As “Senora Acero,” one of the greatest dynasties in Telenovela history, draws to a close, join me for a walk down “Senora Acero”  Bad Memory Lane, because no family was more cursed or better loved, except for maybe The Borgias. Now in it’s 5th and Final Season,  the series will soon be gone forever from our screens, but not from our hearts. Senora Acero had the greatest number of insane characters ever assembled together in one series, and I am going to miss them very much.

The first season was incredible: For example, in the first five minutes of the Premiere, Sara Bermudez’ marriage to Senor Acero was interrupted before they finished their  “I Do’s” by a massacre of the wedding guests in slow-motion, a la the great Will Ferrell movie “Casa de Mi Padre.” The fact that “Casa de Mi Padre” was a parody and Senora Acero was a telenovela only made the scene even more delicious.  Sara’s husband, Senor Acero, was an anti-drug general as well as a very successful Narcotrafficante (a can’t-lose career if there ever was one). Just like those excited brides-to-be who ignore a little too much gambling or flirting by their fiancée, Sara had ignored the gazillion hints that her NarcoGeneral boyfriend  was in the pocket of the cartels:

For example, when El Senor de los Cielos himself, Aurelio Casillas, shows up at one of your barbeques and presents Los Tucanes de Tijuana as your wedding gift, I’d say it’s pretty clear that the only cartel your anti-cartel husband opposes is any cartel he does not run.

As Sara walked down the aisle, the groom was kidnapped and later murdered.  Sara was kidnapped, raped, escaped, and fled into the forest on a white horse, still in her wedding gown.  She also sliced off the fingers of her kidnapper and persistent arch-enemy, El Indio.

And this was before the first commercial break!   

The action never stopped. Sara spent the entire first Season on the run from the forces against her, which included her sisters, her brothers-in-law, and El Indio, all the while trying to save her son’s life, work at the beauty shop/plastic surgery center for the great Rebecca Jones, and launder money for the cartels. We know that Sara learned money-laundering from the ground-up because in the ads, Sara is actually standing next to real washing-machines.

It was only at the end of that incredible first season we learned that the boss of the Tijuana cartel, the wild and crazy El Teca, had put into motion every single plot against Sara. In a diabolical scheme so complicated that only  CIA architects understood it, Teca destroyed everything and everyone in Sara’s life, so that she would have to turn to him for help because there was nowhere else to go. He orchestrated everything from behind the scenes so that Sara would not know she was dancing to his tune, and he did it all from a grotesque mansion with such an awful interior design plan that I almost felt a little sorry for him – that’s  how bad his taste was.

But none of that is even the best part. The best part of this is that Teca did all of it for love –  the unrequited love that he had for Sara since high school, when he was known as El Nopal and drove a crummy car, and she was the prettiest and coolest girl who ruled the school and didn’t even know he was alive.  All of his insanity was to win the love of his high school crush! At last I finally understood why his mansion was stuffed with art and lots of statues he stole from the Vatican.

To say Season 1 came to a spectacular conclusion  when Teca tried to force Sara to marry him by kidnapping her  and her son Salvador while holding a priest at gunpoint, would be an understatement, especially when Teca tried to force Sara to wear a hideous wedding  dress and she didn’t even get to have a wedding shower. In a way, it was like a particularly contentious episode of “Say Yes To The Dress.”

Sara also had invited a surprise guest – the DEA.   Just before the vows, Teca escaped the DEA once again, Sara shot his henchman El Indio and ground a whole raw onion into his mouth with the heel of her wedding stiletto, and then went to prison for a few years.  

I wish I could tell you about all of the fantastic plots, sub-plots and characters in this show.  Pound for pound, Senora Acero had more lunatics than any novela I have ever seen. Ask me about Felipe, the Mayor Who Wanted To Be A Narco, and El Empeñada, The Narco Who Wanted To Be An Anesthesiologist.

And then came Season Two…

In Season 2, little Sal was all grown up, and he was played by Mich “Best Eyebrows In The Business” Duval, who has carried the role until Season 5, when he died in the hospital surrounded by his loved ones, who then  promptly attacked the doctor. I am not sure if Medical Malpractice lawsuits are as prevalent in Mexico as they are here in the USA, but if I was a doctor in a telenovela I would sure prefer a standard lawsuit from an unhappy family than the beat-down at gunpoint they frequently endure from the survivors.  For a Telenovela Doctor, the only subject required for Board Certification is Self-Defense.

 Salvador had a hard life:  Born with Juvenile Diabetes, as a teenager he unfortunately  became a Meth addict after Teca and El Indio surgically implanted a kilo of Meth into his stomach which exploded. But his perfectly arched and luxurious eyebrows helped him overcome many obstacles.

Meanwhile, El  Teca, a classic underachiever in high school, really hit his stride as a murderous, wacky Narcotrafficante in  Season 2. Whereas in Season 1 Teca had devoted himself to secretly manipulating the life of his unrequited high-school crush  to get her exactly where he wanted her: either at their wedding or at her funeral, in Season 2, Sara learned the price for ditching Teca at the altar:  spending a lot more time with him, and his adult son Mini-Teca. Sara learned quickly that Two Tecas were Two Tecas too Many!

The end of Season 2 saw the loss of beloved characters like Senora Acero herself, and El Quintanilla, Sara’s BFF and  eventual brother-in-law who married La Chepina, Sara’s sister. Quintanilla was a fun and tragic figure, Falstaffian in his appetites for both  life and John Travolta’s wardrobe from “Saturday Night Fever.” One of his greatest pleasures in his life was having a BBQ like any suburban dad; he even wore a “Kiss The Chef” apron over his disco-suits. One of his greatest disappointments in life was learning that his nephew El Gallo was really his son, and that his new son was sleeping with his new wife.   But El Quintanilla kept a pretty positive attitude, right up until that moment when Teca killed him in a hotel room.

In Season 2, many of the supporting characters came  into their own. One of my favorite moves was by the actor Roberto Wohlmuth who in Season 1  played a henchman named “El Mudo” who was killed. Roberto returned in Season 2 as Mudo’s twin brother El Roscas!  In every season Roscas became more important. We could tell he was becoming more important because he stopped dressing like his boss El Indio and started to develop a fashion sense of his own.

