Cardi B Named Billboard’s “Woman of the Year”

Cardi B is WAP-ping up the year with a bang…

The 28-year-old half-Dominican American rap superstar has been named the 2020 Woman of the Year by Billboard.

Cardi B

Cardi B, who continues to thrive with her Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper “WAP,” a brand-new already-sold-out Reebok collection and her political activism, will be presented the award during Billboard‘s Women in Music event on December 10.

The 15th annual event will go virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and will stream live here starting at 8:00 pm ET. The ceremony will be hosted by Teyana Taylor.

Jennifer Lopez will be honored with this year’s prestigious Icon Award for her impact on the music industry and the greater artistic community, joining previous recipients Alanis MorissetteCyndi LauperMary J. BligeShania Twain and Aretha Franklin.

Following the success of her sophomore album, Future NostalgiaDua Lipa will receive the Powerhouse Award, given to an act whose music dominated streaming, sales and radio this year.

Dolly Parton is 2020’s Hitmaker Award recipient. The honor recognizes a songwriter whose compositions have significantly impacted culture.

Chloe x Halle will receive the Rising Star Award, and Jessie Reyez will be honored with the American Express Impact Award.

Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, the trailblazing minds behind #TheShowMustBePaused movement following the murder of George Floyd, will be honored with the 2020 Executive of the Year Award.

Shalim Ortiz to Appear in Starz & Lionsgate’s “Power” Spinoff “Ghost”

Shalim Ortiz is seeing ghosts

The 41-year-old Dominican and Puerto Rican actor and singer has landed a recurring role in Starz and Lionsgate’s Power spinoff Ghost.

Shalim Ortiz

The spinoff picks up shortly after thePowerseries finale, with Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) working to get his mother Tasha (Naturi Naughton) out of jail after she took the fall for her son in James St. Patrick/Ghost’s (Omari Hardwick) murder.

Ortiz will play Danilo Ramirez, an NYPD officer stationed in the Tejadas’ backyard of Queens, NY. Ramirez will find himself torn between the duties of his badge and duty to the ones he loves.

Mary J. Blige and Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith also star.

Executive produced by series creator and showrunner Courtney Kemp (End of Episode) and Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson (G-Unit Film and Television), Ghost also stars Power alum Shane Johnson once again as federal prosecutor Cooper Saxe.

Ortiz most recently appeared in ABC’s Grand Hotel. He previously starred on Starz’s Magic City

His other notable television credits include CSI: MiamiCold Case and NBC’s Heroes

On the film side, Ortiz has appeared in The Winged Man and Bad Ass, among others. 

Netflix Releases Trailer for David Castañeda’s “The Umbrella Academy”

David Castañeda is at the Academy…

Netflix has released a trailer for The Umbrella Academy, starring the Latino actor.

David Castañeda, The Umbrella Academy,

Based on the Dark Horsecomic book series created and written by Gerard Wayand illustrated by Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy follows a group of “gifted” children adopted by a billionaire who come back home to solve the mystery of their father’s death. Also, the end of the world is imminent.

Known only by numbers, the new teaser trailer gives us the first look at the six surviving “gifted” children and a sneak peek at their powers — and dancing — as they to investigate their father’s death and attempt to save the world from destruction as they try to reconcile their estranged relationship with each other.

“The world ends in 8 days…I don’t know how to stop it,” says a concerned Number 5 (Aidan Gallagher)

“I’ll put on a pot of coffee,” responds Number 7 (Ellen Page) with a stoic look.

The series also stars Mary J. BligeCameron Britton, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Colm Feore, Adam Godley, John Magaro,Ashley Madekwe, and Kate Walsh.

Netflix to Launch its Live-Action Superhero Series “The Umbrella Academy” with David Castañeda in February

David Castañeda is ready for the rain…

David Castañeda

Netflix has announced plans to launch its live-action superhero series The Umbrella Academy, starring the Latino actor, on Friday, February 15.

