All I wanted to do was learn Spanish from watching a telenovela- and somehow I became a character in one!!
As the hit FashionRomanceTelenovela “Betty En New York” has come to an end with SPECTACULAR ratings, things are just starting to heat up here in Mexico City, where the ratings for this fun and funny show are always #1 in it’s time slot.
Could these fantastic ratings be because I am actually a character in the show, thanks to Sandra Velasco, Luis Mi, Alejandro Vergara, Valentina Del Rosario Parraga and Lizandra Parra!
Yes, “Sofia” is represented in her divorce by Marcela’s good friend, “the Best Lawyer in the USA, “Karen Kerbis from Chicago!”
My favorite part of being a lawyer in this Novela is that just as it was when I actually was a lawyer in Chicago, my advice comes from watching telenovelas, because “Law and Order” was too unrealistic.
Here I am!!
I’m “Karen Kerbis, the Lawyer from Chicago!!”
Of course, I was very lucky to be played by the wonderful actress Lizandra Parra!
And doubly-lucky to have Amaranta Ruiz for my client!!! ❤️❤️
I will never forget that this happened to me!!
Muchas muchas gracias!!
Yes, I’ve moved to Mexico!!
Five years ago, I thought I might try to learn Spanish from watching telenovelas!
Five years later, I have left my job (Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney in Gang Crimes), my home (Chicago), and my family and friends (am I crazy?) to move to Mexico City to write the Telenovela of my Dreams!!
And now, I’m doing a Podcast from here!! It’s called “My Mexican Mistake(s)” and I’ve recorded two episodes so far!!
Here’s the link!
It’s very tough to say goodbye to the great SuperCrazyNarcoNovela “Senora Acero,” on Telemundo, but sadly, this is the last season!!
Please join me for a trip down Bad Memory Lane in my latest article for Latin Connection Magazine, a tribute to five seasons of madness in Señora Acero!!
Saying goodbye to the crew is like being at a super fun party with your best friends, who are the perfect combination of good looks and terrible judgement!!
The magazine is available on line, and here’s the article!
@LatinConnection is all about living the Latino lifestyle in the USA, and in addition to my Telenovela news, there is a lot more news you can use!!
Telenovelas have learned a lot from Seinfeld.
In Seinfeld , George built a hidden compartment in his desk so he could nap.
In Señora Acero , the Evil Gringo FBI Chief in Mexico built a hidden compartment in his desk so he could hide the $$$$ he got from El Teca.
You be the judge…
George never had that much cash, and the DEA Chief is too coked up to sleep.
So as usual, everything works out for the best!!
If you’re not watching telenovelas you don’t know what you’re missing!
You remember how when you were a kid, and every time your parents weren’t around, even if you had a babysitter, things were still a bit of a free-for-all?
Well something very similar is happening in the Telemundo NarcoNovela “El Senor de Los Cielos,” except “Daddy” is a lot scarier because unlike (most of) your parents, in this case “Daddy” is the deadly Aurelio Casillas, head of a cartel, and starting to wake up out of his coma, which I predict will take us right up to the Very Grand Finale next week.
So buckle your seatbelts, grab your seat on the couch, and you may want to consider a bulletproof vest…
As we move into the Very Final Episodes of the Telemundo ComaNovela #ElSenorDeLosCielos, all bets are off. It’s like a Narco version of the game “Musical Chairs,” and when the gunfire stops, who will be the Last Man (Or Woman) Standing?
With Aurelio off in Dreamland (and maybe the Penalty Box) everyone else on the show has become an Independent Contractor, and the end result of that chaos appears to be Nuclear War (literally).
So first of all, the Cuban General Valdes has apparently made plans to buy a missile in Tijuana from a Middle-Eastern arms dealer who has brought the wife and kids with to Tijuana I guess because it’s still Summer Vacation for some kids.
Valdes also sent La Coronela, her corporal/slave, and Sergeant Casasola to Tijuana too, either because they are actually supppsed to take that missile back to Mexico in their car, or because it’s their Summer Vacation too.
I hope there is enough room in the trunk.
If Valdes is thinking of invading Miami with that missile, I hope he is bringing enough Picadillo for everyone.
And meanwhile, Guess Who is waking up? And he’s going to be VERY hung-over!