By Season 4 Roscas had left the Tijuana Cartel and had gone to work for my hero, La Tuti and El Mero Mero Romero, who was another son of El Teca, who by now was missing in action.  Teca’s absence from Seasons 3 & 4 allowed other stars to shine, like Jorge Zárate as El Indio. El Indio was a crowd favorite who managed to parlay an appetite for raw onions, Nik-Nik shirts, funny sayings and missing digits into Must-See T.V. And of course there was no one like “Tuti,” played by Ana Lucia Dominguez. In Season 1 Tuti was a small-time pill dealer who hung out with teenagers and Barbie dolls.  By Season 5, Tuti was the emotional core of the show, despite the fact that she ran a strip club and still played with Barbies. I could never do this phenomenal character justice. Not only does Ana Lucía deserve a very special Premios for this role, but the actors who played against her deserve a Premios for keeping a straight face. She stole every scene she was in, and I will miss mi Tuti forever!

El Indio’s relentless pursuit of Senora Acero even after Senora Acero was no longer on Senora Acero led him to destroy the paradise that   Salvador, Vicenta and the rest of the mishpachah created on the ranch where they laundered money and sold  arms to major bad guys.

In Season 3, the Acero/Quintanilla clan had problems with enemies like  Indio, Indio’s Frenemy Larry, Larry’s rival El Roscas, the Very Handsome Guy From Argentina Who Was Obsessed With Aracely, The Evil Governor Who Was Also Sal’s Ex-Father-In-Law, and The Evil  Governor’s Mother-in-Law, just to name a few. Good characters became bad and bad characters became good, and in-laws were always a problem.

And as the Clan moved from money laundering and arms to rescuing migrants and running for office, they became Narco Avengers, fighting for Truth, Justice, and for the opportunity to have  just one Not-Cursed Wedding.

But that was not to be:  In Season 3 we lost one of our favorite characters:  “Areceli,” (Litzy) who was killed at her own wedding. Araceli was one of the characters who really evolved over the seasons: In Season 1 she was a semi-prostitute, a drug addict, and a beautician. In Season 2 she was a famous singer and a great spy.  And in Season 3 she signed her Death Warrant when she said “Yes” to Dorriga’s marriage proposal.

Seasons 4 and 5 focused on a new generation:  The Quintanilla/Acero Clan became a heavily-armed political campaign. Vicenta still worked on behalf of migrants and killed her fiancé when she accepted his marriage proposal.  We saw the last of Indio when basically, the Clan drove his body into the side of a mountain using a crane. And Mi Tuti’s son (Teca’s grandson) left Catholic school in Spain, reunited with his grandfather Teca when Teca kidnapped him, and is nowdiscovering his murderous roots (something not contemplated by “Ancestry DNA”) as the show ends.

You can’t make a show this great without tremendous writers:  Roberto Stopello, Indira Paez, Amaris Paez, Sergio Mendoza, Juan Manuel Andrade, José Vicente Spataro, Gabriella Caballero are just a few of the writers who have brought us this tremendous show through the years, and it was directed by Miguel Varoni, who can simply do everything – he is a telenovela Renaissance Man.  Join me as I say Goodbye to some of the most fun friends I have every had!

To learn more of my sideways views on telenovelas, follow me here and everywhere @gringanovelera &!



Katie Barberi walks into the small Italian restaurant in Lincoln Park and somehow, on a muggy Monday night, in a pizzeria with a listless wait-staff and even less-enthused customers, she makes a Grand Entrance, and immediately owns the place, without even trying.  That is what is known as “presence.” With a delicate beauty and eyes a shade of green that inspires art, Katie Barberi has an over-abundance of presence that cannot be contained within her petite frame.  

Not to be outdone, and without even trying, is her fiancée and partner in the most true sense of the word, Craig Hurley.  Tall, lanky and quiet, with an easy laugh and fierce eyes that don’t miss a thing,  Craig is either Jimmy Stewart with a dark side or a younger Sam Elliot with an edge.   

They are perfect together, because together, in the space between them, they create something magical, and it’s more than just True Love.   They seem so different, but maybe it’s that difference that ignites their creativity.  Katie Barberi and Craig Hurley are taking on the world, or should I say many worlds, and with their graphic novel “Daylight Sucks” they have created very human Vampires who wreak havoc on  the worst of humanity.  And as if that wasn’t enough, they have bravely taken on the right of actors to join the union SAG-AFTRA.   Getting to know these two over a delicious pizza (thin-crust- YAY!!) was a treat, but something tells me we that are going to enjoy a few more meals together, especially since they have planted roots in Chicago!  

You know Katie & Craig,  and you have known them for a long time:

 Katie has been in countless,,fabulous telenovelas like “Corazon Valiente,” “Dona Barbara” and “Eva, La Trailera,” to name just few.  I loved Katie in “Corazon Valiente,” a telenovela that will always be special to me because it was the first telenovela that captivated me so much that I wanted to learn Spanish so I could understand what was happening.

 Katie Barberi, as “Perla” just about killed me.  If one hallmark of a great telenovela is really beautiful people are making horrible decisions, then Katie was telenovela royalty because no one in that wild and crazy show made worse decisions than Perla and I LOVED her for it.

Katie has been performing long before she starred in telenovelas and has been in plays, movies and plenty of television shows in the USA and Mexico.  She is beloved as the funny fashionista “Ursula” in the Nickelodeon series “Every Witch Way” and it’s Mexican counterpart “Grachi”. All of the young women who grew up on these shows really love Katie.  At the First Annual ALTA Awards at the Victory Gardens,which Craig and Katie invited me to attend with them after dinner, she was surrounded by such a group!   ALTA stands for the “Alliance of LatinX Theatre Artists” and it was the most fun awards show I have ever been to.  Yes, it was also my first awards show, but Katie agreed it was fantastic, and she’s been to the Oscars! As one award-winner put it:  “We are LatinX. We cheer and yell for every nominee, and then we all cheer again for the winner!!”  It was a joyous event.

