BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — An ambitious PBS documentary on the 500-year history of Latinos in America is aimed at a broad audience, its producer said Wednesday.
"These stories are not that distant from anyone. I think in some ways we share similar experiences no matter where we come from," and whether people are immigrants or not, "American Latinos" producer Adriana Bosch told a meeting of the Television Critics Association.
Featuring familiar faces such as Oscar-winning actress Rita Moreno and journalist Ray Suarez was part of enhancing the film's appeal, Bosch said. Actor Benjamin Bratt is the narrator.
The three-part, six-hour documentary debuting in September includes interviews with Dolores Huerta, co-founder of a group that was the forerunner to the United Farm Workers of America; writer and commentator and Linda Chavez; and musician Gloria Estefan.
Bratt, whose mother emigrated from Peru as a teenager, said Latinos have not historically been seen as part of the American story.
"American history always is from a Eurocentric point of view, and the real American history is so much richer than that," Bratt said during a panel discussion. "Even in 2013, we are still seen as the mysterious, exotic 'other,' even though we are as American as anyone else."
Asked about the rarity of Hispanics on U.S. television despite Latino population growth and the "browning" of America, Suarez said commerce is part of the solution.
Businesses want to reach consumers without regard to ethnicity or language, he said, suggesting it's a trend Americans in general should get used to.
"I can't tell you how many times I've heard, 'I hate hearing press 2 for Spanish,'" Suarez said. "Why do you hate that? ... If you don't want to speak Spanish, don't press 2."
"Latinos" includes the 16th century arrival of the Spanish to America; the wave of Latino immigration to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries; Latinos during World War II; the 1960s start of social action movements, and the contemporary debate over illegal immigration.
PBS is billing the documentary as TV's first comprehensive look at Latino American history. In 2007, Hispanic organizations criticized PBS and filmmaker Ken Burns for inadequately representing the contributions of Latinos in his 15-hour documentary on World War II.