Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eva Longoria Parker Adds Director to her Many Talents

Her documentary “Latinos Living the American Dream” Premiered October 21 in L.A.

The documentary Latinos Living the American Dream produced and directed by Eva Longoria Parker in partnership with the Pepsi YO SUMO initiative will premiere today at the Graumans Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. The documentary highlights the accomplishments and impact that Hispanics have in shaping the landscape of the United States. The feature is a culmination of Pepsis YO SUMO (I Add Up/I Count) movement which encourages Latinos to go beyond being counted and show how they add value to this country, in the year of the Census.

Eva Longoria Parker and Pepsi partnered to develop a documentary to present the Latino identity from a fresh point of view. To create I>Latinos Living the American Dream, Longoria Parker selected stories from a pool of over 600 submissions to, shared by Latinos from all parts of the country. Working with Cevallos Brothers Productions, Longoria Parker combined the entries to show a fresh perspective of the Latino community. "Every story entered was so inspiring, that identifying only a few to highlight was a difficult and intense process," said Longoria Parker.

Read full story at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"The Glades"Looks Promising With Standout Roles for Carlos Gomez and Kiele Sanchez

Fort Lauderdale, FL -- Executive producer Clifton Campbell gets it right in A&E’s new dramatic series The Glades; he cast two Latinos in his new series which is set in Florida, the state with the fourth largest Latino population in the country. Carlos Gomez, plays a medical examiner and Kiele Sanchez a medical student and love interest to the series hunky detective played by Australian actor Matt Passmore. Having grown up in Orlando, Florida, Campbell was just keeping it “Real”.

Jeff Longworth (Passmore), is an attractive, brilliant, yet hard to get along with homicide detective from Chicago who gets shot by his captain after being wrongfully accused of sleeping with his wife. He relocates to Palm Glade, Florida where the sunshine and golf are plentiful and crime is seemingly at a minimum. Only to finds people keep turning up murdered, each case pulling him off the golf course and into his element as one of the sharpest homicide detectives.

Between practicing his short game, trying to get a date with Callie Cargill (Kiele Sanchez) – a devoted working nurse, mother, and medical student - and trying to solve countless homicide cases, Longworth’s transition to his new surroundings is a bit more difficult than he expected.

Carlos Sanchez, played by Gomez, is Longworth's golf partner, friend and colleague. He's a forensic medical examiner who works the crime lab. A family man with a high-maintenance wife and kids, He isn't easily amused by Longworth's persistence and intuition when it comes to crime-solving skills, since he is often forced into compromising positions.

For Gomez, who was born in Manhattan to Cuban parents and raised in Miami, working on The Glades is a sort of coming home. For over ...

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Dennis Leoni Sells New Series to Showtime

Dennis Leoni creator and executive producer of the ground breaking drama Resurrection Blvd. which aired on Showtime from 2000 - 2002 , has sold a new series concept to the same network and is currently working on the pilot script. "It's a family drama", is all Leoni would comment. However, he did tell us that it is nothing like Resurrection Blvd., and that is all he would tell us...on this project. He has also joined forces with producer/writer/performer Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle) to create, write and direct eight episodes of a new webseries. Keeping "family" as the centerpiece on this project as well, Leoni tells us that this one is about "a contemporary family that is quintessentially American... who happens to be Latino."

Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Leoni attended the University of Arizona. He left to become an actor/stuntman at Old Tucson Studios and subsequently moved to Hawaii where he made the transition into assistant director on the CBS series Hawaii Five-O, and eventually as a writer. He worked on some of television's highest profile shows such as The Commish and McKenna for ABC.

Its obvious from his career trajectory that Leoni can choose any subject matter to write about and be successful, but choosing to continue to write Latino characters is a choice we applaud.Leoni is repped by the Rothman Brecher Agency.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Adrianna León & Demi Lovato Shine at ABC

Julio Martinez's TeleVISION

The folks at Disney/ABC Television recently hosted their annual “Group Summer Press Junket,” spotlighting the network talents that are making their way through the vast panorama of daytime and nighttime programming. On hand are such varied talents as The Jonas Brothers (Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam), Nestor Carbonell (Lost), Ian Gomez (Cougar Town), Virginia Madsen (Scoundrels), the lovely quartet of Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Trojan Bellisario, Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars) and more. Among this comely group are two Latina actors/singers who are enjoying a diversity of opportunities to display their considerable individual talents.

Adrianna León, who is of Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian Spanish and Canadian descent, is enjoying a bit of déjà vu, returning this month to ABC’s daytime drama, General Hospital, in the role of Brook Lynn Ashton, a role she originally created in 2004. “Brook’s back,” Leon giggles. “Actually I’m recurring for now and if I do well, I can stay. But this Brook is far different than the original one I played. In 2004, Brook was a wild, rebellious teenage punk rock singer. Well, she’s changed. I will have to discover how different she has become, because I won’t really know until I get my scripts. With every script I discover a new layer to my character. The producers don’t tell you anything in advance.”

Leon, who is related to the former Vice Mayor of Puerto Rico, and lived as a child in Ecuador, believes it is good to acquire a lot of skills, just in case acting doesn’t work out. “I am a culinary school graduate (working on an English-Spanish cookbook with her grandmother) and a certified personal fitness trainer. I compose songs and
record them. I love to run for exercise and love to travel for fun. In fact, I could spend all my time discovering new places and be totally happy.”

Although she loves to learn new disciplines, Leon certainly has had enough performance affirmation since she launched her musical career in 2002, writing and recording songs, alongside Rick Krizman for General Hospital, before joining the cast in 2004. In 2003, León formed the band, Caught Crimson, with the help of vocalist Murray Yates. Leon has enjoyed stints on other daytime series, such as The Young and the Restless, but is totally happy to be back on General Hospital, as well as working on a new crossover album. “I am doing songs in Spanish, English and Spanglish,” she affirms. “I am even singing a bit on General Hospital. I few weeks ago, they wrote me into a scene where I sing at a karaoke bar. I’ve been told I will be doing that again. In my spare time, I cook and look at travel brochures.”

Demi Lovato (Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, Sonny With a Chance, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Grey’s Anatomy, Friends For Change) is so busy, she’s not sure which ABC show she is promoting. “I am particularly happy to have guest starred in one of the final episodes of this season’s Grey’s Anatomy, playing someone who was thought to be schizophrenic,” she says. “It was so emotionally demanding. I am proud they felt I could do it. I worked very hard. I even resereached various aspects schizophrenic behavior. I love doing comedies
and musicals but it felt so personally gratifying to do a drama.”

Dallas, Texas-born Lovato, who is of Mexican, Italian, and Irish ancestry, began her career at age seven on the PBS children's television series, Barney & Friends as Angela, appearing in seasons seven and eight alongside long time friend, Selena Gomez. Now, at age seventeen, she is an established teenage icon, having starred in the 2008 Disney Channel film, Camp Rock, playing Mitchie Torres, a fourteen-year-old girl with hopes of becoming a singer. The movie garnered 8.9 million viewers. She provided vocals on four of the songs featured on the Camp Rock soundtrack, including, "This Is Me," featuring Joe Jonas.

“A lot of wonderful things have happened for me since then,” Lovato affirms. “Last year I co-starred with my pal, Selena Gomez, in the Disney movie, Princess Protection Program. We had a ball. Also, last year, I did the Disney Channel series, Sonny With a Chance, playing a newcomer to a live comedy show. I am so gratified we got picked up for a second season, which began this March.” Also in March, Lovato was one of the many stars featured in a PSA for Voto Latino in order to promote the organization's "Be Counted" campaign for the 2010 U.S. Census.

