Carlos Santana Among Artists Taking Part in ‘Artists United for Amazonia’ Global Livestream to Benefit Amazon Emergency Fund

Carlos Santana will be strummin’ for a cause…

The 72-year-old Mexican Grammy-winning guitarist and entrepreneur will be taking part in a global livestream event to benefit the Amazon Emergency Fund, an indigenous-led effort providing rapid response grants in the region to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carlos Santana

Santana, considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, will be joined by Jane FondaMorgan FreemanPeter Gabriel and numerous other artists for the Thursday, May 28 event. 

They’ll join indigenous leaders, scientists and a coalition of NGOs in presentng Artists United for Amazonia: Protecting the Protectors, a livestream event produced by Artists for Amazonia

The two-hour event will run from 8:00 pm to 10 pm ETE and will be hosted by part-Spanish actress and Game of Thrones co-star Oona Chaplin, who played Talisa Maegyr on the series. The livestream will be available via Facebook and through the event website. 

The program will promote the Amazon Emergency Fund, launched last month by a coalition of indigenous organizations, NGOs, and allies to respond to the urgent needs of indigenous peoples of the Amazon threatened by COVID-19.

Funds raised will be used for: immediate prevention and care; food and medical supplies; emergency communications and evacuation; protection and security for indigenous territories; and food sovereignty and community resilience. The Amazon Emergency Fund aims to raise $5 million over the next 60 days for Forest Guardians to protect themselves against the pandemic in all nine Amazonian countries. 

The Artists United for Amazonialivestream will feature living-room musical performances, interviews, and calls to action.

Performers include Herbie HancockRocky Dawuni, Butterscotch ClintonXiuhtezcatl MartinezCary ElwesAlfre WoodardWade Davis,Wagner Moura, and Brazilian Grammy winners Ivan Lins and Luciana Souza.

Others participating include Jane GoodallTom Bergeron, Ed Begley Jr.Frances FisherMatti Caspi, Suyan CaspiWendie MalickScottie ThompsonKali UchisRocky DawuniCeline CousteauMatthew ModineQ’orianka KilcherChloe Smith from Rising AppalachiaSonia GuajajaraAngela KaxuyanaNina GualingaBenki PiyakoMapu Huni Kuin, Lizardo CauperThomas LovejoyCarlos Nobre, Atossa SoltaniLeila Salazar-LópezChristina Miller, and Wade Davis

“This event is part of an extraordinary alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving the most biodiverse region on Earth,” said Sarah duPont, founder of Amazon Aid Foundation and co-director, River of Gold. “Illicit and unregulated gold mining is one of the most dangerous forms of deforestation in the Amazon Basin and releases toxic mercury into the ecosystem. Since the pandemic, gold mining has exploded across the Amazon and into indigenous territories bringing with it violence and COVID-19. Now, the Amazon is at the tipping point and the protectors of the Amazon are under dire threat. What happens in the Amazon affects us all.” 

Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch, added: “The Amazon and its peoples are in a state of emergency due to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a crime against nature and a crime against humanity. It is a time for all to unite and act in defense of the forest and in solidarity with the indigenous and traditional peoples across the Amazon who are protecting this great rainforest and our climate for all of humanity and life on Earth.” 

Paz Vega to Star in & Produce Comedy Series “Tacowood” for MGM International Television

Paz Vega is ready for tacos…

MGM International Television is developing Tacowooda comedy series headlined and produced by the 44-year-old Spanish actress.

Paz Vega

Based on an original idea by Spanish writer-producer-director Frank Ariza, Tacowoodis a modern-day comedy that follows Guada (Vega), a 40-year-old single mother who spends her days running her family’s taco truck business in the outskirts of Mexico City as she embarks on the journey of a lifetime with her mother and 10-year-old daughter to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood actress.

MGM International Television will produce and distribute the project.

“Good ideas married with good talent knows no borders today,” said Diego Piasek, SVP International Development at MGM International Television. “As a first-generation immigrant myself, I’m so proud that MGM is supporting the new voices of our generation.”

