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.