When we walked out of the theatre into a cold mist, Chicago was shutting down for the night.  Craig and I waited on a quiet Lincoln Avenue for Katie, who was surrounded by enthusiastic fans –award winners themselves for their new storefront theatre  in Chicago’s Albany Park, these young women had grown up watching  “Grachi or Every Witch Way” or both, and they were delighted to be meeting Katie.  And Katie was so excited for them, and so proud of their work, the admiration was mutual.  

A few feet away, Craig watched it all with a smile equal parts love and pride. “This happens everywhere we go.  Everyone loves Katie. They just gravitate to her.”

I looked up at him, with a bit of a crush, because after all, he did beat up Luke Perry in “90210.”  Craig might be as close as I will ever come to meeting a cowboy, even though Craig Hurley is not a cowboy, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and graduated from the Chicago Academy of the Arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, California.  But he is so laconic, with the air of certainty that comes with the ability to be just that quiet and still speak volumes, that I think this is what cowboys must be like.

Craig has been acting for a long time; since he was a kid.   After having performed in multiple shows and plays as a child, Craig began his adult acting career after he moved to Hollywood.  After guest starring on shows like “Highway to Heaven,” “Freddie’s Nightmares” and “21 Jump Street” and playing recurring roles in “90210,” “Life Goes On” and “Hunter,” Craig was a  regular on the Dick Wolf (pre-“Law & Order”) show “Nasty Boys” opposite Dennis Franz and Benjamin Bratt.

After years in show business, Craig was the guy with the best stories, so he wrote a book called “27 And All Washed Up.”   It is his narrative of what he calls his “trip down the Rabbit Hole” as a young actor in Hollywood in the 80’s and 90’s. Even though the book is filled with great stories about his years in Hollywood, he views it as a text for young actors.  Craig is currently re-editing a second edition of the book which will be available soon, when it’s going to fly off the shelves.

It was the book that brought Katie and Craig together: They met in Hollywood, on the horror anthology  “Freddie’s Nightmares,” but were too young to appreciate what had sparked between them. Years later, when Craig sent Katie a copy of his  book because she was in it, they reconnected, and have been together ever since.

Katie and Craig  navigated the treacherous waters of a  childhood spent in front of the camera, and came out fine on the other side:  Is this why they still look at each other like they are in the fresh bloom of love?  Maybe, but I think it’s something more:  These two didn’t just survive those waters – they are flourishing.  Is it their charm? Talent? Looks? Their wicked and very in-sync sense of humor?  Well, those things help certainly, and they have those qualities in abundance. Nope, it’s something more.  When I ask them how they have done it, how they have stayed in show business for so long without losing their humanity (and their minds), and with such enthusiasm and optimism, I found the source of  their bond: It’s  old-school toughness, and it’s super-cool.  

Katie tells me that you can’t take anything personally; stay focused and don’t give up ever.  Ever. In a separate conversation, Craig tells me you have to be able to shift if you want to stick with show business:  If acting doesn’t work, try writing, producing, accounting.  ACCOUNTING, I ask? Yes, says Craig. Studios need accountants too.  If you love the business, you will find the right opportunity.

Their philosophy is really just two sides of the same coin: Stick To It. And don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. Katie and Craig share a resiliency that has served them well, and they are all about their future – a future filled with vampires.   

The future looks very bright for “Daylight Sucks”  their series of graphic novels that they have created and produced (along with very talented artists)  about the Alnwicks, a clan of vampires that destroys (and  feeds upon) the worst of society, while being real-life Champions for people that need their help. In other words, they are  Vigilante Vampires.  Except for the fact that the Alnwicks are The Undead, and also Superheroes, they  are just like every other family.  

Their leader is “Eva,” who is older than Time, but because she is modeled after Katie she looks FABULOUS!  She has a younger boyfriend, George, who is about 1750 years old, but stays in shape.  Eva fights for Women & Children, while George is the clan’s provider and defender.  Everyone in the family has a cause: Equality, the environment, animals, immigration, and even romance.  True vigilantes, no abuser escapes their wrath, or escapes being dinner.

Craig has been forever fascinated by Vampires, and wanted to debunk the myths that surround them. He does a great job of it in “Daylight Sucks” and also over dinner.    Since everything I know about vampires comes from “Dracula” or “The Lost Boys,” Craig burst a lot of my Vampire bubbles when we met. Katie is a natural fit for  Eva, and when she started writing the backstory for her character, Eva came alive and flowed through Katie as she wrote. Their partners in this amazing endeavor are Mauricio Toro and William Finke; with the artwork of Pablo Solarte and Brigiet Lopez.    

There is more than just vengeance, judgment and violence in the series – there is a star-crossed, bilingual love story too.  A young woman named Esperanza who has crossed into the USA from Mexico to find the father she doesn’t know endures hardship and sometimes horror on her journey, and she crosses paths with the Alnwicks.  Will they help her? It’s not just Vampires that have to live underground, is it?

It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Katie and Craig that they have managed to weave into “Daylight Sucks” one  the most pressing issues of our day – Immigration.  Katie and Craig are a power couple who use their powers for others!   In fact, Craig’s favorite role is the shy, scared “Billy Bibbit” in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” because he can give Billy the strength and courage Billy lacks.

For the past several years, Katie and Craig  have been working tirelessly to bring the union SAG-AFTRA to the actors who work for Telemundo. It became Katie’s  true passion and it’s an amazing story. Katie’s work on behalf of actors was not easy and was not without a huge cost to her own career, but she has no regrets.  Like her alter-ego Eva, Katie simply saw a wrong and tried to right it.  Of course, unlike Eva, she did it without killing anyone.

Katie’s steely tenacity paid off when, in a historic moment, Telemundo performers were allowed to vote to on whether to join SAG-AFTRA.  This election was the first time in 65 years that actors at a major television network took a vote to the National Labor Relations Board.  Katie and Craig have a lot to be proud of, but if you ask me, the BEST part of that whole story is that the President of SAG-AFTRA is actress Gabrielle Carteris, who played “ Andrea Zukerman” in “90210!”  What??!!

