now, and I'm not going to say something that is not - would be something that I wouldn't say. I mean, that's to be organic to me and the edgier the better. And I'm not afraid to take on somebody or say something that somebody will find offensive because unfortunately in comedy, you can't say anything really good without offending somebody.
Can you tell me just a little bit kind of how this all came together? And also, do you think doing a show like this sort of maybe suits your comedy style than maybe another sitcom would?
George Lopez: Oh man, I'm out of the sitcom business, bro. You know I love the fact that I never thought I would get a sitcom nor did I ever think I would be in syndication nor did I ever think the show would be more successful in syndication than it was in production.
But that's been kind of the way my career's been where it's all been unexpected. You know George Lopez can't do this and I get nominated for two Grammys. I haven't won, but I still got nominated for two Grammys, completely unexpected. You know I was number 9 on the top 10 Harris Poll and been on the Forbes list. I grew up dirt poor so I've exceeded my own expectations.
I'm not afraid of this challenge nor am I afraid to try to be a little - a little edgier nor am I afraid to take something and just make it my own. I'm not sure if you can reinvent the talk show format, but I think you can paint with different colors. And already we're going to use more, obviously, brown and taupe and mauve and more colors than I think are being used right now in late-night.
And can you talk about just a little bit who approached who and how it all came together?
George Lopez: You know when I was doing the show, I got a push by Jim Paratore who worked on Rosie O'Donnell and who's working on Ellen. And this was - I probably was in my episode like 30, in the 30s, and I met him and he said, 'Would you consider doing a talk show? And I said, 'Look, I've got a show.' And he said, 'Well, it's not going to run forever, but when it's over, at least please keep it in the back of your mind.'
So over the last 5 years that I would see that guy he would always mention it to me. And I've been out for 2 years. And one of the reasons I find this challenge so interesting is because I believe that there's an audience out there that's not - that's not being serviced. And it's diverse.
And it's really what got Barack Obama elected. Barack Obama didn't get elected solely on the white vote. And he got people to the polls who normally wouldn't have voted and they voted and they stood in line for hours. So seeing that inspires you to know that those people all have TVs. And especially being Latino I know that sometimes there's three TVs on in our house and two of them might be in Spanish and one of them's in English, or two of them might be in English and one of them's in Spanish. And that's fine. And that all counts.
But it's - I don't think that's represented by particularly the numbers that come out in Nielsen. I think we're underlooked. And if you look at the newscast, I think that Spanish news and novellas beat the hell out of you know How I Met Your Mother.
So I was just wondering if you could elaborate a little bit on the street party atmosphere of the show and how that's going to differentiate you from the other late-night talk shows that are out there?
George Lopez: Yes. Let's see. Well, when I shot my pilot in August, I shot it outside. And I used the entrance to ER, that whole ambulance entrance with the L train and we lit those pillars and we made - it had a depth and we used a (jumbo mart) from ER and we shot it out in the street. And we didn't use chairs. We used kind of an amphitheater feel and we had people pretty much almost not 360 but pretty - 240 around me.
And since I'm a standup, I'm not put out by people being right on top of me. And they were excited to see me because they know me already. And you know I used (Sam) Jackson. I called (Sam Jackson). He was on my show. I called Eva Longoria. She was there. And I know Dane Cook, he was on. And I called Kaley Cuoco. I've known Kaley Cuoco since she was 16. And I used Shakira's band.
So in that presentation outside, it already looked different. And then I didn't use a desk. And I really don't want to use cards. I don't want to have to read what's going to happen next. I mean, in 7 minutes I don't think - I mean, if you do your work, I don't think you have to - I don't think you need cards.
So will you be in L.A.?
George Lopez: I will be in L.A.. I'll be at Warner Brothers. It's fantastic because it's 3 minutes from my house, not that I'm opposed to drive but you know the closer to the house, the better.
The press release mentioned there's going to be more audience interaction in this one, too. So can you kind of explain a little bit about that and how you can get the audience into this more?
George Lopez: You know what I did is when I interviewed Eva for the pilot, I'd have the audience ask like three questions.
George Lopez: I don't know if the people do that. And I didn't - and you know what I did is I didn't - we didn't screen the questions. So that'll be different, you give a mic to somebody. I think you have to pay somebody every time they talk, but TBS has got some bank. They'll be all right with that.
But they were closer - and even what I want to do is sometimes do interviews in the middle of the people or put them 360 sometimes. I don't think that there has to be like this kind of imaginary wall. I mean, look, I'm a Latino so I'm not four walls. I don't think there needs to be this kind of disconnect. I don't see how they can all - I feel like it can all work and all work kind of together. You know we're kind of together. I mean, I had a standing room only section on the pilot, and I intend to recreate that on the regular - on the show in November.
So inclusive, closer, they can ask questions, they don't - I don't want them to feel - you know I don't want them to heckle but I don't want them to feel like they're not part of it just by coming and just watching and like they're watching a movie. It's not going to have a movie feel. It'll have like you're really there, like we're going to be present. I don't know if you know I don't know if we'll use applause signs but if we do, they'll be bilingual. I think that would be the first time you'll have English and Spanish applause signs.
I'm in Dallas, and I know you're scheduled to do two shows here in May, so I'm guessing that you aren't planning on letting this new show cut into your tour schedule that much.
George Lopez: No, I don't think it has to. You know I put together a pretty good group of people. The people that are working on my show you know from Telepictures to TBS, they have a fantastic relationship already. TBS has been incredibly supportive.
