Eva Longoria returns to primetime network TV with NBC’s Telenovela, a half-hour comedy she stars in and executive produces. The series is set in the world of Spanish language soap operas and features Longoria playing Ana Sofia, a telenovela star who can’t really speak Spanish. Airing on Monday nights at 8:30pm ET/PT, Telenovela also features Jencarlos Canela, Diana Maria Riva, Jose Moreno Brooks, Alex Meneses, Amaury Nolasco, Jadyn Douglas, and Izzy Diaz.
Longoria joined her co-stars and fellow executive producers Jessica Goldstein and Chrissy Pietrosh at the Television Critics Association’s 2016 winter press event in Los Angeles where she talked to reporters at a press conference (and in a smaller group after the big Q&A) about the show’s premise, physical comedy, and diversity in television and films.
What are some of the crazy things you’ve gotten to do in recent episodes?
Eva Longoria: “Well, I directed one called ‘The Hurricane’ which is next week. [There’s a] bucket and we’re throwing water on each other; that was so much fun because we just got to cut loose. […]The musical episode and singing with Zachary Levi. Just acting with Zachary Levi has been a dream and a gift, and amazing and fun. I had never sung before on TV and there’s a reason. But to be able to do it badly, that makes it fun.”
Can you say anything about what happens with Zachary Levi’s character?
Eva Longoria: “The season finale is a huge cliffhanger. It’s a huge cliffhanger with me, Zachary Levi, and Jencarlos Canela, so you’ve got to see it. I would love for him to be a series regular on the show. We have so much fun with him.”
What are some of your favorite telenovela and soap opera tropes of all time and how do you take those one step further to spoof them?
Eva Longoria: “One of the things is we are barely in the telenovela, because our show is about the people who make the telenovela so we’re not in the telenovela as much as our lives. The evil twin episode was so much fun because they made Isabela so, so evil to us. They go, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if there was somebody more evil?’ […]Most of the things that have come out in episodes have been ideas from our lives.”
Can you talk about tackling the physical comedy in this?
Eva Longoria: “The minute I read the script, because I developed it in my production slate and I wasn’t going to be in it, and the minute these two women came with the script, she was very physical. She was already physical in the pilot and I loved it because I’ve always wanted to do physical comedy. When I was on Housewives, because we were a hybrid, when Gabby was funny people loved it and so it’s been so nice to spread my wings and just do solely comedy. And, then, for it to be physical was just a bonus because I’ve always loved it. I’ve always liked it. But, yeah, every episode I went home with, like, a tweaked shoulder and a tweaked knee. But these girls are great because I’m like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if I fall off the piano?’ We did that the day before.”
Where have you been when Telenovela airs? Are you watching it live?
Eva Longoria: “I’ve been different places. The first Monday I was in New York because I was doing press. And then last Monday I was in my house with the cats and we were live tweeting. We live tweet every episode which really makes a huge difference. Fans love it when we’re all together and we live tweet. There’s so many things; there’s so much work now. Oh my gosh, it’s so different from when I was on Dangerous Housewives!”
Is Twitter a full-time job?
Eva Longoria: “Digital media is because I have to Twitter and then I have to Snapchat and then I have to Instagram and then I have to Facebook, and so it is a full time job. And you have to do all of this now because each platform has a different audience. It’s really been working for us because you can see it directly correlate with viewers.”
Have you heard anything yet about a pickup for a second season?
Eva Longoria: “No. I don’t think we’ll hear about that until like March, maybe.”
As a producer do you feel like you can play more of a role in helping to increase the number of Latinos in front of and behind the camera?
Eva Longoria: “I think there’s a lot to be done to have more diversity in front of the camera, but it starts behind the camera. I think our show is a great example of it because we’ve done such a great job obviously in front of the camera, but the writers’ room is very diverse. Our crew is very diverse. Our directors who we use are very diverse. But as far as why did I intently start producing to help Latinos? I actually started producing because I like bossing people around, and I’m really good at it. ”
Do you initiate your own projects or do people bring them to you?
Eva Longoria: “Both. We option IP, writers come and pitch us things, we go and seek out writers. There’s many ways in which we develop new shows. it just depends on how it comes to us.”