Henry R. Muñoz III Acquires Funny or Die

Henry R. Muñoz III is preparing for a little funny business…

The 61-year-old Latino designer, activist and philanthropist has acquired early digital video player Funny or Die.

Henry R. Muñoz III

Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Judd Apatow and Chris Henchy co-founded Funny or Die in 2007. Ferrell and McKay appeared in one of the company’s first breakout clips, The Landlord.

Muñoz bought Funny Or Die from its former stakeholders, a group that included AMC Networks, Turner Entertainment and Sequoia Capital. Ferrell will continue to collaborate creatively with Funny Or Die and serve as an advisor.

Muñoz be sole owner of the Funny Or Die brand, and the acquisition also includes its library, longform slate and social media portfolio of more than 40 million followers.

Financial terms for the transaction were not disclosed.

After the transaction, Muñoz will become chairman of Funny or Die. Mike Farah will continue as CEO. Michele Rosette, who has been the CFO of Funny Or Die since 2016, will remain in her role. Joe Farrell, who oversees Funny Or Die’s longform slate, has been promoted to Chief Creative Officer.

From its roots in short-form, viral video, Funny or Die has evolved into a supplier of series like Brockmire, whose run on IFC ended last year, and this year’s History of Swear Words on Netflix.

Other credits include true crime docuseries For Heaven’s Sake on Paramount + and the Feeding America Comedy Special for NBC.

The pivot followed challenges in recent years as smaller video purveyors have faced daunting economics when reckoning with the forces of tech giants like YouTube and Facebook. Like many digital outlets, Funny or Die had to lay off staff and restructure as it navigated the 2010s.

The arrival of Muñoz will enable the company to deficit-finance certain projects, the company said, promising to reveal more specifics about that strategy at a later date.

A CBS special produced by Funny or Die last fall connected the company with Muñoz and wound up leading to the acquisition. Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event, hosted by Eva Longoria, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan, celebrated America’s diversity with a focus on Latinx culture and highlighted the impact of Covid-19.

Muñoz has operated at high levels in the realms of politics, art, business, public affairs and philanthropy. In addition to his own design practice, he has launched national movements including Momento Latino, TheDream.US and Latino Victory in support of the Latinx community. He is the cofounder of SOMOS US, a healthcare network in New York treating largely immigrant communities. It has been on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

His design firm, Muñoz & Company, is one of the largest and oldest minority-owned design practices in the country. It pioneered an approach to architecture, urban planning, and design that acknowledges the imprint of the Latino community. He also helped with the effort to create a Latino Museum on the Mall in Washington, DC, and is the Finance Chairman Emeritus of the Democratic National Committee, the first openly gay, openly Latino and openly Texan person to hold that position.

“The future of comedy and entertainment is in companies that empower talent and creative forces to make content that reflects the cultural identity of our country at this moment in our history,” Muñoz said in the official deal announcement. “Funny Or Die’s own rich history as a place of innovation and as a voice of new generations speaks for itself and our team led by Mike Farah is poised to seize this unique moment. I understand the responsibilities of owning a brand like Funny Or Die and I am excited to work with our team to make sure we have the resources we need to develop funny, original and diverse new content.”

He went on to note the importance of his sole ownership of the company. “I also understand the importance of being one of the very few Latinos in a position like this in the entertainment industry and I will do my best to make my community, our industry and our country proud as we move forward,” he added. Diversity and inclusion will be more central to the company’s mission moving forward, he noted.

Farah said Muñoz’s “unique background in social activism and business” makes him the “perfect person to guide FOD into the future.” He added, “The company is in great hands with Henry, and he’s brought a new sense of purpose to our mission to empower original, authentic creators in comedy and beyond.”

Ednita Nazario Launches New “De Corazón a Corazón” Podcast

Ednita Nazario’s latest project has a lot of heart

The 65-year-old Puerto Rican star has made her debut as a podcaster, with the new podcast titled De Corazón a Corazón that will air on her Facebook, YouTube and Spotify.

Ednita Nazario

In the podcast, Nazario will “open her heart to talk about life with special guests that could range from personal friends to celebrities,” according to a press release. A new episode will be released across all the aforementioned platforms every Tuesday at 7:30 pm ET.

