Many Valley play-lovers have been surprised to realize there are no plays scheduled at The University of Texas-Pan American this summer. It used to take a world war, or Valley hurricane, to stop Pan Am’s summer stock plays.

Now a film by one of the University’s most nationally famous students, Valente Rodriguez, is being cast, directed and filmed this year in Edinburg.

Valente’s original script begins “Big Dreams.” His success in Hollywood and other big markets make him a much more promising candidate for many more performances than most shows that are born on a campus.

Just about everyone who watches TV has seen Valente in “The George Lopez Show.” He played Ernie, a funny side-kick to perfection. It’s still hugely popular in re-runs. He is a brilliant actor who can play any role convincingly. After succeeding in all sorts of roles, in Hollywood and elsewhere, he returned to the Valley to complete his Master of Arts in theater at UT Pan American this summer.

Valente’s superb experience at UT Pan American and in the harsh world of Hollywood have made him a playwright as well as an actor.

Already doing preliminary work on this highly interesting project, the cast is whetting their lines. The story centers on a few students who study together and their problems.

I haven’t seen the script yet, and might wait to see the film version before I do.

The new show might not reach the screen until late this year, or early 2011. I can hardly wait, having seen some of the few films with Hollywood backing, from Viva Zapata, which earned an Oscar (but not for a young Marlon Brando in the title role) or “She Came to the Valley”, another basically true story about deep South Texas, which won none.

Special praise and help for Valente Rodriguez have come from Dr. Marian Monta, the Grand Dame of drama for all occasions at UT Pan American for many years, and Dr. Jack Stanley, who taught Valente the course in scriptwriting and, like Dr. Monta, encouraged him in this adventure.