Cuban Americans

New Fall CBS television show “Cane” about Cuban Americans in Miami

Posted May 18, 2007 by publisher in Cuban Americans.

Glenn Garvin | The Miami Herald

Click on the image to watch the Fall preview trailer and this clip too

“Cane” starring Jimmy Smits, right, debuts this fall. On the far left is cast member Eddie Matos, an actor born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami. (Robert Voets/CBS)

Cane, a drama about a wealthy Cuban-American family torn by fratricidal tensions as its sugar and rum businesses are passed down to the next generation, is part of the new fall schedule released by CBS on Wednesday.

Set in Miami, the show has a powerhouse Latino cast—including Jimmy Smits, Rita Moreno, Hector Elizondo, Nestor Carbonell and Miami resident Paola Turbay—and executive producer Jonathan Prince promises scripts to match.

“It’s like The Godfather if Vito Corleone had passed the family business to Michael, but Sonny and Fredo were still alive and pissed off about it,” Prince told The Miami Herald.

The announcement about Cane came at a press conference on the third day of the so-called upfronts, the New York meetings in which broadcast TV networks unveil their new shows and schedules for advertisers and the media.

CBS also introduced new dramas about vampires, wife-swappers and a seedy Nevada casino, while canceling nuclear apocalypse drama Jericho, crime drama Close To Home and Gen Y sitcom The Class.

But the big news for South Florida, in more ways than one, was Cane. Not only will a good chunk of the show be shot here, it will be the first network series to focus on the evolution of the Cuban exile experience over the past five decades. And Prince said it will educate the rest of America about everything from the Pedro Pan exodus of children from Cuba to the tension between those who left the island and those who stayed.

“It’s not a documentary, it isn’t on PBS,” he said. “But it’s a family drama dealing with how families really act. There will be a lot of scenes at the family dinner table, and among the things they’ll talk about will be what happens when Fidel Castro dies, who will take over, and if it’s Raul, what does that mean. That will be in the show because those are some of the things Cuban-Americans talk about in real life at dinner.”

Even the language will be authentic: The show will sometimes use subtitles as characters weave between English and Spanish.

Prince himself is neither a Hispanic nor a Miamian—he grew up in Los Angeles—but another Cane executive producer, Cynthia Cidre (she wrote the screenplay for the 1992 film Mambo Kings) was born in Cuba. They were paired up on the project by CBS programming chief Nina Tassler after Prince—who has produced several family dramas, including American Dreams and Life Goes On—told her he was interested in doing one about a well-to-do Hispanic family.

“I don’t think TV has ever done a show about an upscale Latino family,” Prince said. ‘Latino families on television are hardscrabble. We talked about making the family Mexican, Venezuelan, even Guatemalan. Then Nina Tassler told Cynthia, ‘You’re Cuban, why aren’t you writing about Cubans?’”

In Cane, Smits will be the focal point of an ensemble cast that plays a family ridden with tensions and jealousies. As patriarch Elizondo is dying, he chooses his son-in-law (Smits) rather than one of his own children (Carbonell and Turbay) to run the family business.

“It’s a serialized family drama with an epic feel,” Prince said. “By epic, I mean the size and scope of Dallas in the old days, or miniseries like ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ and ‘North & South’.”

The pilot episode of the series was shot in March, with cast and crew working two days in Miami. The producers plan to return to South Florida on a schedule similar to that of CSI: Miami, taping here about two weeks out of every eight.

“We want to use a lot of Florida locations—South Beach, the Intracoastal, sugar fields, all kinds of stuff,” Prince said. “We want the sky to look like a Florida sky and the water to look like Florida water. Florida’s different—we can’t shoot the Intracoastal in Long Beach. Well, I guess we could, but it would look ridiculous.”

Along with the local scenery, Prince wants to use local talent: He’s talking to Gloria and Emilio Estefan about working on the show’s soundtrack. Because one of the characters will own a South Beach club, music will play an important role in Cane.

Member Comments

On May 19, 2007, Cuban American wrote:

Sounds interesting, I will keep an eye out for it when it hits the TV screen this fall

On May 22, 2007, publisher wrote:

I just added the youtube videos clips to this article and watched the trailer and a bonus one minute promo.

Sad to say but the script is a little corny. Not in the sense that it is not true to Cuban Americans or Cuba but that it is poorly written.

For example in the second clip they are talking about Cuban sugar being the next source for ethanol instead of corn. The son says the corn farmers would riot. Jimmy Smits says “the President is ready to take that chance”. Really? The President is going to give up US grown corn ethanol for Cuban grown sugar?

Ah. I don’t think so.

I noticed several dumb comments like that. Unless they get some better script writers, the show is doomed.

