Lou Pizarro Talks the Return of Operation Repo Season 9 on TruTV
"After four successful years of chasing down repos, the tables will be turned!" Operation Repo is back with the second half of its Season 9 run on TruTV, returning with the all-new Episode 917 this Wednesday at 9:30 pm. Froy is in trouble with Homeland Security, and things aren't looking good for the team. How this will all play out is still anyone's guess.
In the midst of all this craziness, we managed to catch up with ringleader Lou Pizarro during a break in shooting to find out where things are headed. Here is our conversation.
Lou! How are you this morning?
Lou Pizarro: Fantastic. Just a little concerned now...
Why is that?
Lou Pizarro: I just learned that President Obama has added five trillion dollars to our deficit in his first term!
You're only just hearing this right now?
Lou Pizarro: (Laughs)! Just right now! I'm like, "Really? Five trillion? I thought it was three?" But okay...
Maybe they got the numbers wrong earlier. Five trillion sounds about right from what I am hearing. There is reason to be concern, I definitely would say...
Lou Pizarro: Roger that, good sir! Now, why don't you tell me what is on your mind?
Well, why don't you kick this off by explaining exactly what you guys have been filming these past couple of days. I know you are in the midst of some craziness as we speak...
Lou Pizarro: Yeah! We are actually shooing some office scenes this morning with Lyndah Pizarro, Froylan Tercero, and myself regarding the story arc, which is...Froy is having his problems with homeland security. I think that's all I can say at this point.
Do you ever have a problem with people happening upon this show in this midst of shooting, and thinking it's a reality series? That what you are filming is really happening and not reenactments?
Lou Pizarro: Knock on wood, we have not had a problem. When people see us out in the field, they come up to us and tell us they love the show. They love the entertainment. They want to take pictures and get autographs. Its rare that we have a past incident, where people say, "We don't like your show!" In fact, I've never heard that.
Its so well done, and authentic, I'm guessing some people do get fooled into thinking they are watching the real deal, though...
Lou Pizarro: Oh, yeah. I've had people from all over the world email me. They ask me if it is reenactments, or if this is all really happening. "Is this real? My boyfriend says its not!" We promise reenactments based on actual events. So, most people know. They are all computer suave. They look it up and answer their own questions. But I have had many people ask me many times if it is real, yes.
The first time I saw it, I sat there thinking, "This is a pretty crazy reality series." It wasn't until it was over that I realized I was watching a fictionalized account of the events that had actually taken place. You got me for a second. But you are right. The internet gives it all away!
Lou Pizarro: (Laughs)!
My first real introduction to this series was your face, staring at me from the back of a bus while I was on my scooter. During your first run on Telemundo. You guys killed it on Telemundo, and you've had four successful years on TruTV. How has that multi-cultural transition been for you and your team?
Lou Pizarro: I have to say...I do remember when I saw that first bus. I just sat there like, "Wow!" Then that bus pulled away, and every bus in front of it had our logo on it. It had our faces all over it. No kidding. It must have been about two thousand buses all over Southern California. That was insane. Then for us to make the transition to TruTV? That was so exciting from day one. We started in 2006. TruTV came to us in 2008. And we aired our first episode in April of 08. It was the same feeling. Like, "Wow! Now we are on English mainstream?" It is a whole different audience. It was actually as though we were starting over from day one. It was a good feeling.
You guys pretty much ran with it though, right? This wasn't a matter of taking what you'd already done for the Spanish speaking community, and redoing it over again. You didn't start over in terms of were the story was at in 2008...
Lou Pizarro: We started this as a completely different show. Yes, it is a repossession show. There are some of the same trucks, the same cast of course...This is my family! But it was always a fresh show that we shot for TruTV. It was all in English. The show for Telemundo, or channel 22, was all in Spanish, slash Spanglish. They are different, because I have stories! For the past fifteen years, I have been doing this. I think I have stories to offer for the next decade.
What are some of those stories that we haven't seen yet? That you are eager to get in front of this audience?
Lou Pizarro: It's funny. Because sometimes you come across the oddest item that you've ever repossessed. Like a Zamboni. Half of America doesn't even know what a Zamboni is. Are you familiar with what a Zamboni is?
Yes. That's the big monster machine that cleans and clears the ice at an ice skating rink, right?
Lou Pizarro: Yeah, exactly! We had to go repossess this thing, and everyone is like, "What is a Zamboni?" Also, there is this great family dynamic. Everyone is doing something different in their life. My daughter, my sister, Froy...My sister just recently got remarried...There are all of these different family dynamics that come into play. And they are never the same, because our life goes on. Sometimes there are changes. Sometimes there are consequences, and dramatic situations...Like this situation, where we are currently dealing with Froy. Which is a true thing. It's a true thing. Out here in Southern California it's the norm if you are Mexican, and you were born in Mexico. Certain things happen. Here, we are always involved with the police and the law. You never now when something is going to go South for us, and one of us might wind up in jail.
How does that affect the schedule of the show? If you do wind up in jail while you are in the midst of shooting?
Lou Pizarro: It won't affect our show. Because that makes people want to watch. Why are we in jail? How did we get in jail? And when are we going to get out of jail? How are we going to get a certain person out of jail. It just adds to the show. It adds to all the excitement. It leaves you with that cliffhanger for the next episode. You just have to watch it. You think about it all week long.