“I am also working on a music project, which I am hoping to launch in conjunction with the premiere of Camp Rock 2, says Lovato . “We shot Rock 2 last September, and it is premiering as a Disney Channel original movie on September 3, 2010. I hope everyone likes the movie and my music. I also hope to keep getting great roles that make me stretch

Jimmy Smits stars in "Outlaw" One of NBCs New Dramas

NBC announced its 2010-11 primetime schedule recently and is highlighted by five new comedies, seven new drama series and one new alternative program, including shows from such innovative hit-makers as J.J. Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer and David E. Kelley, among others. Outlaw starring Jimmy Smits is one of the chosen few.

Outlaw, with Emmy Award winner Smits (NYPD Blue, West Wing), is a new drama from executive producer John Eisendrath (Alias, Felicity, Playmakers).

Cyrus Garza (Smits) is a U.S. Supreme Court justice who abruptly quits the high-level position. A playboy and a gambler, Garza had always adhered to a strict interpretation of the law until he realized the system he believed in was flawed. Now that he’s quit the bench and returned to private practice, he’s determined to represent "the little guy" and use his inside knowledge of the justice system to take on today’s biggest legal cases. And he's making plenty of powerful people unhappy along the way.

Outlaw is a Universal Media Studios production along with Conaco productions. Eisendrath is executive producer along with Terry George (Hotel Rwanda, Reservation Road), Conan O'Brien, Jeff Ross and David Kissinger (Andy Barker, P.I.). Outlaw is written by Eisendrath and directed by George.

The schedule features all-drama lineups on Mondays and Wednesdays and five comedies on Thursdays. Tuesdays will continue to combine the similar appeal of The Biggest Loser with Parenthood, and Fridays will team Who Do You Think You Are? and the new series School Pride with Dateline NBC in addition to Outlaw.

NBC will also broadcast a 35th anniversary Saturday Night Live special that will celebrate the iconic late-night series' long and eventful run on NBC since 1975. 



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Philip Anthony-Rodriguez The Hot DA in "The Secret Life of the American Teenager"

TeleVISION by Julio Martinez

This week’s TeleVISION column spotlights Brooklyn-born Nuyorican actor Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, who is looking forward to expanded airtime with his recurring role as Ruben Enriquez when The Secret Life of the American Teenager returns June 7 for its third season on the ABC Family Channel. “So far, the good news for me is they are using me a lot more.”

Anthony-Rodriguez’s character was introduced last season when series regular bad girl, Adrian Lee (Francia Raisa), set out to find her biological father and discovers he’s a hot shot Assistant District Attorney. “I’m going to be on a whole lot more this season,” he affirms. “They are really expanding Ruben Enriquez’s story line, along with the character of his daughter Adrian, played by Francia. The upcoming season is going to be really good with some surprising plot twists and some jaw dropping moments. Next week, we shoot episode nine of the season and so far, I’ve been in every episode but one.”

When Secret Life, which focused on the life and times of pregnant teen Amy Juergens (played by Shailine Woodley), made its debut in July 2008, most of the mainstream press doubted it would last one season let alone reach a third. But despite the negative reviews from the TV critics, the pilot episode broke the record for the highest rated debut on ABC Family, later eclipsed by the second season premiere which aired June 22, 2009, garnering 2.82 million viewers.

“This show has found its audience,” says Anthony-Rodriguez. “Its popularity among teens has given its creator, Brenda Hampton, the freedom to venture into a wide variety of topics and situations. I’m glad to be part of its expansion.”

One might say Anthony-Rodriguez, who is the son of Puerto Rico-born parents, has had an ever-expanding career since he made his Broadway debut, portraying Mexican American rock idol, Richie Valens, in the musical, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. “I was twenty and I ran the gamut with that show, at the Schubert Theatre in New York, the first national tour and even in London in the West End. That was two-and-a-half years of my life.”

Since then, he has enjoyed an active stage career, including the Tony Award-Winning Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' Not About Nightingales, the musical, 4 Guys Named Jose and Una Mujer Named Maria, a revival of Man of La Mancha, and a nomination for a Kevin Kline Award in the Best Actor Category for his portrayal of Darren, a star baseball player who decides to reveal that he’s gay, in Take Me Out, at St. Louis Repertory Theatre.

Anthony-Rodriguez’s television career has been just as varied, ranging from guest star appearances on Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana to FOX’s cutting edge, 24, highlighted by his series regular stint as NSA agent, Kyle Duarte, on the UPN sci-fi drama, Jake 2.0. His big screen credits include the starring role in the independent film, Ode, based on the novel, Ode to Lata, and co-starring in the feature action/thriller, Undercurrent.

“I am delighted to be this busy,” he says. “During the hiatus of Secret Life, I’ve guest starred on CSI New York and Numbers, as well what I call my bread-and-butter work, voiceovers for CD ROM video games like X Box and PlayStation 3 and others. I’ve done work in the past for Sesame Street in Spanish and a number of voiceover campaigns. I’ve been very blessed.”

The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which also co-stars  Molly Ringwald, premieres June 7 (9pm) on the ABC Family Channel.

LATIN HEAT welcomes breaking news, especially if you have landed a role on the little screen. Send submissions to and interview requests to

Friday, May 7, 2010

Almodovar and Banderas Re-Team For "Piel"

Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas are teaming up again for the Spanish director's new film La Piel Que Habito twenty-one years after their last collaboration (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!). They have also worked together on Labyrinth of Passion (1982), Matador (1986), Law of Desire (1987), and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988).

According to Variety, Piel will loosely adapt Thierry Jonquet's 1995 novel "Mygale". Almodovar describes it as "a horror story without screams or shocks." Since announcing Piel in 2002, the film has now gone through nine re-writes which can no longer accommodate for such a big star as Penelope Cruz, which was Almodovar's original choice for one of the characters in the film.

"The film will be a terror film, without screams or scares," Almodovar told the Spanish daily El Pais. "It's difficult to define and although it comes close to the terror genre -- something that appeals to me that I've never done -- I won't respect any of its rules. It's the harshest film I've ever written and Banderas' character is brutal." It centers around a plastic surgeon who avenges the brutal rape of his daughter.

La Piel Que Habito will shoot this summer over the course of ten weeks. 

Film News Update by Luis Reyes

Four Independent Films Showcase Latino Talent 

Mother and Child is a beautiful and delicate woman’s film from the accomplished director/ writer Rodrigo Garcia that opens in theatres on Friday May 7th. It brings together the various stories revolving around a teenage mother who is forced to give up her daughter for adoption and what happens 37 years later when that child grows up. It is a film of insight, feelings and strong human emotions and the cycle of life. Annette Benning is sure to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress for her nuanced and raw portrayal of Karen and Jimmy Smits give a performance in so few words and emotions as Paco, a man who awakens deep emotions in Karen, that should earn him an Oscar nomination for Best supporting actor. The melodramatic film presents an ethnic cross-section of fully realized character that offers a contemporary realistic portrayal of America today that is rarely seen on screen. The ensemble all star cast also includes Naomi Watts, Samuel L. Jackson, Elpidia Carrillo (in a strong supporting role) young child actress Simone Lopez and Elizabeth Pena. The beautiful and artful cinematography is from Xavier Perez Grobet. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu serves as one of the producers.

Princess Kaiulani opening on May 14th is the inspiring true story of the Hawaiian princess who was forced to flee her homeland for Victorian England as the kingdom she was to inherit faced civil unrest. Actress Q’orianka Kilcher secured the title role of Princess Kaiulani after the production auditioned over 60 candidates in Los Angeles for the adult Kaiulani role. Kilcher had previously portrayed Pocahontas in the The New World, opposite Colin Farrell. Kilcher’s origins are part Huachipaeri and Quechua Indian on her father’s Peruvian side and she was born in Germany to a Swiss mother but lived in Hawaii until she was 10 years old. Kilcher recently said she believes she was cast as Kaiulani as much for her activism as her acting. Kilcher stars in Princess Kaiulani alongside Barry Pepper (Flags of Our Fathers, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan), Will Patton (A Mighty Heart, Armageddon) and Shaun Evans (Being Julia, Cashback).