On May 23, 2007, MiamiCuban wrote:

I thought it was doomed from the moment I read this part in the article:

“There will be a lot of scenes at the family dinner table, and among the things they’ll talk about will be what happens when Fidel Castro dies, who will take over, and if it’s Raul, what does that mean. That will be in the show because those are some of the things Cuban-Americans talk about in real life at dinner.”

Maybe…..but I think at the dinner table you would be more likely to find teenagers listening to their ipods and ignoring abuelito who’s yapping away about how good Cuba was in the good ‘ol days.  Then you’d have the inevitable disruption of the dinner because someone at the table mentioned it might be good to resume trade with Cuba, and everything would go downhill from there.  Someone would be called a communist or a traitor and eventually abuelito would have to be whisked away because his heart rate was up and he was turning blue.  The show would probably have a better success rate if they were to do it as comedy rather than drama.

On May 23, 2007, publisher wrote:

good comment. Let’s give it a chance. At least it gets Cuba on the “table”.

On May 23, 2007, MiamiCuban wrote:

Now THAT I agree with.  It would at least bring more awareness to others about Cuba.

On May 24, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

“Then you’d have the inevitable disruption of the dinner because someone at the table mentioned it might be good to resume trade with Cuba, and everything would go downhill from there.  Someone would be called a communist or a traitor and eventually abuelito would have to be whisked away because his heart rate was up and he was turning blue”

Such insight!  I’ve always said it!!!!! 

Now, back to the thread, I didn’t even need to see the clip,  just from reading the article I could gleen that it’s a real loser as well it should be.  It’s insulting that there are people that find that the thought of Latinos with affluence on a televison show is something of a novel idea.  Already according to the articles terminology, they are getting us wrong.  Check the census.  Us Cubans don’t identify as Latino we identify as hispanic (that’s a Mexican/Los Angeles/La Raza kind of thing.  And not to mention by casting the usual crew of Puerto Rican actors that I promise you won’t get the accent right (whenever they are called upon to say the 2 or 3 words in Spanish to lend AUTHENTICITY to this family DRAMA0.
And by the way no one would be speaking in English at a Cuban-American dinner table, just so you all know.  So it’s in the end a product for latino/midwestern anglo consumption designed to make money for it’s network.  It most certainly is not an avenue for getting “Cuba on the table”.
I would hate to think that tacky television is the only forum available to us to enlighten Americans about the Cuban dilema.  Has our culture come to that?  I think this website among others, is doing a pretty good job!

On May 24, 2007, publisher wrote:

Hey Pete,

Good comment and insight. Does sound like the show might be a loser. Hollywood writers who are used to Mexicans using Puerto Rican actors.

Don’t get your hopes up for authenticity but I do think it might be a vehicle to get the discussion on the table.

If there’s a little T&A (male and female) the American public just might eat it up.

Also, this might be the “hey I’m not racist, I watch Cane” type of show that white people might embrace. grin

But if any anti-Embargo comments are written into the show, the old Cuban exiles will be picketing and calling for justice. You just wait for that.

On May 24, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

“But if any anti-Embargo comments are written into the show, the old Cuban exiles will be picketing and calling for justice. You just wait for that.’
I would stand right behind them.  Not because they are right but because I would have a shared interest in getting their commercial venture off the air who’s only incentive is to make money at the expense of our plight (meaning me, Cuban-Americans, Cubans in Cuban, even you!).  It’s a lets rip this culture off mentality.  And they rip us off by inventing a whole politcally correct idea of who we are according to the way they think their market would like to see us.  That’s the main reason I think it’s bullshit, not worth the dime it’s produced on and hopefully doomed to fail.

On May 24, 2007, publisher wrote:

Okay, good point. Sounds like the show is headed for controversy.

Funny thing is the producers probably don’t see it coming and when people do protest the show, they won’t even know why.

I might start a forum in the Forums section when the show starts to give people a place to post multiple topics to comment on.

On May 24, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

Hey Publisher,
I just saw the clips. it’s so bad it’s funny.  The whole idea of the ethanol dialogue sounds like the show’s writer just lifted out this topic out of this past months issue of The Economist Magazine.  Maybe if they list it as a comedy and keep writing it the same way no one will complain, ha.

On May 31, 2007, Wajiro wrote:

Puerto Ricans depicting Cubans ?

I don’t know about that, Are they gong to be speaking with Mexican accents like Pacino in scar face.

You would think with all the Cuban actors we have, they would put more passion into something about Cuba.

Specially if they are going to portrait my family.
Let me see can I sued ? LOL

On July 12, 2007, publisher wrote:

We have just launched our CANE CBS tv show forum in our Cuban American Forum.

If you have any information about this upcoming show, please post it.

Once the show starts in September, we will start a new thread for each episode so Havana Journal members can discuss each episode.

