Isabella Gomez to Star on Comedy Pilot Reboot of ABC’s 1980s Sitcom “Head of the Class”

Isabella Gomez is moving up to the head of the class

The 22-year-old Colombian-American actress and One Day at a Time has been cast as the lead of HBO Max’s multi-camera comedy pilot Head of the Class, a reboot of the popular 1980s ABC sitcom.

Isabella Gomez

Gomez’s casting reveals a gender swap in the follow-up as the lead in the original series was played by Howard Hesseman.

HBO Max in May ordered a pilot and five additional scripts for Head of the Class, which hails from American Vandal writers Amy Pocha and Seth CohenBill Lawrence and his Doozer Productions; and Warner Bros. Television, which produced the original series.

Written by Pocha and Cohen, based on the original series created by Rich Eustis and Michael Elias, the reimagined Head of the Class revolves around a group of overachieving high school students who meet their greatest challenge — a first-time teacher, Alicia Adams (Gomez), who wants them to focus less on grades and more on experiencing life.

Gomez’s Alicia Adams is a whip-smart, funny, blunt high school teacher we all wish we had. A former GPA junkie, Alicia thought she had the world all figured out when she was in school. Teaching for the first time, Alicia’s is figuring out what she really wants in life.

Created by Eustis and Elias, Head of the Class ran on ABC from 1986-91. It followed a group of gifted students at the fictional Millard Fillmore High School in Manhattan and their history teacher Charlie Moore (Hesseman).

Gomez most recently played Elena Alvarez on the acclaimed multi-camera comedy One Day at a Time. The series was on Netflix for three seasons before it was canceled and moved to PopTV for Season 4. The ViacomCBS cable network on Tuesday revealed that it has canceled the comedyOne Day at a Time studio Sony Pictures Television is currently trying to find a new home for the show. It’s considered a long shot, but if it happens and if Head of the Class is picked up to series, Gomez can do both shows.

Gomez’s previous credits also include Shatterproof Films’ Dembanger, Disney Channel’s Big Hero 6: The Series, Netflix’s A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish and ABC’s Modern Family.

Tanya Saracho Among Top TV & Film Creators Demanding More Latinx Representation in Hollywood

Tanya Saracho is calling for more Latinx representation in Hollywood…

The Mexican playwright, screenwriter and actress is among some of the top creators in television and film who are demanding for change when it comes to Latinx representation as Hispanic Heritage Months comes to an end.

Tanya Saracho

In an open letter to Hollywood more than 270 Latinx showrunners, creators, and television and feature writers, including Saracho, Lin-Manuel MirandaGloria Calderon-Kellett, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Steven Canals, John Leguizamo, Linda Yvette-Chavez, Carolina Paiz, Marco Ramirez, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and more are calling for systemic change in the entertainment industry.

The letter begins: “As we come to the end of Hispanic Heritage Month in the midst of a global pandemic and continued racial injustice, many of us in the Latinx community have found it difficult to celebrate. Inspired by the activism of the Black and Indigenous communities, many of whom also identify as Latinx, we stand in solidarity with our fellow Black, Native and Indigenous writers, co-signing their WGAW Open Letters and echoing their demands for systemic change in our industry.”

“As Latinx Showrunners, Creators, TV and Feature Writers, we are incensed by the continued lack of Latinx representation in our industry, especially among the Black and Indigenous members of our community,” the letter continues. “Our stories are important, and our erasure onscreen contributes to the persistent prejudice that prevents real change in this country. This prejudice is not as overt as the one that keeps immigrant children in cages and separates families at the border, or as violent as the racism that is killing our Black, Brown, and Indigenous community members at the hands of police.”

“But when we are onscreen, we’re often relegated to stereotypes or villains. And as a recent​ ​New York Times OpEd​ states, ‘White elites cannot muffle a huge, vibrant community for decades and not expect consequences. For Latinos in the Trump era, these consequences are deadly, from Hurricane Maria to the Walmart shooting in El Paso and the pandemic, as well as soaring hate crimes.’”