“This podcast will allow me to show fans another side of me and it will be a good opportunity to be close to all of you,” the singer-songwriter said in a statement. “I am so excited about this new project that I will pour all my heart into.”

https://twitter.com/EdnitaNazario/status/1370405911571931143

Selena Gomez Calls Out Facebook, Twitter & More for Inability to Control Spread of Misinformation & Violent Rhetoric on Their Platforms

Selena Gomez has some harsh words for the leaders of the world’s biggest social media and web outlets…

After a massive crowd of rioters supporting President Donald Trump violently clashed with law enforcement Wednesday, storming the U.S. Capitol and sending the building into lockdown, both social media outlets imposed temporary freezes on Trump’s social media accounts.

Selena Gomez

Gomez, however, is calling out the tech giants for not doing enough, and for their inability to control the spread of misinformation and violent rhetoric on their platforms in recent months — which has allowed for both the President himself and his supporters to spread baseless claims of election fraud.

In a note shared to Twitter following the chaos in Washington D.C., Gomez specifically called out Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google as entities, plus YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and CEO of Alphabet Inc. and Google Sundar Pichai.

“Today is the result of allowing people with hate in their hearts to use platforms that should be used to bring people together and allow people to build community,” she wrote, before naming the aforementioned list of tech leaders. “You have all failed the American people today, and I hope you’re going to fix things moving forward.”

Gomez has openly shared her condemnation of Facebook’s misinformation before.

In December, she called out inaccuracies about the COVID-19 vaccine on the platform. “Scientific disinformation has and will cost lives,” she wrote. “@Facebook said they don’t allow lies about COVID and vaccines to be spread on their platforms. So how come all of this is still happening? Facebook is going to be responsible for thousands of deaths if they don’t take action now!”

Alexis Gambis’ “Hijo de Monarcas” Wins 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize for Film

Alexis Gambis is celebrating a monarch moment…

The French Venezuelan filmmaker and biologist’s US-Mexico film Hijo de Monarcas has won the 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize for film.

Alexis Gambis

Gambis’ film, which stars Tenoch Huerta, Paulina Gaitan and William Mapother centers on a Mexican scientist (Huerta) living in New York, who returns to his hometown, nestled in the majestic butterfly forests of Michoacán. The journey forces him to confront past traumas and reflect on his hybrid identity, sparking a personal metamorphosis.

The annual award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognizes a film screening at the Sundance Film Festival that focuses on science or technology or portrays a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.

Tenoch Huerta, Hijo de Monarcas

Hijo de Monarcas is directed and written by Gambis and features a cast that includes Alexia Rasmussen, Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez and Noé Hernández.

Hijo de Monarcas, which was filmed in New York and Mexico in both English and Spanish, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, with a second screening on January 31.

“As we celebrate the wonderful news for Son of Monarchs, I just wanted to take a minute to point at this injustice and call to action to save the endangered monarch butterfly,” posted Gambis on Facebook, referring to his movie’s selection for Sundance, before the award was announced. He highlights the risks and challenges now facing the butterflies in light of reported huge population declines in the past few years. “The monarch butterfly is threatened with extinction but will not come under federal protection because other species are a higher priority, federal officials announced Tuesday,” he added citing a New York Times article.

Gambis’ filmmaking mixes documentary and fiction, often honoring animal perspective. His artistic craft and scientific background led him to launch various projects like the Imagine Science Film Festival in 2008 and the science-focused streaming platform and online magazine Labocine. Eight years later, he directed his first narrative feature, The Fly Room, a biographical drama that also deals with science, in this case genetics.

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize has been handed out at the Sundance Film Festival since 2003. The winner receives a $20,000 cash award.

Selena Gomez Calls Out Facebook’s Failure to Stop Spread of Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines

Selena Gomez has some harsh words for Facebook related to the coronavirus vaccines

The 28-year-old Mexican American singer/actress has fired off a pointed tweet decrying what she said was the social media giant’s failure to stop the spread of misinformation about the life-saving COVID-19 vaccines that are being rolled out across the country and the world.

Selena Gomez

“Scientific disinformation has and will cost lives. @Facebook said they don’t allow lies about COVID and vaccines to be spread on their platforms,” wrote Gomez, who in September shared a private message she sent to FB founder Mark Zuckerberg and CEO Sheryl Sandberg about what she said were FB and Instagram’s problem with spreading “hate, misinformation, racism, and bigotry.”

“So how come all of this is still happening?” Gomez’s latest call-out continued. “Facebook is going to be responsible for thousands of deaths if they don’t take action now!”

Her tweet included a link to a post from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, in which the group’s CEO, Imran Ahmed, spoke to the BBC News about what he said was the critical, widespread failure of major social media companies to remove coronavirus misinformation in the UK.

