Famed astrologer Walter Mercado passed away on the night of Nov. 2, 2019 in his natal Puerto Rico. According to multiple press reports, the flamboyant astrologer/actor/writer was in a bad shape for some time and finally perished from an apparent kidney failure.
Mercado, who had to change his name to Shanti Ananda following a bizarre legal battle, was known not only for his extravagant, sequin capes and shiny jewelry, but for sending his millions of followers a lot of amor and good fortunes in his daily horoscope readings.
Followers to this blogger will know I was particularly fond of the extravagant way he delivered his horoscope readings, like this time around Valentine’s Day when he had some good stuff to announce for us Taurus, “sons of Venus.”
Eight years after the debut of La Reina del Sur, Kate del Castillo (Teresa Mendoza) is back as a badass mexicana as La Reina del Sur Season 2 premieres April 22 on Telemundo.
La Reina del Sur Season 2 is set eight years after Mendoza disappeared into the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program for bringing down a Mexican presidential candidate. Now, she is coming out of anonymity and is determined to reclaim her throne as the Queen of the South –while whacking a few bad hombres in the process.
The controversial Del Castillo became world famous not precisely because of La Reina del Sur but because of her secret meeting with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera and the now infamous Sean Penn journalistic brouhaha.
WATCH as this Mexican sorts out all kinds of shit in order to get ahead of her game.
European champions Portugal made their entrance at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 against Mexico on Sunday, a match that ended in an almost unbelievable 2-2 tie and many amazing Mexican memes — of course.
May is my favorite month of the year, and not only because it is my birthday, and spring is blooming and all that crap. It is because in addition to the very serious journalistic work I do everyday, I get to attend some of the presentations, parties and after-parties around the so-called Hispanic TV upfronts.
My favorite part, of course, is trying to cover the not-so-serious side of the three-day-marathon of parties, parties and programming presentations, interviews and business meetings.
Here are some highlights of this year’s Hispanic TV upfronts, which have left this blogger (and her liver) particularly damaged.
CNN en Español: Eñes, Eñes Everywhere!
* Hispanic TV Upfront week officially kicked off with a small, but lively party in New York City hosted by CNN en Español, which insists on putting an eñe on its logo, even though it looks silly and makes no sense whatsoever. This time around, though, the “eñe-offender” made its way to pillows, cookies and chocolates, because why have pass the opportunity to amplify the silliness?
Personally, the highlight of this year’s CÑÑ’s presentation was non other than Jeff Zucker, the mero merojefe of CNN (sans eñe,) who kicked off the event by addressing the audience in a moderately good Spanish.
Needless to say, this blogger did her best to run after him as soon as he stepped off the thing and tried to ask him who had coached him in the language of Cervantes. Alas, I have to report Mr. Zucker runs way faster than me!
Unlike previous years, Telemundo did not host its own upfront presentation, but was a small part of a much bigger event by parent company NBCU at Radio City Hall. But in an effort to make it up to the many people it didn’t invite to Radio City Hall (ahem, ahem, self,) it treated hundreds of advertising executives, media — and me, of course — to a lavish party Monday night featuring Enrique Iglesias (also known as The-Singer-That-Makes-This-Blogger-Feel-Like-a-Cougar.)
As usual, right before the event I was able to squeeze past security and reach the so-called VIP area of the Hammerstein Ballroom, where I spotted my friend José Díaz Balart chatting with former Univision star Mario Kreutzberger (aka Don Francisco) who is making a TV comeback on Telemundo — for some reason.
It is important to note there was some kind of “wall” between me and the celebrities, but nothing a crafty Mexican couldn’t get through.
Univision’s ‘Proof of Passion’
Univision’s theme for its 2017 Upfront presentation was “Proof of Passion,” a celebration of the things that Hispanics are so passionate about, namely soccer, family and dancing! Yes, there was the usual stuff about how much my people (i.e. The Hispanics) love soccer, their family and all that jazz. But there were also some fun jabs at Telemundo’s own theme, SHIFT, which Univision simply dismissed as just “a crock of shift.”
“We’ve heard how there’s some kind of shift happening,” said Steve Mandala, Univision’s executive vicepresident of ad sales. “That is a crock of shift.”
Univision’s presentation closed with Shakira performing two songs. TWO SONGS, after which she just simply wished us all well and walked away.
Oh and did I mention how RUDE and awful it was for Univision to forgo its lavish luncheon that had become a legend in town? Come on, Randy Falco, that luncheon was literally the only thing that made this blogger get her Latina butt moving and stand the horrors of Times Square.
Are you telling me Univision finances are so bad that you couldn’t afford the spiced pollo of last year? SAD!
This year, the party took place at ESPACE NY, and – unlike previous years – it was much smaller, and the room looked kind of empty at times. On the bright side, it was easier to harass famous, beautiful Latin people and refill my champagne glass way faster than in years before.
Other than me, other beautiful people who showed up included.