Additionally, Netflix released the first batch of character posters, including Castañeda’s character Diego, as well as new images from the series.

David Castañeda

Here’s the detailed logline: On the same day in 1989, forty-three infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a billionaire industrialist, who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his “children” to save the world. But not everything went according to plan. In their teenage years, the family fractured and the team disbanded. Now, the six surviving thirty-something members reunite upon the news of Hargreeves’ passing. Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Vanya and Number Five work together to solve a mystery surrounding their father’s death. But the estranged family once again begins to come apart due to their divergent personalities and abilities, not to mention the imminent threat of a global apocalypse.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY

The series is based on Dark Horse Comics’ comics and graphic novels created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá.

In addition to Castañeda, The Umbrella Academy also stars Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Britton, and Mary J. Blige.

David Zayas to Star in Paramount Players’ Drama “Body Cam”

David Zayas is joining the force…

The 56-year-old Puerto Rican actor has landed a role in Paramount Players’ Body Cam drama, which stars Mary J. Blige and Nat Wolff.

David Zayas

Malik Vittahl is at the helm, directing from a screenplay by Nic McCarthy and John Ridley, based on Richmon Riedel’s spec script.

The plot centers around several LAPD police officers who are haunted by a malevolent spirit that is tied to the murder of a black youth at the hands of two white cops. All of them are caught on a body cam video that was destroyed in a cover-up.

Zayas, a former New York Police officer, will play Sgt. Kesper.

Best known for his role as Angel Batista on Showtime’s Dexter, Zayas has appeared in films like The ExpendablesRide, Tallulah, starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney, and Sony’s Annie remake. He also stars in the upcoming indie Shine.

Gael García Bernal to Perform at This Year’s Oscars

Gael García Bernal has a date with Oscar

The 39-year-old Mexican actor/filmmaker will perform at this year’s Academy Awards, according to the show’s producers.

Gael García Bernal

Garcia Bernal will be among the artists tackling this year’s Oscar nominated songs.

Garcia Bernal will be joined by Natalia LaFourcade and Miguel to sing Remember Me” from Disney/Pixar’s Coco; with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

Garcia Bernal voiced the character of deceased songwriter Héctor Rivera in the animated film, and his character wrote the song.

Other performers include Mary J. Blige, Andra Day, Keala Settle, Sufjan Stevens and Common.

Blige will perform “Mighty River.” Blige performed the song for Mudbound, and she’s nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category. Blige wrote the Oscar-nominated song with Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson.

Common and Andra Day will perform his Oscar-nominated song “Stand Up For Something” from Marshall, his collaboration with Diane Warren.

Settle will perform the Oscar-nominated song “This is Me from The Greatest Showman.

Stevens will perform his Oscar-nominated songMystery of Love,” written for Call Me by Your Name.

“We’re excited to have these talented artists showcase the powerful contribution music makes to film making,” said De Luca and Todd. “It’s a privilege to welcome them to the 90th Oscars stage.”

The Jimmy Kimmel-hosted show is set for Sunday, March 4.

Gomez Among 24 Artists Featured on Orlando Shooting Charity Single “Hands”

Selena Gomez is lending her hands to help the victims of the Orlando Shooting.

The 23-year-old half-Mexican American singer/actress is among 24 artists featured on a new recording to raise money for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Selena Gomez

The all-star release, entitled “Hands” — a charity single from Interscope Records with support from GLAAD — was conceived by hit songwriter Justin Tranter, co-writer of Justin Bieber’sSorry” and hits for Gomez, DNCE, Fall Out Boy and Gwen Stefani.

In addition to Gomez, the single also features Jennifer Lopez, who has worked on her own charity single with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stefani, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Juanes, Pink, Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears.

The June 12 shooting at the gay nightclub in Orlando, which killed 49 people and injured 53, is the most deadly mass shooting in American history and the deadliest act of violence against the LGBT community.

Funds from the song will aid families with medical care, counseling and will also be used for education.