Launched last year, MGM International Television is ramping up in key markets like UK, Europe and Australia. One of the division’s main priorities is developing culturally rich programming with Latinx talent both in front of and behind the camera for English- and Spanish-speaking audiences around the world.

“Making a more inclusive cinema, focusing on minorities and fairly representing the society in which we live is a responsibility of everyone who works in this industry,” Vega said. “That is why I feel extremely excited to join MGMand put my voice at the service of this beautiful initiative that will generate great opportunities for the Latin community.”

Vega is known for her starring role opposite Adam Sandlerin the 2004 James L. Brooksfilm Spanglish. She won multiple awards for the Spanish movie Lucía y el sexo,including a breakthrough award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival

Vega also starred opposite Morgan Freemanin indie film 10 Items or Less and opposite Sylvester Stallonein Rambo: Last Blood.On the television side, she played Renata in Netflix’s The OA.

Ortiz Lands Roles in “Going In Style” and “A Dog’s Purpose”

John Ortiz is ending the year with a bang, landing back-to-back film roles…

The 47-year-old Puerto Rican actor, director and producer will first star in New Line Cinema’s upcoming comedy Going In Style, directed by Zach Braff from a script by Theodore Melfi.

John Ortiz

Ortiz will portray “Jesus,” a Mensa smart criminal who is socially responsible and deplores society’s treatment of the elderly.

He joins Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, along with Ann-Margret, Peter Serafinowicz, Joey King and Christopher Lloyd, in the remake of the 1979 classic.

Ortiz will then follow up that film with the live action DreamWorks feature A Dog’s Purpose, based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron.

The film is a series of vignettes directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Bradley Cooper (as the voice of the dog), along with Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance and Peggy Lipton.

Ortiz stars in his segment as “Carlos”, a stern, all business cop who trains his dog to assist him in solving crime.

Ortiz can next be seen in Disney’s The Finest Hours, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck, and directed by Craig Gillespie, as well as Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs.

He recently wrapped the indie A Woman, A Part starring opposite Maggie Siff and directed by Elisabeth Subrin.

Arias to Star in the Historial Epic “Ben-Hur”

It’s a (Hollywood) epic win for Moises Arias

The 20-year-old Colombian American actor and former Hannah Montana star has joined the cast of Ben-Hur, the historical epic Timur Bekmambetov is directing for MGM and Paramount Pictures.

Moises Arias

Arias will play Gestas, a teenage Jewish zealot whose family has been murdered by the Romans, who is desperate to fight for his people’s freedom.

Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman and Toby Kebbell star in the production, which will be shot in Europe ahead of a February 26, 2016 release.

In addition to be being a former Disney Channel star, having appeared on Hannah Montana and The Wizards of Waverly Place, starred in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-nominated film The Kings Of Summer. He also lent his voice recently to Despicable Me 2 and appeared in Summit’s sci-fi film Ender’s Game.

He’ll next appear in the Sundance 2015 drama Stanford Prison Experiment opposite Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, and Billy Crudup, in which Arias will play one of several university students tapped for the real life role-play exercise that got dangerously out of hand.

Pascal In Talks to Star in “Ben Hur” Remake

Pedro Pascal may soon star in a massive remake…

The 39-year-old Chilean actor is in talks to portray Pontius Pilate in the remake of the 1959 epic historial drama Ben Hur, which earned 11 Academy Awards.

Pedro Pascal

The film, which will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov, centers on the blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur (Huston) and Messala (Kebbell), who grew up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem. Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude and mocks Judah and his religion. When a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates the accident so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life. Judah vows revenge, culminating in the famed chariot races.

Pontius Pilate, best known for presiding over the trial of Jesus Christ and ordering his crucifixion, plays a significant role in this version of Ben-Hur, which hews closer to the 1880 Lew Wallace novel and its parallel storyline to Jesus than did the 1959 William Wyler-directed film.

The script is by Keith Clarke and 12 Years A Slave’s John Ridley did the rewrite.

Should he join the cast, Pascal will join Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Morgan Freeman and Gal Gadot in the film.

Production begins early next year in Europe for February 26, 2016 release.