I was on the road last week and then I was at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta and the marketing people and advertising, some of the - all of the marketing people and the head of TBS came to the show. And they're very excited, as is Telepictures, as is Warner Brothers and you know as I am.
So I don't intend it to cut into my tour schedule. As a matter of fact, in August on the - August 8 I'm doing a live HBO special from the AT&T Center in San Antonio. And then after that, the weekend after that, I think I'm doing Radio City Music Hall in New York and then I'm going to take a little bit of a break and concentrate on getting the show ready in November.
So I intend to go full bore not only with the talk show but with the schedule and creating the next HBO special.
I was wondering what happens when people come to your standup knowing you from your sitcom. I mean, do you shock them? Do their heads explode? Do you give them whiplash?
George Lopez: Well you know what we did is - you know I didn't like when kids came because they thought they were going to see the Nick at Nite George Lopez. It's almost like having two brothers and one is the bad brother when you come over you have to hide like your valuables and then one is the good brother that drives the Beamer and doesn't tint his windows because it's illegal.
So I managed to gradually and - although I think there's been some people who have walked out, unfortunately. But they brought kids. And now it is posted everywhere, "For Mature Audiences and Over 18 Only." But I love my young fans. It's something - you know what I've done sometimes, too, is if there's a couple of kids, like maybe seven kids, I'll pull the kids out of the audience, give them their money back and then give them sweatshirts and t-shirts and meet them after the show. And they're happy with that.
What I wanted to know, what you're bringing to the you know the talk show landscape that we're not already you know seeing out there with you know Ferguson and Conan. What unique things do you see yourself bringing?
George Lopez: What unique - well, first of all, I'm not a white male. So I'm of color already. That - you put me and Craig Ferguson right next to each other and you'll see a huge difference already. I'm going to bring a more eclectic group of actors, a more eclectic music from Mana to Santana to Slash to Garth Brooks and all of them you know it's - you know I know some pretty high profile people in Hollywood and in music and in comedy and actors and actresses. And they all seem to be pretty supportive of the idea.
And there's just an audience that is beyond The Hills and Gossip Girl and I feel like I can pull those people to TBS and they can watch a show that is - you know I'm not trying to be - I'm trying to be completely inclusive to bridge a gap that I think exists that - I watch TV and I'm a fan of TV. I've been watching it my whole life.
I think it's still very much black and white. And what I do is I throw myself and my hat into the ring. And there's the largest growing demographic of people in the United States are Latinos. And unfortunately a lot of the news regarding Latinos is all very negative. Well, this today is a good story.
How about when you have big celebrities on there. What kind of questions you know what's going to be, I guess, your interview strategy? Are you going to be asking hard hitting questions or are you just going to be you know funny and joking around or?
George Lopez: Well, I'll be funny and joking around and then slip in if they've ever been convicted of a felony. No you know if - you know at that hour, after long days, I'd like to just have it be funny. I'd like for them to - I'd like to bring out the best in them and for me to have a good time with them. You know what I mean? I mean, I don't want it to be heavy because that's what Anderson Cooper's for or Lou Dobbs.
So I just, at that hour, 11 o'clock, just have it be a little - have some shit happen that is not on a card, that's more spontaneous or an answer that you didn't expect to get or a follow-up question that - I can't say most of those guys would be afraid to ask - but a follow-up question that comes from my mind which is - which thinks differently.
So, unique to my own sensibility and my own humor but ultimately they'll understand that there'll be a certain aspect of it that'll be off the cuff. I think that is different already.
You've kind of circled around this question already a little bit, but can you tell me what you think is the secret to any great late-night talk show?
George Lopez: Well, I've been on a lot of those shows, but I think what I - what appeals to me more - I mean, I love the energy of Ellen's audience from the time they get in. And I was telling Ellen the last time I was on - which was like a month ago - that I had a meeting and they had her show on and the sound was off and through the sound being off, those people looked like they were having a great time.
You know what's going on in this country and what's going on in the world and what's going on economically and what's going on with people financially is something that hasn't happened in our lifetime. And there's enough heavy shit out there.
So these people looked like they were happy. And I would like to continue that. And I was around Arsenio from '89 for the 5 years he was on, and I don't think I've ever stood on the side of a stage in the beginning of a show where there was more excitement than before Arsenio came out. And that was 20 years ago, so that audience went to him in droves.
And I believe that there's an audience that - not only that audience but kids of that audience and that's bigger and more ethically diverse which makes me want to be more inclusive and really makes me want to show TV that all of that is viable, that those dollars that people - that those people spend, that the money that African-American people have, and the Latinos have and that Asian people have and that everyone is branded. Nothing is black and white anymore. You know Barack Obama has a white mother and his father's Kenyan.
So it isn't black and white anymore, man. It's just - you know if anybody should know blended, it's people now because every drink we have is blended. Everything's blended.
So do you already have your alternative to Arsenio's dog pound or Ellen's ...
George Lopez: Well, they're standing so I have to figure out - give me a month to think about what I'm going to call people that are just standing there waiting for the show to start or standing during the whole show. Listen, I'll find it. I'll find it.
I mean, today's really the first day that I've been able to talk about. And I've been busy on tour with the standup. But I have made some notes. But it's all really early. And I would hate to set anything in stone now because November is kind of close but it's all very far away. So it's all going to be fresh, dude, and I think you'll dig what's going to happen.
George Lopez's as-of-yet untitled late-night talk show will hit the TBS airwaves in November, so be sure to keep an eye out for that, and we'll be sure to update you on any news regarding this new show right here.