Can Mark Burnett, the man that created a television sensation with Survivor and earned ratings gold with The Bible, do the same thing with Mexican wrestling? That's what writer-director-producer Robert Rodriguez is hoping after his fledging El Rey Network cable channel announced plans to launch a U.S. based lucha libre show in conjunction with Burnett's One Three Media and Lucha Libre AAA, the top wrestling league in Mexico. The hour-long show will begin airing during the second half of 2014.
This isn't the first time that Hollywood has tried to make U.S. audiences care about the Mexican wrestling sensation. Jack Black donned a mask as a would-be wrestler in Nacho Libre and an animated show called ¡Mucha Lucha! aired on Kids' WB from 2002-'05. Those weren't the real thing, however, with wrestlers in stylized masks flying off the top rope and doing moves like tornillos and planchas.
"Wrestling is a billion-dollar business in the U.S.," Burnett said in the press release announcing the partnership. "Our new lucha libre will make that market even bigger."
The last time that U.S. professional wrestlers wore masks on a regular basis, Vince McMahon was still wearing ugly plaid sports jackets as an announcer, the broadcasts aired on WTBS (when there was still a 'W'), and it was called Georgia Championship Wrestling. By the time that Hulk Hogan, 'Captain' Lou Albano and Cyndi Lauper were taking wrestling mainstream on MTV in the mid-'80s, the masked wrestlers were a thing of the past.
So, can an upstart lucha libre league cut into McMahon's WWE dominated market? Crossing over into the non-Latino market might still be a tough sell. The style of wrestling — athletic and high-flying —is exciting and entertaining. The issue, as it's been in the past, will be the masks. Whether it's Hogan or John Cena or The Rock, U.S. audiences are accustomed to seeing faces.
The key for Burnett and company will be to highlight the acrobatic style, while quickly luring viewers into storylines of the Técnicos versus the Rudos: the good versus the bad. 'Heroes against villains' in wrestling is a storyline template that WWE audiences are well acquainted with.
If Burnett could get 100-plus million people to watch a History Channel miniseries about The Bible, who's to say that he can't get English-speaking audiences to sample the sizzle of lucha libre? At the very least, his track record lends credibility to El Rey's effort, which just might give the network a pierna (leg) up.
Albano began his fighting career in the 1950s and was one half of The Sicilians tag team in the 1960s. He joined World Wrestling Entertainment in 1983 and was inducted into the sport's Hall of Fame in 1996.
Albano was also a successful manager of champion wrestlers in the 1970s.
His persona earned him the distinction of being "one of the most hated men" in wrestling for 15 years, according to a WWE biography.
He was turned into a cartoon in the late 1980s when he signed up to become the voice of Mario 'Jumpman' Mario for The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
At first glance The Family Stone appears to be yet another silly romp about family dynamics. But the Stones a vivacious loving liberal-minded New England family are more than just cardboard cut-outs; they’re as real as any dysfunctional family can be. The film begins with the Stones getting ready for their annual holiday gathering. Matriarch Sybil (Diane Keaton) is especially anxious to meet her eldest son’s (Dermot Mulroney) girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker). The family has been warned Meredith is a controlling neurotic New Yorker with very little redeemable qualities. And when Meredith arrives she certainly does nothing to dispel the notion meeting her potential eccentric in-laws with a mix of awkwardness confusion and hostility. Yet oddly enough the disruption brings about some needed changes within the family Stone allowing them to come together and realize their extraordinary capacity for love. Everyone in this stellar ensemble rises to the occasion and truly paints a very vivid picture of a family devoted to one another--but who are less than approachable to outsiders. As mom Keaton turns in yet another genuine look at a complicated woman dealing with some insurmountable obstacles while Craig T. Nelson as her loyal husband does a nice job conveying a warmth to their marriage. Playing their grownup children is Mulroney as the straight-laced “suit” Everett who isn’t all that priggish; Luke Wilson as the laid-back Ben who seems to have strayed the most from his family; and Rachel McAdams as the passionate if rather acerbic little sister. But the real revelation is Parker as the uptight highly unlikable Meredith. It’s quite a departure from her fun-lovin’ Sex
and the City days and the Parker--who truly is one of the better comedic actresses we have today--easily handles the unpleasant chores of playing someone suffering with chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome. Like many newbie filmmakers writer/director Thomas Bezucha--whose only other credit is the little seen indie Big Eden--has the advantage of having that certain fresh quality to his work. Stone’s dialogue is snappy poignant and spot-on as the Stones interact with each other in all too familiar ways. The whole Meredith scenario will perhaps have many of us remembering similar situations--from both sides of the fence. It’s just as painful to have to meet the family of someone you love for the first time as it is dealing with a family member’s poor choices in mates. And what makes
The Family Stone stand out even more is how Bezucha truly defines the term “dramedy.” From the trailer the film seemed to be a balls-out slap-sticky comedy which in many ways it is but you may be surprised to see how The Family Stone’s more serious tones will touch you.