Yo Quiero Mi MTV

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Kreski might not know what's funny in Mexico, but he has enough experience to know that you have to have at least one literate person present every award and you can't expect stoned bass players to remember too many lines. So the second day in Miami he spent going over the ideas developed by the Latin American writers, looking out for what he calls "left turns" -- hidden ideas that "might not translate well onstage or take too much rehearsal."

Ultimately nobody can know what will make a hemisphere, or even half a hemisphere, laugh.

"We tell writers, 'Write whatever you want. Write a lot of it,'" explains Singer. "Then we decide what's appropriate or what will work."

"The biggest joke," admits the executive producer, born and raised in the U.S., "is that I'm the arbiter."

Maybe. Then again, that's a joke with a familiar punchline: Latin American creativity, North American technocracy.

But who knows -- maybe in the labyrinth of pan-regional Latin America, the dream of an independent pop culture isn't so far away.

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Celeste Fraser Delgado