I hope that Katie, Craig, Gabrielle and Luke Perry all go out to The Peach Pit to celebrate, and that they invite me.

And when they are not saving the world, Katie is also a  lyric Soprano who also has her own jewelry line, composed of pieces as lovely and delicate as she is! And Craig is a fantastic cook and also a structural engineer (which is the family business)!!

Why couldn’t they save some of their great qualities for the rest of us??

Watch this space for more telenovela news next month! And follow me everywhere @gringanovelera!!


First, I was his fan,

and then I was his friend,

and now Jose Ignacio Valenzuela, aka José Ignacio “Chascas” Valenzuela, has asked me to share his presentation of his thriller “To The End Of The World” at City Lit Books in Chicago on October 6, at 5:00 p.m.!!

Who am I???

I’m #lagringanovelera, also known as Karen Kerbis, a Chicago prosecutor learning Spanish from telenovelas and writing about them every day!

How did a Chilean author & I find each other?

Come to City Lit Books at 2523 North Kedzie Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Logan Square, to hear our presentation of Jose’s first book to be translated into English, “To The End Of The World,” and you’ll learn the answer to that mystery!!

See you there!!!

Want To Be A Prosecutor?Skip Law School And Watch Telenovelas!


What’s Law Got To Do With It??


Que tal!

When I started learning Spanish from telenovelas, I was usually very wrong about everything. In fact, I was so dazed and confused during the first month of La Patrona on Telemundo that I thought Antonia and Alejandro were a rich, unhappily married couple with no children, and that Antonia hated Alejandro SO MUCH that the gigantic family portrait over the fireplace only included her. “Thank goodness they didn’t bring any children into this unhappy marriage,” I thought.

And then one day I realized that they had no children because they weren’t married: they were mother and son. Why Alejandro did not get his own apartment is a question for another day, but clearly, there no room in my fevered brain to figure out the subtleties of the show.

But as time went on and I understood more and more every day, I came to really love the courtroom scenes in La Patrona, and in all of the telenovelas I watch to this day. The courtroom hijinx in a telenovela would make the whole world want to go to law school, if only court could actually be as crazy and as much fun. And as a prosecutor in in the criminal courts of Chicago, I love watching what my fellow Novela prosecutors get up to.

For example, in “La Patrona,” the prosecutor (Ricardo) was a pretty decent guy with a gigantic Crucifix in his office, which is kind of unusual for government work. He was only able to have sex with women he wasn’t married to, which is usually something we see in celebrities and professional athletes, but in Ricardo’s case it was because his father had convinced him that his mother had abandoned him to run away with the Tennis Pro, when in reality Ricardo’s father had had The Mrs. imprisoned in the local Asylum for the Criminally Insane, so he could spend all of her money on hookers, Tequila, and his Senate campaign. Ricardo retired from the Prosecutor’s Office to defend his mother of trying to kill his father after she escaped from the Asylum.

Of course he did.

In “Eva La Trailera,” Sofia Lama played “Betty,” a prosecutor so in love with Eva’s boyfriend Pablo that Betty prosecuted Eva for a murder which Betty knew Eva didn’t commit, scared all of Eva’s witnesses, conspired with the Real Killer to see that Eva was convicted, lost her job when her bosses found out about it, and then pregnant and broke, moved in with Pablo’s family even though no one invited her.

In “El Senor de los Cielos,” Erika de la Rosa played “Elsa,” the Very Special Prosecutor assigned to prosecute Don El Chema, who was supposed to be El Chapo. Elsa is one of my favorite prosecutors for a couple of reasons: Number 1, I don’t even think Elsa was a lawyer. I think that her parents were big campaign contributors to El Presidente, and basically paid him to take her off of their hands. Elsa gave me hope: She showed us that having no working knowledge of the law was not an impediment to a successful prosecution. Number 2, Elsa was dating Chema at the same time she was prosecuting him. When I met Erika at a Telemundo event, and gushed about how much I learned from Elsa about being a prosecutor, Erika quickly excused herself and called for “Security.”

And then, in the next season of “El Senor de Los Cielos,” Alejandro de la Madrid played Ignacio, a serious and honest prosecutor who became so frustrated by his inability to convict any drug kingpins that he assembled a team of the prettiest women in the office and they formed a Hit Squad, assassinating everyone who was acquitted, which is another way to go. Usually, in law enforcement, when a team of the prettiest women are recruited, it is because someone is assembling a softball team.

ESDLC is an embarrassment of riches of fantastic prosecutors. Now, in Season 6 of the series, we are treated to another great prosecutor from whom we can learn a lot – Nora Requena, played by Maria Conchita Alonso.

Nora has come from New York to extradite El Senor himself – Aurelio Casillas. I love that Nora gets to go to the country from which she is extraditing the criminal. If this happened in real life, we would all be looking to Italy for our defendants. Usually, a successful extradition requires that the prosecutor complete hundreds of documents exactly right, and then hope the host country agrees with us. But in ESDLC6, Nora has the right idea – Go right to the country harboring the criminal to make your case in person, and take a private plane to get there. Nora acts like she is on vacation, and the DEA agents in Mexico are the hotel valets.

Right before she left for Mexico, Nora had just pulled the plug on her husband, literally. Once her husband drew his last breath, Nora left the hospital for Mexico City, and left the hospital staff with her husband’s jewelry driver’s license and his body, telling them she was finally “free.” Well, she is certainly free from all medical and burial expenses.

Nora then flew into CDMX on a private jet. One thing I have learned from telenovelas of any type is that if there is a prosecutor hanging around, that prosecutor leads a pretty glamorous life. They have a driver, they boss the judge around, and they usually have an office filled with antiques, Oriental rugs, and religious objects. Although we haven’t seen her office yet, I am sure Nora is no exception to this rule. My proof? She carries a fan. A fan.

It never occurred to me to use a fan before, but now I don’t know how I practiced law for so long without one.

