Latino actors, feeling slighted in prime time, to boycott networks: ABC's first TURNED ON IN L.A.


A proposed boycott of ABC-TV drew support from Latino actors here over the weekend.

Last week, a coalition of 45 Latino groups issued a statement criticizing all four major networks for the lack of Latinos in prime time. But the statement singled out ABC for a boycott, saying that the network had reneged on a promise made by Cap Cities/ABC Inc. President Robert Iger that there would be a series with Latino characters on the network by last September.

ABC denies that any such deadline was set. A network statement issued in response says that Iger promised only "to try to develop Latino-themed programming in prime time as quickly as possible."

"We've got to stop the lack of representation," said John Leguizamo, the star of "House of Buggin'," a new Sunday night, sketch comedy show on Fox. "We've been in this country too long, contributing too much. We give you great food, we give you great music, and then you don't put us on television? What's up with that?"

Leguizamo, who met with television critics to promote his Fox series, added: "ABC and all the other channels have to catch up and get with the pulse of America. They have to find out what's going on, because we're $190 million in buying power, we're 26 million people, legally."

The coalition includes the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Defense League, the National Council of La Raza and Nosotros. Its statement criticized all four networks for their "poor treatment and negative portrayals of the Latino community" but said ABC would be the target of its first boycott. Leaders of the coalition said a date for the boycott would be announced this week.

Michael Moore, producer and creator of "TV Nation," managed to go from critical darling to goat in just one session with the critics here.

Moore met the critics to talk about his move from NBC to Fox. But instead of sounding like the iconoclast who took on General Motors with "Roger and Me," Moore sounded like a corporate spokesman for Fox and its effort under new President John Matoian to clean up its image.

When asked about Fox's sleazy films on Madonna and Roseanne last fall, Moore said: "Well, I think that's the old Fox. Believe me, [after] the conversations I've had with John Matoian, I can't believe you'll ever see another Madonna, Roseanne or, you know, O. J./Bobbitt/Menendez/Tonya et cetera, et cetera type movie."

Moore was then informed that Matoian had just announced that Fox would air its controversial O. J. Simpson film.

"Look, I'm not in the offices of the News Corporation [Fox's parent company] to know what's going on. But I live in the real world, and the real world says that, if you put a few million dollars into something and you are head of the company, you probably have a responsibility to try and get that money back," Moore said.

Things got worse for Moore when he told critics that NBC had censored two of his pieces for "TV Nation" -- one because it used the word condom and the other, a report on right-to-life advocates who say it is justifiable to kill for their cause, because it would offend advertisers.

But, under questioning, Moore later softened his criticism of NBC, saying the main reason for the pieces not making it on the air was not censorship, but rather that they were delivered on Christmas Eve to the network, and the executives who needed to approve them were on vacation.

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