Don’t miss the wild last week of The CrazyComaNarcoNovela “El Senor de Los Cielos!”
I hope you have been watching “El Senor de Los Cielos” because right now it is the only show crazier than “Sin Senor Si Hay Paraíso” , and believe me, that’s saying something.
First of all, El Senor himself is in a coma, with his head wrapped up in bandages, with only one eye poking out.
Imagine The Invisible Man in the middle of a contract dispute, with a lot of men wearing big cowboy hats and bigger belt buckles in charge of his medical care.
After he was shot by El Cabo and his ever-dwindling group of Not-So-Merry Men, he had sought refuge with El Rayo (his childhood boxing coach), where he was rescued by his half-brother Amado, who is known as El Aguila Azul, but to be honest I think he should be called “El Principe Azul,” and Aurelio’s triple-crossing girlfriend Corina, and some luchadors.
This crew got him to The Ahumada Ranch, which is usually a pretty quiet place even with Don Ahumada running for El Presidente, until their long-lost (for a good reason) cousins The Casillas Family (all shot up) showed up at the Ahumada Ranch. Dona Alba and Mrs. Ahumada are cousins, but there’s a reason why Mr. Ahumada doesn’t want them around and it’s this: THE CASILLAS FAMILY ARE NARCOS AND HE IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT AND HIS PLATFORM IS “I AM NOT A NARCO!”
With the Casillas Clan, you get a lot of gangsters, bullys, big guns, yelling, a Command Center, more yelling, plotting, full-metal makeouts in unexpected places, shoot-outs, worry, drama, a mini-hospital, a full medical staff, torture, kidnappings, and even more yelling. This is not what a Presidential Candidate needs, except maybe for the plotting. And the make-outs. And the medical staff is OK but only if they have brought Ambien.
In fact, the Casillas Clan should probably just stay home the next time they are attacked.
Meanwhile, to add to the Candidate’s worry, his daughter Diana was kidnapped by the neighbors, the Ramos Brothers, who I hope are better ranchers than they are kidnappers and neighbors. Don Ahumada and the police were on their way to rescue Diana, but she tried to stall them because with the Casillas Cousins taking up all of the air in the room with their problems, neither Diana nor her mother had had a chance to tell Papi that Diana is a Narca, and that is why she is still single.
Diana is like a teenager who gets caught with marijuana in her backpack, except in her case it’s like 18 tons of marijuana.
She was so afraid her father and the police were going to find out she was a Narca that she actually called her archenemy and Texas dinner date El Cabo to ransom her. Cabo agreed to do it, because he thinks everything is funny, even though he thought there was a slight risk that it could be a set up. And even though it was not a set-up, because he did not find Diana tied to the railroad tracks (which I guess The Ramos Brothers said they were going to do) he believed that it was. If you ask me, the best part about that scene on the tracks was that one of his henchman held an umbrella over Cabo, to keep the strong sun off his head. Cabo is like Queen Elizabeth without the handbag, in that someone else holds his umbrella.
If I worked for Cabo, I would tell him he needs a summer weight Run-DMC track suit, in seersucker, because black velour is just too warm. I think if El Cabo could be anything he wanted to be (besides El Cabo), he would be a Russian Oligarch, because no one would love to prance around in an ostrich jacket more than El Cabo.
Luckily for Diana, she is rescued by her half-cousin Amado Leal, known as El Chicle or El Aguila Azul. But in Diana’s case, it’s more like “El Principe Azul” because when he rescues her as they booth shoot it out with the Nitwit Ramos Brothers, it’s Love At First Shot. It’s a good thing her hair and makeup still looked good even though she had to wear the burlap head bag for several days.
See, my mother was right: You never know where you are going to meet your Future Husband, and having your head stuck in a burlap bag is no excuse not to wear lipstick.
Once Diana was rescued from the Ramos Brothers, she had to explain to her father that she was kidnapped because she is a Narca, which is also why she was still single.
Of course she was kidnapped because she’s a Narca!
What does she look like? The Lindbergh Baby?
Meanwhile, an angry El Cabo incorrectly felt he had been betrayed by Diana, so he tried to kill her father at a campaign rally. If he dies I think there is a chance he can still win the election since everyone likes a nice quiet candidate.
And El Cabo’s girlfriend Evelina went to the morgue to identify her dead father but he wasn’t there, and that’s probably because he’s not dead.