A fan is something I could use very effectively in closing arguments, as long as no one ever bursts into the song “Lady of Spain.” And when I say “no one,” I mean me. Or as long as I don’t develop a southern accent and call in sick because I have “the vapors.” At least I need to find out what “the vapors” are, exactly. Now that I think about it, I could do a lot of damage with a fan, and most of it would be self-inflicted.

In ESDLC, once Nora and her entourage landed, DEA chief Joe Navarro picked her up at the airport and took Nora right to a meeting at the Mexico City offices of the DEA. With her piercing glare, fan and gigantic glasses, Nora made everyone in the meeting nervous, maybe because they never saw a prosecutor use a fan before.

The DEA wants Nora to ask Mexico to please extradite Aurelio, and Carla The Journalist was there to impress upon Nora the importance of shipping Aurelio to the USA, except Carla had just hooked up with Aurelio the night before and was clearly conflicted about sending Aurelio to the USA when she needed a date for a family wedding coming up.

Their strategy was to show Nora the video shot the day that Aurelio took over the news station, where he broadcast that even though he was the world’s biggest cartel boss, he was still better than the crooked bosses of Mexico.

Nora is really one cool customer.

After watching the tape, she announced that the tape was not evidence of anything.

Nora’s statement, and her rejection of charges, rocked my world.

I have always thought that a confession is pretty important evidence.

But Nora disagrees and I think she called it “television gossip,” as if Aurelio’s broadcast was a bad episode of “The Bachelor.”

I’ll be honest.

If I was trying this case, I would have charged him, queued up that tape, hit “Play” on the DVD player, lit a cigarette, and when the tape was over I would have announced “State Rests.”

But no, not according to Nora.

Even with a confession made to the entire country of Mexico which no one could ever complain was coerced because it was Aurelio himself who took over the whole television station at gunpoint just so he could make this statement, the work is just beginning, according to Nora. This could be true, or it could also be that Nora wants to extend her trip to Mexico.

The DEA was disappointed, but perked up when Nora tried to get everyone to go out drinking, which shows that the DEA in Mexico City is like every other prosecutor’s office around the USA.

Only Joe agreed to go, even though Nora appeared to be buying.

Nora came well-equipped to take care of prosecutor business. She is armed with an evening gown, gigantic glasses, and fans to match every outfit. Is this a homage to Novelaville’s Greatest Villainess Catalina Creel, who had an eye patch to match every one of her dresses, even though most of her dresses were made out of the same fabric as the curtains? Time will tell.

All I know right now is that I wish Telemundo could offer credit for Continuing Legal Education for teaching us how to be better prosecutors from telenovelas!

For more of my sideways views of telenovelas, please follow me here, and @gringanovelera on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and on “Latin Connection” magazine!

Gringa Novelera

Latin Connection Magazine

How I Am Learning To Be A Better Prosecutor From Maria Conchita Alonso In “El Senor De Los Cielos: Day 1

I’m no “Julie & Julia,” or Julie OR Julia, but I am a prosecutor in the criminal courts, and I am closely watching a prosecutor in the telenovela “El Senor de Los Cielos.”

That prosecutor is “Nora Requena” played by Maria Conchita Alonso, and she just joined the cast on Monday night.

If you don’t watch telenovelas (Why not??? Better check your pulse!!), you might think a prosecutor is a fairly straightforward character.

You’d be wrong:

In a series where the Venezuelan Ambassador to Mexico spends more time money laundering than serving tea to guests and reading telex’s, and where the Presidente Of México has more orgies in office than Caligula, a prosecutor has many more interesting things to do in the show than prepare Answers to Discovery.

I think I’ll learn a lot from “Nora” and what I’m going to try to do is tell you what I have learned every day, in every episode!


Day 1:

There’s nothing better than a good criminal prosecutor in a telenovela, and if we are lucky, the prosecutor is good because the prosecutor is BAD. As in Very Bad. And the Worse they are, the more fun they are!

Last night the legendary Maria Conchita Alonso debuted as Nora Requena in “El Senor de los Cielos.” In the series, Nora is a New York city prosecutor determined to bring Aurelio to justice. And bring him to New York City, where Nora will take a bite out of crime, and Aurelio will take a bite out of the Big Apple. Will he see justice? That’s anyone’s guess. Will he see the inside of Nora’s apartment? Always a possibility since Nora may be completely unprepared for the power of The Kevorka, a quality Aurelio shares with Kramer from “Seinfeld.”

We were introduced to Nora last night.

Since I am a prosecutor just like Nora, I wanted to see how much I could learn from this character, and believe me, in just a few minutes, I learned a lot and will be doing everything differently from now on.

When we meet Nora she is in a hospital room, at the bedside of a man on a ventilator.

Nora is hiding behind a fan, which she dramatically closes when the doctor and nurse enter the room. Honestly, it never occurred to me to use a fan before, but now I don’t know how I lived for so long without one. A fan is something I could use very effectively in closing arguments, as long as no one ever bursts into the song “Lady of Spain.” And when I say “no one,” I mean me. Or any of the arias from “Carmen.” Or I don’t develop a southern-accented Scarlett O Hara voice and claim to have “The Vapors.”

Now that I think about it, I could do a lot of damage with a fan, and all of it would be self-inflicted.

So back to the show … Within a minute of the doctor and nurse coming into the room of the man on the ventilator and Nora coming out from playing peek-a-boo behind her fan, Nora directs the nurse to take the man off of the ventilator.

And just like that, the nurse shuts off the ventilator and the man stops breathing. No one even asks Nora for identification. The nurse hit the button and that was that.

Nora did find time to take a call from the head of the DEA, Joe Navarro. Like Nora, I always have time to speak with law enforcement officers.

Unlike Nora, I don’t usually take those calls in the middle of pulling someone off of life support. So given that, Nora seems to be a more selfless prosecutor than I am.

We didn’t see Nora for a while after that. I thought maybe it was because she had a lot of paperwork to complete since she ordered the man’s death, but that wasn’t it at all. When we saw Nora again we were still in the hospital room: The Man took his final breath, Nora announced that her husband had been a complete stranger to her, gave his wedding ring to the nurse, and announced to the doctor and nurse that she was finally free. The doctor hoped that Nora meant “Finally Free to pay the hospital bill,” but that’s unlikely.

