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Saturday Letters

CBS Might Have Fought Hatred With 'Family' Understanding

May 20, 2000

Howard Rosenberg's article ("CBS Makes Its Fall Picks . . . But Omits One 'Family,' " May 17) prompts me to review my 76 years in the L.A. area as an American, not only of Mexican birth, but more importantly of Mexican family heritage.

Over my lifetime growing up in Los Angeles, I have been witness to the full gamut of hatred born of a common misunderstanding of our respective cultures. From the World War II days of U.S. servicemen versus pachucos to our present-day conflicts between Mexican American and Armenian American schoolkids, the hatred persists. What better way is there to shine some light of understanding than the proposed show "American Family?"

How is it possible that CBS (and network television in general) can be so committed to trash TV as to ignore a show of such promise, directed by such a proven talent as Gregory Nava and featuring the array of excellent actors assembled for "American Family"? What does it take on the part of network television to show a modicum of courage and responsibility?

JOSEPH M. PUIG

Sherman Oaks

I was in the test audience for "American Family," and I think that the reason CBS execs "didn't like it" was probably the same reason I didn't: Not because it was about Latinos but because it sucked!

I was very surprised when I found out who wrote and produced it, because I very much liked Gregory Nava's other works, especially "El Norte."

I felt that "American Family" was poorly written, with clumsy devices and undeveloped characters who were all given contrived characteristics. With such a great cast, it was a disappointment to find they were wasted in this project; they were all better than their material.

I hope Mr. Nava has not lost his muse and still has a network deal. He should start again from scratch, and hopefully next time he will live up to his past work.

TERRY BOLO

West Hollywood

As a 34-year-old American of Mexican descent, raised in Los Angeles, and a college graduate, I think it's sad that the last television show I can remember which had a Hispanic lead was "Chico and the Man."

I never turn on CBS as it is, unless there is a sporting event, but now I may not even do that.

RUBEN LONGORIA JR.

Long Beach

How could it even be an issue--after groundbreaking shows like "The Cosby Show" came out more than a dozen years ago--to question whether a show based on a nonwhite family can attract a universal audience?

Do the networks have to constantly turn down good dramas and lose them to cable like they did with "The Sopranos" until all that's left on network TV are shows like "Dateline" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"? This is absolutely appalling.

STEVE CINDOYAN

Harrisonburg, Va.

How can CBS not see this as a groundbreaking opportunity for themselves and the networks that are sure to follow in time to come? Latino culture is booming. Just looking at what is going on in the music business should be a great indication that all kinds of people--black, white, Latin, Asian, etc.--are interested in Latino people.

I am a white woman. I can only speak for myself and for those around me, and what we want to see is good television, which is harder and harder to find these days in a world inundated with teeny-boppers talking like 30-something-year-olds.

One might hope that CBS would see "American Family" as an opportunity to do for the Latino people what "Cosby" did for the African American people--and that is to show Latinos as real people with lives just like anyone else's.

I guess CBS is not ready to be the pioneers but would rather follow someone else's lead . . . because a Latino drama on network TV will happen. I am just sorry that this one by Nava may never be seen. It sounds like a great show with amazing talent. What a big disappointment.

LISA BRUCKER

Los Angeles

Although I am not Latino, I would love to watch "American Family" if it was to receive air time. I'm sure CBS will have no problem finding sponsors for this show, considering the buying power of Latino Americans. And a little note to network TV executives: The world we live in is not all white, with blond hair and blue eyes. When are you actually going to open your eyes and welcome reality to planet Hollywood?

ELIZA SHAMSHIAN

Glendale

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