“We took a thousand bits of misinformation and got volunteers to report it using the platform’s own reporting systems,” Ahmed said. “And less than 5% of it was taken down. The truth is we’ve been gaslit by the social media companies, they say they’re doing their utmost. But in reality, they’re doing absolutely nothing.” In early December, before the U.S. began distributing the two approved vaccines, the New York Times reported that FB pledged to remove posts containing claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.

At the time, FB said it planned to take down COVID-19 vaccine falsehoods completely if the claims were discredited or contradicted by health organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is another way that we are applying our policy to remove misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm,” the company said in a blog post. “This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines.”

In a statement to Billboard, a spokesperson for FB said, “We are committed to reaching as many people as possible with accurate information about vaccines, and launched partnerships with WHO and Unicef to do just that. We’ve banned ads that discourage people from getting vaccines and reduced the number of people who see vaccine hoaxes verified by the WHO and the CDC. We also label Pages and Groups that repeatedly share vaccine hoaxes, lower their posts in News Feed, and do not recommend them to anyone. We continue to remove accounts and content that violate our policies and are the only company to work with over 80 fact-checking organizations around the world. ”

Pepe Aguilar’s Tribute to His Mom, Flor Silvestre, Leads Billboard’s Top Facebook Live Videos Chart

Pepe Aguilar’s tribute to his late mother has reached millions…

The 52-year-old  Mexican-American singer-songwriter and actor’s tribute to Flor Silvestre leads Billboard’s Top Facebook Live Videos chart for November 2020.

Pepe Aguilar

The chart, the latest of which recaps the activity in November, is a monthly look at the widest reaching and most-reacted-to videos posted by musicians on Facebook Live, as tracked by media analytics company Shareablee. Rankings are determined by a formula that blends reactions, comments, shares and first-seven-days views.

Aguilar’s mother died on November 25 at 90 years old of natural causes. Her film and music career stretched multiple decades, beginning in the early 1950s through her passing.

Aguilar’s November 26 Facebook livestream lasted more than an hour and showed a large crowd following a hearse containing Silvestre’s casket, followed by the funeral service itself.

In its first seven days, the video was viewed 17.3 million times, a sizable count when considering that the next closest video by a musician in terms of views for November 2020 received 1.4 million views.

Additionally, Aguilar’s clip was shared 119,000 times, was reacted to 467,000 times and received 101,000 comments, according to Shareablee.

Cardi B Launches New Reality Series “Cardi Tries ___” for Facebook Watch

Cardi B isn’t afraid to try new things…

The 28-year-old half-Dominican American Grammy-winning rap superstar is inviting the world to experience new things alongside her with the new series Cardi Tries ___, which launched late last week.

Cardi B, ELLE, September Issue

From Facebook’s Messenger and Jesse Collins EntertainmentCardi Tries ___ is part of Messenger’s new “Watch Together” feature, which allows audiences to enjoy Facebook Watch videos with friends and family in real-time. The new series has the “WAP” rapper trying new things outside of her repertoire including becoming an expert stunt car racer, ballerina, firefighter, teacher — just to name a few.

Throughout the series, she’ll be joined by actors, athletes and other professionals like Michelle Rodriguez of Fast & Furious fame, Debbie Allen of Grey’s Anatomy, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and country music singer and songwriter, Mickey Guyton, among others.

New episodes will drop Thursdays through February 4. Cardi B fans will be able to enjoy the show in real-time over video calls with friends on Instagram, Messenger and Messenger Rooms via Watch Together.

Executive producers are Cardi B, Jesse Collins, Dionne Harmon and Patientce Foster.

J Balvin to Receive Collaborator of the Year Prize at Variety’s Hitmakers Awards Program

J Balvin is a real Hitmaker

The 35-year-old Colombian singer/songwriter, who won a Latin Grammy earlier this week, will be honored at Variety’s Hitmakers awards program on Thursday, December 3rd at 5:00 pm PT / 8:00 pm ET.

J Balvin

The program will highlight the award recipients featured in Variety’s annual Hitmakers issue on December 2nd. The program will simulcast on Variety’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube pages.

J Balvin will be honored with the Collaborator of the Year prize.

Harry Styles will be receiving Hitmaker of the Year. Benee, Jenna Andrews and Josh Fountain will receive the Isolation Salvation Song of the Year prize, Charli XCX and A. G. Cook for Innovator of the Year, Roddy Ricch for Breakthrough Artist of the YearBlackpink for Group of the Year, Lewis Capaldi for Songwriter of the YearInterscope Geffen A&M for Label of the YearMaren Morris for Crossover Artist of the Year, Mustard for Producer of the Year, Ron Perry for Executive of the Year and Wassim “Sal” Slaiby for Manager of the Year.