On July 12, 2007, publisher wrote:

We bought the domain name so just remember that and you’ll end up at the CBS CANE TV show forum in the Cuban American Forum of the Havana Journal.

On August 03, 2007, havanablack wrote:

but we cubans suck in acting puerto ricans are way better than us

On August 03, 2007, havanablack wrote:

our accent sounds exactly the same

On August 22, 2007, miamigurl wrote:

im african american so im not going to get into the puerto rican/cuban discussion…....i just want to say that i am soooooooo happy that there is a show portraying latins/hispanics….....i hope it does well but i do understand when you feel its not a realistic depiction

On September 25, 2007, Jorge wrote:

I don’t have a problem with Puerto Ricans playing Cubans, per se,  particularly when they are of the calibre of Jimmy Smits or Hector Hector Elizondo. Andy Garcia would have been perfect, but he would have been way too expensive, if he would have even considered doing TV at this point. But if the boricuas start using an “l” instead of an “r” inside a word when speaking spanish, as in “Puelto” Rico”, that’s it I’m tuning out. 

But you know, there are lots of cuban & cuban american actors out there. It is almost like they purposely tried not to use them. Here is a list I picked up surfing the internet.

Besides Nestor Carbonell who is already in the show….

Maria Conchita Alonso
Cameron Diaz (Dad is Cuban)
Steven Bauer
Bobby Cannavale
Eddie Cibrian
Matt Cedeno
David Fumero
Gene Gabriel
Joanna García
Jsu Garcia
Enrique Murciano
Oscar Nunez
Eva Mendes
Elizabeth Peña
Danny Pino
Mercedes Renard
Armando Riesco
Mercedes Ruehl
Saundra Santiago (Cuban/Puerto Rican)
Tessie Santiago
Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Jordi Vilasuso
Carlos Lacamara
Daisy Fuentes
Marieh Delfino (Cuban-Venezuelan)
Laz Alonso (Afro-Cuban)
Gina Torres (Afro-Cuban)
Matt Cedeno(Afro-Cuban/Irish)

On September 26, 2007, Stephanie wrote:

I thought the Cane was good and entertaining, it was worth the watch to me.  I’m glad to see people of color on t.v., the world is round and t.v. needs to be mixed up a bet more.  CBS has opened the door to the another race of people besides young, white and sex crazed.  Jimmy Smits is great.  The other cast members were believable as well, especially the evil Mr. Samuels character.  Being African American I can not really speak on the Cuban or Latino culture but as long as the writing is strong and the cast is believable they should have a great run.  I wish them the best.

On September 26, 2007, Jorge wrote:


Unfortunately I missed the debut show so I can’t opine on it, but more to your specific comment, as a middle-aged Cuban I can attest that to the fact that being sex-crazed is not exclusive to those that are young and white. In fact, if the show doesn’t eventually include sex as a major sub-plot, it probably won’t get legs.

On September 26, 2007, publisher wrote:

Check your local listings. Looks like they might run it again on Saturday night.

On September 27, 2007, Puerto Rican Voice wrote:

What you should be focusing on is that fact that we have an excellent Latino cast.  Look up the backgrounds of Jimmy Smits, Rita Moreno and Hector Elizondo.  Rita Morena won 5 awards never won before or now by any other actor.  As far as the way we speak, dates back from the Taino Indians.  Please, every latino, including Cubans, has their ‘unique’ ways of speaking or pronouncing words.  I am extremely proud of the show and its cast.  What can I tell, when you’re good, you’re good.

On November 27, 2007, Jim St. Raymond wrote:

Let’s talk about Cuba…the Bay of Pigs…JFK’s biggest accomplishment…Cuba would be free today if it wasn’t for that loser of a President!

On December 12, 2007, ginny carter wrote:


On December 15, 2007, 7Sirena wrote:

I choose not to tell you what race I am, but the whole Puerto Rican/Cuban controversy about Cane is ridiculous if you want my opinion.  I love the drama “Cane”.  It is a great drama with an awesome cast.  Alright, how many dramas on tv have mostly Puerto Rican/Cuban/Latino/Mexican cast here in the states?  It’s about time!!!!! 

I have taken Sociology of the Chicano class in college when I lived in Southern Calif. and I know a little bit about some of the issues from growing up in the L.A. area and formerly being married to someone who came to the states from Mexico when they were 18.  Instead of focusing on division/difference between Puerto Ricans/Cubans/Mexicans/etc., it would be better to be united and supportive of a cast with Spanish speaking actors/actresses.  Don’t you think? Spanish is a romantic language whether you are speaking with a Central American accent or a Cuban accent.