Armisen to Present at This Year’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards

Fred Armisen is about to get creative

The 47-year-old half-Venezuelan American actor and former Saturday Night Live star, who received his first-ever Emmy nomination in an acting category this year, will be among the presenters at the 2014 Creative Arts Emmy Awards on August 16, according to the show’s executive producer Spike Jones Jr.

Fred Armisen

Armisen, who earneda best supporting actor in a comedy nod for Portlandia, the IFC series filmed and set in Portland, joins a list of presenters that includes Jane Lynch, Morgan Freeman, Tony Goldwyn, Heidi Klum and much of the nominated cast of Orange Is the New Black.

Other presenters include Patrick Adams (Suits), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), Judy Greer (Archer), Jonathan Groff (The Normal Heart), Tim Gunn (Project Runway), Tony Hale (Veep), Allison Janney (MomMasters of Sex), Keegan Michael Key (Key and Peele), Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Joel McHale (The Soup; Community), Aisha Tyler (Archer), Matt Walsh (Veep), Matt Weiner (Mad Men) and Bellamy Young (Scandal).

This year’s awards show will take place a week and a day before the Primetime Emmy Awards. An edited version of the show will be broadcast on the FXM cable network.

The entire show will be streamed on Emmys.com from noon to 3 p.m. on Monday Aug. 25, just before the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Moreno Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 SAG Awards

Life’s a SAG for living legend Rita Moreno

The 82-year-old Puerto Rican actress/singer/dancer, a Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe and Tony Award winner, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday night.

Rita Moreno

Moreno accepted the special prize from Morgan Freeman, who called the West Side Story star his “dear old friend,” as well as a “world-class actress, singer, dancer and fighter who battled to break through the racial and sexual barriers that plagued Hollywood‘s Golden Age.”

Moreno did a victory lap onstage after receiving a standing ovation before saying that she was “f—ing thrilled,” but the audio had been was cut during the live broadcast when she dropped the F-bomb.

She later apologized for “that word” before saying, “Actually, I’m not.”

Alluding to her surprised acceptance speech for her Oscar, she said she still honestly can’t believe she’s received SAG’s honor.

Moreno, who briefly flirted with Jeremy Renner and Brad Pitt, also said she hoped she was receiving the Life Achievement Award “early in the third act of my life.” She finished by singing several lines from “This is All I Ask.”

A showbiz veteran and a SAG member for more than six decades, Moreno is one of only 11 people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — a feat known as the EGOT.

She first appeared on the big screen in the reform-school drama So Young, So Bad in 1950, and afterward was put under contract as an ingenue at MGM, where a casting director changed her first name to Rita.

Moreno’s first film for the studio was the Mario Lanza musical The Toast of New Orleans, and she had a small role as the flapper actress Zelda Zanders in Singin’ in the Rain two years later.

She would go on to star in such films as The King and I, West Side Story — for which she won her Oscar in 1962 — and Carnal Knowledge.

Moreno won her Grammy for The Electric Company Album in 1972, her Tony for The Ritz in 1975, and her two Emmys for appearances on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files in 1977 and 1978.

She continues to stay busy, having just finished a run as Fran Drescher’s mother in the TV Land comedy Happily Divorced.

She will appear next in the upcoming indie drama Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks with Gena Rowlands.

Plaza to Receive Breakthrough Performer of the Year Award at This Year’s CinemaCon

Aubrey Plaza is about to get her breakthrough

The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation has announced that the 28-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress/comedian and Parks and Recreation star will receive the Breakthrough Performer of the Year award at this year’s CinemaCon.

Aubrey Plaza

Plaza, who graces the cover of Complex Magazine’s April/May cover, earned kudos for her starring role in the indie film Safety Not Guaranteed. She’ll next star in The To Do List.

The awards dinner will take place April 15-18 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

Others to be honored include: Breakthrough Filmmaker of the Year — Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cinema Icon Award — Morgan Freeman, Male Star of Tomorrow — Armie Hammer, Female Star of Tomorrow — Hailee Steinfeld, Award of Excellence in Acting — Elizabeth Banks, Comedy Duo of the Year — Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, Lifetime Achievement Award — Harrison Ford, Male Star of the Year — Chris Pine and Female Star of the Year — Melissa McCarthy.