The letter points out that the Latinx community makes up 18.3% of the U.S. population but it is not reflected in film and TV. There are only 4.7% feature writers and 8.7% TV writers that are Latinx. As Latinx writers move up to Showrunner level, the stats only get more dismal. “By refusing to tell our stories AND by refusing to put us in charge of telling them — Hollywood power brokers are complicit in our exclusion,” the letter remarks.

This is even further supported by a recent study from CAA and Parrot Analytics, which shows that even though television shows are a lot more diverse than they were three years ago, not all racial and ethnic groups were equally well represented in scripted debuts. Latinos and Hispanics remain significantly underrepresented despite being one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country.

While there are shows like One Day At A Time that having managed to get multiple season orders, there have been other Latino-fronted shows in the past years, like The Baker and the Beauty and United We Fall — that have been canceled before getting the chance to find their footing beyond one season.

The letter can be summarized with three words included heavily throughout: “We are tired.”

The open letter does not mince words with the demands and draws out exactly what needs to be done including creating stories for and about the Latinx community by Latinx creators; greenlighting Latinx-fronted projects; respecting all aspects and intersections of the Latinx cultural representation; and hiring Latinx creators for non-Latinx projects.

The letter, which was posted on social channels with the hashtag #EndLatinXclusion, closes with “Stories are powerful. Stories change the world. Let’s get on the right side of history so we can continue to create needed change and tell captivating stories together.”

This initiative was launched by the Untitled Latinx Project (ULP) founded by Saracho. It’s an all-Latina advocacy group formed to increase representation of Latinx created stories for television. The goal of this call to action was uniting the professional community of Latinx writers, creators and showrunners.

Read the letter in full here.

AFI to Honor Rita Moreno During This Year’s Virtual AFI Fest

Rita Moreno is ready to talk shop as part of a special night…

The 88-year-old Puerto Rican Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress will be honored during this year’s virtual AFI Fest, which will take place from October 15-22.

Rita Moreno

Moreno, who currently stars on PopTV’s One Day at a Time, will be honored alongside Sofia CoppolaKirby Dick and Mira Nair, with each taking par t in an evening of conversation celebrating their careers.

“Artists of this caliber are essential players in our global culture,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “To honor each of them – and all of them – at AFI FEST will prove a symphony of talent at a time the world needs it most.”

Moreno’s career began with a Broadway debut at 13 years old. Since then she has won all four of the most prestigious awards in show business – an Oscar, a Tony, two Emmys, and a Grammy – as well as a Peabody Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. Moreno has also been recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

Moreno received an Honorary Degree from the AFI Conservatory in 2016.

Moreno is starring in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, which will debut in theaters in December of 2021. She currently stars on the remake of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom, One Day at a Time. 

Justina Machado to Compete on ABC’s Upcoming Season of “Dancing With The Stars”

Justina Machado’s ready to paso doble her way into your hearts…

The 47-year-old Puerto Rican actress, who currently stars on PopTV’s One Day at a Time, will compete on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars this season.

Justina Machado

Machado will compete against Tiger King’s Carole Baskin, rapper Nelly, Selling Sunset’s Chrishell Stause and NBA legend Charles Oakley among others for the coveted DTWS mirrorball trophy.

The ABC celebrity ballroom dancing competition series, based on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, will premiere on September 14 with new host Tyra Banks.

This season’s other competirors include Monica Aldama, star of Netflix’s Cheer, Disney Channel actress Skai Jackson, The Real’s Jeannie Mai, Catfish’s Nev Schulman, Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, Super Bowl champion Vernon Davis, Anne Heche, Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean, and The Bachelor’s Kaitlyn Bristowe.

This season’s professional dancers include Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burgess, Cheryl Burke, Artem Chigvintsev, Val Chmerkovskiy, Sasha Farber, Jenna Johnson, Daniella Karagach, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Pasha Pashkov, Gleb Savchenko, Emma Slater and Britt Stewart.