After this short but powerful speech, Nora left the hospital, her dead husband, and the very confused doctor and nurse who were now stuck with the wedding erring and the body that went with it.

So what I learned from Nora in this episode is that you can get away with anything if you are beautiful, dramatic, confusing, and best of all, using a fan.

Let’s see what she gets up to tonight.

One thing I can tell you that Nora is not doing any legal research.

Here Is The Reason Why Telenovela Writers Should Write The Academy Awards!

I sure hope you watched Al Otro Lado del Muro on Telemundo last night!

I’ll tell you what:

If you want to make the Academy Awards more exciting, the producers should hire telenovela writers, because it would be the fastest 4 1/2 hours on television!

And The Red Carpet would be much more deadly…

So of course last night Sofia realized that she and her daughter, in her flight from Mexico, her Human Trafficker Of a Husband/Governor, and his deadly Chief Of Staff, went right into the Snake Pit of another politician/Human Trafficker, The Very Tall U.S. Congressman whose Spanish accent is even worse than mine

Does Robert Mueller know about this guy?

When Sofia’s daughter found photos of missing girls hidden in the vent in the Guest Bedroom, Sofia tried to escape, but it was too late. The Senator had already called her husband to come and get her.

And kill her.

So Sofia knocked out the Senator and stole his wallet, to make her escape. I wondered how she was going to get the best of him, because he is so much bigger than she is but then I realized that she had a lower center of gravity because she’s closer to the ground, which is how she kicked his ass!

Meanwhile, that imbecile of a husband of hers stood on the doorstep ringing the bell, like an unwanted, annoying neighbor, wondering why no one will open the door when he can hear music inside, wondering if he wasn’t as popular as he thought he was.

As he was trying to get in through the front door, Sofia was sneaking out of the back door!

Marjorie de Sousa in this novela is the closest thing we have to Wonder Woman!

Not only did she beat up a corrupt Congressman, and escape, she also cut her hair and her daughter’s hair in a gas station bathroom, and they looked great.

I’m pretty sure coloring and cutting your own hair in a gas station bathroom is something they teach at CasAzul, the Drama School at Argos Studios in Mexico.

Meanwhile, Paula and her Cartel Chief boyfriend Vicentito (not to be confused with her other Evil Boyfriend, the Governor), learned that Sofia gave the incriminating disc to Eliza, the Official Government Baker.

But since Paula didn’t know that Eliza had gone to L.A. in search of the elusive, highly-coveted, and extremely hen-pecked Max, The Evil Vicentito and his friends searched the bakery, where they were confronted by Carmen and her shotgun.

Unfortunately they got the best of Carmen and knocked her out, but if they have half a brain between them, they will leave before she wakes up. Carmen is kind of scary under the best of conditions. Armed and headache-y, she’s downright dangerous.

Vincentito is really evil, so he is a better match for Paula than her Evil Light boyfriend Ernesto, but I have to wonder if someone has attached an “-ito” to your name, how bad can you be???

Meanwhile, Joel is recuperating at another one of Patrick’s Secret Houses. This one was equipped with a surgical suite and lots of clean bandages. The best part about Interpol’s health coverage is that the Agents operate on each other.

Against Patrick’s best medical advice, Joel checked out early of Patrick’s hospital, only to narrowly escape a trap set for him by Paula and Vincentito.

Joel may have lost a lot of blood, and oxygen to his brain, but he did not lose his looks or his street-smarts.

And I’m beginning to wonder if Patrick is as sincere as he pretends to be.

Clearly, he is hiding something – and I’d start with his degree in Emergency Room Medicine.

This novela gets better every day, if such a thing is even metaphysically possible.

Don’t miss tonight’s episode!!

You Will Be Over The Moon When You Watch “Al Otro Lado Del Muro!”


Are you ready for the Very Exciting Premiere of “Al Otro Lado del Muro?” on Telemundo?

This fantastic telenovela starts this Wednesday, February 21, and we can’t wait to watch it!!

I have a very special place in my heart for “Al Otro Lado Del Muro” – “The Other Side of the Wall” – for many reasons.

First of all, as we all know, the topic could not be more timely. The actresses Litzy and Marjorie de Sousa are the Protagonists in this novela.

They play two very different women who share the common goal of a life in the USA, but for very different reasons.

Litzy is “Eliza Romero” a beautiful and happy baker with two children and unfortunately, as she learns when she takes her children to the USA, a husband with a family on both sides of the border.

As you can imagine, her husband Max will leave her and their kids stranded at the bus station, and will not be welcomed by his Gringuita Familia, because this is not that weird show “Sister Wives.”

Undaunted because no woman as beautiful as Litzy is single for long,

her Eliza will meet all disasters with a cheerful optimism that hides a core of steel and lots of great dessert recipes.

Marjorie de Sousa, in her first appearance for Telemundo, plays Sofia Villavicencio, the wife of the evil Mexican governor Ernesto Martinez, a woman who is a former pageant queen with a very long maiden name.

Kind, gracious, and beautiful, Sofia the perfect political wife, and loving mother to her son and daughter.

However, Sofia flees to the USA when she learns that her husband is also in charge of a human trafficking ring, which she tries to bust up before she leaves, because she is brave as she is beautiful, and also because she’s really mad at her ex-.

In the previews, it looks like she drives her Jeep right over The Wall, which I am sure The American Idiot/President will be tweeting about soon.

Poor Sofia can only bring her daughter with her, however, because her son will be ripped from her arms just before her escape.

In the USA, Sofia finds Eliza, the only person Sofia can trust because Eliza was Sofia’s caterer in Mexico, which is a closer relationship than even a doctor and her patient.

Gabriel Porras, handsome as ever, is The Antagonist, The Evil Governor and Human Trafficker Ernesto Martinez. When Gabriel Porras is good, he is very good, but when he is bad, he is even better. Governor Martinez is cold and calculating, but like all politicians, he is great at being a phony. With the help of his staff, other politicians, and his Equally Evil girlfriend, he fools the voters, while he buys and sells young women, kidnaps his own son, and gets to live in the Governor’s Mansion for free.

