Comedian George Lopez, a hero in the Latino community for fronting his own hit sitcom on ABC, dominated the 20th Imagen Awards gala Friday at the BevHilton with his sometimes off-color jokes, but major kudos went to “The West Wing” for primetime series and to thesp Jimmy Smits for his portrayal of a Latino politician in the skein.
In the features category, Walter Salles’ road movie “The Motorcycle Diaries” won a clutch of awards, including pic, director and supporting actor (Rodrigo de la Serna).
Actress nod went to Colombian thesp Catalina Sandino Moreno for her Oscar-nommed perf in “Maria Full of Grace.”
“We (Latinos) have come a long, long way,” declared Freddy Rodriguez, who has won Imagen’s supporting TV actor award three years in a row for his portrayal of a funeral director in HBO’s “Six Feet Under.”
“We’re not whining; we’re here,” said Smits, one of the small but growing number of Latinos who are snagging atypical roles in film and TV.
Argentina’s Mia Maestro won a supporting actress award for her perf as a secret agent in ABC’s “Alias.” There was no actor category this year because there were no contenders aside from Gael Garcia Bernal in “The Motorcycle Diaries.”
Docu helmer Hector Galan, whose “Visiones: Latino Art & Culture” won TV docu series, urged audience members to write their congressional reps to protest pending cuts of public broadcasting coin.
Lawrence Bender accepted Imagen’s Humanitarian Award along with helmer Luis Mandoki, scribe Oscar Torres and co-producer Alejandro Soberon Kuri for their harrowing pic “Innocent Voices,” based on the childhood experience of Torres, who was among many 12- and 13-year-olds conscripted into the army in El Salvador.
Best Picture: “The Motorcycle Diaries”
Best Actress: Catalina Sandino Moreno, “Maria Full of Grace”
Best Supporting Actor: Rodrigo de la Serna, “The Motorcycle Diaries”
Best Supporting Actress: Shelbie Bruce, “Spanglish”
Best Director: Walter Salles,” The Motorcycle Diaries”
Best Theatrical Short or Student Film: “Cuco Gomez-Gomez is Dead”
Best Documentary: Visiones: Latino Art & Culture
Best Primetime Series: “The West Wing”
Best Actor: Jimmy Smits, “The West Wing”
Best Actress: Madeleine Stowe, “Saving Milly”
Best Supporting Actor: Freddy Rodriguez, “Six Feet Under”
Best Supporting Actress: Mia Maestro, “Alias”
Best Variety Special: “LATV Live”
Best Children’s Programming: “Nick News With Linda Ellerbee”
Best Local Informational Programming: “Vista L.A.”
Best National Informational Programming: “American Latino T.V.”
Best Live Theatrical Production: “Yo Soy Latina!”
Five outstanding achievement awards were also presented, including:
Creative Achievement Award: Nina Tassler, the first Latina to head a major television network, CBS
Norman Lear Writer’s Award: Jose Rivera, author of the Oscar-nominated screenplay, “The Motorcycle Diaries”
Humanitarian Award: Lawrence Bender, Luis Mandoki, Oscar Orlando Torres, and Alejandro Soberon Kuri for the realistic portrayal of civil war in El Salvador and its effects on the country’s children in the film “Innocent Voices”
President’s Award: “The Hollywood Reporter” for recognizing the impact of Latino accomplishments within the entertainment industry
Hennessy Privilège Award: George Lopez, the star and executive producer of the “George Lopez” show for his outstanding contributions to the Latino community.