LOTERÍA LOCA: Jaime Camil Previews His New CBS Game Show—and Why He Had to Be Bleeped 'A Lot' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LOTERÍA LOCA: Jaime Camil Previews His New CBS Game Show—and Why He Had to Be Bleeped ‘A Lot’

October 2, 2023 by  

LOTERÍA LOCA Jaime Camil interview

Coverage of the CBS Original Series LOTERÍA LOCA, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Jaime Camil Photo: Fernando Marrero/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jaime Camil returns to television on Monday, October 2 with a new game show, LOTERÍA LOCA.

And while many modern-day game shows are simply reboots, this one, technically, is an original series…albeit with similarities to a well-known game.

 “When they asked me, ‘Can you explain LOTERÍA?’ I’m like, ‘Oh my god. This is so difficult. I’ll try my best, here I go: It’s BINGO,’” host/executive producer Camil jokes to Give Me My Remote in the video below.

“Lotería has been around for 400 years—I believe it was invented in Italy,” he says. “But of course, Mexico made it its own…every single Mexican family owns a Lotería game. And I would say 80 percent of the Latin American people own a Lotería board as well. And Americans are very familiar with Lotería, they just don’t know it.”

“When you go to Lotería Grill, for example, here in Los Angeles, you see a bunch of cards and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s a nice decoration.’—well, that’s decorated based on Lotería,” he continues. “Or when they buy these dresses or tote bags with Lotería cards on them. So I’m sure that they are way more familiar than they think…But it is a fun, fun game. It’s like Mexican bingo, basically.”

Camil credits LOTERÍA co-creator Jeff Apploff—whose credits include BEAT SHAZAM and DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS—with helping make it work for television. “You cannot sit down 30 minutes and wait for the little Lotería card to get filled,” Camil acknowledges. “So he found a way to make it more dynamic and interesting and exciting. We also have physical challenges there. We call them Loca challenges. He did a great job making the game suitable for mainstream television. And more dynamic. But…there is the possibility every single night for people to win $1 million, which is crazy.”

Here, Camil talks about his new game show, his hosting style, and working with bandleader Sheila E…

You sing a bit in this show. What conversations did you have about how much of yourself you wanted to put into the hosting?
That was Jeff: “You should sing.” And I’m like, “No, no, no.”…Let’s just concentrate on what we’re doing…we kid around with the little songs, the Mexican songs.

I actually feel very comfortable hosting. I hosted the Billboard Awards, the Grammy Awards, many, many other Latin American award shows in the Latin American networks. Some shows here in the US, like the SAG-AFTRA awards, the GLAAD awards. I feel very comfortable hosting; I like it. 

But a game show is a completely different beast to tackle. Like, it’s crazy…I did not want to be the host that lays the rules down, follow the rules, and perfect you won, good for you [or] you lost, see you next time. No. I’m like, no I need to get way more invested with the contestants. There’s an opportunity to make a joke here or a joke there or really, you know, feel struggles or connect with them or empathize with them in different ways. I want to do it because I’m an actor. So I like interacting like that with people and with my fellow actors. So I knew for certain that that was something that I wanted to do—not just be the host and [say] here are the rules, thank you for coming, thank you for playing, goodbye. No…for sure I didn’t want to be that host.

The thing about hosting game shows is there are very specific limitations about what you can say so you don’t accidentally promise too much or say the wrong rules for the games, etc. What was the balance in following a script, but getting to also be yourself?
You have to be very careful with what you say, of course. We also have compliance on set, so if something goes wrong—thankfully nothing went wrong in the 12 episodes [in season 1]…because it’s a new game show, and we were exploring new technology with the boards, the boards had a glitch here or a glitch there; minor. But immediately when the board had a glitch, it was like compliance jumped on the set and [had] the contestants turn around…it was crazy. It was like COVID police, in a way, but for game shows, right? It was crazy. 

But it was a learning curve that I loved. I love learning new things. But, no, we didn’t have any problem…our compliance, it was really helping us navigate through these new technology and the new game board

It’s just empathizing with [the contestants]. When they tell you their story, where they work, where they come from, their family situation; if they’re first responders, if they have served in the military, if they are teachers—just empathizing and connecting with them in a more human level.