There are four independent modest budget films in theatres that are showcasing Latino talent in front of and behind the camera including Petter Bratt's La Mission, Andy Garcia's City Island, the aforementioned Mother and Child and Princess Kaiulani. Celebrate these artists filmic accomplishments by going to see their films. The commercial and artistic success of these films will allow for more Latino talent and stories to flourish on the screens. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jimmy Smits Portrays Chief Justice in new NBC Series Pilot

By Luis Reyes

Jimmy Smits will play Cyrus Garza, a by the book Supreme Court Justice who excuses himself from the bench to go into private practice and fight constitutional injustices in an untitled one hour NBC legal drama. Veteran Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz has also been cast as his political activist father who inspires him. Smits will also serve as a producer on the series.

The pilot is currently shooting on location in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Atlantic City.

Smits most recently headlined the short lived CBS Latino family drama Cane. He also co-starred on NBC’s The West Wing and did a season long arc on Showtime’s Dexter. which earned him his 12th Emmy Nomination (He won in 1990 for L.A. Law). The former NYPD Blue star is coming off a Broadway run in Gods of Carnage and next appears in Rodrigo Garcia’s upcoming theatrical feature to be released in May, Mother and Child.

The NBC drama is being developed by John Eisendrath, Universal Media Studios and Conan O’Brien’s production company.

Let’s hope this pilot makes it to series. It would be an important step forward to see a major Latino actor as a series lead in such a positive role as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and lawyer.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


TeleVISION by Julio Martinez

DESI SANCHEZ IS THE FACE OF MTV2…Distributed in nearly 80 million homes, super macho MTV2 is launching a slew of brand defining original programming while tagging on-air personality Desi Sanchez as the face and voice of the all-new channel. With the highest concentration of men 12-34 on TV today, MTV2’s new shows include a mix of hip-hop, guy lifestyle and action sports programming with new series, Rock N Jock, Funk Flex Full Throttle, Nacho Libre, Ball Out Comedy Fridays and Sucker Free Sundays.

Sanchez, a NYC-born and bred TV host, visual artist and musician, feels right in her element. “I'm super psyched and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of MTV2! I've always been a tomboy at heart, and love all things tech, gaming, sports and music. Plus, at MTV2 I can just be myself and I get to interact with so many talented people. I'm looking forward to bringing my high energy and flavor to the channel. It’s going to be an awesome ride!”

Named by MAXIM as one of the “15 Hottest Latinas in Music,” Sanchez is also a classically trained pianist and is working on her first album, a blend of hard rock, pop and Latin that balances Sanchez’s soothing keyboard work with some decidedly non classical guitar riffs. But MTV2 is counting on Sanchez’s more visible talents to keep the boys attention between episodes of Jock and Funk. For specific MTV2 programming, check local listings or visit

MTV TR3S GOBBLING LATINO TALENT FOR WORLD CUP SPECIAL…When it comes to knowing who to concentrate high level attention on during the advent of World Cup soccer, MTV Tr3s has the ready answer…the Latino Male. The Network is bringing together renowned soccer stars and leading Latino entertainers
for a unique celebration of the world’s most popular sport. Set for filming on March 31st at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, the 2-hour ROCK N’ GOL special will center around four not-ready-for-primetime teams (No Se Puede United, AC Pitch Smackers, Locura United and Deportivo Cansados), featuring athletes and celebrities that will take to the field for a unique 4x4 tournament fusing traditional soccer with some very non-traditional twists. The big game, sponsored by T-Mobile, Subway and Toyota is set to air on June 3rd, and an additional MTV2 broadcast post premier.

Already confirmed celebrity participants for the taping include: crossover urban sensation Pitbull, actress Michelle Rodriguez, actor Jesse Garcia, comedian Carlos Mencia, Spanish artist David Bisbal, actor Walter Perez, singer/songwriter Debi Nova and legendary singer Jenni Rivera. They will be joined by famed soccer stars Marcelo Balboa, Brandi Chastain, Tony Meola and Tab Ramos. Additional participants are to be announced.
“The World Cup is one of the most anticipated games in the world especially among soccer fans in the Latino community, including myself,” proclaims Pitbull. Rock N’ Gol is guaranteed to add some flavor to the World Cup excitement. I’m looking forward to this event, because only MTV Tr3s can put a group of talented artists in cleats to compete with the pros.”

“MTV Tr3s is embracing the World Cup fever with our own irreverent twist on the world’s most popular sport,” says José Tillán, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the network. “Expect to see some top notch action, fun moments and great ‘performances’ with our version of fútbol…MTV Tr3s style. I was trying to be the referee, but did not make the cut.”

LATIN HEAT welcomes breaking news, especially if you have landed a role on the small screen.  Send info to:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


TeleVISION by Julio Martinez

ORTIZ SURVIVES THE DEMISE OF ‘UGLY’…Despite ABC unceremoniously booting Ugly Betty off the air this Spring, the network is not casting off Ana Ortiz, who is staying on ABC, starring in the network's cop drama pilot, True Blue. The cop show centers on a group of San Francisco homicide detectives reunited to solve the murder of one of their own. Ortiz plays a civilian secretary at the precinct. Poppy Montgomery co-stars. Exec producing are Jon Feldman, Chris Brancato and Bert Salke; Peter Horton is directing the pilot. There are a lot of pilots hatched during the Spring with no guarantee of finding a nesting place in the Fall primetime lineup. Ortiz has proven she has the star quality to make memorable any show she is in. Other pilot casting coups include Oswaldo Castillo being nabbed for NBC's untitled Adam Carolla comedy pilot. The pilot stars the comedian as a divorced contractor rebuilding his life. Castillo, a frequent collaborator of Carolla, will play his roommate and co-worker. Also in the works, Carmen Ejogo has taken a role in CBS drama pilot, Chaos.

... POLITICS OF ‘I DO’…With Quiero Mi Boda, MTV Tr3s takes an inside look at cross-cultural weddings and the hustle and bustle surrounding them. Producer Jorge Talon affirms, “Weddings are a special event in the life of a couple, a day where not only two people join in matrimony but also a day when two families unite. Now imagine these two families being from completely different cultural backgrounds, tastes, traditions, religion and sometimes even different languages.” Having premiered in on January 18 (10pm EST), Quiero Mi Boda shows what happens when you intermingle Mexicans with Cubans, Dominicans con Gringos, or even Puerto Ricans with Chinese! The final two Monday episodes air March 15 and 22 (9pm, EST).

INDEPENDENT LENS FOCUSES ON THE ‘LOST SOULS’…The Emmy Award-winning PBS series, Independent Lens, is premiering Lost Souls (“Animas Perdidas”), Tuesday, March 23rd at 10 PM (check local listings). Monika Navarro, a young Latina filmmaker born and raised in Ventura County, set out to make a documentary about her troubled uncle Augie, who was deported to Mexico after serving time for drug dealing, even though he was raised in the States and had served in the military. Navarro relates, "I found myself telling a different story -- about the kind of exile that has nothing to do with the government." Turning the camera on her parents, uncles and cousins, Monika shines a light on her family's dark history of abuse, addiction and abandonment as well as achievement and strength.