María Elena Salinas, looking sharp as ever and drinking tons of water (which is what I should have done)
Thalía, who received an special award for being the Latina that has been featuring more times in the special Bellos issue….
David Chocarro, who was seen posing near some skincare products, but could have used a comb instead…
… and Lili Estefan, Raúl de Molina, Geraldine Bazán, Gabriel Soto and many, many more famous Latinos whose name I couldn’t really catch after all those liters of … Seltzer water.
Anyhow, everything ended up smoothly and this blogger was able to go back home in one piece, blessed by a beautiful Manhattan night.
It is not a secret that Univision ratings are tanking, and its telenovelas are no longer as popular as they once were. So the gigantic, media company is trying something a bit more risqué: A dramatic series about — what else? — El Chapo, Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, currently serving time (and learning English) in a Brooklyn prison.
The role of El Chapo will be played by Marco de la O, an actor this blogger had never heard of before and one that looks a bit more like a mustachioed version of Jim Carrey, if you asked me.
But I digress. The upcoming series is only the latest example of Hispanic television’s obsession with Latin American drug lords, which might be a pest to society, but provide TV outlets with sweet, coveted ratings.
El Chapo will premiere in the U.S. on Univision on April 23 and this blogger will be watching — of course.
Chances are you are too preoccupied with this insane election, but I think you should know that the all-too-non-Hispanic-famous TV personality Jimmy Fallon last night welcomed the super-famous, not-retired-yet-again Don Francisco to sing a duet in front of a live audience and on national television.
Almost one year after announcing his departure from Univision, the septuagenarian TV host Mario Kreutzberger, aka Don Francisco, is making a comeback to Hispanic media. Oh, and it’s quite the comeback.
Telemundo on Tuesday announced it signed a multi-year agreement with Don Francisco, which includes “the creation of a joint production company to develop and produce original content and formats for Hispanics in the United States and audiences around the world, across multiple platforms.” But, perhaps more importantly, Telemundo says, Kreutzberger will bring his expertise to Telemundo Network News as a special senior news correspondent.
Come to think of it, this is actually quite perfect, given the circus that the current political campaign has become.
I can only hope El Chacal de la Trompeta will come back too and put the presidential candidates in place when they would just Not. Shut. The. Hell. Up.
Per a press release quoting the great Cristina Schwarz (a personal friend, mind you)…
“On the evening of Sunday, April 26, viewers from all across the New York Tri-State area will be able to look up to the beacon of our skyline as it beams in red, in honor of our station’s past and the promise of our future as we reaffirm our commitment to be the first informers our communities demand and deserve.”
I don’t know you, but as a proud Hispanic, I’ll be anxiously waiting for the red lights to go up and then tune in my TV set to … Mad Men.*
*It’s nothing against Telemundo, really. I just need to know what’s going to happen with Don Draper’s sombrero,
Eva Longoria (aka as La Prieta Faya and this blogger’s favorite retroacculturated Latina) has been tapped as the star of Telenovela, a 13-episode NBC comedy slated for the 2015-2016 TV season.
The decision to pick Longoria wouldn’t be more appropriate: The show tells the story of a telenovela actress who doesn’t speak Spanish, and we all know that while Ms. Longoria is not a telenovela star, she is indeed extremely challenged when it comes to the language of Cervantes.
I can’t wait to not watch for the show to start. However, it’s a pity NBC didn’t cast Mr. Erick Estrada as her co-star in this thing. After all he’s the only actual telenovela actor I know who ever got away with making a telenovela despite his very poor command of Spanish.
You can say anything about Hispanic TV networks, but they are a quite inventive bunch when it comes to Spanish-language adaptations of world-renowned dramas.
Take Telemundo, which has kicked off production of its own version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th Century. But instead of an old, boring male Jean Valjan, the role of the protagonist -who served a prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread- will be played by none other than Aracely Arámbula, aka “La Chule” or the stunningly-blond-Mexican-mother-of-Luis-Miguel-children.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Telemundo’s upcoming telenovela is a “strange and free” adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, taking the adaptation all the way to the present time in a Texas town.
I’m all up for free adaptations. I mean, wouldn’t you rather see La Chule and her well-known cleavages instead of the always pathetically sad mug of Valjean? [right]
It’s amazing what a television outlet would do to beat its competitors. Take Telemundo Puerto Rico’s Dando Candela, which earlier this week (June 13) promised viewers an ¡exclusive! ¡amazing! ¡historic! interview by reporter Yulianna Vargas with Kobbo Santarrosa, the TV personality being sued by WAPA-TV for breach of contract.
Turns out such “exclusive” interview was nothing but a rehashed audio from an interview by the same reporter that aired in October 26, 2012, about yet another court battle involving Santarrosa.
Watch the hosts of Dando Candela hype up the interview as if it were ‘news.’
Her response?…. It’s even more embarrassing than the snafu itself.