As someone who is kind of tasked with getting to know these contestants, what is that for you as they’re playing for—and risking—this life-changing money?
Horrible. I truly suffer with them. I hate it. I hate it. When the skulls come, I’m like “F—- you, skulls!” They had to bleep me a lot. Jeff was like, “Dude, you cannot curse on a game show on national television.” I’m like, “But I’m so upset! I hate these skulls”…and he was like, ”Just chill out. This is not your money. You’re not going to win this money. They are going to win the money. So simmer down.” But…I really got very excited when they won, because we really want to give away the money. And I got really upset when the skulls came out.

But very few contestants lost everything. Very few. And when that happened, that was devastating. Not only for me, but for the crew, for the production, because we really love our contestants and we really get invested with them.

The show is also very casual about using both English and Spanish. Can you speak to the importance of showing that on primetime network TV? 
It is what it is. We don’t want to lecture anyone; we’re not here to educate anyone. The show is intended for the mainstream audience for CBS. We don’t want the mainstream audience [of] CBS to think, “This show got lost. This show should be on a Latin American network. What happened here?” We don’t want that, of course, because we are on CBS primetime, 9 PM, Monday.

But certainly having this very organic natural element, the Lotería cards are written in Spanish. So we just flip the card—la sirena, the mermaid. It is what it is, it’s the name of the thing, right? So we do it very naturally, very organic. We’re not here to, like, impose our culture or anything like that. It’s just this world, especially America, is a very diverse place; extremely diverse place, with very different demographics, who make the identity of this country. And every single demographic in this country is the economic engine that makes this country great. So it is what it is. I mean, this country it’s a melting pot of cultures.

And we don’t want to, like, make it a thing…for example, I speak with you in my very broken English, and then if I have my Mexican friends next to me, I will turn to them [and speak in Spanish]…[and] I will simultaneously translate to you. But..if you live in California, Arizona, Texas, Chicago, that’s such a normal and organic way to live our lives for people that speak different languages. We don’t want to make it a thing. I don’t want that to be a thing. It’s just what it is.

LOTERÍA LOCA Jaime Camil interview

Coverage of the CBS Original Series LOTERÍA LOCA, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Pictured (L-R): Shelia E and Jaime Camil. Photo: Fernando Marrero/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

One of the fun elements of the show is you have Sheila E. as band leader…
Oh my God. I mean, forget about having her as the legend, Walk of Famer, Sheila E…I got sick during tapings. Every single day for a week and a half, [she would text me,] “How are you, sweetie? How are you feeling? Are you feeling better? You did wonderful yesterday, yesterday was a very tough show and you nailed it. I’m so proud of you.” I was like, “Oh my god. Sheila E.’s texting me and she’s concerned about my health.” So thank the Lord for putting Sheila E. on my path. I mean, she’s such a beautiful woman; so thoughtful, so caring. I mean, she’s amazing…besides the amazing musician that she is and her accomplishments as a rock star, right? But as a human, she’s so kind. She’s so incredible.

What has it been like building that dynamic with her?
Well, she is the leader of our band, of course. But I tried to interact with her as much as I can and as much as the game permits, right, because I need to be [focused] with the rules [and the gameplay]. There’s a lot of things going on in my head during the show. But I always try to never not acknowledge the fact that I have freaking Sheila E. as my band member. So I’m always turning to Sheila, “What do you think Sheila? My God, that’s a lot of money, Sheila.” And so…as episodes go by, there’s going to be way more interaction with her.

Now that you’ve finished the first full season, what element of the show do you think really works the most/you hope to lean into more in a potential season 2? 
I love the Loca challenges. Honestly, I think the Loca challenges, as a fan of game shows—like me and my family, we sit together when we watch THE PRICE IS RIGHT or we watch FAMILY FEUD with Steve Harvey…we, as a family, while we’re watching game shows, we try to shout out the answers…we interact with the game shows. And I really wanted our show to do the same. So during the Loca challenges, I really wanted those challenges to be very interactive with the folks at home for them to play along with us or shout out the answers with us. So I love that. 

But you know what is crazy: because it is a new format, it is a new IP…just like when doing a Broadway show—I was doing THE MAMBO KINGS and the pre-Broadway run, we did it at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco…we did a matinee, we got notes on the matinee that we [would] need to implement those notes for the evening show. So this is a little bit of what happened during our show when we were taping: Every single show, we realized that this was a great idea, this wasn’t such a good idea, the lighting could be better in this moment…so maybe if you pay close attention, you’ll see from episode one to two to three or four these little subtle changes we had as we progressed taping the show. But the Loca challenges and making them interactive for the folks at home, that’s an element that I really like.

LOTERÍA LOCA, Series Premiere, Monday, October 2, 9/8c, CBS

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