He will have to battle Sofia, Eliza, many other supporting characters, and the voters, but never his conscience, in this thrilling new series.

I have been waiting for AOLDM for a long time! When I was in Miami a few months ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Telemundo studios while they were filming the show, and not only did I meet Litzy, Marjorie de Sousa and Gabriel Porras, but I watched them film a scene or two! (Actually I had met Gabriel Porras before, and I was shocked he did not remember me. Especially since he had to get a Restraining Order that time.)

Since I am still learning Spanish from telenovelas, I can’t tell you exactly what the scene was about, which is why I think Telemundo thinks it’s safe to invite me to the studio: I won’t reveal any secrets because I have no idea what’s happening.

I can tell you that from what I saw, there was a lot of gun-pointing, yelling, and Gabriel Porras flipped an intruder upside-down.

I did learn that it is very risky for an actor to flip an adult upside-down, but Gabriel came out on top, as he always does.

It is really a privilege for me, the ultimate fan, to watch what goes into every scene of a telenovela, and the patience and professionalism everyone shows. These novelas depend on everyone doing their jobs, most especially the gracious and charming man who brings around shots of espresso every few hours to keep the cast and crew going! Join me and let’s watch Al Otro Lado del Muro together!

Adriana Barraza, Jose Guillermo Cortines, Omer Germenos, Daniela Bascope, Gabriela Vergara, Gustavo Pedroza, Hely Ferrigny, Christopher Millan, Ed Trucco, and Uriel del Toro are just a few of the other great actors who round-out this novela!

And the writer is the always-compelling Laura Sosa Pedroza, who I am a huge fan of!!

Let’s watch @AlOtroLadoDelMuro together!!


Que tal!

I hoped you watched the NarcoNovela “Senora Acero 4” last night because it was definitely like a Very Special Episode of “Bad Judgment Theatre.”

First of all, apparently my hero La Tuti is trying to break El Gallito out of jail, and in order to do it, she enlisted the help of his campaign manager “Triple R,” and the Wardrobe and Makeup Department at Telemundo, who gave her a very fancy bobbed wig, and a very Jackie-O white dress and draped scarf.

She looked elegant, serious, and ready for an appearance on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in support of the candidate (something I would give up everything I own to see.) Since El Gallo has committed less crimes than Trump, I thought she had a good chance of getting him released.

However, it was not to be. La Tuti and Triple R got into a big argument at the coffee shop which amazingly ended only with a push and not with anyone pointing a gun at each other or the Barista.

I am not sure why they argued, but I am guessing it was because either Triple R did not recognize his campaign operative La Tuti in that orange wig (something entirely possible because in a novela, a bang change can make all the difference), or because he was angry because she would not hook-up with him (which is something that is almost always a safe bet in a novela.)

Tuti did not get what she wanted out of Triple R, and was standing outside of the coffee shop, wondering if she wasn’t as popular as she thought she used to be, when El Roscas showed up, and tried to convince her to get out of there, and to stop interfering with El Gallo’s election and criminal case, which is something you hear in The White House all of the time now.

Tuti dismissed Roscas, and you know how I know that? Because she called him “Roscitas.”

If you’re in a novela, if anyone you are arguing with adds an “ita” or “ito” after your name, look out.

You’re done.

El Roscas knew that the “Roscita” bit was not good news, because it made him a small woman.

And so to impress, or to scare Tuti, El Roscas decided to tell her that he was working as a Double (or Triple, I have lost track) Agent for her son Mini-Teca’s Uncle (or Nephew, I have lost track) El Mero Mero aka Romero aka Montero, and that it was him (El Roscas) who accidentally killed Deborah when he was trying to kill El Gallo, on Romero’s orders.

I don’t think any one sentence has created more confusion in Tuti and even possibly in Roscas, and certainly in me, and even though Montero had spurned Tuti in between hook-ups, and she wasn’t really dating Roscas either, she broke up with both of them when they dropped in on her while she was confiding in her Barbie dolls, and The Mamacita Cartel was busy tutoring her son.

At first, Romero asked Tuti a few basic questions, like “what’s for lunch?” and as usual, her tears and answers made to want him set his hair on fire.

And then suddenly, she pulled a gun out of her Barbie Dream House and threatened to shoot both of them, but I am not sure why.

At first, I thought it was because she now knew that Romero was responsible for Debora’s murder, and because he has been trying to kill Gallo who is both her candidate and Secret Crush.

But when she cried about her failed relationship with Romero, I was reminded of both Barbara Streisand in “The Way We Were” and also O.J. Simpson, and I thought that she wanted to kill Romero because she couldn’t have him, and that Roscas was going to be collateral damage. But when Romero showed no fear at all that she was going to shoot him, I realized she was probably just annoyed at the pop-in and wasn’t going to shoot anyone.

The best part of the whole scene was when while Tuti still had Los Roscas and Mero Mero at gunpoint, Romero ordered Roscas out of the room, and Roscas asked Tuti if she was going to be o.k. alone.

And she was the one holding Romero at gunpoint.

Tuti should have known that she couldn’t hold off Romero and Roscas with just one semi-automatic handgun, and no willpower whatsoever.

Maybe it is time for Tuti to realize that Roscas is THE ONE! No one will ever be concerned for her safety as much as he is, especially when she is the one holding others at gunpoint.

Speaking of which, we saw another example of Remarkably Bad Judgment Theatre when, at the end of last night’s episode, La Coyote, Salvador, Daniel Phillips and Bebote kidnapped El Presidente from the Men’s Room and brought him out to the desert to ridicule him, mock him, and try to make him feel guilty. I am not a fan of The President, but having La Coyote yell at him for a while is probably enough punishment for anyone.

After they tied him up, and accused him of Crimes Against Humanity, I wondered what their end-game was, and assumed that they were going to kill him. Once again, I was completely wrong and could never have predicted what came next and that’s not just because I am learning Spanish from telenovelas.

