Karen Kerbis works prosecuting bad guys in the gang unit at the Criminal Courts building at 26th and California. Away from the office, though, she’s a gringa pop star blogging about the Latin soap opera scene.
The Cook County assistant state’s attorney just returned from Miami, where she hung out behind the scenes at “La Fan,” an upcoming American telenovela by Telemundo.
Actors tried to include her in a scene playing herself “but there wasn’t enough time to work out the details,” she says. “Que Lastima! How sad.”
Kerbis came to the telenovela scene a few years ago when she was flipping TV channels and stopped on a Spanish soap opera (novela) on Telemundo. “It looked so much more interesting than anything else on TV,” she says.
Problem was, she couldn’t understand it given she didn’t speak Spanish.
Undaunted, Kerbis decided to learn by watching. If relatives from Italy, Greece and Czechoslovakia could learn English watching “All My Children,” why not the other way around, she thought.
Kerbis “fell in love” with the limited-run shows with dramatic plots fueled by love triangles, seduction, betrayal and revenge.
“The insanity of a novela is beyond anything,” says Kerbis, who revels in characters taking crime-fighting into their own hands. “There’s a lot of craziness.”
So inspired by the soaps, Kerbis started writing her own ideas for stories. Then she began recapping (in English) the shows she watched for her blog, La Gringa Novelera on Facebook. Her Spanish has improved, though she doesn’t always understand nuances of the language, which makes the blog that much more entertaining.
It even caught the attention of Telemundo writers.
José Ignacio Valenzuela (known as “El Chascas”) sent a Facebook request, and he and Kerbis have been corresponding ever since. She interviewed him at a September speaking event in Chicago.
Kerbis has taken classes at Chicago Dramatists to beef up a script being considered by a TV producer. She writes a monthly column in Latin Connection magazine and is working on a book, too.
Telemundo has created a character based on Kerbis. Karen La Detective will appear in “La Dona,” a soap that premieres Nov. 29 on Telemundo. “She’s so beautiful,” says Kerbis. “She just stares at people and they start confessing.”
Cupich and his sidekick Sakowicz
Cardinal Blase Cupich will talk for the first time about his thoughts on being elevated to the College of Cardinals during an interview with the Very Rev. Greg Sakowicz during the “Catholic Community of Faith” program at 9 a.m. Monday on Relevant Radio stations 950 AM and 930 AM.
The program will have him reflecting on “what the elevation to cardinal means for Chicago,” says Sakowicz, a witty priest recently appointed by Cupich to be rector of Holy Name Cathedral.
Sakowicz’s homilies are known for their candor and humor. (His late father, Sig Sakowicz, was a Chicago broadcast legend.) Given that Sakowicz and Cupich share a deep appreciation for a good joke, their on-air conversation should be entertaining.
Both men live in the church’s rectory and share many breakfasts together before going about their days.
When Sakowicz moved into the rectory’s fifth-floor quarters above Cupich, the priest joked he’d be trying out for “Riverdance” and practicing in the living room.
Cupich responded in a playful way, saying, “Greg, don’t cause trouble.”
Along with discussing his role as a cardinal and his trip to Rome, don’t be surprised if Cupich talks sports, too. He and Sakowicz are big college football fans.
Cupich, a Nebraska native, is an avid follower of the Cornhuskers, and Sakowicz loves the University of Notre Dame.
“He knows college football and he knows sports very well,” says Sakowicz.
Also on the air will be Wayne Magdziarz, senior vice president over capital planning at Loyola University.
Street name for ‘The Duke’
Gene Chandler, whose “Duke of Earl” was a doo-wop hit back in the day, is being honored with a Chicago street sign. The dedication of 59th Street between Racine Avenue and May Street is planned for noon Dec. 3.
The sign is in the Englewood neighborhood where “The Duke of Earl,” as he was nicknamed, grew up.
Chandler performed with The Gaytones in the mid-1950s before joining the Dukays, which released “Duke of Earl” in 1961. Chandler (then known as Eugene Dixon) wrote the song with Earl Edwards and Bernice Williams.
The lyrics are catchy: Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl. And the song was included in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
Chandler also performed another hit — “Groovy Situation” — in the 1970s.
The 79-year-old South Sider stayed in Chicago and in 2012 started Project Happiness, a small nonprofit that helps underserved families during the holidays. Chandler likes to deliver food, clothing and gifts himself. The duke is a prince.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.