Dany Garcia Among the New Owners of the XFL

It’s game on for Dany Garcia

The 51-year-old Cuban American businesswoman and producer, her former husband Dwayne Johnson and RedBird Capital Partners have bought the XFL, a twice-unsuccessful professional football alternative to the NFL fronted by WWE chief Vince McMahon, for $15 million.

Dany Garcia

Garcia and her business partners were selected as the winning bidder for the assets controlled by Alpha Entertainment, the parent company of the XFL.

The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval at a hearing this Friday. Assuming that closing conditions are satisfied, the acquisition is expected to close on or shortly after August 21.

In announcing the deal, Garcia and her fellow projected new owners said they have secured “the ability to option live entertainment intellectual property for further expansion across sports, live events and original entertainment programming.”

The XFL, which had two single-season attempts to go up against the NFL, one in 2000 and the second this year, was fronted by McMahon and the WWE, which owned a 23.5% stake in the league. After starting its season in February, the XFL was forced to shut down due to COVID-19 in March. It filed for bankruptcy in April.

“For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity. It is the confluence of great passion, tradition and possibility” Garcia said. “Sports and entertainment are the foundations of the businesses I have built. Melding our expertise combined with our commitment to deliver exciting and inspiring unique content, has us all focused on developing the XFL brand into a multi-media experience that our athletes, partners and fans will proudly embrace and love.”

Johnson has a connection to the sport, having played college football at Miami.

“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” Johnson said. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”

Jeffrey Pollack, president and COO of the XFL, called it a “Hollywood ending” to the process of seeking a sale.

Garcia and Johnson are co-founders of Seven Bucks Companies, a multi-platform enterprise pioneering original content for television, film, emerging technologies and digital networks.

RedBird was founded by former Goldman Sachs partner Cardinale. He has orchestrated a range of major sports deals over the past 20 years involving his clients and teams like the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys as well as leagues like the NFL.

The XFL was the latest in a long line of failed attempts to dislodge the NFL from its perch as the No. 1 sports league in America. Football fans haven’t tuned in en masse for leagues like the Alliance of American Football, the United States Football League or the World Football League.

The first XFL season, in 2000, provided a brief summertime splash in the ratings for NBC, which was a part-owner of the league at the time, before quickly fading.

The latest iteration of the XFL differed from the first attempt in that it didn’t try to amp up the violence or present more scantily clad cheerleaders. Kickoffs, a routine feature of games that experts have linked to high rates of concussions, underwent a dramatic change in the XFL, with teams lining up close to each other so as to eliminate running-start collisions. Other innovations included microphones on the sidelines, enabling fans to follow the game in more detail.

Dania Ramirez to Star in Netflix’s DC Vertigo Comic-Based Series “Sweet Tooth”

Dania Ramirez has landed a Sweet role…

The 40-year-old Dominican actress and Devious Maids star will star in Sweet ToothNetflix’s new drama series based on the DC Vertigo comic.

Dania Ramirez

Ramirez will be part of the series’ core cast of series regulars, which includes Christian ConveryNonso Anozie and Adeel AkhtarWill Forte has a recurring role, while James Brolin serves as the series’ narrator.

The eight-episode Sweet Tooth follows the adventures of Gus (Convery) — part deer, part boy — who leaves his home in the forest to find the outside world ravaged by a cataclysmic event. He joins a ragtag family of humans and animal-children hybrids like himself in search of answers about this new world and the mystery behind his hybrid origins.

Ramirez will reportedly play Aimee, a pioneer in the middle of dystopic America, a lone scavenger in an abandoned city, rebuilding a sustainable habitat and giving orphaned hybrids a home.

The project hails from Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey’s Team DowneyJim MickleBeth Schwartz and Warner Bros. Television.

Along with fellow new Netflix series Cowboy Bebop, Sweet Tooth was among of a handful of Hollywood television series and movies to be granted border exemptions by the New Zealand government several weeks ago, a crucial step for any overseas production to be able to film in the country, which has largely eradicated COVID-19.

The tentative plan is for the cast to travel to New Zealand in August, where they’ll self-isolate for two weeks ahead of a potential September 7 start of production, according to Deadline.com. 

