Exile Content & Lawrence Bender to Develop Paulina Villegas & Azam Ahmed’s ‘New York Times’ Article About Deadly Mexican Assassin into Project

Paulina Villegas’ written words will be coming to life soon…

Exile Content has partnered with producer Lawrence Bender to acquire the rights to the Latina reporter and Azam Ahmed’s New York Times article, “He Was One of Mexico’s Deadliest Assassins. Then He Turned on His Cartel.”

Paulina Villegas x Azam Ahmed’s New York Times Article

Exile and Bender are currently developing the story into a film or series with Ahmed and Caitlin Roper as producers.

Ahmed and Villegas’ article was published in December 2019. It tells the story of a man who became one of the deadliest assassins in Mexico, who eventually taken into custody via a makeshift witness protection program. He eventually fell back into the deadly trade. “This will never end, no matter what I do,” he said in the  story. “But I just won’t be a part of it anymore.”

This isn’t the first story from Ahmed to be acquired for development.

In December, Blumhouse acquired the rights to Ahmed’s New York Times article “She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One” which chronicles the story of Miriam Rodríguez, a Mexican mother who tracked down the kidnappers who abducted and murdered her daughter.

Blumhouse Wins Screen Rights to New York Times’ Story About Late Mexican Human Rights Activist Miriam Rodriguez

The late Miriam Rodriguez’s story is headed to the big screen…

Blumhouse has won the screen rights to a December 13 New York Times story which chronicled the late Mexican human rights activist and desperate mother’s revenge spree in Mexico, when she avenged her daughter’s murder by taking on the drug cartels and tracking down the perpetrators by herself.

Miriam Rodriguez

She saw 10 of them apprehended by police before she was shot and killed in front of her home on Mother’s Day, 2017.

NYT will produce with Blumhouse, and Caitlin Roper, NYT’s executive producer for scripted projects, is producing alongside the article’s writer, Azam Ahmed, and Jason Blum.

Anonymous Content represented the article in the sale process.

The story, titled She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One, ignited a heated bidding immediately after it was published December 15.

Ahmed is NYT bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. His article tells the story of the 56-year-old Rodriguez, whose whole world came crashing down on her when she lost her daughter, despite paying multiple ransom demands after the 20-year-old was kidnapped in 2014.

Getting no help from law enforcement, Rodriguez took things into her own hands. Using disguises and different identities, she went after the alleged kidnappers. She even used a gun to hold the culprits until she could get them handcuffed and arrested. Her story is juxtaposed with the plight of another family desperate for a happier outcome after their son is kidnapped.

Ahmed reported a series on the homicide crisis in Latin America, the deadliest region in the world, outlining the root causes of the violence. Each piece delved into a specific issue in a specific country, using intimate portraits of those living on the front lines of the crisis: the inescapable cycles of violence in Honduras, the scourge of femicide in Guatemala, the pervasiveness of illegally smuggled U.S. guns in Jamaica, the making of a cartel assassin in Mexico and the violence of the state in Brazil.

Last month, Azam won the Michael Kelly Award for his courageous and moving work for this series.

Azam’s reporting for this series has also been recognized this year with a Polk award, an Overseas Press Club award and the James Foley Medill Medal, which recognizes courage in pursuit of a story. Ahmed’s investigative work on corruption and the illegal use of spyware, Pegasus, helped launch federal investigations in México and led to major arrests and reform and the project was submitted by The Times for a Pulitzer Prize. Azam was previously the NYT bureau chief in Afghanistan, where he worked for nearly three years covering the war.

“The Craft: Legacy” Star Zoey Luna to Take Part in Blumhouse’s Virtual “BlumFest”

Life is Blum a dream for Zoey Luna

The 19-year-old Latina transgender actress will be taking part in Blumhouse’s first-ever BlumFest, a virtual event featuring panels of talent from the studio’s upcoming movies, both big screen and PVOD, and more.

Zoey Luna

The virtual event will take place Thursday, October 29 at 10:00 am PT on Blumhouse’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

“This year has sidelined a lot for all of us, but Halloween is a treasured season at Blumhouse, so we conceived BlumFest to celebrate with our fans via a virtual event that will feature exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage on an upcoming release or two,” said Jason Blum, Blumhouse’s CEO and founder.