Finally, Carlos Gomez (Shark, Sleeper Cell) and Kiele Sanchez have landed co-starring roles on A&E's drama pilot Sugarloaf. More about that in next week’s TeleVISION.

LATIN HEAT welcomes breaking news, especially if you have
landed a role on the little screen. Send submissions to and interview requests to

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Garcia Plays Pregnant; Latino Reality; Crew List

TeleVISION by Julio Martinez

The television pilots are beginning to hatch all over the primetime dial.
TeleVISION has the radar out to identify the highs and the lows of emerging viewer fare. One perennial Latina may have finally found a promising sitcom home.

GARCIA ON THE MOVE…That blond bombshell of a Latina, Joanna Leanna Garcia, emerged as a potential star from the WB series, Reba (2001-2007). But despite displaying considerable on-camera charisma and laudable comedic timing, Garcia’s talents were ill-served on two lamentable short-lived comedy series, Welcome to The Captain (CBS) and Privileged (CW). Her prospects are looking up. Garcia has been tabbed to co-star in an untitled comedy pilot for ABC from Shana Goldberg-Meehan. The plot focuses on two sisters in different stages of their romantic relationships and is produced by Warner Bros. Television. “I play the less secure sis who gets pregnant and ends up marrying her beau,” says Garcia. The comedy is being ear-marked for the upcoming 2010 Fall season. When she is not on the set, Florida-born Garcia, who speaks Spanish fluently, is a volunteer English-as-a Second-language teacher for children in Los Angeles.

LATINOS ON REALITY…Two of the hottest current reality shows on TV, American Idol (FOX) and Project Runway (Lifetime Cable), have been showcasing some impressive Latino talent this winter. The monstrously popular Idol showcase is down to the Top 24 pop vocalists. Included in the countdown is Ashley Rodriguez (22, Chelsea, MA), Andrew Garcia (24, Moreno Valley, CA) and Joe Munoz (20, Huntington Park, CA). Two ladies and two men will be eliminated this week. Hopefully, these vocally adroit Latinos will make the cut….Over on the Runway, fashionistas Jesus Estrada, Maya Luz and Emilio Estrada have all been impressive. Julio Estrada was eliminated from the competition a few weeks
ago but that has not stopped the San Diego based designer from pursuing his dreams. He will be showing at LA Fashion Week in a few weeks. Luz and Emilio Estrada are both in the competition and both have impressed the judges each week with their designs. Additionally, Emilio was the winner of the first challenge this season. American Idol airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays (FOX, 8pm E/P). Project Runway can be seen Thursdays (Lifetime, 10pm (E/P).

LATINO CREWS…Much attention is paid when a Latino actor rises to the status of series regular of prominent guest star on primetime TV. But for every burgeoning America Ferrera, there are hundreds of talented, behind-the-scenes chicos and chicas laboring to put that primetime show on the small screen. Upcoming on the FX Channel is the crime series, Justified (premieres Tuesday, March 16, 10pm E/P), starring Timothy Olyphant as rural Kentucky U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens. Helping to put words in Givens’ mouth is staff writer Benjamin Daniel Lobato, whose credits include The Unit (CBS). A screenwriter/playwright, Lobato’s stage work, Soldier in the Eclipse, was a winner of the Fifth Annual Hispanic Playwriting Festival. Working as Technical Advisor on the series is Charlie Almanza, retired after 30 years U.S. Marshal Service, including Chief Deputy in Los Angeles. Serving as Key Grip is Mike Reyes. Justified was developed by Executive Producers Graham Yost, Elmore Leonard, Michael Dinner, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. 

LATIN HEAT welcomes breaking news, especially if you have landed a role on the little screen. Send submissions to and interview requests to

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Freddie Does Drama; Riva Does Crime & Rivera Does Vocals

TeleVISION By Julio Martinez

The second season has begun on broadcast TV and Latino life has begun to stir on the TV network that doesn’t claim to be a TV network. FOX Broadcasting Company has never been known for its “affirmative action” chops when it comes to putting Latinos to work. However, as the winter months move toward spring, there are some positive indications on FOX’s broadcast grid.

FREDDIE DOES DRAMA…Could it be that light romantic comedy perennial leading man Freddie Prinze Jr. is actually being groomed to step into the very dramatic shoes of aging Kiefer Sutherland? As a new series regular addition to FOX’s 24, Prinze portrays Davis Cole, a recently returned Marine who runs CTU Field Ops and has left no doubt that he wants to follow in Jack Bauer's footsteps. Whether that comes to pass, Prinze is kind of pleased to be playing a character who does more than just smile at the pretty girl.

“’Kind of pleased’ doesn’t really describe it,” Prinze affirms. “I don’t get offered this kind of a job, period. For most of my career, if I’m in it, I’m struggling to fall in love for 96 minutes, and I always get the girl.

“I received the sides for this part when I was in New York, and they were casting out of L.A. I went to the casting director’s office, and there were no other actors there. When they brought me in, I said, ‘Look, you’re not waiting for anyone else to get in here, so we’re doing this audition ’til I get it right.’ And she was nice enough to let me get a few cracks at it. I sent her a big box of cookies when I got the part. To get a chance to
do this is something, as an actor, that I’ve been hoping for since I was 21 years old. So, you can say I am very, very pleased.”

Executive produced by Sutherland and Howard Gordon, 24 began its 8th season on January 17. Negotiations are underway for Season 9. Who knows what the future might bring for Davis Cole and Prinze.

RIVA DOES CRIME…Scheduled to premiere on May 12, FOX’s police action-comedy series, Code 58 (working title), pairs Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Colin Hanks (LMad Men) as two oil-and-water Dallas police detectives who are forced to partner up. Making sure they stay firmly wedged under her thumb is Lieutenant Ana Ruiz, played with no-nonsense dispatch by Diana Maria Riva (Side Order of Life, Castle).

“I hope I get to be funny, too,” says Riva. “My character takes a lot of Alka-Seltzer because clearly, the characters played by Bradley and Colin are going to be a daily pain in her ass. So I think it’s going to be that constant trying to keep things under control, trying to get the job done. But in the process, I get to say some pretty damn funny stuff.”

Riva certainly gets to be funny on the big screen. She is featured in the upcoming romantic comedy, Our Family Wedding (due March 12), starring America Ferrera, Forrest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia.

Code 58 is executive produced by Matt Nix and Mikkel Bondesen. The series will have special previews on two nights, Wednesdays, May 12 and May 19, before making its series premiere on Monday, June 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).

RIVERA DOES VOCALS…When FOX offered a preview taste of their hyper musical teen series, Glee, in may 2009, Naya Rivera’s character, Santana, was little
more than the sneering underling to the school’s haughty head cheerleader portrayed by Diana Agron. “But in the first season episode of Glee that aired in September, the viewers got to see a little bit more of the cheerleaders and learn more about my character,” says Rivera, who is anticipating the show’s second season debut on April 13.

“On one level I can really relate to her,” Rivera affirms.” She is very competitive and so am I. But I don‘t think I could ever be as mean as she can be. But it sure is fun playing her.”

Rivera, who is half Puerto Rican, a quarter German, and a quarter African American, grew up in Valencia, a suburb of Los Angeles, made her television debut as a series regular in 1991 at age four on The Royal Family and has worked regularly since, also appearing in six episodes of the Bernie Mac Show (2005-06).

“The great thing about being in Glee is there is room to grow and evolve on this show. Who knows how Santana will turn out? She may even turn out to be nice. But the main thing that is great for me is I get to sing, dance and act in every episode. That is heaven.”

