(original title: Whew! It’s not about us, Fanjuls says of CBS’s Cane TV show)
By SUSAN SALISBURY | Palm Beach Post
The Fanjul family of Palm Beach says it is satisfied that Cane, a new CBS show about a Cuban sugar cane-growing family in South Florida, isn’t about them.
That’s the conclusion reached following several months of discussions with CBS about the show’s content, said Joseph Klock Jr., Miami-based general counsel for Flo-Sun Inc., controlled by the Fanjul family.
“CBS has given us assurances that it will be clear from watching early and subsequent episodes that Cane is not about the Fanjuls, and that the fictional Duque family will not reflect the Fanjul family members or its businesses,” Klock said Saturday.
The show is set to air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. beginning Sept. 25, according to Studio City, Calif.-based CBS Paramount Network Television.
CBS officials could not be reached for comment Saturday but said in June that the series is completely fictional and is not based on any members of the Fanjul family or any other real persons.
The show stars Jimmy Smits, who appeared as the first Hispanic president of the United States in The West Wing, and is billed as “an epic drama about the external and internal power struggles of a large Cuban-American family running an immensely successful rum and sugar business in South Florida.” Although there are similarities between the two families, there are differences, Klock said. The Duques grow sugar cane to produce rum, not sugar. The Fanjuls grow sugar cane and produce sugar, but don’t manufacture alcoholic beverages of any kind in their operations. Flo-Sun Inc. is headed by Cuban emigres Alfonso Fanjul, chairman and chief executive officer, and J. Pepe Fanjul, vice chairman, president and chief operating officer. The company and its subsidiaries, including the Domino brand, post annual combined revenues of approximately $3 billion. Flo-Sun has operations in Palm Beach County, the Dominican Republic, Belgium, Canada, California, New York, Maryland and Louisiana.
All told, the company owns 400,000 acres of land and each year harvests 10 million tons of sugar cane and refines 4 million tons of sugar.
“We’re satisfied at this point with some of the assurances CBS has given us,” said Gaston Cantens, spokesman for the Fanjul’s West Palm Beach-based Florida Crystals Corp. “There was a lot of speculation out there that this thing was about us. We went to CBS. They assured us that is just not the case. We believe them.” It’s obvious the series is not based on facts, Klock said. For example, there’s a scene that supposedly takes place in a Florida orange grove, but there’s a mountain range in the background. And unlike any of the Fanjuls, one of the Duques owns a nightclub in a South Beach-type setting.
“There is also someone riding a horse in a cane field,” he said “They are cutting green cane with machetes.” Florida sugar cane is mechanically harvested using machines and has not been cut by hand since the early 1990s.
“This will be an interesting series. The CBS people were really very good and very forthcoming,” he said. “They understand why I would be concerned about it,” Cantens said Saturday the family has worked hard to rebuild their business since coming from Cuba and launching a new venture in Florida in 1960. “They are proud of what they have accomplished and proud of what the Cuban-American community has accomplished in the United States,” he said. “They are equally proud of their family’s good reputation.” Klock said he viewed a 42-minute commercial-free pilot for Cane and also had telephone conferences with CBS attorneys.
His impression? “The Fanjuls are far more subdued than the Duques,” Klock said. “It’s an updated version of Falcon Crest meets Dallas.