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The Hits Keep Coming – Literally – on 'Grand Hotel'
June 25, 2019  | By Mike Hughes
 


Stop and think about the weddings you've attended.

Now do a calculation: In what percentage did the bride and groom say "I do" and become married?

My own figure is 100 percent, but I might run with a dull crowd. In the TV world, excluding finales, it seems closer to 50 percent.

One Party of Five character was a runaway bride twice in one season. On One Day at a Time, the bride ended up marrying the best man. In Ellen, the minister foolishly asked if anyone knew a reason these two should not be united; every hand in the room shot up.

But in the entire TV history, I don't think anyone has attacked the wedding singer. Until now.

Grand Hotel (10:01 p.m. ET, Mondays, ABC) closed its first episode (June 17) with the wedding. At the altar, the bride said some nice things. Then the groom denounced her and rushed out to hit El Rey, a music star who was going to sing at the reception.

(A little context: The night before, the bride had sex with El Rey. But she had a good reason: Her sister had been with El Rey, and since the bride was the "pretty one" in the family, she felt she should, too.)

That brought chaos to the wedding and the hotel. Its owner (the bride's stepfather) owes big money to crooks and planned to resolve that by selling the hotel to the groom's family. Now the deal is off.

There are lots of sub-plots here: The worker who disappeared; her brother, working undercover at the hotel; the owner's son, forever concocting stories about his missing leg to seduce women, and the owner's daughter, fresh from her MBA and unaware that the hotel she loves is aswirl in schemes.

Yes, this is adapted from a telenovela. "This was a format from Spain," producer Eva Longoria, who will be a guest star in four episodes, told the Television Critics Association. "It was a period piece, and we contemporized it to modern-day Miami."

The show, Longoria said, has a majority of its key jobs – director, writer, director of photography – handled by women and minorities. Her previous production, Devious Maids, took the usual approach – Latinas working for wealthy WASPS. This one is different.

"You often see those underrepresented groups playing the housekeeper, playing service-industry jobs," said Brian Tanen, the Grand Hotel writer-producer. "So it was special for us to be able to represent the (owners) as people of color, which is very true of my hometown of Miami."

That's important to actors like Demian Bichir (top), 55, whose first crack at Hollywood went nowhere. "There weren't many things for Latin American artists," Bichir recalled. Now, by comparison, "there are a lot of people responsible for this beautiful time that we're having, and Eva is one of them."

After those early rejections, he retreated to Mexico and became a movie and TV star. In the last decade, he's been back in the U.S., starring in The Bridge, co-starring in Weeds, and getting an Oscar nomination for A Better Life.

And now he runs a glamorous hotel, where life looks splendid. "It's blue skies," Tanen said. "It's gorgeous beaches (and) incredibly beautiful people."

It's a happy place – except for the lies, the schemes, the mobsters, the missing worker, the money crisis, and the groom attacking the wedding singer.

 
 
 
 
 
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