Univision's Raul de Molina talks about the continued success of El Gordo y La Flaca and how he hopes to celebrate the program's 20th anniversary.
For nearly two decades, Raúl de Molina has co-hosted Univision's highest-rated entertainment program, El Gordo y La Flaca. The iconic show, which has hosted a multitude of guests from Hillary Clinton to Enrique Iglesias and Gloria Estefan, is nearing its 20th anniversary, and we sat down with Molina to discuss the show's success and how he hopes to celebrate its 20 years on the air.
I can't believe we've been watching you on El Gordo y La Flaca for nearly 20 years! I suppose, in some way, it's a testament to how relevant the show has remained over the years, no? Raúl Molina: Oh, my God. You’re telling me that I’m so old! This is not good. On my way to chat with you, one of the guys stopped me in the hallway to take a picture with me, and said, “Oh! I’ve watched your show since I was a little kid!” And I was going to tell him, “You’re my age! What are you talking about?” [Laughs]
But, I’ve been doing the show for the last 19 years, and I do it along with Lili Estefan, who is the co-host of the show, and we have a lot of fun. I’ve seen us do something on television, something that nobody else did before. It’s a unique show. We not only cover celebrities, but we do it in a different way. We can be very serious one day, or we can try to be very light and funny, and have many different things on the show. It’s part comedy, about 30 percent. Seventy percent celebrities. So, I think the mix of all this has made the show work, for so many years.
But you started as a photographer, how did you transition into TV? RM: When I was a photographer, a celebrity photographer, they started inviting me on a variety of television shows in New York. At that point, Geraldo Rivera, Joan Rivers, and Maury Povich had a talk show every day, and on various occasions I went on their programs. People started watching me, and eventually said, “This guy would maybe be good for TV.” They liked the way I expressed myself.
So, they invited me on Sabado Gigante, which is the Don Francisco show that everyone knew at the time, and then The Cristina Show, and other shows on Spanish TV. And eventually from that, I ended up working on TV and doing something completely different than what I wanted to do with my life.
I know there was talk about taking the show to Cuba. Is that still a dream of yours? RM: There are about a million Cubans in Miami. There are a lot of Cubans here, in the United States. I left Cuba when I was ten years old. I’m 58 years old now. I haven’t been back to Cuba, and I wanted to do the show from Cuba. Right before Obama opened relations with Cuba, I wanted to go to Cuba, and do the show from there.
People don’t realize this, but there are more flights from Miami to Cuba, than there are from Miami to the three airports in New York City every day, because there is a lot of traffic between Cuba and Miami. So, once it was legal to go to Cuba, and possible to do a TV show, I tried. And I tried and I tried, and my efforts have come out in different publications, such as the New York Post and USA Today. But, Lili does not want to do the show from Cuba, because of her family and all that, and the Cuban government has not approved us to do a show there. Even though it’s a country where people don’t have the freedom to watch whatever they want, a lot of people have Satellite TV, which they've gotten from their family members, and they have a way to connect it in Cuba. So, I would love to go do the show from the country that I was born in, and that I left when I was 10 years old, and have never been back to.