Jennifer Lopez In 'Q'Viva': A Talent Search Goes Bilingual, With A Dash Of Drama

Originally published on March 4, 2012 9:17 pm

Their marriage may be over, but singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony have come together for a new TV show that seeks out talent from throughout Latin America. It's been airing on Spanish language TV in the U.S. and in 21 countries. And as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports on today's All Things Considered, the show will also premiere on Fox this weekend, with English subtitles.

You may well be aware that Lopez and Anthony aren't together anymore, but last fall, they joined up with Jamie King, who has directed and choreographed stage shows for everyone from Rihanna to Cirque du Soleil. The trio traveled through Central and South America and the Caribbean and filmed their search. Unlike a lot of other TV talent judges, they weren't just looking for singers, but also for instrumentalists, dancers, and others. (Expect to see some fire-breathing acrobats.)

The resulting show, called Q'Viva! The Chosen, is part reality show and part international talent show.

King isn't just in this for the TV show; he says the end product of Q'Viva will be a Las Vegas spectacular he's producing in April or May, just after the series ends. "We want to create greatest Latin show ever seen," he says.

The show is a mix of English and Spanish, sometimes weaving them together in the same comment, and it has subtitles as needed on both Univision and Fox. It also links Lopez with a familiar producer: Simon Fuller, who also founded American Idol, where she's now a judge.

Naturally, as excited as everyone is about showing off the talent, everyone is also excited about the possibilities inherent in showing Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony to an audience that's undoubtedly curious about what their relationship is like these days. King acknowledges that watching them interact may draw in some viewers who wouldn't necessarily otherwise flock to an international talent show. In one scene, for instance, Lopez bops her estranged husband on the head as he ogles some sexy salsa dancers in Puerto Rico.

Ah, banter — the international language.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel. These days, competition reality shows are a dime a dozen, but tomorrow night, one - on Fox - will stand out for two reasons. First, it features the famous singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, whose marriage was breaking up when they filmed the show, and second, it's not new. It's already been on the air as a Spanish-language program. The only change is the subtitles. NPR's Mandalit del Barco explains.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Superstars Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony call it their passion project. Last fall, they joined with concert director Jamie King in traveling through Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean in search of singers, dancers, musicians and other artists.


BARCO: The result is part reality show, part international talent show, called "Q'Viva! The Chosen."


BARCO: The trio discovers fire-breathing dancers, acrobats, musicians with handmade instruments and soulful singers. In northern Mexico, Anthony meets a group of dancers wearing pointy cowboy boots with extra long tips, like curved cross-country skis.


BARCO: That's Marc Anthony weaving seamlessly between Spanish and English. The show "Q'Viva! The Chosen" is subtitled in English for Fox and in Spanish for Univision.

JAMIE KING: That was our big dream in the beginning, and it only made sense being that Marc and Jennifer and they speak both languages.

BARCO: Co-producer Jamie King.

KING: Keeping it authentic was the most important part. So we're not going to recreate something if it's not right. Like, if a moment truly happened and it was all on Spanish or in English, we keep that moment. We wouldn't try to recreate that or act in any way because it is a real docujourney that we're on.


BARCO: It wasn't a hard sell to get the competing English and Spanish networks to share programming, says executive producer Michael Herwick.

MICHAEL HERWICK: "Q'Viva!" is the same show, but there are going to be very different audiences, I think, in some ways. You know, I think it would have been a disservice if we just put it on Univision, and people who didn't speak Spanish couldn't watch it.

BARCO: With network TV's usual primetime Saturday night lineup so uninspired, the multilingual program may not be such a gamble for Fox. In fact, it's a natural for the network that broadcasts "American Idol" with judge Jennifer Lopez and executive producer Simon Fuller, who is also behind "Q'Viva! The Chosen." And this being network television, the producers are counting on audiences tuning in to watch glimpses of JLo and Marc Anthony's fiery relationship. In one scene, Lopez bops her estranged husband on the head as he ogles some sexy salsa dancers in Puerto Rico.



: He's the man.

BARCO: Jamie King says the stars' banter will no doubt bring viewers.


KING: Just the fun of being in the middle of Jennifer and Marc.


KING: We call them the Latin financier, right? So it's humorous at times, and it's also - can get very heated. I think it's just the nature of the relationship, whether they were together or apart, I mean, they're both very passionate people.

BARCO: King has choreographed and directed stage shows for the likes of Madonna, Rihanna, Britney Spears and the new Cirque du Soleil "Michael Jackson Immortal Tour." He says the premise of "Q'Viva!" is a lead-up to a Las Vegas spectacular he's producing in April or May, just after this series ends. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.