• Image about Marc Anthony
Jennifer Lopez: Robert Erdmann/August; Marc Anthony: Michael Murphree/Corbis Outline

With their new show, ¡Q’Viva! The Chosen, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony set out on a global mission to find the world’s most inspiring talents.

On a scorching afternoon in a 16th-century fort, Marc Anthony is getting misty-eyed. A heavy humidity hangs over Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a hilltop citadel that once protected the old core of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Atlantic crashes against the structure’s rocky feet, while cannons and storybook turrets dot its crown. And for a second, the trim Anthony has ducked into the shade created by a sawtooth-patterned stone ledge and is staring pensively at the waves below.

A performance just minutes ago by a musical group called Viento de Agua is what set him off. Its six members, all middle-aged males, are as nattily dressed as possible for the weather in collared shirts and fedoras, but the noise they make is much more primal. Their specialty? The Puerto Rican styles known as bomba and plena — dance sounds built on call-and-response vocals and circling patterns rapped out on bongos and other percussion instruments. The sound is spiritual, heavily African-influenced and deeply infectious; anyone who doesn’t at least tap a couple of toes to bomba should be checked for vitals.

¡Q’Viva! The Chosen airs in the U.S. on both Fox and Univision. For international networks and airtimes, please visit www.qvivathechosen.com. The show will be broadcast in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
It’s also a sound that’s purely Puerto Rican. That’s why Anthony is in San Juan — to find the best talent the island has to offer for ¡Q’Viva! The Chosen, a massive new television undertaking that’s airing in 21 countries and territories worldwide (including the United States and Puerto Rico). The show centers on the search for a sprawling cast of hundreds of performers from across 19 countries and territories (plus the United States), chosen for talent and a gift in celebrating the essence of their cultures. It’s clear, though, that for Anthony, who is of Puerto Rican descent and who was raised in New York City’s Spanish Harlem neighborhood, the San Juan shoot hits close to the heart. “This is where the professional side crosses over to a personal journey for me,” he says in English, before switching to Spanish and continuing. “I feel more Puerto Rican than ever.”

The quick language shift isn’t accidental. ¡Q’Viva! is, quite simply, unlike any unscripted, entertainment-focused TV show to date. Dubbed a docu-journey by its production company, Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, the show goes far beyond the scope of the typical talent-show/voter-elimination format. A large part of the beginning of ¡Q’Viva! is devoted to tracing trips like the one Anthony is currently on in Puerto Rico, seeking out undiscovered performers of all stripes, from fire twirlers to flamenco dancers.

The most deserving get a trip to Los Angeles via American Airlines. There, after further auditions, they’ll work to star in an over-the-top, live production in Las Vegas that will be helmed by Jamie King — a world-renowned live-show director and choreographer famed for his work with Michael Jackson, Prince and Rihanna, among others. They’ll also score a priceless bit of mentoring from Anthony and another one of his partners in the show: ex-wife Jennifer Lopez.

That’s right. Though they may no longer be bound by marriage, Lopez and Anthony still form a power couple — in at least this corner of the entertainment world. Few other figures would be fit to carry a production that will definitively mark the entry of purely Latin-focused, bilingual entertainment into the American mainstream.