Paulino Duran is a Sonoma Valley High graduate who is known to many in town as a former star of Beach Blanket Babylon and as a former director of his family’s Broadway Bound Kids theater program. But the longtime actor, producer and director has now added “network television program host” to his resume.
Duran is the host of the newest season of the PBS series, “Yellow Roads: Europe” which began airing this week. He returned to Sonoma from New York City on Tuesday night and explained how it all came about.
The first episode aired this week. Did you watch?
I actually haven’t seen it yet. I saw clips when I was doing the voice-overs in post-production but I’m excited to sit down with my family this week to watch it.
So how did this opportunity come about?
Really by chance. I feel like that’s how a lot of the opportunities in my life and in this business have come about. A friend in Marin recommended me and I had a five minute meeting before catching a plane and that was it. It was really a chance meeting. But then they called me and offered me the job.
What’s the premise of the show?
It is a travel series about back roads. For these shows, focused on Italy, the premise is that all roads lead to Rome. The name comes from the fact that in the old Michelin guidebooks, the yellow roads were off the beaten path.
What kind of crew did you have?
It was usually some combination of myself as the host, a director, a director of photography, a cinematographer and a sound guy… as well as a couple of producers. So probably about eight people, nine people. We met when we got on the plane to go to Italy for the very first time.
When did you start work on the series?
I signed the contract almost a year ago and the first trip was back in June and it lasted for about two weeks. We went back and did the second two episodes for two weeks in October.
Where did you travel?
We stayed in amazingly luxurious hotels and every night we stayed someplace different. And I don’t know how I did it, but I didn’t lose anything, not even a phone charger! You know, you kind of get it down to an art form really quick. You pull out the essentials, like toothbrush, toothpaste, the contacts and glasses, the razor and the outfit for the next day. You’re good to go.
How do you decide what each episode will focus upon?
The show is a little bit of everything. It’s entirely non-scripted. Aside from Rome, we traveled to these beautiful cities, Perugia, Orvieto, the Amalfi coast. We ate 10-course dinners in the ancient caves of Matera.
Sounds like a pretty good gig.
I think the best part was meeting people I would never have met otherwise. Like a sweet little old lady who owned this restaurant with her brother. I mean she reached up as high as she could, grabs my cheeks and literally plants the biggest kiss on my lips, and then says, “Sit, sit down and eat now.” All of a sudden we’re like, you know, best friends. I think the special relationships that you forge with people you would’ve never met otherwise. I love hearing people’s stories.
'Yellow Roads' of Italy
The PBS series hosted by Paulino Duran airs on Friday nights at 11:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 5:30 a.m. on KQED. You can follow Duran while he is filming on Instagram at @paulino.duran.