NBC's beloved Saturday Night Live has a Latino problem.
It has had only two Latino cast members, Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen, in its 41-year history. And in its 789 episodes, it has featured only 12 Latino guest hosts, by our count. That means that Latino hosts compose 1.5 percent of the total. Nearly one in five people in New York is Latino, which is the largest minority nationwide.
The problem only got worse this week when NBC announced that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is scheduled to host SNL Nov. 7. Some Latino groups are not at all happy about this. At least one of the organizations told us that a boycott of the network was possible if it didn't cancel Trump's appearance.
We probably don't need to remind you that Latinos in the United States were largely offended by Trump's opinion that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists.
Following those June remarks, NBC itself said that it's “ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”
“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” the network stated.
Apparently, SNL plays by its own rules at the network.
“Presidential hopeful Donald Trump will return to studio 8H as host for Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7,” NBC said in a statement yesterday. “Trump previously hosted SNL on April 3, 2004.”
The network noted that SNL is “produced in association with Broadway Video” and that its “creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.”
Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which has fought for years to get the networks to diversify, says he's preparing a letter that he will send to the network this week. It will ask NBC to reconsider.
“He may be entertaining to you, but he's not entertaining to the Latino community,” Nogales said of Trump. “At what point are you going to understand what he's doing is hate-mongering?”
Nogales was particularly incensed by Trump's latest remarks that undocumented immigrants should all be deported regardless of their familial ties or time here. Is there a boycott in the future? It depends on NBC's reaction to his letter, Nogales said.
“Do we say we're going to boycott your network and paint you for what you are?” he said. “You don't have Latinos on this show, and yet you bring on this hatemonger because you think he's funny.”
Last night the group National Council of La Raza weighed in, calling SNL's decision a “what-were-they-thinking” moment.
“NBC made the right decision last June to sever its ties with Trump over his blatantly anti-Latino campaign announcement,” NCLA president Janet Murguía said. “Since then he has only gotten worse and more divisive, so this change of heart is even more troubling.”
Polo Morales, political director of the CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles) Action Fund, says that SNL's Trump booking is a head-scratcher.
“We don't understand the benefit of having someone who's said such inflammatory things about immigrants,” he said. “It's counter to the spirit of what New York is all about.”
Saturday Night Live will not make inroads with Latino viewers if it sticks with Trump for Nov. 7, he said.
“SNL has always had issues with diversity,” Morales said. “This is not a step in the right direction.”
Here are SNL's Latino guest hosts throughout history, according to our count:
Note here that the gap between Martin Sheen's appearance in 1979 and his son Estevez's gig in 1994 is 15 years, during which time it appears that no Latinos hosted. And, yes, the honorary comedy laureate of Mexican-Americans, George Lopez, has never hosted SNL.
We reached out to NBC but did not hear back.
*Many of you have reached out to question the Latino roots of some of the folks above. More than anything, it's about self-identification. Banderas is from Spain, so we took him out. Though Sheen's blood is Spanish and Irish, his father did immigrate to Cuba, so we'll keep him and his offspring on the list for now. He has also supported Latino causes, including the United Farm Workers Union. If a Sheen or Estevez requests they be taken off this list we'll gladly oblige.
**We added Desi Arnaz after some of you pointed out he hosted in 1976.