We walk into a scene of what can only be described as organized chaos. From a long hallway outside the main studio at Univision headquarters in Miami, a series of guests and their handlers thread their way through a moving maze of musicians frantically gathering up assorted drums, guitars, horns, keyboards and a few other instruments – some recognizable as only a blur as the musicians hurry by.
It's commercial break time at Despierta América and that means the entire studio is in motion as sets move, cameras are re-positioned, large black electrical cables are wrangled across the floor. Occasionally one of the cords catches the foot of an unsuspecting bystander. Musicians, guests, and the hosts of the show are also in motion as they quickly take their places on the various sets that fill the large studio.
Just before the last break one of the hosts, who happens to be a dog named Cosita, was dressed in a flying costume complete with wings, attached to a wire, and "flown" around the studio as two of the human hosts chatted in the foreground. That's right; a dog was flying around the studio!
Although everyone behind the scenes welcomes us warmly, they soon immerse us in the madness of live television. Our cooking area is a countertop on wheels with a four-burner cooktop and some storage below. One of the floor managers rolls the countertop into the narrow hallway and plugs it in. We are soon setting out our ingredients and starting the Sofrito in the frying pan. As we cook, we of course have to dodge the nearly continuous parade of performers making their way into and out of the studio.
The hosts, Raúl Gonzalez, Ana María Canseco, Fernando Arau, and Neida Sandoval all perform way "over the top" in the Univision style. Every third sentence ends with an exclamation mark, and there is no lack of energy in this studio, except for the dog Cosita who lies so stiffly and quietly on the couch you'd swear that she was stuffed. This is one laid back Latin dog!
No matter the segment or the topic, the hosts manage to include some singing and dancing in just about everything they do. Today's special guest is legendary Cuban singer Willy Chirino, and he appears frequently throughout the three-hour show leading the cast and crew in a sing
along and generally adding a musical element to the festivities. He is joined by Latin artist Ektor, who premieres his hot new music video.
>>Suddenly our time is at hand, and one of the grips escorts us into the studio in a single file procession, our countertop on wheels following closely behind. On cue, we are rolled out and pre-positioned in the main part of the set.
The cameras light up in succession and there we are live on national cable television, the Univision feed instantly broadcast to millions of people.
When it comes to the interview, Raúl and Jorge do all of the heavy lifting – the show is completely in Spanish. Glenn gets busy with the cooking.
We knew going in that our time would be limited, so we have prepared several versions of our dish, Camarones con Arroz Amarillo – shrimp with yellow rice.
We have one version that is completely cooked and presented nicely in a brilliant blue cazuela. We have another version in a pot that is basically the completely cooked rice, minus the seafood. Finally, we have one version that includes most of the ingredients uncooked. We have also artfully arranged all of the raw ingredients – whole peppers, onions, garlic; pre-chopped vegetables, rice, broth, and green peas, on our rolling work area.
Ay Caramba! The Three Guys Make a Guest Appearance on Univision's Despierta América!