LATIN HEAT welcomes breaking news, especially if you have landed a role on the little screen. Send submissions to and interview requests to

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jon Seda in The Pacific; Wilmer Valderrama & Mireya Mayor in Mystery Gorillas

TeleVISION by Julio Martinez

The mid-season primetime television season is well underway, but it is not too early to spotlight some notable programs and performances coming up in the not-too-distant future. This season is not flavored with an abundance of Latinos, but there are some notable efforts coming up.

SEDA IS DANDY…Though the HBO 10-part mini series, The Pacific, isn’t premiering until mid-March, the television press is already talking about Puerto Rican American Jon Seda’s transcendent portrayal of real-life Italian American World War II hero, John Basilone. Sgt. Basilone’s exploits on Guadalcanal during the early days of the fighting in the Pacific were legendary, earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor, and immortality as the inspiration for the comic book hero, G.I. Joe. Seda infuses himself within the spirit and character of a truly humble average guy who heeds the call to duty as naturally as he breaths.

“I believe everyone in the cast felt a deep responsibility to make sure we got this right,” says Seda. “I think there was a certain point in time for all of us when we realized how important this was. This isn’t just another show, another film. We had the task to be the voices for so many men, the real heroes. And I think this was especially true for me. Basilone was raised in New Jersey, and I was raised in New Jersey. So I wouldn’t be able to show my face at home if we didn’t get this right. I think overall, we did get it right, not just for all the Marines out there who are going to
be seeing this, but also for the producers, directors and writers who were involved in making the series. They poured everything into getting this done. And we wanted to make sure we made them proud.”

The Pacific, a Playtone and DreamWorks production, is executive produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman. The series premieres Sunday, March 14 on HBO.

WILMER IS HANDY…Disney Channel’s Emmy-nominated preschool animated series, Handy Manny, starring the voice of Wilmer Valderrama, is going primetime with it’s 2nd special, Handy Manny Big Race, guest starring NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. and N'Sync's Lance Bass, airing Saturday, March 20 (7:00-7:25 p.m., ET/PT). In the special, Valderrama, Bass (who recurs on the series as surfer-dude Elliot) and the cast of Tools perform the new song "One Step at a Time." A music video for the song will premiere Saturday, March 6 on Disney Channel and online at

A Top 10 TV series with preschoolers age 2-5, the show is set in a multicultural, multi-generational community and follows a curriculum that models problem-solving. It is available in over 140 countries and in 23 languages. The first primetime special, Handy Manny Motorcycle Adventure, delivered the series' largest Total Viewer audience ever (Source: NTI, U.S. ratings, 10/4/09).

The show, which premiered in 2006, features the adventures of Manny Garcia, a bilingual Hispanic handyman, and his anthropomorphic, talking tools. “I am very proud to be associated with this series,” Valderrama affirms. “In addition to imparting life lessons about working together, communication and setting goals, the series also teaches viewers Spanish words and phrases and exposes them to various aspects of Latin Culture.” The series also features Carlos Alazraqui as Felipe. The series' cultural consultant is Marcela Davison Aviles, president and CEO of
Mexican Heritage Corporation. Language specialist Dr. Rose Marie Garcia Fontana is the series' language consultant. Rick Gitelson is executive producer and story editor of Handy Manny, which is a production of Nelvana Limited in association with Disney Channel. Handy Manny airs weekdays at 9:00 a.m., ET/PT and weekends at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

MAYOR GOES APE…Later this Spring, National Geographic is launching NatGeo Wild, a new cable network dedicated to bringing audiences extraordinary wildlife programming. A highlight is the premiere of Mystery Gorillas with Mireya Mayor, featuring the former NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins turned fearless and indomitable scientist, cozying up to one of nature’s most powerful primates. Long since putting down her pom poms, Dr. Mayor, a Ph.D. in anthropology, went on to become the first female wildlife correspondent for NGTV’s Ultimate Explorer series, and has spent more than ten years exploring some of the wildest and most remote places on earth, often armed with little more than a backpack, notebooks and hiking boots.

“In the promo footage to the series, it shows me being chased by a gorilla, and that was indeed frightening,” Mayor admits. “In all of the years of experience that I’ve had with gorillas, I’ve been charged by them dozens of times, and never once did I move out of its way or run like that. Generally, I act like a gorilla, and I react to them in a way a gorilla would, which is to get into a submissive posture and just let him know that, yes, I know you are boss. In this case — and this comes from years of experience out in the field — I knew that he wasn’t
just doing a bluff charge.”

Looking back on her upbringing, Mayor knows it is ironic that she lives a good deal of her life in the wildest most untamed areas of earth. “I grew up in a big city as the only daughter of Cuban immigrants,” she recalls. “I couldn’t join the Girl Scouts as a little girl because my family thought it was too dangerous.” Since then, our Latina scientist has slept in remote jungles teeming with poisonous snakes, gone diving with great white sharks, has not only been charged by gorillas but chased by elephants as well.

“It is a part of the job I willingly accept,” Mayor affirms. “What Geographic has enabled me to do is go to these places and team up with some of the best scientists out there, with these amazing film crews that are capturing these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, and then share this experience with a worldwide audience that wouldn’t have the chance ordinarily to get face-to-face with a Central African gorilla and see all of these amazing behaviors and discoveries for the first time. I have a great job.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

TeleVISION: The Good, The Bad & the Ugly

TeleVISION:  The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Debut of Weekly TeleVISION Column by Julio Martinez 

TeleVision, which has been a recurring feature in Latin Heat during the last six years, is now a regular weekly presence, highlighting the Latino presence on primetime television. The column will offer gadfly critiques for what's not working, as well as enthusiastic hurrahs for what is. The column will also highlight emerging talent and established stars as Latinos continue to forge a solid presence in the medium it so enthusiastically supports. 

THE GOOD: Nickelodeon has been a pioneer in launching Latino themed programming designed for the multi-ethnic television consumer, beginning with the landmark animated series Dora the Explorer (2000), followed by the SiTV-produced sitcom, The Brothers Garcia (2004). At the recent bi-annual gathering of the Television Critics Association, the cable network�s Executive Vice President of Development and Original Programming, Marjorie Cohn, announced mid-season launches for two new music-based series with high Latino involvement. 

"Today, I'm going to talk about two new series, Victorious and Big Time Rush, Cohn proclaimed. "Both series were developed as a result of our partnership with Sony Music." Victorious was created by the prolific Dan Schneider, our hit maker extraordinaire and one of the most successful producers in kid's TV history (iCarly, Zoey 101, Drake and Josh and The Amanda Show, etc.). 

Victorious (premiering March 27) stars 16 year old Victoria Justice who has literally grown up with at Nickelodeon. She first joined as part of the Zoey 101 cast. She was featured in last year's TV movie Spectacular! and has appeared in guest roles on Nick series, most notably the iCarly [the movie] iFight Shelby Marx, a special that drew almost 8 million viewers.

It is also significant that Justice is a Latina playing a Latina, aspiring singer/actress Tori Vega, a teenager who unexpectedly finds herself chosen to attend an elite performing arts school in Los Angeles. "I am half Puerto Rican and half English and Irish and French and a bunch of other stuff," Justice affirmed. "My character, Tori, is bilingual. "I am not as fluid she is but I'm getting there."

Nickelodeon's Cohn was equally enthusiastic about Big Time Rush (premieres January 30). "It comes from another successful producer that we've had a long relationship with, Scott Fellows," said Cohn. "It is a comedy about four hockey-playing best friends from Minnesota, who get discovered by a record producer during a national search."

They are given the opportunity of a lifetime when they move to L.A. to be part of the glamorous pop music scene. The series will feature original songs performed by the four series regulars under the guidance of Sony Music, with music by some of today's most successful songwriters and producers including Desmond Child, Matthew Gerrard, Charlie Midnight, Eman and Kevin Rudolf.