Ramirez can currently be seen as one of the leads in the first season of Kevin Williamson’s CBS All Access anthology drama series Tell Me a Story, airing on the CW

She previously starred on Marc Cherry’s Lifetime series Devious  Maids and had major roles on ABC’s Once Upon a Time and NBC’s Heroes

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. 

Otmara Marrero to Star in NBC’s Quarantine-Themed Comedy Series “Connecting”

It’s a new connection for Otmara Marrero

The Cuban-American actress has been cast as the lead in NBC’s comedy series Connecting.

Otmara Marrero

Written and executive produced by Martin Gero and Brendan GallConnectingis an ensemble comedy about a group of friends trying to stay close (and sane) through video chats as they share the highs and lows of these extraordinary times.

Last month it received an eight-episode straight-to-series order.

Marrero will play Annie (fka Abby), who identifies as female. Her friends describe her as a hermit who would barely go out, even before the quarantine started.

Universal Television, a division of NBCUniversal Content Studios, is the studio.

Marrero played the female lead in Dick Wolf’s ABC drama pilot reboot New York Undercover, which was produced by Universal Television

She previously starred for three seasons on Sony Crackle’s series StartUp opposite Martin Freeman and Adam Brody

Her film credits include Vandal and Clementine

Gregory Diaz IV Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Gregory Diaz IV has new representation…

The 15-year-old Puerto Rican actor, who stars in Jon Chu’s upcoming Warner Bros. feature musical In The Heights, has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA).

Gregory Diaz IV

Diaz previously appeared on Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and NBC’s New Amsterdam.

Diaz made his name on Broadway with his performance as Bruce in Matilda the Musical in 2016 and also performed Off-Broadway in Pedro PanZurich and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

He plays Sonny de la Vega in In the Heights, which is based on the musical by Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film is scheduled for release in June 2021.

Diaz can also be seen in upcoming comedy film Vampires vs. the Bronx, written and directed by Oz Rodriguez and produced by Lorne Michaels.

NBC Renews J.R. Martinez’s “Manifest” for a Third Season

It’s J. R. Ramirez manifest destiny…

NBC has given the green light for a third season of the missing plane drama series Manifest, starring the Cuban-American actor.

J.R. Martinez in Manifest

From Jeff Rake and Warner Bros. Television, the series is influenced by the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible.

The season 2 finale drew solid numbers, earning a 0.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic and 4.58 million viewers, with the series averaging a 1.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.7 million viewers in live plus seven, according to Nielsen.

In addition to Martinez, who portrays Detective Jared Vasquez, Manifest also stars Melissa RoxburghJosh DallasAthena KarkanisLuna Blaise, Jack MessinaParveen Kaur and Matt Long.

NBC Renews Manny Montana’s “Good Girls” for Fourth Season

There’s good (girls) news for Manny Montana

NBC has ordered a fourth season of Good Girls, featuring the 36-year-old Mexican actor in the supporting cast.

Manny Montana

Hailing from creator Jenna BansGood Girls, whose third season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting production shutdown, has done well ratings-wise. 

The series averaged a 0.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 3.4 million viewers overall in L+7 Nielsens, with the show’s February 16 season premiere growing to a 3.3 rating in 18-49 and 7.8 million viewers with digital and linear viewing recorded to date. Digital 18-49 viewership also grew this season versus last by 50%, making it NBC’s #2 show this season on digital platforms.

Written and executive produced by Bans, Good Girlsstars Christina Hendricks, Retta and Mae Whitman as three suburban moms who get tired of trying to make ends meet and decide it’s time to stick up for themselves by robbing the local grocery store. But when the manager catches a glimpse of one of them and the loot is far more than they expected, it doesn’t take long for the three best friends to realize the perfect getaway will be harder than they think.

In addition to Montana, who portrays Rio, the cast also includes Reno WilsonLidya JewettIsaiah Stannard and Matthew Lillard.

Montana previously starred on television in Rosewood, Graceland and Conviction.

