Mario Lopez Ė Extra
By Kiko Martinez
Whether he will forever be remembered as A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell, hunky Dr. Christian Ramirez on The Bold and the Beautiful, or the runner up in Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars, Mario Lopez can always say heís tried everything at least once.
Currently, the San Diego-born actor co-hosts the entertainment news show Extra on NBC. Last year he made his Broadway debut in the revival of A Chorus Line. Lopez, 35, is also promoting Mud Tacos, a new book he and his sister Marisa wrote about their childhood experiences.
I read that you were recently given Cosmoís Fun Fearless Award, which is described as an award for ďbold career choices.Ē Do you consider what youíve done in the last year or so on Broadway and with Extra ďbold moves?Ē
Yes. I mean Iíve always wanted to just kind of be as diverse as possible and want to make bold choices, so whether itís being on Broadway or hosting a show or acting on Nip/Tuck or writing a book, Iíve always wanted to just kind of do it all, have fun and be fearless. That was really nice that Cosmo gave me that honor. It was a great group of guys that I was lumped in with. I felt very privileged.
The way people want their news and information seems to be changing with the fall out of a lot of newspapers around the country. Do you think weíre going to see more news organizations go the way of shows like Extra and liven up their programs to get the public interested again in whatís going on in the world?
I donít know if itís ironic or not, but it seems like the tougher the times are and with the economic climate being what it is people want some sort of escapism. They turn to shows like ours to give them that, even if it helps them not think of their problems for a little bit. We try to provide a little entertainment and maybe they can focus on the celebritiesí problems. That always makes you feel better. Itís not [always] about problems. We showcase a lot of people doing great things. We want to have a lot of fun and entertain you. I also think because of the internet and blogging and what have you, the newspaper, unfortunately, is not as strong as it once was and is sort of dying out.
Other than the show itself, how does Extra reach out to the masses?
We try to combine a lot of stuff, as far as like creating our social network presence with ExtraTV.com and weíre big on our MySpace page, but even more than that right now, Iíve been doing a lot of Twittering. Weíve got a big Twitter deal going on. I personally got involved and Iím like Fred Flinstone. Iím not a very active guy with computers, but Iím having fun. Iím about to Twitter that Iím talking to you. Iíll Twitter that right now as Iím talking to you.
I know that celebrities are kind of their own brand. Whatever they star in gives the public a representation of the person they are. Have you ever turned down any work because you felt like it would hinder the Mario Lopez image?
Yes, all of the time. Stuff thatís just either kind of shady or racy or a little too provocative. Thatís definitely not what Iím about, but maybe itís not in good taste or I was questioning whether there was going to be good taste on either shows or events and what have you. Iím very aware of what I want to represent and who I am. Iím not at the point where I have to take everything just to survive. Nevertheless, even when I was at that point I still was very conscious of who I am and what I wanted to put out there as my brand, per se.
Tell us about your new book Mud Tacos.
Yes, my sister Marisa and I [wrote it]. Itís a childrenís book. Itís going to be coming out hopefully by September. Itís focusing on a [bond between a] brother and sister. Itís in the Dora the Explorer-type of vein. Basically, when [my sister and I] were growing up, [both] my parents worked, so we were dropped off at my nanaís house. She took care of us and she didnít let us play in the house. We always could smell when she was cooking and so we pretended like we were cooking outside. We had little games and weíd make little mud tacos. The tortillas were leaves and the mud was the meat and worms were the cheese. The flower petals were tomatoes. We basically want toÖencourage kids to use their imagination.