The boys in the band, who were actually chosen during an extensive nationwide search, include Kendall Schmidt, James Maslow, Logan Henderson and our Latino of record, Carlos Pena. "We've recorded 12 songs so far," said Pena. "It's kind of a rare experience that we get to do everything at once, you know, because sometimes you get to do just the recording side or just the acting side, but we get to do everything, which I know is just incredible."

Pena feels strongly attached to his Latino roots even though he was born in Columbia, Missouri. "Three years ago, I tried out for Making Menudo, which was an MTV project. They were trying to reinvent the band, Menudo. It was very interesting. I got down to the final seven, and I went out and did the whole song and dance thing. I wasn't cast but it really got me pumped up to do this show." 

THE BAD...Despite the Nickelodeon good news, the cable networks did not prove to be a welcoming outlet for Latinos. Of the twenty-one new programs introduced at the TCA, only the SyFi Channel's Caprica and the HBO 10-part mini series, The Pacific, featured a Latino in a series regular role. Esai Morales stars in Caprica (premiering January 29) and Jon Seda portrays real-life Italian-American World War II hero, U.S. Marine Sgt. Jon Basilone in The Pacific (premiering mid-March (TBA). 

THE UGLY...The news is out. The landmark ABC hit comedy, Ugly Betty, is not being renewed after it airs its fourth season closer in April. No formal announcement has been made by ABC execs but the deal is done. The series had dropped in ratings this season but it certainly didn't help that ABC kept moving the telenovela remake, starring America Ferrera, Tony Plana, Ana Ortiz and Mark Indelicato all over the TV grid. It's too bad that Exec Producer Salma Hayek wasn't available for more guest appearances. That certainly would have helped. 

Latin Heat welcomes breaking news, especially if you have landed a role on the little screen. Tele Vision begins its "New Faces" spotlight, beginning next week. Good fortune to us all.

To submit for consideration send to:

Esai Morales Stars in Syfy's Caprica; Garces on mun2's Look

NBC Delivers on Latino Commitment in Network Programming

 Pasadena, CA -- During the NBC Universal portion of the semi annual meeting of the Television Critics Association (TCA) tour, held at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, the network unveiled two series that give some evidence of the commitment to Latino performers and programming it trumpeted way back in 2002 when it acquired the Spanish language Telemundo Group.

SyFy Channel

Premiering Friday, January 22 on the network’s Syfy cable outlet is Caprica, starring Esai Morales (Jericho, NYPD Blue, and Resurrection Blvd.). The series is a futuristic prequel to the iconic Battlestar Galactica series, which had starred Edward James Olmos.

Morales chuckles when asked to describe Caprica, which begins 58 years before the events seen in Battlestar Galactica, telling the story of how humanity first created the robotic Cyclons, which would eventually plot to destroy human civilization in retaliation for their enslavement. “The series deals with so many realities moving in and out of each other, it is hard to explain it verbally,” says Morales.” I play one of the central figures, Joseph Adama. My character is the father of William Adama who will eventually grow up to become the Battlestar Galactica commander who was portrayed by Eddie Olmos.

Morales joins a series regular ensemble that includes Eric Stoltz, Magda Apanowicz, Paula Malcomson, Sasha Roiz, Alessandra Torresani and Polly Walker. Executive Producers are David Eick, Jane Espenson and Ronald D. Moore/. “This is a series I believe will resonate with viewers,” Morales affirms. “The characters dress and live lives like we do today. It is very exciting to see how humankind evolves into the futuristic terror that became the focus of Battlestar Galactica.

mun2 Network

On the reality front, NBC introduced mun2
(moon-dos), a cable bilingual network, aimed at bicultural Latinos, ages 18-34. On hand to introduce its contemporary programming was Flavio Morales, Senior Vice President of Programming and Production for mun2, and the team of actress/TV host Paula Garces and celebrity stylist Jorge Ramon, offering a sampling of their upcoming fashion and style series, The mun2 Look, debuting Saturday, January 23 (3pm ET/PT).

Garces, who has guest-starred on such series as CSI Miami and The Shield, is co-creator and Executive Producer of The mun2 Look, declaring the show to be a multi-platform half-hour series that spotlights the raw, edgy trends inspired by the unique U.S. Latino lifestyle that is both influenced by and influencing today’s high fashion runways.

“I celebrate the bicultural, bilingual, uniquely American audience that is absorbing all of these trends and taking them from the fashion runway to the streets,” says Garces, “Both mun2 and I understand that the Latino market is the fastest-growing market in the U.S. They are the trendsetters in pop culture, music, television, and film, and they are my best friends. They basically mirror who I am, and I mirror them.”

Garces admitted the hub of the show will be centered in New York, the fashion capital of the world; but with documentary segments from all over the country, spotlighting the Latino experience from East L.A. to Washington Heights and everything in between. “I live in New York. I’m Colombian. My husband’s Puerto Rican. So I’m very much in touch with my Caribbean side and I love the Mexican culture as well. We are united by language and the need to make our mark in this country. We need to recognize and celebrate the power and influence we have.” Upcoming profiled guests include Wilmer Valderrama, Jenni Rivera, Dania Ramirez, 50 Cent, Pitbull, Wisin y Yandel and more.

As the only nationally measured bilingual cable network by Nielsen NTI, mun2 has a distribution to over 33 million households, and is part of the Telemundo Communications Group, a division of NBC universal. Its Internet component is

David Valdes on Denzel and The Book of Eli

David Valdes, one of the producers of the post-apocalyptic adventure/drama The Book of Eli, recently sat down with Latin Heat publisher Bel Hernandez to talk about the movie, working with Denzel Washington in front and behind the camera, and his upcoming projects.

Valdes has been a producer for more than thirty years, working with industry leaders like Clint Eastwood on the Oscar winning films Unforgiven and Bird; Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson and Jim Carrey on The Dead Pool; Tom Hanks on The Green Mile, and most recently with Brad Pitt and Vin Diesel on well-respected films like The Assassination of Jessie James and Babylon A.D. For Eli, he worked with Alcon Entertainment, founded by Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove and backed by FedEx’s founder, Fred Smith. Alcon itself has had a remarkable few years, including great success with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants franchise and the current box office hit The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock.

Shooting on The Book of Eli took place primarily in the New Mexico desert in and around Albuquerque during early 2009. “We didn’t go there soley for the incentive,” he said. “Of course, we loved the rebate but the primary reason for New Mexico was, it was the perfect location to shoot the film. We needed isolated terrain that would help convey the sense of a post-apocalytic future. And besides, I like New Mexico. I’ve shot two other projects there in the past and have always found the crews and talent exceptional.” He has spent most of the last year on this project.

Q: I’ve been hearing that Eli has the feel of a Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood western. Is that true?

Well, the Hughes Brothers didn’t want the film to be perceived that way, but it definitely does have that feel. It’s what initially attracted me to the project because I’ve always loved the western genre. I saw a lot of the classic western elements; the iconic hero, the villainous bullies (led by Gary Oldman) -- the classic struggle of good vs evil. The best westerns have all those ingredients and more. The production design, wardrobe, locations, set dressing, the big, wide-open photography were all reminiscent of the old westerns. Even the way the Brothers shot it with all those Sergio Leoni close-ups of the eyes.

I’ve done futuristic movies before – Time Machine, Babylon A.D. – and westerns as well, like Unforgiven and Pale Rider. This was a chance to mix the two genres. The bar was raised high, but everyone did a great job. I’m very proud of it.

Q: What was it like working with two directors at once?

