Robert Rodriguez Launches New Channel on Comcast

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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.

Cindy Casares is a columnist for the Texas Observer. She is also the founding Editor of Guanabee Media, an English-language, pop culture blog network about Latinos established in 2007. She has a Master's in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. Prior to her career in journalism, she spent ten years in New York City as an advertising copywriter. During her undergraduate career at the University of Texas she served under Governor Ann Richards as a Senate Messenger during the 72nd Texas Legislature.