Panels featured include:

Welcome to the Blumhouse – Join Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios and Blum for a lively convo about the collaboration between Amazon and Blumhouse on the recently launched movies The Lie, Nocturne, Evil Eye and Black Box. Mamoudou Athie from the film Black Box will join the duo along with surprise guests. The four films are currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

The Craft: Legacy – Writer-director Zoe Lister Jones and the film’s stars Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone and Luna will chat about the cult hit reboot. The movie will debut Wednesday on PVOD and electronic sell-through domestic, with a big-screen release abroad.

Freaky – Writer-director Chris Landon, stars Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton, and Blum will chat about the body-swap horror comedy which hits theaters November 13 and select offshore markets via Universal.

Halloween Kills – Filmmaker David Gordon Green and the horror franchise’s scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, producer Malek Akkad from Trancas Films and Miramax producer Bill Block and Blum will converse about the October 2021 release.

The Good Lord BirdEthan Hawke, EP, writer and star of the Showtime series and Blum, who’ve worked together over several projects, will discuss their most recent collaboration.

Ricardo de Montreuil to Co-Write & Direct the Social Thriller “Daniel”

Ricardo de Montreuil is ready to thrill…

The 46-year-old Peruvian filmmaker has signed on to direct and co-write the social thriller Daniel with first-time feature writer Owen Renfroe.

Ricardo de Montreuil

The story follows, Daniel, an unlicensed Latinx doctor who works for a dying billionaire on his private, remote estate. When he suddenly uncovers a sinister secret about his boss’s foster daughter, he must fight for the life he worked so hard to build. The film is the first social thriller to tackle head-on the plight of Latinx professionals and the struggles they endure in dealing with systemic discrimination.

Daniel explores the very real struggles that minorities and disenfranchised groups have to endure in America, at a historic time when these pressures are finally getting broadly exposed,” said de Montreuil.

Montreuil broke onto the scene when he was tapped by Blumhouse to direct the coming-of-age drama Lowriders in 2016. The film stars Demian Bichir, Eva Longoria and Gabriel Chavarria and earned strong reviews with Montreuil landing a number of jobs following its release.

He’s currently attached to direct several episodes of the new George Lopez and STXtv series Once Upon A Time In Aztlan.

STXtv Developing Chicano-Themed Series “Once Upon a Time in Aztlan” to Star George Lopez

George Lopez has a little Timeon his hands for an ode to California’s Chicano culture…

STXtv is developing Once Upon a Time in Aztlan, a new television series anchored by the 59-year-old Mexican American actor/stand up comedian.

George Lopez

The project includes the participation of  famed photographer Estevan Oriol and iconic Los Angeles-based artist Mister Cartoon aka Mark Machado.

Michael Connolly, under his Mad Hatter Entertainment banner, brought the elements together. 

Lopez is in final talks to star and executive produce the project through his Travieso Productions, with Javier Rodriguez writing the pilot. Oriol and Cartoon will executive-produce.

“I’m thrilled to be teaming up with Cartoon, Estevan, Jada and Michael for this series and developing a show with STXtv,” Lopez said. “Cartoon and Estevan are the DaVincis of our community; they have been the street chroniclers of our uniquely Chicano story … our American story. I’m looking forward to working with them and the rest of the team to expand their canvas to capture the diverse stories and people that make our culture and community so amazing, colorful and vibrant.”

This authentic L.A.-based series examines a family coming to terms with the falsehoods of the American Dream and their ability to defy expectations.

“I want to create a vision of Los Angeles inspired by my tattoos and murals that enriches and showcases the culture, opening it up to new audiences,” Cartoon said. “Putting together the dream team of Latino street culture and a collection of creative minds headed up by George Lopez, who is born and raised in L.A. and is an icon of our community. George’s experience and sense of humor acts as a foundation for this team.”

The pilot will be directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, who helmed Eva Longoria and Demián Bichir in the Blumhouse/Imagine East L.A.-set drama, Lowriders.During that production, he worked closely with Oriol and Cartoon, who were also involved in the production. 

Oriol and Cartoon’s longtime collaborators Mark Suroff and Marco Valadez, who produced LA Originals, also will serve as executive producers with Connolly.

“I’m looking forward to developing this with Cartoon, George, Jada and Michael,” said Oriol. “STXtv truly gets what it takes to develop a real show that can only be made in LA. This is the dream team. Period. It doesn’t get more authentic than this and I’m proud and privileged to be invited on this ride.”

Lopez recently released his first Netflix comedy special

He previously starred in Lopez for TV Land and Saint George for FX. And he had a talk show that ran from 2009-11. While his hit comedy George Lopez, whichended in 2007, ran on ABC, STXtv will zero in on buyers in the cable and streaming markets.