Well, I’ve never worked with two directors on one movie before – especially not two brothers – but it’s not all that unusual nowadays. You have the Coen brothers of course, the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix movies), the Farrelly Brothers (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber) and others. Still, I had to interact with twins who have spent their entire lives working together. But I learned that each brother compliments the other so it was a very rewarding experience. And in many ways, easier than working with just one director.

Albert is all about the technical aspect — the locations, the lenses, the cinematographer, the pre-visuaization of the movie with storyboarding and conceptual art – while Allen works primarily with the talent and the screenplay. They are each very respectful of the other’s domain and together make a phenomenal team.

Q: Beyond the partnership, how were they to work with?

I have never, ever worked with a director who has had his vision memorialized before the commencement of principal photography. Directors usually say they’re going to storyboard or shot-list certain sequences but by the time you get into production, you’re scrambling. What you usually get are a few scenes that are storyboarded and that’s it. But in this case, every department head got the entire movie storyboarded last Christmas - months before shooting began - so everyone knew exactly what the film should look and feel like. There was no question about what the vision of the movie was. The combination of models, pre-visualization, conceptual art and storyboarding clearly articulated the style. These directors were very, very together.

Q: The storyboards helped?

Oh, yes. Storyboards always help but in this case they were exceptional. We had three conceptual artists who provided key art for the big set pieces and then, every single scene in the movie was storyboarded before shooting started. All directors say they will have parts of their movies storyboarded or shot lists completed, but usually this isn’t the case. Normally there will be storyboards for the complicated action sequences but in fact, on Eli, we even had storyboards for the talking scenes! It was very, very unique. In fact, I don’t believe any director has done this before – well, with the exception of Spielberg on the first Indiana Jones movie. We may not have always kept rigidly to the storyboarding but at least there was a blueprint and that was impressive. It was very exciting for me as a producer; these movies are getting so big that it’s nice to share the complete vision of the directors so early in the process.

Q: How was working with Denzel Washington? He was the star and a producer on Eli, wasn’t he?

He was a great partner, the consummate professional. I have nothing but wonderful and positive things to say. I’ve been extremely lucky and had the pleasure of working with a certain kind of movie star that is also very professional. Actors such as Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood. And Denzel is right up there with them. When you give Denzel a 7 a.m. call, he gets to the set at 6 a.m. and works out; then goes to make-up and wardrobe. What he also brings to the table -- besides being a great actor -- are real producing skills. He earns a producing credit not just as a contractual obligation but because he actually functions as a producer. He gets involved with the casting, set design, budget, editing, etc. He showed up in the cutting room not just once or twice but whenever needed in post. He’s a great partner, and in this day and age, when you work with young talent, you don’t see those qualities a lot.

Denzel also did all of his own stunts. Not since working with Clint Eastwood have I known anyone to do this. Especially when there were so many complicated fights that had to be carefully choreographed because of their difficulty. For instance, we had quite a few sword-fighting scenes, and Denzel trained for four months before shooting those scenes. He never once used a stunt double for any sequence!

As I said, I look forward to working with him again.

Q: Tell us about Alcon Entertainment.

Alcon Entertainment is a mini-major that has enjoyed enormous success. They produce quality movies in the $15-$35 million range so they’ve been flying below the radar until recently. Although they’ve done exceptionally well with films like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, P.S. I Love You and The Blind Side, they’ve never financed a picture of this size and scope before. The budget was north of $75 million.

They are a very unique outfit. Not only do they finance the negative, they also finance the prints and advertising, publicity and promotion. All of the marketing is being done by Alcon. Warner Bros. gets a distribution fee and that’s it. And I can tell you that I’ve never seen a better advertising campaign on any movie I’ve ever produced. These people have a different philosophy than the major studios; they have a hands-on managerial style in producing their movies and that’s why they’ve been so successful. Something like thirteen of their fifteen films have made money. And they just did The Blind Side. They made it for less than $40 million and it will go on to make $230 million domestically. Nowadays, that’s almost unheard of in this business.

Q: What are you up to now?

Well, if you had asked me that four weeks ago, I would have told you that I was working on a big DreamWorks movie. It looked good. We had made the presentation with the director, we had the talent and then...they decided not to make it.

But a producer always has a handful of other projects he wants to produce. I’m meeting with Bobby Duvall again next week and hopefully we’re finally going to make that movie that we’ve been working on together for nearly twenty years! There might even be financing -- maybe not as much as we wanted, but financing nevertheless. And I also have a project with Castle Rock that’s heating up.

Q: Can you give me the names of a few?

No, I really don’t want to do that. It just becomes another Variety article where you talk about a project and nothing comes of it. I’d rather speak to you after the project is in the can -- like this one. However, I can tell you that I’ve been focused for almost three years now trying to raise a film fund. So far, I haven’t raised a dime. But -- knock on wood -- the film fund is now looking very promising. And believe it or not, I even have some Latinos coming to the financial rescue; one from Argentina and one from the Philippines. Come July we will have a film fund. Or not.

The only way I can produce my own films is if I find my own financing. And I really want to find funds for this slate of films. I want to make a certain type of inspirational, positive and family values film. It’s nice to be able to produce a film like The Book of Eli but I want to do my own films in the $10 to $25 million range, more family-oriented. Like the Alcon Entertainment model.

Q: Any last words on The Book of Eli?

Films speak for themselves; the rest is just hype. The proof is in the pudding.

New HBO Comedy Series "How to Make it In America Stars Victor Rasuk & Luis Guzman

HBO is getting real.  In addition to doing shows that include the Hollywood elite, the polygamists or the Jewish agnst, in their varied series, they are now turning their lens on the American Dream as evidenced in their new series How To Make it In America. The cast is a multicultural mix with New York as the background. The two young leads Victor Rasuk (Lords of Dogtown, Raising Victor Vargas), and Bryan Greenberg (Prime, HBO's Unscripted), are joined by Luis Guzman (Anger Management, HBO's OZ), Lake Bell (Boston Legal, What Happens in Vegas) and hit recording artist Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi (Day and Night, Poke Her Face. How To Make it In America kicks off its eight-episode season Sunday, February 14th (10:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), followed by other half-hour episodes debuting on subsequent Sundays at the same time. 

The exclusive HBO comedy series is executive produced by Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Stephen Levinson, Emmy nominee Rob Weiss, series creator Ian Edelman, Emmy-nominated director Julian Farino, Jada Miranda and Mark Wahlberg. 

The show follows two enterprising Brooklyn twentysomethings as they hustle their way through New York City, determined to achieve the American Dream. Trying to make a name for themselves in New York's competitive fashion scene, Ben Epstein (Greenberg) and his friend and business partner Cam Calderon (Rasuk) use their street knowledge and connections to bring their ambitions to fruition. With the help of Cam's cousin Rene (Guzman), who is trying to market his own high-energy drink, and their well-connected friend Domingo ("Kid Cudi"geoning entrepreneurs set out to make it big, encountering obstacles along the way that will require all their ingenuity to overcome. 

How To Make it In America also stars Lake Bell as Ben's ex-girlfriend Rachel, who is concentrating on her own career and a new relationship; Martha Plimpton (Beautiful Girls, 200 Cigarettes) as Rachel's boss Edie, an eccentric interior designer; Shannyn Sossamon (40 Days and 40 Nights, The Holiday) as Gingy, Ben and Cam's artsy friend; and Eddie Kaye Thomas (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, American Pie) as David Kaplan, a successful hedge fund manager and high school friend of Ben's. 

Upcoming episodes:
Episode #1: Pilot
Debut: Sunday, February 14, (10:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT)
Plot: When his skateboard-deck business venture hits the wall, twentysomething graphic designer Ben (Bryan Greenberg) agrees to fund a "sure thing" leather-jacket hustle proposed by good-times best friend Cam (Victor Rasuk). Written by Ian Edelman; directed by Julian Farino. 