“Like the rest of the world I woke up to the news that morning and was horrified and sad and scared,” says Tranter, who has raised money and awareness for LGBT causes since coming out at age 14.

“Hands” is available on iTunes.

Proceeds will be distributed by Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD.

The idea for the all-star project came together one day after the shooting.

L.A.-based Tranter and songwriting partner Julia Michaels had been on the road with Gomez writing songs aboard her tour bus in Miami the weekend of June 11 when news of the bloodshed prompted Tranter to switch course. That afternoon he signed on as a volunteer at The Center Orlando, the region’s chief LGBT community center.

“I called them and said, ‘If I fly up is there something for me to help with?'” he tells Billboard. “They say, ‘We need as many hands as we can possibly get.'”

“Hands” took hold the next day when Tranter met GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis who had arrived at the center from New York.

Beyond their immediate efforts — distributing food and water and GLAAD’s work with media — both were looking to make contributions that would have ongoing benefits. They point out that the massacre was also a profound attack on people of color, as that Saturday evening had been a popular “Latin Night” at Pulse. Most of the victims were of Latin heritage and Ellis says she does not want that point forgotten.

“When you hear the song it talks about hate being the driver here,” she says, “and that’s important because we have to be able to identify what’s driving these cruel acts in order to stop them. Artists using their platforms to accelerate acceptance is very powerful.”

Aligning with Interscope for the release, Tranter, GLAAD and Interscope president of A&R Aaron Bay-Schuck put the word out that a fundraiser was in the works. Within days artists from all spheres of the business had lined up — also among them Halsey, Ty Herndon, Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Adam Lambert, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, MNEK, Alex Newell, Mary Lambert, Prince Royce, Jussie Smollett, Nate Ruess and RuPaul — all recording separately from their homes, local studios, touring locations or wherever they happened to be at that moment.

“We assigned everybody what we thought would be the best part for their voice,” Tranter says, “and we asked them all to sing an additional part, just in case. But everybody got it done in time so we ended up with extra vocals.”

In Los Angeles “Interscope let us use their studio,” he notes. “Mary J. Blige recorded in New Orleans. Britney Spears in Thousand Oaks, I think. Pink in Santa Barbara. MNEK recorded at home in London. Selena recorded in her studio bus. Dan Reynolds recorded in his home. Adam Lambert was in Luxembourg. Ty Herndon the country star was in Spain. Kacey Musgraves, Nashville. Everyone just got it done.”

Another goal of the record, according to GLAAD, is to fund educational programs.

“This was an American guy who was born in Queens,” Ellis says of the gunman, Omar Mateen, 29, who was killed by police after a three hour stand-off. “He learned that hate here in America. This happened on American soil, against a particular community.”

While politicians and lobbyists have focused in recent weeks on Islamic terror and familiar narratives about gun ownership, Ellis, Tranter and others in the LGBT community want people to remember that this was a hate crime.

“I’m not educated enough to speak on the political details,” Tranter says. I’m a songwriter, not a politician. It could have been a million things but clearly, 100 percent, this was an attack on the LGBT community and people of color.”

“Hands” grew out of an unfinished piece that Tranter, Michaels and co-writer and producer BloodPop (formerly known as Blood Diamonds) had been working on and then shelved.

“The song didn’t ever finish itself and it didn’t ever feel right,” Tranter says of their initial efforts. “Now we know why.”

Mark Ronson also co-produced, while vocal engineer Benjamin Rice finessed the disparate tracks: “He helped us find the structure and make sense of it all.”

Warner/Chappell publishing executive Katie Vinten brought in numerous artists, among them P!nk, whom Tranter calls “a lifesaver,” adding, “Her vocal on the chorus is like from heaven directly.”

Spears opens the song with the plaintive line, “Can hold a gun or a hold a heart.” RuPaul is heard quietly toward the end, saying “take my hand baby.”

The songwriters had no specific plan as they entered the studio — only that they didn’t want the piece “to ever sound dated.”

