10:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Chicano' Drama From Eva Longoria, Forest Whitaker in the Works at ABC
ABC has heard the online backlash following its decision to cancel The Baker and the Beauty and is moving quickly to fill the void of a Latino-themed series on broadcast television.
The network is developing family drama Chicano, from exec producers Eva Longoria and Forest Whitaker and based on the Richard Vasquez novel of the same name. The network has ordered a script plus additional material and put a financial penalty on the project (meaning producers would be paid a fee if the drama does not move forward).
Here's the logline: "The epic, multigenerational saga of the Sandovals, a Mexican-American family that immigrates to Los Angeles in pursuit of the American dream. Inspirational and timely, Chicano follows the struggles and triumphs of the Sandovals from 1920 through present and explores the question of what it means to be American. Inspired by the classic novel by Richard Vasquez."
Natalie Chaidez (Queen of the South, New York Undercover) will pen the script and exec produce the drama from Disney-owned 20th Century Fox TV. Longoria and her UnbeliEVAble Entertainment topper Ben Spector will exec produce alongside Whitaker and his Significant Productions partner Nina Yang Bongiovi. Doug Pray will also exec produce.
"Chicano is just the first of many projects that we expect from Eva and Ben as we look to ramp up our slate of Latinx programming," said ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke. "As part of our studio family, they are valuable partners in helping us expand our commitment to compelling stories for underrepresented communities. With Forest, Nina, Natalie and Doug also at the helm of this project, we know we have the perfect powerhouse team to bring this Mexican-American family’s story to life and cultivate the next generation of Latinx storytelling."
The decision to ramp-up Latino-themed programming comes as ABC found itself at the center of an online firestorm following its mid-June move to cancel late-season drama The Baker and the Beauty. The romantic dramedy from Dean Gregorias and Keshet was the last broadcast drama to focus on a Latino family. The soap was considered a longshot to return after averaging less than 3 million same-day viewers. Multiple online petitions were launched in the immediate aftermath, calling for ABC to renew the series for a second season. Star Nathalie Kelley blasted ABC for axing the series at a time "when the public is marching in the streets demanding representation and diversity … an extremely tone deaf decision." Co-producers Universal Television attempted to shop the series but were unable to find a new home for it.