Jimmy Smits Is Set To Narrate The Latin Music USA Documentary Series, Airs 10/12, 10/19
Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor Jimmy Smits will narrate Latin Music USA - a four-hour documentary series scheduled to broadcast in primetime over two consecutive Mondays, October 12 and 19 during Hispanic Heritage Month (9:00-11:00 p.m. check local listings) on PBS. Latin Music USA is a story about American music, reaching across time and across musical genres to embrace the exciting hybrid sounds created by Latinos - fusions that have deeply enriched popular music in the US for more than five decades.
As part of the project's multimedia and multicultural approach, Latin Music USA has partnered with the Spanish TV network V-me to premiere the series on two consecutive Tuesdays, October 13th and 20th at 10 p.m., fully translated and narrated in Spanish by Leila Cobo, one of the world's foremost experts in contemporary Latin music.
Produced by WGBH and the BBC, the documentary series anchors a comprehensive, multimedia project - on air, online, in print and in the community -- exploring the vibrant musical conversations between Latinos and non-Latinos that have helped shape the history of popular music in the United States. Smits, who is perhaps best known for his long-running roles on L.A. Law and NYPD Blue, will narrate the English language version of the series. All of the project's media platforms will be in both English and Spanish.
"We are thrilled that Jimmy Smits will narrate Latin Music USA," says Executive Producer Elizabeth Deane. "His warmth, Latino heritage and genuine passion for the topics explored by the series make him an ideal choice -- and the perfect ambassador for the project."
"To be involved with a project of this scope and magnitude that explores a subject so close to my heart is incredible," says Smits. "I am so pleased to be the voice of this remarkable documentary series that I believe will educate so many about the breadth and impact of Latin music in this country."
Recognizing the need for a Los Angeles destination for Latin music, Smits became a co-owner, along with Brad Gluckstein, Jennifer López, Sheila E. and Paul Rodríguez, of The Conga Room, a popular music and dance venue, which became an instant success and has been referred to as The House of Blues for Latin Music. In 2008, The Conga Room relocated to its present location @ LA Live, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
Smits starred in the 1995 feature film My Family/Mi Familia, a multigenerational story of a Chicano family, and is no stranger to the influence Latin music has had on American culture and music. Though born in New York, Smits spent a great deal of time in Puerto Rico during his childhood and has deep Puerto Rican roots.
Smits also played the role of a congressman who became the President of the United States in the final two seasons of the drama series The West Wing, for which he won an Alma Award in 1999. He served as Executive Producer of his next series, Cane, in which he also starred. His producing role enabled him to integrate his musical influences into the series while introducing viewers to new Latin musical talent. Smits most recently received critical acclaim for his chilling performance in season three of the Showtime series Dexter.
Leila Cobo will narrate the Spanish-language adaptation of Latin Music USA on V-me, the fastest growing Hispanic TV network in the United States. The Spanish-language, 24-hour, digital broadcast service is presented over-the-air by nearly 40 affiliate PBS stations and is also carried on basic cable in major markets and nationally via satellite.
Aside from heading Latin endeavors for Billboard, as executive director of Latin content and programming, Cobo has written liner notes for many top Latin recording artists, including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias and Chayanne. As host of Estudio Billboard, on V-me, she has conducted in-depth interviews with critically acclaimed and influential Latin artists including Juanes, Maná, Juan Luis Guerra and Gloria Estefan. Cobo is regularly sought out as an expert by a broad variety of media, from the BBC and CNN to The New York Times and The Washington Post, and has served as pop music critic for the Miami Herald
Originally from Colombia, Cobo is a Fulbright scholar and graduated with degrees in journalism and piano performance from Manhattan School of Music. She is also a fiction writer and her first novel, Tell Me Something True, will be published this fall by Grand Central Publishing. She is at work on her second book, to be published in 2010.