In addition to hosting, Banks will also serve as an executive producer this season. She replaces Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews as the show’s host in season 29.

One of the challenges for this season is to ensure that the production adheres to COVID-19 protocols, a trickier move for a dance competition format than many other productions. Details of the health and safety protocols and other format refreshes are expected imminently.

Joaquin Castro & Congressional Hispanic Caucus Urge Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to Update Diversity in the Media Report

Joaquin Castro is calling for a more diverse media…

In a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – chaired by the 45-year-old Mexican American politician and U.S. Representative for Texas’ 20th congressional district – is urging the commission to update its “Diversity in the Media: A Chart Book for Selected Industries” report, which hasn’t been updated since 2004.

Joaquin Castro

The call to action furthers Castro and the CHC’s efforts to increase diversity in media and entertainment and to have a baseline of data for transparency and ultimately greater accountability in the industry.

The letter is addressed to EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon, as well as EEOC Commissioners Victoria A. Lipnic and Charlotte A. Burrows and discusses the importance of having a baseline of data for transparency and ultimately greater accountability.

The 2004 report lays out data on the diversity in media in three major categories: broadcasting, publishing and cable.

With the advent of streaming and the surge of digital content, the CHC points out that the media industry has “drastically changed” since the report was released over 16 years ago and it’s time that revisions be made.

Castro and the CHC requested the EEOC update the report no more than 60 days from the receipt of the letter. They also are looking for updates every 30 days until the final report is released.

The CHC broke it down and requested that the new report include:

  1.  Disaggregated data on race, ethnicity and gender by individual industry rather than the grouping format used in 2004.
  2.  New industries such as digital content and streaming provider
  3.  Updated data for all positions in each industry from entry level up to and including Executive level positi
  4.  When possible, data on salaries and wages disaggregated by race, ethnicity and gender for each of the employee categories, including Executive level positions for each industry.

“While discrimination and lack of equal opportunity for underrepresented groups is present in many fields, the media industry is unique in its ability to influence the broader culture and shape the perception of entire groups,” the letter stated. “When Latinos do not have the opportunity to shape the media’s depiction of our communities, it ultimately emboldens a misunderstanding of our communities that weakens the social fabric of American society. The CHC views greater transparency around employment data through publicly available information as critical to increasing representation for Latinos and other underrepresented communities.”

An updated report would hopefully help move the needle further as Hollywood tries to become more inclusive when it comes to talent in front of and behind the camera — specifically in a time when the country is seeing a social and civic reckoning.

It also comes after a blatant lack of Latinx representation when it came to Emmy award nominations, even though the television landscape was filled with Latinx-led shows like Vida, One Day At A Time and Gentefied.

Pose has been an Emmy favorite and although star Billy Porter was nominated, there was no love for show co-creator Steven Canals or series stars Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore, who’ve delivered stellar work on the FX drama.

The new ABC comedy United We Fall features Latinx characters but with the cancellation of The Baker and the Beauty, there’s a glaring absence of shows with a majority Latinx cast on a major network.

Last fall, Castro led a congressional delegation to Los Angeles where the CHC met with several studios and streamers, talent agencies, as well as union and guilds. Congress has worked to include this language in almost all of the major funding bills during the Appropriations process and in the National Defense Authorization Act. The CHC has regular conversations with stakeholders regarding the state of the industry. Most recently the CHC had meetings with Amazon Studios and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as they develop their new 2025 diversity initiatives to ensure that Latinos are included in these goals on diversity.

The letter was signed by Castro, Robert Menendez (Co-Chair, Diversity Taskforce), Tony Cárdenas (Co-Chair, Diversity Taskforce) as well as members of Congress José E. SerranoRuben GallegoGilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.Juan Vargas and Nydia M. Velázquez.

