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Please RSVP for this event to [email protected].
Comcast announced Wednesday it’s making good on its deal with the Federal Communication Commission to “launch 10 new independently owned cable channels, with most backed by African Americans and Latinos, by 2018.” One of those, called El Rey, is to be helmed by famed Tejano director Robert Rodriguez, or as I am fond of calling him, Ro-Ro.
Rodriguez, now in his 20th year since the release of El Mariachi, is teaming up with “hybrid entertainment, media business development and consulting firm” FactoryMade Ventures for the project, though more partners could be added as they begin to raise funds for this venture. FactoryMade Executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa told Fox News Latino they “spent a lot of time looking at the Census” before they approached Rodriguez with the 200-page proposal for El Rey.
“By the second slide, he was in,” Fogelman says.
According to Wednesday’s press release, the idea chosen by Comcast from more than 100 different proposals is a channel “designed to be an action-packed, general entertainment network in English for Latino and general audiences that includes a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy, and sports programming.”
English because Rodriguez is a multi-generational Mexican-American, not a recent immigrant, and his programming will be aimed at just those types of Hispanics that he says are underserved by the media. (They are.) Well, half of them anyway. El Rey is skewed towards men. I guess it wouldn’t be authentically Latino if it weren’t patriarchal.
“Looking at the marketplace you see that the male (Hispanic) audience is really underserved,” Rodriguez said. “This is the sort of thing I’m versed in and we know that kind of programming will attract a younger audience as well.”
Translation: Look forward to more of Ro-Ro’s signature blowing stuff up and the like.
Even the name, El Rey, sounds to be a nod to Jose Alfredo Jimenez’s ranchera standard, “El Rey,” which is Mexico’s “My Way,” but with more chest hair.
A new production company called Tres Pistoleros Productions, created by Rodriguez and FactoryMade, plans to supply a range of programming to Comcast from scripted and unscripted series to documentaries and sports. They’re already tapping in to old ideas of Rodriguez’s to develop both a live-action and an animated series, according to Variety.
No word yet on whether Rodriguez plans to do any filming at Troublemaker studios in Austin, but after the Texas Film Commission denied him tax incentives because his film Machete hurt the state’s feelings, it’s possible he’ll take his ball and play somewhere else.
Reaction to the news from Latinos online has ranged from major excitement to “morbid curiosity” and inevitable fear of yet another low-budget, English-language Latino cable network aimed at the younger generation.
El Rey is aiming to launch in January of 2014. Look for the blowing up of stuff around that time on a TV near you.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the mysterious murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata, a Brownsville native, who was gunned down on a stretch of highway in central Mexico on February 15, 2011. He was allegedly killed by members of Los Zetas drug cartel in a case of mistaken identity. The federal government has yet to make public key details about the case, like why Zapata and his partner Victor Avila of El Paso were sent alone down a notorious stretch of highway known for gang activity when they could have flown or traveled with an armed escort of Mexican military or police. (Avila was shot, but not killed in the ensuing ambush.) Because grand jury testimony in the case against suspected Zeta member Julian Zapata Espinoza was “accidentally taped over” by a court reporter, we may never know the truth.
At a hearing before the House’s Homeland Security Committee this week, Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Austin), grilled Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano over rumors that Jaime Zapata may have been killed with weapons that entered Mexico through the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ botched gun- walking Operation Fast & Furious. The unauthorized operation was responsible for hundreds of guns making their way across the border into Mexico with at least one weapon being found at the murder scene of slain U.S. Border Patrolman Brian Terry in Arizona.
“Madame Secretary, there’s been some speculation that the weapons used to kill Agent Zapata may have been linked to the Operation Fast & Furious. Do you have any information that would indicate there’s a connection there?” McCaul asked.
“I have no information to that effect, no. I don’t know one way or the other,” Napolitano said before eventually becoming annoyed that what was supposed to be a hearing on President Obama’s 2013 proposed budget for the Department of Homeland Security had been hijacked by McCaul to find out more about Fast & Furious and its possible connection to Zapata’s death.
Napolitano placed the responsibility for any and all information regarding the Fast & Furious case squarely on the ATF, later telling U.S Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) that she has not even spoken to Attorney General Eric Holder about it despite the fact that it’s been designated an interagency case. She is also unaware, she says, to what extent her ICE agents were informed of Operation Fast & Furious or to what extent they’ve participated in the ensuing investigation.
Meanwhile, at a church in Brownsville, Texas, Mary Zapata-Muñoz and her husband, Amador Zapata Jr., were no closer to an answer about why their 32-year-old son was killed.
“If we had known the situation, we wouldn’t have let him go,” Amador Zapata said in an interview with The Brownsville Herald. As the Zapatas crossed themselves at a mass to mark the anniversary of their son’s death, ICE Director John Morton and more than 30 uniformed officers from the Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol along with top officials from all levels of government sat in the pews.
“I have nightmares of his last moments, what it must have been like. Being in a foreign country, not to hurt anybody. He must have thought ‘what’s going on?’ ‘What are these people doing?’ How did they take his life? Can you imagine what it must have been like? What he must have gone through?” Zapata-Muñoz said.
Zapata’s mother, who has spoken before of her fears that a cover up could be underway, repeated her resolve this week to ensure that everyone responsible for her son’s death is brought to justice. Then she recited an adage about how the person giving the order is as responsible as the one executing it.
It remains to be seen, however, if the person who gave these orders will pay.
