“Selena” filmmaker Gregory Nava is developing a family dramedy for CBS revolving around several generations of a Mexican-American clan in Los Angeles.
Nava, who explored some of the same territory in his 1995 pic “Mi Familia,” will write, direct and exec produce the project through his El Norte Prods., headed by Susanna Zepeda. Nava’s manager, Eric L. Gold, is likely to serve as a co-exec producer on the project.
As development steps up for the 2000-01 season, the major webs are all on the lookout for strong Latino-themed projects. Nava, whose credits also include “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” had several offers on the table, but opted to go with the Eye because “they seemed to want it the most,” he said.
“We want to do a warm, universal human dramedy about a family, their ups and downs and everything they go through,” said Nava. “We will have different family members at all different places — some doing really well in white collar jobs, some dealing with intermarriage. Hopefully, we’ll see the whole expanse of the American experience, but from a different perspective.”
The project is the first stab at series TV for Nava, who has a handful of Latino-oriented pics in development through his production pact with New Line Cinema. Artisan Entertainment is prepping for the re-release early next year of his breakthrough 1983 pic “El Norte.”
Meanwhile, Nava also has just wrapped “The American Tapestry,” a Showtime docu on immigrants and the search for the American dream. It’s slated to run in November.
“I always felt that (a TV series) was something I wanted to do, but I knew I would need to have a free hand and need to be at a certain place in my career,” Nava said. “I want to bring to this (CBS) show a fresh, wonderful new way to talk about the family relationships that we all experience.”
While the networks have long been looking for Latino stars and shows with the crossover hit potential of the “Cosby Show” in the 1980s, the ongoing outcry this year over the dearth of minorities in primetime has heightened the interest in projects such as Nava’s.
As evidenced by all the recent buzz about the explosion of Latino culture in the U.S., Nava says he feels a shift in attitudes within both the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic population and the mainstream entertainment biz.
“In the past, (Latinos) have been the invisible people. Hollywood has marketed stuff to us, but they haven’t been as interested in putting us up on the screen. That’s changed,” Nava said.
“It all emanates from us. I think Latinos have a better sense of themselves now, and everybody is starting to pick up on our vibe, our culture, our music,” he said. “Our stories feel new and fresh and different, and yet other people discover that they are universal, human stories.”
Nava is repped by manager Gold, ICM’s Jeff Berg and Tanya Lopez and attorney Mark Gochman.