Vicenta Acero handed him her mother’s gun, which he was reluctant to take at first, because he thought it was a trick. But they kept yelling at him to take it, so he took it. What did they expect him to do with it? Did they think he would kill himself, because even though I don’t speak Spanish, I could have told them El Presidente is not that self-aware.

Did they give it to him so he could protect himself in the desert they were planning on leaving him in? It’s a mystery to me, and just like long speeches before you’re about to kill someone, I didn’t think it was a good idea to give him the gun.

If you ask me, if you have gone through all of the trouble of kidnapping a man from a bathroom, you should have the good sense to finish him off so you never have to try to kidnap someone from a bathroom again.

If their characters’ judgment was not as bad, novelas wouldn’t be as great as they are!

Don’t miss these Ultimos Capitulos of “Senora Acero 4”! On Telemundo!!

My Top Five Reasons For Loving “Jose Jose”

Are you watching José José on Telemundo?

Alejandro de la Madrid is wonderful as Jose Jose.

He is in almost every scene, playing one of Mexico’s greatest singers who is a true international star, who means so much to so many, and yet you never see de la Madrid acting: When he’s on screen you only see Jose Jose, whether he is singing, suffering, or shoving poor Lucero’s photo into a drawer before he goes off to Hollywood.

But in addition to his world-class acting, there are so many reasons to love this great series!

Here are my Top Five:


I don’t know who the Costume Designer is on this series but whoever it is deserves their very own Premios right now.

The clothes are perfect: Not one natural fiber in the closet, and not one color that exists in nature. It’s all very shiny and very flammable.

#JoseJose captures PERFECTLY the extremely bad fashion choices of the 60’s, which were exceeded only by the even worse fashion choices of the 1970’s.


Like the Wardrobe Department, the hairdressers on this novela worked overtime, and deserve an award of their own!! These aren’t hairstyles, they are architecture. Based upon the elaborate nature of hairstyles, I realize now that in the 60’s and 70’s, women were not kept out of the workplace because of discrimination.


It was because by the time they were finished fixing their hair, it was already time for bed.

Also, it may have been the case that certain hairstyles were so big, they could not literally clear their doorway to get out of the house.

I’d like to know what the budget for hairspray was on this novela.


Jose Jose is an icon, so in any story about his life, his music would be another character.

And his songs are fantastic!

But there’s other music in the show too, and it suits the time perfectly. Go-Go music, soul, rock- it’s all there. Even when the show goes to commercial break, it sounds like a show from the 60’s. The attention to this detail is remarkable! And the dancing!!

The Go-Go boots!! It’s all there, like one long Novelaville version of “American Bandstand!”

4. THE GALS!!!!

Itati Cantoral as “Kiki,” and Maria Fernanda Yepes as “Anel:” This is a Novela Clash of The Titans. I cannot wait to watch this Battle Royale, as they duel over the soul of Jose Jose.

I suggest a Smoke-Off: They could smoke and stare at each other and smoke and glare at each other.

And whoever blinks first, loses.

But to make things fair, Anel needs a cigarette holder as long as Kiki’s.


I’ll be honest- I never heard of this guy before, but everything he says is funny and Super-dramatic whether he means it or not.

The actor Andres Giardello says more with one raised eyebrow than many actors can say with pages of dialogue.

Garcés was a comic, suave actor that Andres Giardello has captured perfectly!! I love every scene he is in, and I could watch him read the Phone book. And I’d laugh all the way through it. This guy is FANTASTIC!!

This series has it all, and I hope it brings back it all back into fashion!!



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Maybe “Sonny & Cher” Should Have Been “Jose Jose & Cher…”

… Although Cher would have probably have insisted on being called “Cher Squared.”

Did you watch “Jose Jose” last night on Telemundo? It was the second episode, with more drama and elaborate hairstyles than I could have hoped for!

So, Jose Jose should have won first place in the International Song Competition with the hit song. “El Triste,”but I think that First Place was stolen from him, which just about led to a revolution in the streets of Mexico City.

After that stunning loss, Jose fixed himself what looked a lot like a lot of Long Island Iced Tea, and went to a lot of parties.

At the big party of the night, his childhood sweetheart Lucero was basically hip-checked out of the way by both Kiki and Anel, but she stood her ground.

It’s a good thing that Lucero did not realize that she was dealing with Soraya and LaDiabla, or she might have been loading up on Long Island Iced Teas right along with her novio Jose Jose.

Sadly, for Lucero, it became clear during the party that everyone at the big party wants a piece of Jose Jose, and there is no room for her in this world of gigantic hair, especially since her own hair is ironed flat and straight.

Jose Jose is definitely attracted to women whose hair-dos look more like elaborate architecture.

You know who he would have loved? Cher, in her “Sonny and Cher Show” days. She would be the woman of his dreams because she started every episode of their show with straight, flat hair, but then during the episode she had hairdos that had a lot in common with roller coasters.

Although it was a night for celebrating, Jose Jose and his brother did have a big fight in front of everyone at the family party, and it’s very clear his brother resents him.

It’s kind of unclear to me why Jose’s brother hates him so much.

His brother did have a flashback of when as a teenager, he went with Jose to visit their dying father in the hospital, who revealed he had other kids with another woman, and that Jose already knew about that whole scene.

So maybe the brother feels left out of the chisme.

No one likes to be kept out of the chismo-teca.

Maybe the Sosa Brothers were like the Smothers Brothers, and Dad always like Jose best.

Tonight we were also introduced to #MauricioGarces, who is like a Novela within a Novela, and could not be more fun.

I am looking forward to the episode where he actually twirls his mustache. You’ve got to watch this guy!

Well, as dramatic a singer as Jose Jose was, tonight his girlfriend Lucero got the last word in an SuperDramatic fashion, and without actually saying a word:

While JoseJose sang “Te Extrano” to her, (and his future ex-wives,) Lucero ran out of the room in the middle of the song, and Jose ran out right after her.

Right in the middle of the song.

This is exactly why everything is better in a telenovela!

See you next time!