Are you able to go into the jail and shoot real footage inside of the jail while that person is locked away? Or do you wait, and reenact those moments once that person is free?
Lou Pizarro: (Laughs)! We definitely reenact that. But if someone is in jail, we can film them walking out of it. That is fair game.
With reenactments comes learning how to act. How has that aspect of this series affected you and your family, as you are Repo Men first and foremost?
Lou Pizarro: We've been told that we are great actors. I've been told that by many people. But we are not actors! A lot of the stuff you see during the reenactments? That is actually real. This animosity you see between the teams? That is not scripted. That is real. Everyone knows that...The whole world knows that Sonia Pizarro and Matt Burch don't get along. I have to be the neutral guy. Sonia gets mad at Froy. They were married for ten years. They still have a life together. They have a seventeen-year-old son together. That's not acting. That is the real deal, what you see.
Is this like Curb Your Enthusiasm? I mean, how heavily scripted are the shows? Do you just go off a page of action, and then all the dialogue is of the moment and created on the spot?
Lou Pizarro: Yes, yes...You got it. That is what happens. As far as the stories? We have worked together for so long, we just look at each other and say, "Hey, do you remember this story? Where we did this?" Yeah. But what happens in the office is...The animosity in the stuff that is happening, the interaction between the teams...That is all real! Sometimes, I feel like I just have to step out. Seriously. Sometimes Froy is over the top arrogant, but that's who he is. He is not just acting like that. Sometimes he is annoying. Sometimes Froy is so passionate, it upsets me. I'm like, "Dude! Speak up!" Again, when my sister starts, I just have to leave. There is no way with my sister.
Are there every any moments that come out of a heated on-camera argument that you look at in the editing room, and decide you can't show on TV?
Lou Pizarro: Oh, yeah! Sometimes, if there is something that happens between Matt and Sonia? If there are too many bleeps in there? They just cut it out. They have gotten into some really tough arguments in the office. And those cameras are going. If the cameras aren't going, and they hear arguing, someone will turn on the camera and grab that footage.
How many more episodes do you have left in this current season?
Lou Pizarro: We are in Part Two of Operation Repo Season 9.5. We have a new show on this Wednesday. We have ten more episodes to go to finish. Then we start filming Season 10 March 5th.
That sounds like a pretty fast moving operation for you guys. It doesn't sound like there is a lot of down time between shooting these episodes and the seasons...
Lou Pizarro: This is a pretty well oiled machine. We got this thing locked in. TruTV likes that production value. We know exactly what we are doing. We had a lot of practice in the Spanish market. When it came to doing this in English, they were like, "Well done!"
The shows on Telemundo right now are really grabbing an audience outside of the Mexican and Spanish speaking community. Does it surprise you at all to see these series grabbing such attention away from the four major networks?
Lou Pizarro: Yes. What it is...People like to see the out of the ordinary. They like to see the craziness that people do. I like to call it the Jerry Springer syndrome. Whenever you can bring those dynamics to a show, people are going to be curious. And they will want to watch. They will tell the next guy about the craziest thing they have ever seen, even in English mainstream, or anywhere else. That's how that happens. But you have to watch. What you are talking about comes and goes.
How is this season going to eventually play itself out?
Lou Pizarro: You are definitely going to see more of Froy's situation with this story arc. I think that is what we are focusing on. You'll also see some of the repossessions go haywire to the extreme, which is the norm. But this Homeland Situation we are dealing with in terms of Froy, and his family, and the team...It is really different than anything we have ever done before. Fans are going to be compassionate. They are going to want to watch every episode leading up to the finale, just to see what happens at the end. At the end of this season? We don't know what is going to happen. We really don't. So, it's an on going day-to-day thing to see what our last episode is going to be like. Because we don't know how this is all going to end. That is a great thing for us, because it shows that there is a lot of believability in our show. Even though it is "based" on actual events. In this situation, we just don't know what is going to happen, but we have to be prepared for it to go either way.
What do you hope happens?
Lou Pizarro: I hope everything goes swell, and that we move onto Season 10 with the same cast. That's what I hope happens without saying too much.
I want to go back to the Zamboni. How did that eventually play out?
Lou Pizarro: Well, you saw the story! What we did was hire a flatbed gentleman from Swift Tow. He was standing by the side of the hockey rink. Matt and I went in there and figured out how we could get it out of the store. We were demanding that they give it to us. At the end, the guy paid the Zamboni off. He called the finance company. They okayed it. He gave us a check. As we were ready to take the Zamboni, I got a call saying to leave it. That I had a check waiting. It was paid off. So we didn't have to take the Zamboni after all. But that's how we would have done it. We would have hauled it away on a flatbed truck.
Is that the crazies thing you've had to move?
Lou Pizarro: Oh, no! There is stuff we haven't aired yet. I repossessed a 657 E Landmover, which is one of the biggest tractors you will ever see in your life. That was a project! I had to hire a trucking company. I had to get permits from the city. We had to repossess it at 5 am in the morning . We couldn't be on the streets until after 7 am. It was a weeklong process. But it paid off at the end. It was awesome. Quick question...Have you ever had a car repossessed?
No! I have a Jeep I bought used for $5000, and a scooter. I don't think anyone is going to repossess either anytime soon.
Lou Pizarro: It ain't no joke if you don't pay that note! You are a smart man!