On January 09, 2008, paige itwauru wrote:

Please allow me to to say welcome to the producer of such a wonderful show and also it is about time. As much as I love George Lopez it can be a bit to much to take as the jokes are not that funny. But Cane is a great drama with great actors.

Please do not take too much time off as i have been going crazy.

Keep up the great work.

On January 12, 2008, Jackie wrote:

I’ve watched the Cane from the beginning and I think it’s “Fantastic” I look forward to watching it each week.  I can’t believe this show continues to get bumped to a later time slot ( Thank goodness for PVR’S)—does this mean that it could possibly be canceled???. I’m Canadian and I’ve read the comments regarding this show, (and it is a show) I’m unclear as to all the hostility towards it-we all have the ability to change the channel if one finds it so offensive, but for us who really enjoy Cane and look forward to it each week allow us our entertainment!! I really hope Cane doesn’t get canceled. Right now it’s probably the best show on T.V.

On January 12, 2008, beth wrote:

I love the show!!!!! When is it coming back? I have it set to record so I do not miss an episode.  It is full of drama and Jimmy Smits is a wonderful actor, as well as the rest of the cast.  Please bring it back soon. I have watched every episode.

On January 12, 2008, publisher wrote:

I just looked ahead on the TV schedule for two weeks and it is not listed at Tuesday at 10pm.

Anyone know anything?

On January 12, 2008, publisher wrote:

We set up to point to our Cuba Forum so there is a dedicated area for Cane fans there.

On January 12, 2008, Jerri wrote:

I love this show, finally we have a program with character.  Reality shows are for the non-thinking. We need this show back on T.V. and soon.

On January 12, 2008, Jerri wrote:

I love this show. It shows character. When is it returning?  I"m tired of being forced to watch reality shows.

On January 16, 2008, publisher wrote:

I guess it’s over for now just like all the other shows because of the writer’s strike.

On January 28, 2008, frances wrote:

if people can get over who’s playing what as far as race, and realize that we have finally made it on a major network it’s about time. now if the time slot moves to prime time than it’s a real hit. i only have one complaint, finally we get a show on the air and then who ever makes the decision to pair up the males with “AMERICAN WOMEN”  what’s up with that. there are many beautiful latin women that would work much better. well with the exception of hector and jimmy. LOVE THE SHOW, MISS IT MUCH. HURRY UP AND SETTLE THIS STRIKE SO THE SHOW WON’T LOSE ANY FOLLOWERS. i am waiting a huge proud fan.

On April 08, 2008, Brenda wrote:

could you please let me know when the show is expected to come back on air
My husband and I have watched it from the beginning so just waiting for the show to start back up   Thank you           Brenda

On April 08, 2008, publisher wrote:

I don’t think it’s coming back. Maybe September?

On May 20, 2008, Cane Fan wrote:

Hopefully the show will come back.  Anytime Latinos/Hispanics are given an oppurtunity to be on Prime TV we should support.  This is not about race, this is about oppurtunity, and I enjoy the show as well many others.  Latinos need to be looked as having diverse talent, not just Comedy.  There is a market for Latinos in TV and Movies, and I give the producers credit for taking a chance to make it known.  BRING THE SHOW BACK!

On June 10, 2008, Jenny wrote:

Like everyone else, when is it coming back… just left too much in the air.  I watch it from day one and I hate getting into something and being change to all these crazy reality shows that many people really don’t like, it’s just getting really old.  BRING CANE BACK! BRING CANE BACK!!

On June 11, 2008, manfredz wrote:

worked for jerico - if enough people write the networks and sponsors ...

On June 23, 2008, joanne moore wrote:

i am a white female southern born american & i love this show. cane is different, but unique. love the characters, of course jimmy is my fav!!! this show has reached alot & these people are anticipating it’s return. please do whatever to bring it back jimmy!!!!!!!!!!!!

On June 23, 2008, manfredz wrote:

I tok dvds of first season down to cuba with me in jan - luckily Aduana didnt look too closely at my stuff or not sure what they would have thought of it.

On July 12, 2008, SHEILA wrote:


On August 06, 2008, Lorainne Heath wrote:

This is a must see show - please bring it back-  Jimmy is a wonderful actor

On August 27, 2008, Suzanne Fisher wrote:

Please, Please, Please bring Cane back.  The best show on CBS in 2007, I can’t believe you are not bringing it back on your schedule.  Jimmy is so wonderful as are all the actors on the show!!!  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, I love the show so much.  Thanks

On August 31, 2008, pam wrote:

I really enjoyed the series Cane. Will that be coming back?
Why do they just take series off without putting an ending to it? You almost hate to start watch a new program because just when you start to enjoy it, it gets canceled without any warning.

On August 30, 2009, Jan Levenson wrote:

Is Cane coming back to the Fall line-up for 2009?