“We didn’t want to have any trendy electronic elements,” Tranter notes. “We wanted it to sound classic, timeless and human. We want this anthem of positivity to be played for years to come.”

Download “Hands” here at iTunes.

O’Brien to Host This Weekend’s Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day Rally

Soledad O’Brien is rallying for the planet…

The 48-year-old half-Cuban American broadcast journalist is set to host the free Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day rally alongside will.i.am.

Soledad O’Brien

The all-day Earth Day rally and concert will take place on Saturday, April 18 at the National Mall from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm ET near the Washington Monument.

Usher, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani, Common and Train are scheduled to perform during the event.

Earth Day organizers also are announcing plans with developers of the popular Angry Birds game to create a new in-game experience about climate change. Angry Birds has been downloaded 2.8 billion times worldwide. The game’s climate change campaign will coincide with the United Nations General Assembly in September as world leaders tackle sustainability goals.

Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers says the game and celebrity power will help more people focus on solving climate change.

The rally is a joint initiative with the Global Poverty Project to end extreme poverty and coincides with meetings at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington. Top officials from the World Bank and United Nations are expected to speak at the rally.

Eliminating poverty will require solving climate change, Rogers said. So advocates on both issues are collaborating to push for sustainable international development.

“Whether it’s the big migrations we expect to see or soil depletion or emptying the oceans, loss of species, loss of timberland — all these things are creating poverty at the same time that they are also creating climate change issues,” Rogers said.

While Earth Day is officially on April 22, the Saturday rally will ask participants to commit to making environmentally friendly “acts of green” this year. Organizers also are asking attendees to sign petitions for a U.N. conference on climate change planned for Paris in December.

Smollet’s “Empire” Soundtrack Reaches No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart

Jussie Smollett is a chart-topper…

The 31-year-old Brazilian actor/singer and the stars of Fox‘s Empire have reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, as the breakout hit series’ soundtrack debuts atop the list.

Jussie Smollett

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).

The Empire soundtrack was released March 10 through Columbia Records and bows at the top spot with 130,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending March 15, according to Nielsen Music.

Empire Soundtrack

It’s the first television soundtrack to debut at No. 1 since 2010, when three different Glee albums arrived atop the list.

Empire features contributions from its newcomer cast, like Smollett, as well as hitmakers like Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Estelle, Rita Ora, Juicy J and Courtney Love (all of which have guest-starred on the show).

Empire earned 17,000 units from track equivalent albums (thanks to the strong performance of the set’s multiple Billboard Hot 100 hit singles like “You’re So Beautiful” and “Conqueror“), while it tallied another 3,000 units from streaming equivalent albums.

Also helping matters: During release week, Smollett performed on TV’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show (March 9) and on Fox’s American Idol three days later (joined by fellow cast member Yazz).

Bisbal to be Honored at the ASCAP Latin Music Awards

David Bisbal has is the voice

The 35-year-old Latin pop star will receive special honors during ASCAP‘s 23rd annual Latin Music Awards.

David Bisbal

Bisbal is receiving ASCAP’s Voice of Music Award, given to artists whose music represents the spirit of a generation. Past honorees include Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks and Luis Fonsi.

Mexican singer/songwriter Mario Domm, the lead singer for Camila and also the author of many hits for other acts, will receive the Golden Note Award, given to songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones. Past recipients include Jose Feliciano, Victor Manuelle and Pharrell Williams.

Regional Mexican group La Original Banda El Limon de Salvador Lizarraga will receive the ASCAP Latin Heritage Award, presented to music creators in recognition for their unique and enduring contributions to Latin music. Past recipients include Ricardo Arjona, Celia Cruz and Alejandro Sanz.

The awards will also honor top Latin publishers and songwriters of 2014, with awards given to the Songwriter of the year, Publisher of the year, Independent publisher of the year and Latin song of the year, as well as awards in pop, tropical, regional Mexican, urban and television categories.

The dinner ceremony will take place March 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.