PBS to Launch 'American Family,' First Latino Drama on Broadcast Television, in January 2002 (July 27, 2001)
Series Represents Unique Partnership With Gregory Nava and El Norte Productions, KCET/Hollywood and Fox Television Studios3
Principal funding for the series is being provided by PBS and CPB and Fox Television Studios. Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution will distribute the series internationally.
American Family was created by Academy Award© nominated director Gregory Nava (El Norte, Selena), and is being produced by his production company, El Norte productions and KCET/Hollywood. "The series is about an American family living in Los Angeles that happens to be Latino," says Nava. "I want to create a show that will make the audience laugh and cry as it chronicles the daily struggles and triumphs of a family. American Family is about everyone's family."
The series was originally a pilot commissioned by CBS for the 2000-2001 season. It starred Edward James Olmos, Sonia Braga, Raquel Welch and Constance Marie. Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, encouraged PBS and KCET to consider the series for public television. El Norte Productions and KCET/Hollywood will produce twelve new episodes with an option for a second season. Production will begin in September.
Set in East Los Angeles, American Family chronicles the lives of the Gonzalez family headed by its conservative patriarch Jess Gonzalez (Edward James Olmos), who continually battles against the ever-changing world, including his liberal, political activist daughter, Nina Gonzalez (Constance Marie). Though ostensibly a drama, the series has comic elements with much of the humor arising out of the cross-cultural experiences of the characters. Leading the comedy is superstar Raquel Welch as the fun-loving Aunt Dora, while Cisco Gonzalez, the youngest member of the family, secretly videotapes his family's antics for all to see as he posts them on the Internet.
Pat Mitchell has led the year-long effort to bring this series to PBS. "From the moment I viewed the pilot, produced for CBS, and talked with Gregory Nava, I wanted PBS to be able to bring this unique and important series to our viewers. Offering an original, distinctive drama series, one that presents the trials and triumphs of an audience underserved and underrepresented on American broadcast television, is right on mission for PBS. It reaffirms our commitment to commissioning new, top-quality entertainment and to providing diverse and uplifting stories with relevance and value for all American citizens."
"Gregory Nava is an extraordinary storyteller and his vision for American Family promises to make it a landmark series for American television," said Al Jerome. "Our alliance with this talented filmmaker from our community is a dream come true for KCET."
"We're excited by the prospect of bringing a show like American Family to the air," said Robert T. Coonrod. "One of CPB's missions is to support programming that represents the changing face of America. We think this series helps accomplish that goal and could help redefine the mass media image of Latino families and their place in our society."
Also in development is a ground-breaking interactive web site for this dramatic series. Each episode of American Family is narrated through Cisco's web diary. Viewers who log on to Cisco's diary on the Internet during the broadcast will be able to get postings and footage not available on television. The interactive component is being created by El Norte Productions and ARTiFACT[+]iTV.
Gregory Nava is Executive Producer of American Family. Barbara Martinez-Jitner is the Series Producer. Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari and Eric Gold are also serving as Executive Producers. KCET Executive-in-Charge is Mare Mazur, senior vice president of programming and production.
El Norte Productions