If I understood things correctly, and the odds are pretty good that I did not, Evelina’s father is El Rayo, which makes her practically family to the Casillas Family, which is going to make Thanksgiving particularly awkward.
Don’t miss a minute of this fast, funny and fantastic show!
TELENOVELA PROSECUTORS THROUGH THE AGES:
What’s Law Got To Do With It??
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!
I am following the Adventures of New York prosecutor “Nora Requena,” played by Maria Conchita Alonso in the SuperNarcoNovela “El Senor de Los Cielos,” to learn how to be a better prosecutor! And I’ll be telling you all about it here!
And I am working hard to get us Continuing Legal Education credit for watching the show!
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 can boss the judge around, and they usually have an office filled with antiques, Renaissance paintings and shrines to La Virgincita, something you don’t normally see in government work.
Since this is only the prosecutor La Fiscal Nora Requena’s second day on “El Senor de Los Cielos,” plus she is from NYC and only visiting Mexico, we have not seen her office yet.
However, there is no shortage of glamour for this VIP***. (*** – Very Important Prosecutor).
When we first saw Nora in yesterday’s episode, she was striding off of a private jet that had just landed in Mexico City, where she was met by the dashing and angry Joe Lazaro, the DEA chief in Mexico City who has somehow managed to figure out a way to yell at people through a clenched jaw.
When Nora tells Joe that her husband of twenty years has just died (leaving out the part about pulling the plug and leaving his corpse to science. Or whoever at the hospital wants it), Joe tells her he is sorry, and Nora responds, “I’m not.” Which Joe does not find odd at all, maybe because he’s already thinking about making a move on Nora since she’s already been in Mexico for approximately 7 seconds, and Corina needs a stepmother who can keep her in line.
Nora then climbs in the heavily-armed SUV with heavier-tinted windows, and she is whisked away to the DEA office in CDMX.
OK, as prosecutors, let’s unpack this scene.
First of all, when prosecutors travel for work we ride in whatever is lower than Economy Class, known as Sub-Economy Class, which usually involves standing for the entire flight.
Second of all, we never get to go to foreign countries, but instead we attend out-of state conferences in places like Arizona in the summer and Albany in the winter.
No one ever meets us at the plane. Instead, we stumble off with our too-heavy carry-ons. bleary, dreary, sleep-deprived, in desperate need of food, drink and a bathroom. Or put it another way, we disembark looking just like every other airline passenger.
There is no private car with tinted glass waiting for us at the airport. Here’s what usually happens instead: Some people try to get the whole group to go with public transportation or a shuttle service. A few jet-lagged people go with them, and the rest share cabs, during which period at least two people will claim they haven’t “exchanged their dollars” yet, so could someone else pay for them (ignoring the fact we are still in the USA and still using US currency; and one or two more people will announce they don’t have any change, so could someone else pay for them, with vows (always broken) of repayment.
Then when everyone is reunited at the hotel, someone somewhat cheap will introduce the idea of “The Kitty.” This is a shared fund for food, drinks and transportation into which everyone will contribute equally but some will deplete much faster than others, but then everyone has to “refresh” The Kitty by repeatedly putting more money into it.
At this point, the only thing a prosecutor’s trip for work has in common with #ESDLC is the potential for violence created by the resentment which is fueled by The Kitty.
Back to Nora The Telenovela Prosecutor…
After the luxurious SUV with the tinted windows whisks Nora away from the private plane, we don’t see her for awhile. Then, we meet her again in the very fancy and sleek offices of the DEA, where she is in a gigantic conference room with equipment right out of the movie “Minority Report” lining the walls.
Let the glaring and sideways glances begin:
Here’s who is in the meeting with Nora: Joe Navarro – Chief of the DEA in Mexico, his Vice-President of the DEA Guillermo Colon, Bernardo Castillo-Chief of Security in Mexico, and Carla Uzcategui, the anti-cartel reporter who is now dating Aurelio Casillas (although she claims they are not dates, they are just kidnappings.)
As Navarro went around the table room introducing them, for each person in the room, when Joe announced their job title, the expression on Nora’s face was “I’ll be the judge of that,” which not only made me doubt whether I had understood correctly who these cast members were supposed to be, but it was clear even the cast members doubted themselves for a moment when they saw her skeptical response. Maybe Castillo really ISN’T the Chief of Security for the whole country of Mexico, after all?
