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The Cast Sings
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.

Three Guys Cooking
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.
Raul and Jorge in Studio
With the host
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!
Willy Chirino Sings
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.

Waiting in the Wings
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!

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Cuban Artist Willy Chirino
Legendary Cuban singer Willy Chirino adds a musical note to the show.
Willy Chirino joins the interview midstream and after asking Glenn (in Spanish) if he knows what they call food in Cuba, a joke that Glenn still hasn't been able to figure out, he leads the host, Raúl Gonzalez and the Three Guys From Miami in singing an a cappella version of Cuba Que Lindos Son Tus Paisajes. With so much of the short time allotted taken up with the interview and the singing, Glenn barely has enough time to finish sautéing the sofrito, cook the shrimp, and plate up a sample for Chirino.

Time for a commercial break and we quickly make our exit. The crew sets up our countertop on wheels back in the hallway, and soon everyone is sampling (devouring really) the shrimp and rice. This of course creates a huge traffic jam in the hallway! We have a stack of cookbooks for all of the hosts and the guests, so we spend the rest of the hour hanging out on the sidelines watching what is a very funny and entertaining show.

The Flying Dog Cosita
Cosita Comes in for a Landing
She flies! Dog and co-host Cosita comes in for a landing.
"Despierta América" on the Univision Network.

The show featuring our appearance premiered October 7, 2005

Wily Chirino Tells a Joke
Everybody Laughs
The show closes in what has become a signature production for Despierta América: fog rolls down from the ceiling and into the studio, the disco lights come to life, and Willy and the band crank up their closing number, creating a virtual live music video. All of the cast members come out to dance as cameras, lights, and people swirl around the set.

Then it's over, for us at least. We get to go home. For everyone else it all continues again early Monday morning, and every morning, when the cast and crew will be called on to create three new hours of this controlled craziness.

The Details

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