In 1987, Maria Conchita Alonso dodged bloodthirsty gladiators on a futuristic reality show alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action movie “The Running Man.” Today, she hosts a new kind of reality TV show where the challenges may not be as death defying, but the outcome could mean stardom for one lucky winner.
Co-hosting with actor Carlos Ponce, the duo will present “¡Viva Hollywood!,” an on-air search for the next hottest telenovela star. Passion, lust and betrayal are only some of the traits judges – including Daisy Fuentes, Angelica Vale and Charo – will be looking for before deciding who among the 12 bilingual contestants will go home with the title “Numero Uno Telenovela Star.” The winner will also receive a contract with Telemundo, a breakout role in an upcoming telenovela, representation from Latin World Entertainment and $100,000.
During an interview with me, Alonso, 50, talked about why she doesn’t like most reality shows, how an actor can get famous and stay famous and why a show like “¡Viva Hollywood!” is good for reality TV. The show premieres April 13 on VH1.
How did you get involved with a project like “¡Viva Hollywood!?”
Well, the producers called me and they sold me the show. I’m not a big fan of reality shows but I like this one. There is nothing like this in the market. VH1, an American station, is doing something bilingual to capture the Latino world. These kids will have the opportunity to do what they want to do, which is acting.
Why don’t you like reality TV?
I’m an actor and I prefer to watch acting. But this reality show has to do with acting, which is good. Some of the kids weren’t too good at it and I was able to see them get better. I don’t think someone should be a star when they come out of a reality show unless it’s an acting show like ours.
You see that a lot today. Reality TV can make someone famous or someone who is famous for no reason gets their own reality show. You don’t think it should work that way?
No, but hey, ratings count. I guess people are watching it. I have to admit that I saw for the first time “Rock of Love” with Bret Michaels and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe these women!’ It’s embarrassing really.
You just mentioned that you don’t like reality TV because you’d rather watch acting. I would have to argue that some reality TV is so badly produced it seems like the characters are acting. Shows like “The Hills” have become really fake.
I’ve never seen that. What is it?
It’s a reality show, but it plays out more like a soap opera with horrible acting. I guess everyone is looking for their niche in the genre.
Yeah, everybody can be famous, but can they stay famous? Nowadays it’s easy to get 15 minutes of fame. But I would like those 15 minutes to become 15 years.
Did you give any of these kids advice about what it is going to be like if they win this show and become famous?
I just told them that this is something good whether they win or not. It should give them a boost to open more doors for themselves. Everything is hard, but nothing is impossible when you keep moving forward and believe in yourself. I told them not to accept no for an answer.
Good advice, especially from someone who’s managed to turn her own 15 minutes into more than that.
(Laughing) Oh, I’m way over the 15 minutes and 15 years. I started my career when I was 14 years old. I’m far ahead of that.