“We understood, as news producers, that it was pertinent to offer the story to our viewers. Our commitment is to entertain and look for information to give our audience with the greatest respect that characterizes us.”
This is exhausting! In addition to covering this week’s Hispanic TV Upfronts for these guys and these guys, I had to save some juicy details for the not-so-serious side of the 3-day-marathon of parties, parties and parties, programming presentations, interviews and business meetings.
* Hispanic TV Upfront week started May 13 with two networks, Azteca America and Estrella TV, holding “intimate dinners” at the exact same time in two very distant places, presumably to keep me from attending either. But, as you all know by now, I’m a sneaky Mexican and managed to attend both.
* Estrella TV brought to dinner at Tao Restaurant its most recent acquisition, Myrka Dellanos, who looked amazing and who is now going to be news anchoring instead of selling toothpaste.
* As it has been the case before, I crashed the People en Español party at Marquee, which was OK, but not nearly as as glamorous and/or fun as previous years. However, beggars can’t be chosers, so I shut up now. Besides, I must continue to be nice to them, especially to Elvis Lizardo, who famously calls me “The Mexican glue that keep us all together.”
* After surveilling the venue for some famous bellos, I realized celebrities are not the only beautiful bunch, so I proceded to propose People en Español Editor ArmandoCorrea a co-production of “Los 50 ejecutivos más bellos del mercado latino,” a list that would be curated by @miblogestublog -of course, and published and promoted by Time Inc. or someone with that kind of money. I’m thinking MundoFox’ Hernán López should go on the cover, while Telemundo’s Peter Blacker will take the back cover, though I’m still not sure. Other execs being considered: Mundo Fox’ Oswald Mendez, Telemundo’s Emilio Romano and Fusion’s Miguel Ferrer. [This blog is accepting submissions now.]
* Tuesday events kicked off at 11:00 am at The New Amsterdam Theatre, where Univision held a lavish presentation for over 1,600 guests.
* Pretty much all those 1,600 guests then walked or took buses to Univision’s after party, which took place at ESPACE, where there was not a lot of “espace” nor food to feed all those hungry mouths. At some point, many attendees grew restless and angry as waiter after waiter kept passing in front of us with trays full of food, but destined to “VIP’s only.” That didn’t stop me, however, so I quickly managed to get a hold of a VERY VIP name tag (above) in order to secure some mini-burgers.
* The stunt didn’t work and I had to settle for a peanut butter cookie that surely contained about 5,325 calories.
* Since it secured me no food whatsoever, my Randy Falco name tag made a second appearance later that night at the Telemundo upfront in Lincoln Center, where it was not as well received as I had imagined. I still wore it to go say ‘hi’ to NBCU’s Chairman of Hispanic Ventures Joe Uva, who requested my immediate removal from the premises. [I stayed.]
* The marathon continued Wednesday with a noon presentation by Fox Hispanic Media at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. The presentation included FHM’s four networks: Fox Deportes, Fox Life, Nat Geo Mundo and Mundo Fox. It attracted some big talent, including Bárbara Mori, Marlon Moreno, Mario Lopez and Oscar de la Hoya, who came onstage not wearing fishnet stockings but a pair of cowboy boots.
* After a presentation that seemed to last hours, most of us headed East towards Vme’s upfront at the Instituto Cervantes. Under new management, Vme hosted a small, intimate, sit-down presentation in a dark basement with no cellular signal whatsoever, making it the perfect setting for a much needed afternoon nap. (I caught several executives and members of the media happily snoring away, but I decided not to publish their names, mostly because it wouldn’t be fair and because I was also fast asleep.)
* The marathon ended Wednesday night with a much-needed, circus-themed party hosted by Viacom’s Tr3s and headlined by Daddy Yankee, who made even the most stiff media executive shake his/her hips. EXTRA BONUS POINT for Tr3s, which spared us the power points and the data on Hispanic TV audience growth, etc. etc. etc.
Yet, my favorite moment this week came at the Tr3s party when I was able to capture the following shot, featuring the great Eduardo Caballero, the father, grandfather, godfather of Hispanic media, and Ari Madrid, probably the craziest -and smartest- millennial I’ve ever met and one of the youngest entrants to this business.
Caballero changed the media world once. Ari will change it forever.
This blogger is so tired from all this partying busy this week, that a proper upfront round-up will not come until the weekend (sit tight.) However, I thought you’d like to know that barely minutes after Univision wrapped its upfront presentation under the theme “One for all,” NBCU found it amusing to park a van right outside Univision’s party venue using the exact same tagline but touting NBCU, not Univision, as the company that reaches 90% of all Hispanics.
NBCU does indeed reach a large percentage of Hispanics as it owns not only a bunch of English-language networks that are popular among Latinos, but also mun2 and Telemundo.
The stunt was the most talked about subject during both, Univision’s and Telemundo’s parties, during which this blogger drank only cranberry juice and an occasional glass of water.