At a breakfast at the Lamb's Club in Manhattan today, Robert Rodriguez, founder and chairman of the El Rey Network, was voluble on topics ranging from the vampire prosthetics in From Dusk Till Dawn to his network's new sponsorships. The presser featured commentary from other execs—notably vice chair Scott Sassa—but for the most part, it was the Rob Rodriguez show.
Indeed, Rodriguez seems to have had a hand in everything from the promotion of the movies he's buying to fill airtime (Tarantino helped him winnow down the list and now emails him when Starsky and Hutch is on) to windowing on his own films, which he plans to write into his own Hollywood contracts. "I'll build that in going forward," he told Adweek. "All roads lead to El Rey."
The famously prolific writer-director is adding "network big-shot" to his lengthy resume, and his pitch to press this morning was chiefly that El Rey is going to be a "pipeline to the audience" for talented up-and-comers, especially from the Hispanic community. That market is both vast and hard-to-reach, but with the backing of Univision and a new sales team headed by Michael Finn, From Dusk Till Dawn has secured partnerships with General Motors (the Chevrolet logo featured prominently in a lobby card at the presentation) and Heineken—appropriate for a show that takes place largely in a bar.
At the beginning of his career, according to the director, "they said, 'he can move really fast and really cheap—he's probably perfect for television.'"
"But I liked movies," Rodriguez recalled. "You had a lot of control. Television seemed like a lot of maybes where film was a sure thing." Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino always kept the rights to From Dusk Till Dawn close to the vest—the pair wanted to make sure that nobody did anything that wasn't good for their baby.
"Even if [a showrunner] had the best intentions, you never knew what would happen on the network level with the executives," Rodriguez said. "It might turn into Bambi. And now there are no executives." (Nobody tell him he's an executive now. Seems cruel.) The show premieres on March 11.
Upcoming on the network are reality series The Director's Chair and scripted drama The Matador; Rodriguez is deeply involved with both and, in fact, has directed half of the From Dusk Till Dawn series by himself thus far. For the first at least two episodes of the Director's Chair, Rodriguez will interview influential horror director John Carpenter.