George Lopez, the first Latino to lead a television series of his own into syndication, isn't laughing. "TV just became really, really white again," he said.
ABC has "unceremoniously" canceled his self-titled comedy, which over the years chronicled his personal life from his sad childhood growing up with an abusive grandmother to his alcoholism and kidney transplant.
"The George Lopez Show" will live on in syndication, but that doesn't make him feel better about not getting the chance to tell one final season of personal stories. Lopez said Steve McPherson, ABC's president of prime-time entertainment, called him over the weekend to explain that "financially" it wasn't working out, that the network would lose money if it picked up the show again. (ABC didn't return repeated phone calls requesting comment.) That explanation was painful to hear, Lopez said, considering the way the network has shuffled his show over the years (four time slots in five years) and put it up against "American Idol" again and again.
It all contributed to the show's underrated performance, a point not lost on Lopez, who noted that this season his show out-performed two freshman comedies that were renewed: "Notes From the Underbelly" and "Knights of Prosperity."
"I'll take the good and the bad," Lopez said. "I took the five years of good, and I did a lot with the good. My popularity, I was involved in charities, I overcame my illness, all on TV. I shared all of that with America -- every secret I had.... Every emotion. Everything was open to the show. And what happens?"
Lopez said he attributed the cancellation in part to the fact that the show is produced by Warner Bros. Television and not ABC Studios.
Using colorful language that cannot be printed in a family newspaper, Lopez scoffed at another ABC pickup: "Caveman," about two brothers and one best friend, described as sophisticated cave dudes living in modern-day Atlanta, who will continually find themselves at odds with contemporary society.
"I get kicked out for a ... caveman and shows that I outperformed because I'm not owned by [ABC Television Studios]. So a Chicano can't be on TV, but a caveman can?" Lopez said. "And a Chicano with an audience already? You know when you get in this that shows do not last forever, but this was an important show, and to go unceremoniously like this hurts. One hundred seventy people lost their jobs."
Lopez will be fine. He has an HBO special and a movie coming in the summer and a deal with Warner Bros. to produce TV movies. "They dealt with us from the bottom of the deck," Lopez said. "Which is hard to take after what was a good run."