Gripping, emotional and powerful entertainment that specifically relates to, and reflects on, a specific group’s particular lifestyle is the most powerful kind for audiences around the world. NUVOtv, which became the first cable channel that catered to the Latino community with exclusively English-language programming when it launched in 2011, is one such entertainment network that passionately supports its intended audience-bicultural Latino consumers. With the help of executive producer and interviewer Mario Lopez, who has several programs lined up at the network, including one with his wife, host Courtney Lopez, NUVOtv’s dedication has made it the premier English-language destination for Latino entertainment.
The Lopezes helped promote NUVOtv’s 2014-2015 television season, which features a full slate of original programming, on May 12 at the network’s Upfront presentation at the Edison Ballroom in the Edison Hotel in mid-town New York City. The couple joined the network’s Chief Creative Officer, Jennifer Lopez; CEO, Michael Schwimmer; EVP Programming, Bill Hilary; and SVP Advertising Sales, Craig Geller, at the presentation to show their support for the growing commitment to serving the entertainment needs of the Latino community.
Mario broadened his relationship with NUVOtv by announcing the launch of his new docu-series, ‘Tequila King. He serves as an executive producer on the show, which features Mexican entrepreneur Eric Buccio as he launches the Casa Mexico tequila brand in the U.S. NUVOtv also renewed ‘Mario Lopez: One on One,’ in which he hosts and executive produces. The biggest stars in Latino pop culture sit down with Mario each week for all-access interviews. The Lopezes also just launched their new joint venture, ‘Love & Salsa,’ which, along with ‘Mario Lopez: One on One,’ has already been renewed for additional seasons, which are set to air next year. ‘Love & Salsa,’ which is hosted by Courtney and executive produced by Mario, is a competition series that combines match-making and dance to find the perfect romantic partner for each contestant.
Mario and Courtney Lopez generously took the time to sit down for an exclusive interview in the Edison Hotel before the official launch of NUVOtv’s Upfront presentation to discuss their partnership with the growing network. Among other things, the hosts discussed how they support NUVOtv’s drive to serve original entertainment to the Latino community, and how they love being able to add their own creativity to the network’s mission; how the fact they met and fell in love with the help of dancing, after appearing on Broadway together, gave them the idea to use the platform of movement to create a unique dating show in ‘Love & Salsa’ that allows contestants to see if they have chemistry through a salsa competition; and how they haven’t had a chance to work with Jennifer Lopez on any specific shows for NUVOtv yet, but they have the same mission and vision for the network.
Question (Q): NUVOtv will enter the 2014-2015 television season with a full slate of original programming. How did you both initially enter your partnership with the network, and why did want to continue pursuing your projects with NUVOtv?
Mario Lopez (ML): I’ve been involved with the network for a couple years now. I love what they’re all about, particularly being Latino myself, and I like they cater to this community. I think their programing is really exciting. The fact that our relationship has furthered since we first started our partnership, and we’re able to do such great things creatively, gets me even more fired up about working with them and continuing our relationship. The fact that I’m also able to work with my wife on this new show (‘Love & Salsa’) is obviously very special and a lot of fun.
Courtney Lopez (CL): The fact that Mario had already been involved with such a great network, and he and I came up with the idea for the show, was great. Ironically, we met on Broadway, dancing (in the 2008 revival of the musical ‘A Chorus Line’). So we thought ‘Love & Salsa’ was a great idea, since we found love through movement and dancing. So we wanted to hopefully help other people find love the same way. So it seemed like a great fit with NUVO.
Q: Like you both mentioned, you both created ‘Love & Salsa,’ a new weekly series that premiered on May 6 and will be returning for a second season next year. Courtney, you serve as the show’s host, and Mario, you executive produce the competition series. How did you both become involved in the series, and why is it a good fit for NUVOtv?
ML: Well, like Courtney just mentioned, we met here in New York on Broadway. There was singing and dancing, and a lot going on in the show. It was through dance that we were introduced and fell in love.
So we thought it would be a unique opportunity for other people to use that platform to see if they also have chemistry. What better way to find out if you have chemistry than through movement? We thought it was different to incorporate salsa, and would be great for the network. It’s ultimately a dating show, but the dancing is the element used to see if the couples have chemistry.
CL: Dancing is what I’ve done my whole life, and the love we found was through that movement. There’s nothing else like it on TV, so we decided to incorporate it into a dating show, and we thought it was a really great idea.
Q: The network has more than doubled down on its original programming efforts since last year’s Upfront presentation. Why do you think it’s important NUVOtv has added so many new and diverse shows for the Latino community?
ML: They’re ultimately telling universal stories with Latino faces. The expansion with all the news shows, as well as NUVOtv’s acquisition of Fuse, is really exciting. It shows we’re going in the right direction.
Q: Speaking of the fact that NUVOtv just recently acquired Fuse, will that help expand the network’s message and reach to the Latino community?
ML: Yes, that’s definitely a big game changer, and will expand our audience by reaching millions of more homes across the country. It’s great for our shows and the network.
Q: Mario, you’re also set to host another season of ‘Mario Lopez: One on One,’ which is also set to premiere next year. On the show, the biggest stars in Latino pop culture sit down with you each week for all-access interviews. Why do you feel it’s important to showcase these interviews, and is there anyone you’re interested in speaking with on the show?
ML: It’s a fun, great platform to showcase influential Latinos in the world of entertainment, politics and sports. It’s nice to give them a platform to tell their stories that are compelling and original. You also get to see a different side of me, as well.
Q: Besides hosting the show, you’re also serving as an executive producer, and you’re also producing ‘Love & Salsa.’ What is it about producing that you enjoy so much?
ML: Well, the creative side is a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun. I’m trying to be as diverse as possible, and fortunately, my relationship with NUVO has allowed be to do that.
Q: Jennifer Lopez serves as NUVOtv’s Chief Creative Officer. Have you had any opportunities to work with her on any projects for the network?
ML: We haven’t had a chance to work with her on any specific shows, but she’s very supportive. I’ve interviewed her a bunch for my show, ‘Extra.’ But we both have the same mission and vision for the network and our shows, even though we’re not necessarily in the same place a lot of the time.
Q: You’re also executive producing the docuseries ‘Tequila King,’ which features Mexican entrepreneur Eric Buccio as he launches the Casa Mexico tequila brand in the U.S., with Gordo Productions. How did you become involved with the show?
ML: Well, I’ve always been a fan of tequila. A friend of mine introduced me to this tequila maker who did a lot for our wedding. Everyone fell in love with the product, and I got to know him a little bit, as well as some of the people in his world. It’s a fascinating space, so we thought it would be fun to capture and explore that.
Q: Mario, having acting experience, would you be interested in acting on a series for NUVOtv?
ML: Well, I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so it would be tough. So we’ll see.
CL: I want him to act again!