Mark Consuelos talks tech and 'Alpha House' (Q&A)

The actor behind the "sexy senator" on Amazon's first series answers a few of CNET's questions about technology and the future of television.

Actor Mark Consuelos, one of four stars playing Republican senators on Amazon's "Alpha House," poses for promo photos on the set. Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Mark Consuelos' idea of essential technology is the espresso maker he placed in his dressing room.

The actor, best known for a 15-year-stint as Mateo Santos on "All My Children," is one of the stars of "Alpha House." He's no tech aficionado, but it's not lost on him that Amazon.com's first foray into original television series is a significant shift for the retailer .

He plays Sen. Andy Guzman, a newly divorced Florida Republican who joins a house shared by three other GOP senators as their fourth roommate. In his first on-screen appearance, he's having sex against the wall of a Senate cloakroom.

Consuelos may not know what Vine or Snapchat are, but he knows that Amazon's maiden voyage is, in some ways, very different from a traditional television production and in other ways, not at all.

I talked with him at Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York to ask a few questions about "Alpha House" and the role technology plays in television and his own life. The following is an edited Q&A.

Q: What about your relationship with technology? Do you tweet, do you Vine?
Consuelos: Do I what?

Q: Do you tweet?
Consuelos: I do tweet. [Looks wary and sheepish.]

Q: You don't need to apologize.
Consuelos: I retweet. I do retweet a lot. I don't have a lot of very original things to say. Sometimes if I have a glass or two of wine on vacation, I may tweet a bunch. Which I've been told is not the right thing to do. I'm not sure what Vine is.

Read: How Amazon Studios went from grassroots idealist to Hollywood threat

Q: Vine, it's a Twitter video thing, 6-second videos.
Consuelos: My daughter, we figured out she had that. And we told her that she couldn't do that.

Q: Even though you don't really know what it is?
Consuelos: We don't know what that is, or Snapchat, but we took that away. We don't like them to have too much technology or social media at this young age. She knows her way around all of it, and so do her friends.

Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Q: What does she think of your participation in "Alpha House," a series from Amazon? Does she have a sense that this is a different kind of TV?
Consuelos: She thinks it's cool. My son, my 16-year-old, thinks it's super cool.

Q: Can you personally see a difference filming this program versus one distributed in the typical way?
Consuelos: Not at all. If anything, it's even smoother. You have Garry Trudeau writing it, and Amazon's been helping very much. And you see the big-ass stars we're getting to do the show, Amy Sedaris, Cynthia Nixon, Bill Murray, and Julie White. I've never been on a TV show that has this excitement to it, to come to work. And then as far as the production value, you see the stage, it's huge. One of the nicest stages in New York. It's great. And the craft services is amazing. You always judge it by the food, and the food is hard-core.

Q: Did the Amazon element of "Alpha House" hold any attraction?
Consuelos: I was really interested in this, having watched stuff on Netflix. I just got done watching "House of Cards," which I really loved. I was convinced, this is the wave of the future. I love the fact that you can watch it when you want to watch it, where you want to watch it. You can bring it with you. And then John Goodman signed on, and it was pretty much like, all right, this is a real thing.

Q: You refer to Amazon's strategy as the future -- what's your perspective of that as somebody who's on the screen?
Consuelos: Well, I'm old. So I say wave of the future, I mean, 'Oh my God, there's this thing you can download and it streams this soccer game on your TV!' And my kids and their friends are like, 'Yeah, everything's here. Everything's on the little tablet.' That's how people like to watch, if it's in 5-minute segments or 10-minute segments during a break or on a subway ride. It feels very much like when cable came into play, and we were going from four channels or five channels to all this. Adding more channels or distribution opportunities, where you're not just in this box, I think is exciting.

Consuelos at the Amazon Studios Launch Party. Getty Images

Q: With "House of Cards," Kevin Spacey has created a bully pulpit for himself to advocate for online distribution. Is that a mantle that you see for yourself, being a proponent of this new way of "airing" television?
Consuelos: Uh, I think Kevin can -- Mr. Spacey can do that.

Q: What kind of phone do you have?
Consuelos: I have an iPhone.

Q: Did you get the new one when it came out?
Consuelos: I'm going to ride this until the wheels come off.

Q: Or gets stolen. Hopefully not.
Consuelos: No, there's no reason. My wife has the new one, it's light and sexy and beautiful and great but -- I'm sending e-mails and browsing the Web. Do people still say that? Browsing the Web?

Q: I guess so. You can say "surfing the Web" if you really want to date yourself.
Consuelos: Surfing, yeah. I'm surfing the Web. But you know what I find fascinating? The other day I wanted to watch my soccer team, they weren't being broadcast, but the channel said if you want to watch your team, download the app. So I did. I'm watching, hold on, I'm watching the soccer game that they're showing and I'm watching the game that I really want to watch on my tablet, my iPad, and I'm freaking out. And my wife walks in and she's like 'Really?'

Q: Paint me a picture of what you mean by freaking out?
Consuelos: Because I can't believe that, I didn't think it would or could be so good, the quality. The last thing I did like that, it was horrible, it was really choppy, you couldn't really watch the games. But I'm watching in beautiful high definition on my tablet and then I'm watching the game on TV. Man City v. Stoke City. Yeah, that's technology for me.

 

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