Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez discussed upcoming projects and programming on his new El Rey Network, including the premiere date for his From Dusk Till Dawn series, today at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
Named for a fictional town in several of his films and curated by Rodriguez himself, El Rey Network features content — from original series and films to sports coverage — designed to appeal to an adventurous viewership and, he says, give Hispanic audiences their due in the television landscape.
“A lot of the country doesn’t see itself in a positive, iconic way,” Rodriguez explained in a sizzle reel before the panel. “You can be more inclusive.”
Rodriguez says he also plans to give renegade young creatives a place to present their work.
The 10-episode From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series will premiere March 11 at 9pm ET/PT . Rodriguez will share directing duties with fellow filmmakers Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project) and Joe Menendez (The Brothers Garcia) with The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero in charge of make-up special effects. The cast includes D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Wilmer Valderrama, Adrianne Palicki, Jake Busey, Don Johnson (yes, the Miami Vice one) and Lane Garrison.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series revolves around the film’s iconic Gecko brothers, bank robber Seth (Cotrona) and loose-cannon Richie (Holtz), who are on the lam from the FBI and Texas Rangers Earl McGraw (Johnson) and Freddie Gonzalez (Garcia). The brothers take a former pastor and his family hostage, heading for Mexico in their RV. Chaos ensues when the group winds up at a strip club overrun by vampires.
“I thought it would be a great way to bring an audience to the network.” Rodriguez said of expanding his 1996 film into a series, adding that there was much more to the film’s story that he wanted to explore, including delving further into its Mesoamerican lore. “I really wanted to go on and enrich that story … In the movie, you only heard about things like the bank heist in Abilene or the breakout from the penitentiary and the trip to the Kahuna Burger — what really went down there.”
Rodriguez said that new characters and plot points will emerge in the series, and by episode 7, fans of the film will have “no guide at all to what happens next.”
In addition to From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, El Rey also announced a summer premiere for the original series Matador produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the minds behind Sleepy Hollow, Fringe, Hawaii Five-O and Alias.
Drawn from the true story of Moe Berg, a Major League Baseball catcher turned coach who later served as a World War II spy, Matador chronicles the tale of playboy soccer star Antonio “Matador” Bravo who is really a crack covert operative for a mysterious branch of the CIA.
Finally, reality TV guru Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice, Shark Tank) joined Rodriguez onstage to discuss plans for their new U.S.-based lucha libre wrestling enterprise in partnership with Mexico’s leading league, Lucha Libre AAA, and FactoryMade Ventures. A new lucha libre league will be the focal point of a weekly one-hour series, monthly and quarterly specials, live pay-per-view events, and related merchandising.
“I love the good versus the evil storylines of lucha libre,” Burnett said.
The new, as-yet-untitled series will premiere later in 2014. “The way we’re going to invent it, everyone’s going to want to watch,” Rodriguez said of the show’s anticipated audience.
Network executives also announced that El Rey has acquired rights to reruns of Starsky & Hutch, Dark Angel and The X-Files, which will begin airing Feb. 14. “Grindhouse Fridays,” themed movie nights devoted to cult classic films in the grindhouse, action, horror and sci-fi genres especially chosen by Rodriguez and his pals, begin Feb. 21 at 10pm ET.
Images: El Rey