Gloria Calderón Kellett Teams Up with Natasha Rothwell for the HBO Max Film “We Were There, Too”

Gloria Calderón Kellett is There

The 45-year-old Latina television writer/producer, the co-creator and showrunner of Pop TV’s One Day at a Time has joined forces with Natasha Rothwell for We Were There, Too, a coming of age feature for HBO Max.

Gloria Calderón Kellett

Rothwell, a writer and star on HBO’s Insecure, co-wrote the screenplay with Calderón Kellett. 

They’ll produce the project with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter.

The film is a classic 80’s coming of age story set in John Hughes’ Chicago, but in this story the Brat Pack is in the background, and for the first time the focus is on the Brown kids, the LGBTQ kids, the Black kids, the real outsiders, because they were there, too.

Calderón Kellett currently serves as co-creator, co-showrunner, executive producer, director and actress on the critically acclaimed One Day At A Time, the reimagining of the classic 1970s sitcom from Norman Lear that moved from Netflix to Pop TV this season. She recently began a major overall deal with Amazon Studios.

Justina Machado’s Animated “One Day at a Time” Episode to Air Tonight on Pop TV

Justina Machado is getting animated…

The 47-year-old Puerto Rican actress and her One Day at a Timecast mates will lend their voices to tonight’s animated special on Pop TV.

one-day-at-a-time-animated-special-pop-tv

The animated episode is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down television and film production around the world.

The special, titled “The Politics Episode,” will center on a visit from Penelope’s (Machado) conservative cousin Estrellita (Melissa Fumero), Tia Mirtha (Gloria Estefan) and Tio Juanito (Lin-Manuel Miranda). With a presidential election looming, a fight over politics is inevitable.

The series also stars Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz, as Machado’s children. Rita Moreno plays Penelope’s sassy live-in mother. And Todd Grinnell plays their lovable neighbor Schneider.

The original series debuted in 1975 and was developed by the legendary producer Norman Lear. A new iteration of it debuted on Netflix in 2017. After it was canceled, the show found a new home on Pop TV.

Leiomy Maldonado to Take Part in ATX Television Festival’s First-Ever Virtual Event, “ATX TV….From The Couch!”

Leiomy Maldonado is bringing something legendary to this year’s virtual edition of the ATX Television Festival.

The festival’s first ever virtual version, titled “ATX TV….From The Couch!,” will feature a special panel “Extravaganza” with the cast of HBO Max’s new reality voguing competition, Legemdary, including the 33-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican dancer, instructor, model and ballroom dancer, aka “Wonder Woman of Vogue.”

Leiomy Maldonado

Maldonado serves as a judge on the new reality competition series, alongside Megan Thee StallionJameela Jamil and Law Roach.

Peacock will present a Psych panel with creators Steve Franks and Chris Henze, as well as cast members James RodayDulé HillKirsten Nelson, Maggie Lawson and Corbin Bernsen ahead of the premiere of Peacock’s second Psych movie, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home.

Other panels include a conversation with PopTV’s One Day at a Time including showrunner/executive producer/director/actor Gloria Calderón Kellett as well as cast members Justina MachadoRita Moreno, and Isabella Gomez

They’ll join viewers for an informal brunch conversation discussing the June 16 animated special, “The Politics Episode.”

There will also be a table read with the executive producers and cast of Search Party ahead of its debut on HBO Max.

The festival will feature the marquee panel conversation with the cast and creatives of HBO‘s reboot of Perry MasonAudiences will get a first look at the new gritty drama ahead of its June 21 premiere date. 

Hulu will also bring their original series Little Fires Everywhere to the fest with a special panel featuring the shows producers and writers.

FX Networks will present a Justified reunion with the show’sbehind the scenes team and stars Timothy Olyphant and Joelle Carter.

