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George Lopez is back as ‘Saint George’

Since the ABC comedy “George Lopez” ended in May 2007, Lopez has been busy making movies, hosting a talk show, performing stand-up dates and even making news for a quick nap he took on a casino floor. He’s now returning to the sitcom world.

If his 10-episode tryout “Saint George” is a hit, he won’t have much time for all of those other activities. FX could order 90 more episodes for the next 2 1/2 years. To put that accelerated schedule in perspective: It took six years to produce the 127 episodes of “George Lopez.” It’s a very fast pace, but it has already worked for the likes of Tyler Perry and Charlie Sheen.

Lopez wants to return to the faster pace of TV after tiring of the slow pace of making movies. He has worked at a rapid pace since he started doing comedy when he was 18 and he says an up-tempo job suits him better.

The new comedy has Lopez playing a divorced working-class Mexican American turned successful entrepreneur who gets caught between two cultures: the parenting demands of his Anglo ex-wife and the cultural expectations of his overbearing Mexican-American mother.

Complicating his life are a freeloading uncle (Danny Trejo) and cousin (David Zayas) and a job as a high school teacher.

Playing a teacher gives Lopez an avenue to talk about a lot of different topics. Many of those topics will come from his own life - a popular place for Lopez to mine his material. On “George Lopez,” a continuing theme was his absentee father and overbearing mother.

It took Lopez awhile to land his first sitcom because his early material wasn’t as focused as comedians such as Tim Allen, Ray Romano and Jerry Seinfeld. Once he began to concentrate on jokes about his family and cultural differences, his act became a valuable source of sitcom comedy.

Because there are no assurances that all 90 episodes will follow, it was impractical to try and write large story arcs into the shows. Lopez describes each of the first 10 episodes as being like “10 pilot episodes” because each will stand on its own.

That his life has been such a wealth of material makes the new show’s title even funnier, especially after he was arrested last week in Winsor, Canada. The official statement from Lopez is: “Tied one on last night. Not feeling great this morning. I was trying to sleep it off, unfortunately, it was on the casino floor.”

But, when talking about the name of his new show, Lopez laughingly says: “It’s a pretty interesting title. You don’t become a saint until the end of your life. How you live your life depends on whether you become a saint. The show will explore my imperfections, which would take me past the 90 episodes. Not sure I’ll become a saint anytime soon.”

The sinner part of his life will be a source of material for the character played by Trejo. Lopez says the action-film star is playing a character who is really the other side of George Lopez. Between the two of them, there will be plenty of battles between good and evil.

“And sometimes evil wins,” Lopez says.

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