Krysta Rodriguez to Take Part in Special “Smash” Virtual Cast Reunion to Benefit Actors Fund

Krysta Rodriguezis ready for a Smashing reunion…

The 35-year-old Latina actress/singer is expected to take part in a virtual Smash cast reunion.

Krysta Rodriguez,

Rodriguez, who portrayed Ana Vargas on NBC’s 2012-2013 musical series, will appear in the one-night-only Actors Fund benefit event alongside her Smashcastmates Jaime CeperoWill ChaseBrian d’Arcy JamesJack DavenportAnn HaradaJeremy JordanAndy MientusLeslie Odom Jr. and Wesley Taylor.

The show’s stars Debra MessingKatharine McPheeChristian BorleMegan Hilty and other cast members will virtually reunite on May 20 for a streaming of the 2015 Bombshell in Concert, with Renée Zellwegerintroducing the event and Julie Klausner hosting a live, virtual cast reunion.

The concert of the show-within-the-show about the life of Marilyn Monroewas taped at Broadway’s Minskoff Theateron June 8, 2015, an event that remains one of the most successful fundraisers ever for The Actors FundBombshell– the creation of which formed the plot of Smash– features a score by Marc Shaimanand Scott Wittman, who also served as executive producers of Smash.

Rodriguez and her cast members will appear in a livestream reunion during the intermission. 

The concert and reunion will stream on Wednesday, May 20, at 8:00 pm ET on people.com, PeopleTV, and People social platforms.

Tony Awardwinner and Actors Fund chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell said, “Bombshell in Concertwill be a wonderful evening to share this benefit night with fans far and wide, and will raise much-needed funds to help The Actors Fund continue to help everyone in need in our entertainment community across the country.”

In the past seven weeks, The Actors Fund has distributed $10.1 million in emergency financial assistance to 8,558 people in need due to the current COVID-19pandemic, or more than five times the funds normally provided in a year.

Smashwas based on an original idea by Steven Spielberg, who was also executive producer of the series, and created by Theresa Rebeck.

Bad Bunny to Take Part in LeBron James’ “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” Special

Bad Bunnyis celebrating the Class of 2020

The LeBron James Family Foundation announced that it’s paying tribute to the class of 2020 with a one-hour multimedia event called Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, with the 26-year-old Puerto Rican reggaeton and Latin trap singer joining the roster of participating artists.

Bad Bunny

James’ virtual graduation party for this year’s graduation class, who’s seen their school year cancelled because of the coronavirus, will take place on Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 pm ET simultaneously on NBCABCCBS, and Fox— as well as on the streaming platforms Complex NetworksFacebook app, InstagramPeople TVSnapchatTikTok and YouTube.

In addition to Bad Bunny, the lineup includes Kane BrownLana CondorDavid DobrikDolan TwinsKarol GLiza KoshyMaren Morris, National Teacher of the Year Rodney RobinsonOlivia WildeZendaya, Charli D’AmelioDixie D’AmelioChika, YBN Cordae, Loren GrayH.E.R., the Jonas BrothersBrandan Bmike Odums, Ben PlattHenry PlattJonah Platt, Megan RapinoeYara ShahidiLena Waithe, Pharrell WilliamsMalala Yousafzaiand many more.

Working with the XQ Instituteand The Entertainment Industry Foundation, the show will allow the companies to honor the more than three million high school seniors who’ll miss out on the annual rite of passage due to the national shutdown caused by the COVID-19pandemic.

“We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics,” said James in a statement.

“It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together—students, parents, educators, community members, and everyone around them. With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time. These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized. While this won’t be the graduation experience they were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special because they deserve it.”

The commercial-free show will be curated by high school students and educators from across the country, with support from the American Federation of Teachers, highlighted by a collection of commencement addresses, celebrity performances and inspirational vignettes.

Students, educators, and families are encouraged to submit their videos and photos online for consideration to be included in the telecast using #GraduateTogether. Artist JR is also inviting seniors to share their portraits for a national virtual yearbook celebrating the entire Class of 2020

Local TV stations will feature custom breakaways to celebrate the achievements of high school students in their communities.

Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020will be broadcast commercial-free on May 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.