On Jan. 13, workers finally broke ground on the Texas Capitol site where a 525-square-foot statuary honoring the legacy of Tejanos, or Texans of Mexican and Spanish descent, will be dedicated March 29. Though the monument is the result of a grassroots effort that began in 2001, the official recognition of Tejanos in this state has taken much longer.
“[N]early 500 years after the mapping of the Texas coast by Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda in 1519, and 175 years after Tejanos José Francisco Ruiz, José Antonio Navarro and Lorenzo de Zavala signed the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836, the Tejano culture and its contributions to Texas’ evolution are being officially recognized by the state,” Renato Ramirez, vice president of the Tejano Monument Board, wrote in a December article published on the Latino news site News Taco.
For the monument to become a reality at this point in history seems almost fated. It’s 2012, an election year, and the first one since the 2010 census let the world know that the future of Texas officially lies with Latinos. Now the world will know that Texas’ past lies with Latinos, too.
Most historians agree that the story of Texas taught in schools, beginning in the 1830s and portraying Anglo-Americans as the state’s first settlers, leaves out a lot. If I had a dollar for every person in New York City who’s asked me where in Mexico my family hails from, I’d be one rich Tejana. In Virginia, my fellow graduate students had no idea most cowboy words are Spanish. They thought white Texans had invented the industry.
“In 1830,” Ramirez said during a recent appearance on a San Antonio radio show, “the Davy Crocketts and Jim Bowies and those guys … they came in illegally and, seven days after they came in illegally, they earned the right to be called Texans. I have not earned that right after 500 years of my family being here. I’m still a Mexican. I want to make it clear that I’m a Tejano.”
In reality, 1,000 Tejanos died fighting for independence from Mexico at the Battle of Medina in 1813. Twenty-five years later, 188 Anglo-Americans died at the Alamo. Though the Alamo is perhaps the state’s most cherished historical treasure, to this day we don’t know the exact location of the Battle of Medina. In 2001, when a McAllen physician named Cayetano Barrera visited the Texas Capitol, he realized that, of the 18 monuments on the grounds, not one portrayed Tejanos in a positive light.
Barrera returned to McAllen and enlisted a group of educators and businesspeople to campaign for a monument.
The group, now a nonprofit called Tejano Monument Inc., had to push three bills through the Texas Legislature to get the monument on the south lawn—the front yard—of the Capitol grounds. “The first comment was that the contribution of Hispanics does not merit being on the south lawn,” Ramirez recalls.
So, in 2001, while lawmakers agreed there should be a Tejano monument, its location had yet to be determined. Six years later, in 2007, the state agreed to contribute $1 million to the project’s estimated $1.8 million cost. The other $800,000 was raised through private donations.
Then, in 2009, the 81st Legislature passed House Bill 4114 by Trey Martinez-Fischer, D-San Antonio, authorizing placement of the Tejano Monument on the Historic South Grounds—the coveted front lawn. Gov. Rick Perry later signed the bill.
Twelve pieces by Laredo sculptor Armando Hinojosa will tell the Tejano story from the 1500s to the 1800s. That depth of history and context is more important now than ever, given that Mexican-American history is elsewhere being literally removed from the classroom. The same week that ground was broken on Texas’ Tejano Monument, Arizona’s state superintendent of education, utilizing power granted him by a controversial new state law, ordered public schools in Tucson to stop offering Mexican-American Studies classes.
In contrast, at the Tejano Monument groundbreaking in Austin, the Walmart Foundation announced its $100,000 donation toward a one-year curriculum-development project to improve the understanding of Tejano history in elementary schools. The curriculum is being developed by University of Texas professors and will start in Austin schools, with the hope that it will be replicated statewide.
For Latinos in Texas, there’s a lot to be hopeful for this year.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Exclusive – Lou Dobbs Extended Interview Pt. 2|
The Texas redistricting case, which recently came before the U.S. Supreme Court, has continued to heat up while simultaneously confusing the masse. Both political parties are taking the obfuscation inherent in the case as an opportunity to claim the other side is wrong.
Jon Stewart and Lou Dobbs are no different. On Monday’s episode of The Daily Show, Dobbs, a well-documented immigrant hater paradoxically married to a Hispanic woman, (self-loathing, party of two), said he sees the SCOTUS’s recent decision to reject San Antonio federal court-drawn maps as an act of retribution for so-called courtroom activism. Stewart, on the other hand, who, despite claims of loyalty to comedy first, is the quintessential liberal, East Coast elite, interprets the SCOTUS’s move as proof that the original maps were in fact full of Republican Party bias along ethnic lines.
The truth is, they are both right. The Supreme Court did say the maps need to be redrawn because the Legislature’s version was naughty. However, they also said that the San Antonio court was not only in error to draw the maps in the first place, but that they also got a little overzealous by redrawing the entire map and not just those four districts that were full of gerrymandering shenanigans.
What does this tell us about the current state of Texas redistricting? That neither Democrats nor Republicans have a monopoly on evil, that law is really, really hard and I’d rather watch TV, and that Jon Stewart is still infinitely more likeable than Lou Dobbs, (but I actually like Lou the most I’ve ever liked him while watching this clip).
Could all that Occupy stuff be rubbing off on America? Me kinda sorta liking Lou Dobbs for a second, Lou Dobbs conceding that Jon Stewart is a great American, and Jon Stewart pitching a buddy road trip movie with Lou Dobbs? Naaaah. Everyone just has redistricting fatigue.