Cartoon is L.A.’s legendary tattoo artist, designer and cultural icon whose stylish and influential global work has been featured on countless celebrities including Kobe BryantEminemDr. Dre50 CentBeyoncéLewis HamiltonSnoop Dogg and many others. Cartoon also designed the logos for Cypress Hill and Eminem’s Shady Records, and his résumé includes cutting-edge designs for Nike, the LA Clippers and T-Mobile and others.

Oriol is an internationally celebrated photographer, director and urban lifestyle entrepreneur. Beginning as a tour manager for Cypress Hill and House of Pain, he developed a passion for photography as he documented life on the road to become hip-hop’s best-known chronicler; his work has been showcased in bestselling books, select galleries, and institutions, including the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives,Mesa Contemporary Art CenterPetersen Automotive Museum, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ and New York’s Art in the Streets exhibit. He has photographed Eminem, Kim Kardashian, Cypress Hill, Dennis HopperBlink-182Forest Whitaker, Robert De NiroAl PacinoKendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, and Danny Trejo, among many others. He most recently executive produced the film Lowridersand directed the hit Netflix documentary L.A. Originals.

L.A. Originalswas critically acclaimed and extremely successful, introducing new fans to the world to Oriol and Cartoon.

Tyler Posey to Star in “Brut Force”

The forceis with Tyler Posey

The 28-year-old half-Mexican American actor and former Teen Wolf star will star opposite Lelia Symington in Brut Force, the first feature from writer-director Eve Symington.

Tyler Posey

Scheduld to go before cameras this fall in California, the film follows Sloane (Symington), a reporter who returns to her rural California hometown to investigate harassment of local vineyard workers, uncorking a tangled web of crime, corruption and murder behind wine country’s shiny façade.

Posey, who recently appeared in the Blumhouse thriller Truth or Dare, will play her love interest and “homme fatale.” 

Vico Escorcia will also co-star as the missing girl and catalyst to the neo-noir tale.

The production has used the multi-union white paper “The Safe Way Forward” to create a risk assessment and production prevention plan, which will continue to be a collaborative work-in-progress, keeping the safety of the cast and crew at the forefront of the production and with the necessary union approvals.Posey will next be seen starring opposite Donald Sutherland in the thriller Alone.

Issa Lopez to Write & Direct Blumhouse’s “Our Lady of Tears,” Based on Epic article “The Haunting of Girlstown”

There are tears in Issa López’s future…

The 48-year-old Mexican writer and director will adapt and direct Our Lady of Tears for Blumhouse based on the Daniel Hernandez’s Epic magazine article “The Haunting of Girlstown,” which was published on Vox.

Issa López

The article focuses on a mass hysteria epidemic with supernatural roots, that in 2007 spread through Villa de las Niñas, an all girls, Catholic boarding school in the outskirts of Mexico City. The school recruited and isolated socially neglected girls coming from families living in extreme poverty and in remote areas of Mexico.

The project is in the same supernatural spirit of López’s previous feature, Tigers Are Not Afraidwhich followed children fighting for survival in a harsh real-life environment.

“The moment I read the Epic article, I knew I wanted to tell this story. I myself attended a Catholic school in Mexico City. I grew up on a steady diet of supernatural visitations and miracles, and of the real life horrors that young girls who grow up in poverty face every day in Mexico, and around the world. Having the chance to tell that story with Jason [Blum] and his team, producers of such socially incisive genre classics like Get Out, and of so many true horror gems, is a huge privilege. I couldn’t be more excited about this movie,” said López in a statement.

“The Blumhouse team was enthralled by the original article and Daniel’s deep reporting around such a terrifying and heartbreaking story. Ever since I first watched Tiger’s Are Not Afraid, I have wanted to find a project to collaborate on with Issa and I knew this was a perfect fit. I can’t wait for audiences to see her take on this material,” said Blumhouse co-founder and CEO,Jason Blum.

“Epic spent years tracking down former students, government officials and teachers to try to understand what happened at Girlstown. We learned that isolation can protect us from physical threats but our internal demons follow us wherever we go,” said Joshua Davis, co-founder, Epic.

Our Lady of Tears will be produced by Blumhouse in association with Epic Media.

