October 29, 2009 / 11:14 AM / in 8 years

A Minute With: George Lopez on his new TV talk show

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Comedian George Lopez is about to enter a world in turmoil by competing for American TV viewers against the likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O‘Brien with his own nightly talk show.

<p>Comedian George Lopez performs at the 53rd annual Thalians gala in Beverly Hills, California in this November 2, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

In recent months, O‘Brien replaced Leno at “The Tonight Show,” and Leno launched his own talk series in a 10 p.m. time slot normally reserved for hour-long dramas. Then Letterman made headlines when he was the victim of a blackmail attempt and admitted to having sexual affairs with women co-workers.

Now, Lopez is entering the fray, two years after his sitcom “George Lopez” was canceled. The hour-long “Lopez Tonight” will launch on November 9 on cable network TBS, and the comedian told Reuters the time is ripe for a talk show hosted by a Latino like himself:

Q: TBS has said your show will be like a street party. What does that mean to you, a street party?

A: “Probably what it means to TBS is that it’s going to be safe and a lot of fun and properly lit. A street party to me means it’s dark, it’s fun, you stay after the party, and you just try to condense as much fun into that one hour.”

Q: You were once a disc jockey for an L.A. radio station. Will any of that experience help you on this talk show?

A: Yes. Let me tell you this, I already went through this with the TV (sitcom) show. Radio is really difficult to do. ... I think if you were to ask Howard Stern, I think he would probably tell you that there isn’t a more divisive, backbiting business that you could ever run into. I wasn’t prepared for any of that when I had the opportunity to do radio, but what I learned in those 10 months surrounded by those people served me well when I did my sitcom, because I didn’t freak out.

... And when they fired me (from the radio station), it’s funny because my cardboard cutout passed me on the way to the meeting. I thought, ‘Why is that not in the lobby anymore?’ Some dude had it under his arm.”

Q: There’s a lot of competition for late night talk show audiences. Where do you think you’ll fit in?

A: “Well, I‘m at 11 so I don’t have to compete with Jay Leno. If this show was at 10 o’clock, I don’t think I would have taken it. Ten o’clock is an already established time for hour dramas with incredible, huge fan bases. ... I also would not have touched 11:35, because do I want any part of David Letterman? Absolutely not. Would I want to go up against Conan and the ‘Tonight Show’? Not particularly, starting out as the new host. But at 11 o’clock, I get a little bit of a jump.”

Q: You write in your autobiography that your grandfather was the only real man in your life growing up. Why was he so important to you?

A: “I never knew my father, and I grew up around guys who always had their fathers, and I always felt like I was less, because I was raised by my grandparents and I didn’t have a relationship with my mother. And they were already older, and everyone else’s parents were younger, and they had brothers and sisters and I was an only child. So everything that they had that shined, I had the opposite, that didn’t shine.”

Q: You also befriended Richard Pryor toward the end of his life. What was he like when you knew him?

A: “Well, he was very sick, and I remember I got him a satellite radio because he was spending a lot of time in bed, and he liked that. I would go over and bring him movies. Because when I was sick I got a lot of movies and I would deliver movies to him. He wasn’t speaking at the time, so I would do some of his material for him. And he liked it, he would make sounds and things.... And to know him a little, to be able to stand there at his funeral and express my admiration and my respect and my love for him was an amazing honor.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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