Of course, Nora and Carla instantly hated each other on sight, as only two women who want to be the most popular woman in the room can hate each other. And somehow, I think Nora already knows that Carla hooked up with Aurelio the night before, where she literally and figuratively let her hair down.
Now that Nora has shaken everyone’s confidence in their own job titles, clearly her work is done for the day. Let’s see what havoc she wreaks tonight!!
And here is what I learned from Nora last night:
Striding anywhere with confidence gets you a much better chance of getting a driver, and treating anything your colleagues tell you with skepticism, even its it’s just their name, goes a long way to making you the most popular person in the room, as everyone works hard to get on your good side.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s session!
I hope you were there for the Great Very Grand Finale Of The Telemundo SuperNovela Al Otro Lado del Muro!
Where?? You ask?
Well, you could have started in Miami, where Sofia & Joel & Patrick & Agent Garcia rescued Alondra and lots of other poor girls from a Sex Slave Auction that was the centerpiece of a Masquerade Ball, like Trivial Pursuit is the centerpiece of my parties.
Or you could have been in L.A., where a busy, insane and tireless Jennifer drugged Eliza and escaped from the Asylum For The Criminally Insane, and then tricked Eliza into coming over, and then attacked her with a baseball bat, and then tried to drown her, and then, when Andres and Max rescued Eliza, Jennifer tried to yell Eliza to death.
Or, you could have been in the Women’s Prison with Paula, where the other inmates were beating her to death since she had sold most of their daughters.
Or you could have been on a Florida Beach with Sofia and Joel, where Joel gave Sofia the Pardon for the Crime She Never Committed, and just as they were about to celebrate their long-awaited honeymoon, Sofia saw a creepy old man hitting on a 3rd grade girl, and ran over to confront him and save the girl, at which point Joel realized that the Honeymoon Is Over.
Or you could have been at Interpol watching Agent Garcia accepting an award for breaking up The World’s Biggest Human Trafficking Ring, and signing a lot of Overtime slips.
Or you could have been at an Infinity Pool somewhere in the Caribbean with Ernesto, cool as a cucumber in linen, ordering an icy-cold beer that was delivered by an ice-cold Patrick who was finally allowed to arrest him.
Or you could have been in Boyle Heights, at the wedding of Eliza and ANDRES!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! Max may have come out strong out of the gate, but 10 years is a long time to be afraid of your wife.
And letting the Bone Marrow Transplant continue at the scary Dollar Store clinic really was the last straw.
Plus Andres can do everything important: sitting around staring languidly into space like a hungry supermodel is not his thing.
In fact, Andres made a great speech comparing love to making bread, and who doesn’t love bread?!
I loved Litzy in this series, and I’ve seen her get married a lot! But she never looked as beautiful at any of her other novela weddings as she looked in #AlOtroLadoDelMuro!
I think they are all packing up and moving back to Mexico, so her mother Carmen can continue to yell at her without traveling to San Diego every time she wants to tell her something.
Carmen, BEST GRANDMOTHER EVER, found Frida rebuilding her career without those sleazy pimp/managers, and invited her to the wedding, so Tomas and Frida could reunite, which they did.
In front of everyone.
Charlie was invited to the wedding too (without either of his parents of course), and he and Rodrigo were busy plotting something that I hope doesn’t hurt either one of them.
Or, you could have been like me, on my couch in Chicago, watching the end with an eye on a clock that was going way too fast, and wishing it could go on forever!
This novela was wonderful, and I hate to see it end!
I loved these characters and the story, and it’s hard to say GOODBYE to them!!
Thank you Laura Sosa Pedroza for such a fantastic novela!!
And thank you to a great cast that included Marjorie De Sousa Litzy Gabriela Vergara, Adriana Barraza, Gabriel Porras, Uriel Del Toro, Guillermo Ivan, Ed Trucco, Christopher Millan, Khotan, Noah Rico, Gael Sancheztv, Gustavo Pedraza
And A Cast Of Thousands!!!!!
And a special thanks to Joaquín Fernández and his team for the fantastic music, Luisa Ibanez for her tireless work on behalf of the show, and everyone at Telemundo who works so hard to make these shows as great as they are!