Episode #2: Crisp

Debut: Sunday February 21, (10:00-10:30 p.m.)
Plot: Using $3G they got via yet another high-interest loan from Rene, Ben and Cam buy up a roll of hot premium-denim material, then hit a series of dead ends in their search to find a manufacturer to make samples of their Crisp brand of retro-70s jeans. Along the way, they parlay a crashed late-night dinner with top fashion designer John Varvatos into a brainstorming meeting that may, or may not, hold the key to their entrepreneurial success. Meanwhile, both Ben and Rachel realize that they haven't totally moved on, and vow to try harder in the future. Written by Rob Weiss; directed by Julian Farino. 

Episode #3: Paper, Denim + Dollars
Debut: Sunday, Febraury 28, (10:00-10:30 p.m.)
Plot: While Ben and Cam track down a tailor to re-imagine some 70s-era jeans, Rachel, who works at an interior-design boutique for her eccentric boss Edie (Martha Plimpton), rethinks her future after reconnecting with a friend in the Peace Corps. Eager to get a bigger marketing commitment for his fledgling Rasta Monsta drink, Rene makes a buyout offer his marketing partners better not refuse. After Cam peddles some of Ben's skateboard decks to upper-crust Manhattan kids, they round up enough money to pay the tailor, deliver the denim and launch Crisp NYC.Written by Ian Edelman; directed by Julian Farino. 

How To Make it in America is produced by HBO Entertainment; executive producers, Stephen Levinson, Rob Weiss, Ian Edelman, Julian Farino, Jada Miranda and Mark Wahlberg; producer, Jane Raab.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Avon Calling On Zoe Saldana's Star Power

New York, NY (January 12, 2010)  -- Avon Products, Inc. today announced it has signed actress Zoe Saldana to be the exclusive spokeswoman for the brand's new fragrance, Eternal Magic, debuting April 2010. Beautiful, intelligent and talented, the actress whose popularity is off the charts coming off a fantastic year where she starred in two of 2009 top hits Star Trek and James Cameron's Avatar which has already made over $1 billion dollars worldwide. Its no wonder Avon feels Saldana is the perfect fit for their Eternal Magic fragrance. In addition to supporting Eternal Magic, Saldana will also be featured in the company's brochure as a face of Avon's color cosmetics category in the coming months.

"I'm very proud to be working with Avon and to be the face of Eternal Magic," says Saldana. "It means so much to me to be associated with a company that shares my values and believes in empowering women."

Geralyn Breig, Senior Vice President and President of Avon North America returned the compliment in kind, "Every woman wants to be unforgettable and Zoe perfectly embodies that feeling. She's a rising star in Hollywood -- and has built a strong reputation for playing empowering characters that leave a lasting impression."

Rising star? Zaldana has been a "star" since she made her feature debut as Eva Rodriguez in Center Stage (2000). However being a billion dollar grossing film is sure to make everyone, worldwide, a believer as to her talent and viability.

Saldana joins Avon's other celebirty partners which include Reese Witherspoon, Salma Hayek, Courteney Cox, Fergie, Patrick Dempsey, and Derek Jeter.

Salada has completed woking on four upcoming features: Burning Palms which also stars Paz Vega and Oscar nominated actresses Adriana Barraza; the
action adventure, The Losers; the crime adventure Takers, which also stars Jay Hernandez; and the comedy which also stars Chris Rock and Luke Wilson Death at a Funeral. And, Saldana returns to space it seems. She is slated to star in the next Untitled Star Trek Sequel, again for the winning Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci and JJ Abrams team.

Good move Avon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

HBO Secures U.S. TV Rights to Colombian Drug Lord Pablo Escobar Documentary

Premiering in the Fall of 2010

New York, – HBO has picked up the U.S. TV rights for the thought-provoking documentary Sins of My Father, directed and produced by Argentina- and New York-based filmmaker Nicolas Entel. The film, which had its world premiere at the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival, opened in 25 theaters in Colombia, the largest number of theaters for a documentary film opening in the country’s history. An official selection in the World Documentary Competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival,Sins of My Father will debut on HBO in fall 2010.

The feature documentary tells the fascinating inside story of Pablo Escobar, the most notorious drug lord in Colombian history, through the eyes of Sebastian Marroquin, his only son, who changed his name and fled Colombia after his father’s death. For the first time in more than a decade, Marroquin and his mother, Maria Victoria, break their silence in deeply personal interviews, while never before seen pictures and home movies from the Escobar archive paint an intimate portrait of their family life. Sins of My Father also provides an up-close view of Marroquin’s efforts at reconciliation with the men whose prominent political fathers were killed by Escobar 20 years ago.

Sins of My Father is produced and directed by Nicolas Entel and produced by Ivan Entel through Red Creek Productions. The co-producer is Arie Kowler. The executive producers are Alan Hayling, Hans Robert Eisenhauer, Tabitha Jackson, Carolina Angarita, Julian Giraldo, Michaela Giorelli and Angela Sondon. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Golden Globe Nominations Announced; Penelope Cruz Sole Latino Nominee

With Only Almodovar's Broken Embraces and Chile's La Nana Making a showing

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced nominations for the 2009 Golden Globe awards, covering both motion pictures and television. There were many familiar names and relatively few surprises for media watchers; this year in particular, American Latino performers and behind-the-camera professionals were woefully underrepresented.

Among the nominations for Best Feature, Drama, only one — Avatar — features Latino actors (Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez). The same applies to Best Feature, Comedy, where Nine’s Penelope Cruz stands out as the only Latino actress in a prominent role in any of the five nominated films.

None of the nominated actors or actresses in the Drama or Comedy categories are Latino, and Penelope Cruz stands out as the only Latina nominated in any of the supporting role categories for Nine.

Two of the five nominees in the Foreign Film category come from Spanish-speaking countries — Pedro Almodavar’s Broken Embraces and Sebastian Silva’s The Maid from Chile.

Latino actors are major components in many of the ensemble shows nominated in the Golden Glove television categories. One of the five dramatic series feature American Latinos: Dexter, with Lauren Velez and David Zayaz, Modern Family with Sofia Vergara and Rico Rodriguez, The Office with Oscar Nunez, and Glee with Naya Rivera in a growing supporting role. None of these performers or any other Latinos appear in the ranks of nominees for television performance, either as leads or in support, and the network programs with prominent Latino actors or Latino culture – i.e., Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives — were overlooked entirely. Meanwhile, a number of up-and-coming or well-recognized Latino performers, notably previous Golden Globe nominee Eva Longoria Parker and Sofia Vergara, whose work on the nominated Modern Family has generated much interest, did not appear on the list.
The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards will be announced in a televised ceremony on Sunday, January 17.

Kenny Ortega to Direct Movie Version of In the Heights

Director of High School Musical and Michael Jackson's This Is It Turns His Talent to American Latinos

Kenny Ortega, who directed the megahit TV movie High School Musical and its sequels as well at Michael Jackson’s This is It, which has already generated more than $250 million worldwide, is turning his attention to American Latinos with his next project: the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, In the Heights.

In the Heights, written, composed, and starring Lin-Manual Miranda, is set in the New York City Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights. A wide range of musical styles, from salsa and meringue to hip-hop and soul, are featured in the play, which was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and took home the Best Musical award in 2008.

Latino commitment continues in front and behind the camera. Miranda is set to reprise his role as the bodega owner in the film version, and is serving as co-producer with Quiara Algria Hudes, who is also writing the screen adaptation.

The film is a Universal Pictures project; the film is currently scheduled for a late 2010 release.