Presenters include 100 gecsJustin BieberSheryl CrowNiall Horan, Zane Lowe, Lil Nas XTyga, and Ty Dolla $ign.

Gloria Estefan to Perform at ‘Nurse Heroes Live’ Benefit Virtual Concert on Thanksgiving

Gloria Estefan is giving special thanks to some of our frontliners…

The 63-year-old Cuban singer will be among the entertainers honoring nurses in a star-studded benefit virtual concert on Thanksgiving.

Gloria Estefanria

Nurse Heroes has announced that the concert called Nurse Heroes Live will stream on the organization’s YouTube and Facebook pages along with LiveXLive on November 26 at 7:00 pm EST.

The benefit will provide money for a variety of programs including scholarships for nurses and their children.

Estefan joins a lineup of performers that include Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, The Wailers, Carole King, Maluma and Andrea Bocelli.

Whoopi Goldberg will host the concert with special appearances by Oprah Winfrey and Billy Crystal.

Taylor Swift will donate a signed collectible edition “Folklore” guitar, which will be auctioned for the benefit of the Nurses Heroes Foundation.

The nurses of New York’s Northwell Health will be the first beneficiaries of the concert. The event will also showcase 50 nurses from the hospital in an ensemble performance with several celebrities.

The concert will be produced by Emilio Estefan and Times Square Live Media.

Lunay Named to Billboard’s 21 Under 21 List

Lunay isn’t old enough to drink in the United States, but he’s already making his mark in the music world.

The 20-year-old Puerto Rican reggaeton and Latin trap singer has been named to Billboard’s 21 Under 21 list.

Lunay

Billboard‘s annual ranking of powerful young voices includes arena headliners and promising new talent, familiar names and new musicians quickly rising toward the mainstream. For groups, if most members are under 21, they were considered eligible.

Lunay is recognized for having total streams of 524.5 million.

After posting videos of himself freestyling on Facebook in 2017, Lunay got a call from producers Chris Jedi and Gaby Music. Two years later, Lunay was collaborating with reggaetón superstars Daddy Yankee and Bad Bunny on “Soltera (Remix),” his first top 10 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, peaking at No. 3 and raking in 343.2 million U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

Signed to indie label Star Island, the rising artist, who has since scored collaborations with Ozuna and Anuel AA, credits his success to two things: “humility and hard work.”

But Lunay isn’t the only Latino artist to make the list…

Manuel Turizo earned a spot for having total streams of 328.1 million.

Back in 2017, the 20-year-old Colombian reggaeton singer, then only 16, scored a viral hit with debut single “Una Lady Como Tú.” Since then, he has topped the Mexico Airplay chart with “Quiéreme Mientras Se Pueda” and the Latin Airplay list with his Sebastián YatraRauw Alejandro collaboration “TBT.”

Turizo says his second album, Dopamina, will “dominate” 2021. “I hope that by the time I’m 60, people will still be consuming my music and going to my concerts,” he says. “It’s not about being at the top. It’s about acquiring an audience [that will be] by your side throughout your career.”

Natanael Cano has also made the grade…

The 19-year-old Mexican singer-songwriter has earned a total of 905.3 million streams in his short career.

Six months into 2020, Cano — who only launched his career in 2019 — became the third-most-consumed Latin artist in the United States, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s midyear report, ranking just behind Bad Bunny and Ozuna.

Since partnering with Bad Bunny on “Soy El Diablo (Remix)” in October 2019, Cano has released four projects, including Trap Tumbado in June, cementing his place as a leading force in trap corridos. And as his career continues to grow in the United States, by 2021, he says, “I’d love to reach every corner of Mexico.”

A committee of Billboard editors and reporters weighed a variety of factors in determining the 2020 21 Under 21 list, including, but not limited to, impact on consumer behavior, as measured by such metrics as album and track sales, streaming volume, social media impressions, and radio and TV audiences reached; career trajectory; reputation among peers; and overall impact in the industry, specifically during the past 12 months. Where required, record-label market share was consulted using Nielsen Music/MRC Data market share for album plus track-equivalent and stream-equivalent album consumption units. Unless otherwise noted, Billboard Boxscore and Nielsen Music/MRC Data are the sources for tour grosses and sales/streaming data, respectively.