Tenoch Huerta to Star in Amazon Studio’s Untitled Cortes/Moctezuma Series

Tenoch Huerta is exploringa whole new role…

The 39-year-old Mexican actor will star alongside Javier Bardem in the untitled Cortés and Moctezuma project from Amazon Studios and Amblin Television.

Tenoch Huerta

Yoshira Escárrega has also been cast in the project. 

The limited series will be a four-hour epic drama that maps the inexorable march and eventual clash between Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortésand Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, leading to the annihilation of an empire and tragic downfall of a civilization that took centuries to build, but less than two years to destroy.

Oscarwinner Bardem was announced in the role of Cortés last year and will also serve as an executive producer on the project.

Huerta will play Moctezuma, the Emperor of the Aztecs. Escárrega will play Marina, strategic partner, translator and consort to Hernán Cortés.

From Amazon Studios and Amblin Television, the limited series is created for television and written by Academy Award-winner Steven Zaillian and based on the screenplay by Dalton Trumbo. The series is directed by Ciro Guerraand Cristina Gallego

Bardem will executive produce alongside Zaillian, Gael García BernalDiego Luna and more.

Huerta recently wrapped filming a starring role in the Blumhousefeature film, Borderline, the latest installment in the Purge franchise. He’s known for his role as the infamous Rafael Caro Quintero in Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico, opposite Diego Luna and Michael Pena. He also appeared in a key role in the Paul Weitz-directed Bel Canto, which starred Julianne Mooreand Ken Watanabe

Escárrega is a film and theater actress born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa and a graduate of Escuela Nacional de Arte Teatral. Her latest work in television includes notable roles in Aquí en la Tierra directed by Gael García Bernal for Fox Premium Latinoaméricaand Dani Who for Paramount Channel Latinoamérica. She recently worked in films with acclaimed directors Alonso Ruiz Palaciosand Ximena Montemayor

Michael Peña to Star in the Film Adaptation of the Classic Television Series “Fantasy Island”

It’s a sweet, sweet fantasy project for Michael Peña

The 42-year-old Mexican American actor has been tapped to portray the iconic Mr. Roarke in the Sony Pictures and Blumhouse-produced Fantasy Island film adaptation from director Jeff Wadlow.

Michael Peña

Peña will take on a role that was originated by Ricardo Montalban when the television series, from Aaron Spelling, launched in 1978 on ABC.

Mr. Roarke, joined by his sidekick, Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize), was the mysterious overseer of the island who granted the fantasies of visitors for a price. Created by Gene Levitt, the series dealt with dark themes and the supernatural as visitors come to the island to live out their fantasy wishes.

Wadlow co-wrote the screenplay with Truth or Dare scribes Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs.

Sony holds the rights to property and will distribute.

Peña has had a solid 2018 lineup appearing in blockbusters like A Wrinkle in Time and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Up next, he co-stars opposite Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper in The Mule at WB, and is part of the main cast of the upcoming fourth season of Netflix’s Narcos.

Peña is also currently in production on Paramount’s Dora The Explorer live-action film.

Tessa Ferrer Lands Starring Role on AT&T Audience Network’s Series “Mr. Mercedes”

Tessa Ferrer is going into overdrive…

The 31-year-old part-Puerto Rican actress and former Grey’s Anatomy star will star as a series regular opposite Jack Huston in Season 2 of AT&T Audience Network’s breakout series Mr. Mercedes.

Tessa Ferrer

The second season will be based on King’s best-selling Bill Hodges Trilogy, which includes Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch.

Season 1 followed a demented killer Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) who taunts a retired police detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) with a series of lurid letters and emails, forcing the ex-cop to undertake a private, and potentially felonious, crusade to bring the killer to justice before he is able to strike again.

Ferrer will play Cora Babineau, wife of Dr. Felix Babineau (Huston) and head of marketing at a major pharmaceutical corporation, who’s even more ambitious than she is beautiful. If her husband has a genius for manipulating people from the inside out as he reaches into their brains and rewires them, Cora has a genius for influencing people from the outside in. Her beauty, brains and force of will, judiciously softened with poise and extreme charm, make her a formidable saleswoman, of whatever she’s peddling.

Ferrer is onscreen in Blumhouse’s Insidious 4: The Last Key. On television, she played the series regular role of Leah Murphy on Grey’s Anatomy and recurred on CBSExtant and FXX’s You’re the Worst.

Production begins next month in Charleston, SC, on the Sonar Entertainment-produced Stephen King adaptation.

Season 2 of Mr. Mercedes will air this summer on AT&T Audience Network.