"Jane the Virgin" is ready for our attention


One of the happier storieas from the first half of the TV season is the emergence of "Jane the Virgin" as a smart, funny. All it needs now is an audience. The show returns Monday (Jan. 19) form a month of reruns; here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

LOS ANGELES -- At
first, “Jane the Virgin” descended into anonymity – the sort of
dark depths only a CW show can see.

Ratings were
miniscule. In a typical week, “The Big Bang Theory” has more than
11 times as many viewers; a recent “Jane” rerun drew 700,000
viewers, tied for dead-last among 110 primetime shows.

But now comes a
burst of attention. It includes:

-- A Golden Globe
for best actress in a comedy. As she rushed up to the stage, Gina
Rodriguez said, her mind was aswirl. “I was thinking, 'Don't trip,
thank God, thank God, don't trip, is that Oprah?, don't trip, that IS
Oprah, don't trip.'”

-- A Golden Globe
nomination for best comedy series. It was the only broadcast show on
the list.

-- A spot on the
American Film Institute's list of the year's 10 best TV shows. Only
one other broacast show (“How to Get Away With Murder”) made the
list.

-- And the key news:
“Jane” – and everything else on this fall's CW lineup – has
already been renewed for next season. “We didn't have a very high
bar” in the 9 p.m. Monday slot, said Mark Pedowitz, the network
programming chief. “(It's) a quality show; just give it time.”

Besides, this show
follows a CW trend: Several hour-long shows -- “Jane,” “The
Flash,” “Hart of Dixie” and the upcoming “iZombie” -- are
dramas that add comedy and (sometimes) a cheery look. “We purposely
last year went out to make these shows brighter and funnier,”
Pedowitz said.

That bright feel is
clear on the show's set. “There's a lot of turquoise and coral,”
said producer Jennie Urman, who studied real Miami hotels for the
look.

The feeling was
obvious to reporters who had just been at the deliberately dark
“Scorpion” set occupied by techie characters; now they were
stepping into a sunny Miami world. “We have people from that show
(“Scorpion”) come over here and just go 'aaaah,'” said Justin
Baldoni.

He plays the heir to
a hotel fortune whose sperm accidentally impregnated sweet Jane.
Showing off his character's hotel suite -- “I could fit my whole
apartment (from earlier days) in half of this” -- he granted that
color schemes can be crucial.

“Colors affect
your mood,” Baldoni said. “When you're in Miami, you have a whole
different mood .... Look at children's hospitals and what they do.”

And on the “Jane”
set these days, the mood seems bubbly.

The show is adapted
from a telenovela – a style of Spanish-language, limited-length
show that's big in Latin America. Soap fans get the general idea,
Urman said. “We understand what an evil twin is” and know that
“dead” characters can return.

Besides, “Jane”
has a droll narrator and extra words that pop up onscreen. “It
gives us another level to tell stories,” Urmans said.

Some of the “Jane”
people grew up far from Miami; Rodriguez is from Chicago, Baldoni is
from an Italian-and-Jewish family in Oregon, and doesn't speak
Spanish.

But on the set, it's
easy to become part of this world. At times, Baldoni said, actors
forget that the sturdy-looking pillars actually move when you lean
against them.

“It all seems very
bright and glamorous,” he said. “Then you bump into a wall.”

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m. Mondays, CW

Returns to new
episodes Jan. 19, after a month of reruns