The fest will highlight the ways women support one another in television with a special “Torchlighters” panel, led by Pacesetter principal and executive producer Jessica Rhoades (Dirty John: The Betty Broderick StorySharp ObjectsUtopia) creator/showrunner/executive producer/director Marti Noxon (Sharp ObjectsDietlandTo the Bone), creator/showrunner/executive producer/director Tanya Saracho (Vida), Francesca Orsi (Executive Vice President and Head of Drama at HBO), writer Lindsey Villarreal (Vida) and writer Erika L Johnson (The VillageThe Good Lord Bird), with additional panelists to be announced soon.

ATX’s previously announced programming includes panels for ScrubsCougar TownThe Bold Type, Nancy Drew, New AmsterdamP-Valley and more. The ATX Television Festival will stream for free on ATX’s official YouTube channel, with an option for viewers to donate to fundraising efforts for​ Direct Relief and​ The Actors Fund ​in an effort to benefit those affected by COVID-19.

The event will take place June 5-7. Click here for the complete schedule.

Gloria Calderón Kellett Taking Part in Latinx-Themed Panel for Virtual ATX Television Festival

Gloria Calderón Kellett is representin’…

The 45-year-old Cuban American television writer and One Day at a Time co-showrunner will be taking part in ATX Television Festival’s virtual edition, which has been appropriately titled “ATX TV…From The Couch!” 

Gloria Calderón Kellett

Calderón Kellett will take part in a conversation about Latinx representation on the small screen, alongside Vida creator Tanya SarachoPose’s co-creator Steven Canals and Diary of a Future President’s Ilana Peña.

Calderón Kellett, Saracho, Canals and Peña, some of today’s hottest Latinx content creators, will be “Celebrating Authentic Stories,” the title of their panel. 

They’ll talk about celebrating and continuing the push for positive Latinx representation, as well as how decision-makers within the industry can amplify Latinx voices.

 “ATX TV… from the Couch!” marks the first virtual event for the fest and will include industry-forward panels with showrunners and executives, sneak previews of upcoming series, and virtual events such as television trivia and a music showcase. 

The virtual event will take place June 5-7. It will be free to access via ATX’s official YouTube channe l, with the option for viewers to donate to select organizations providing COVID-19 relief regionally and nationally.

In addition to the Latinx panel, the festival’s virtual line-up will include conversations with cast and creatives from Freeform’s The Bold TypeNBC’s hit drama New Amsterdam, and The CW’s mystery-drama Nancy Drew.

The ATX Television Festival will also include a Scrubs reunion with the show’s creator Bill Lawrence, as well as cast members Zach BraffDonald FaisonSarah Chalke, John C. McGinley, and Judy Reyes. The cast was previously confirmed for ATX Season 9 in Austin, and rescheduled their in-person reunion for the 2021 festival.

Ariela Barer to Star in ABC’s Erin Brockovich-Inspired Drama Pilot “Rebel”

Ariela Barer is ready to rebel

The Mexican American actress will star in ABC’s drama pilot Rebel, inspired by the life of activist Erin Brockovich.

Ariela Barer

Barer will star as a series regular opposite Katey Sagaland Tamala Jonesin the project.

Executive produced by Brockovich, Rebel hails from Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 showrunner Krista VernoffDavis EntertainmentSony Pictures Television and ABC Studios.

Written by Vernoff, Rebel centers on Annie “Rebel” Bello (Sagal), a blue-collar legal advocate without a law degree. A funny, messy, brilliant and fearless woman who cares desperately about the causes she fights for and the people she loves.

Barer will play Ziggie. The rebellious adopted daughter of Aiden and Rebel, Ziggie is going through a bad patch. She got hooked on pain medication after an injury, but has been drug-free for the last 72 days. A teenager who needs to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings on a very regular basis, Ziggie is vulnerable as hell and needs her mother — only her mother is busy-busy-busy with her latest cluster of tormented clients.

Barer most recently played the role of Gert Yorkes in Marvel’s Runaways,and she recurred on Atypical and One Day At A Time

In film, she portrayed Olivia in feature Lady Worldand will next be seen as a lead in upcoming Disfluencyand in a supporting role in The Ultimate Playlist of Noise.