Mandy Gonzalez to Perform on PBS’ Virtual Independence Day Concert, “A Capitol Fourth”

Mandy Gonzalez has found her Independence

The 41-year-old half Mexican American actress/singer, best known for her leading roles on Broadway, will perform on PBS’ virtual Independence Day concert, A Capitol Fourth.

Mandy Gonzalez

Due to the continued coronavirus pandemic, PBS opted for a virtual Fourth of July event, instead of cancelling it completely.

A Capitol Fourth, now in its 40th year, will feature pre-taped performances from around the country, hosted by John Stamos and Vanessa Williams.

In addition to Gonzalez, who played Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked and originated the role of Nina Rosario in the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of the musical In the Heights, performers include Patti LaBelleJohn FogertyRenee Fleming,The TemptationsTrace AdkinsAndy GrammerYolanda Adams, Brantley GilbertLauren AlainaBrian Stokes-MitchellKelli O’Hara, and members of the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jack Everly.

Segments for the eventare being pre-taped, and the special also will feature highlights from previous years.

The 90-minute show also will feature a tribute by Stamos to workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis, with Chrissy Metz singing I’m Standing with You.

There will also be segments honoring African American heroes from the past and present, and a salute to wounded warriors. A live segment of the special will feature the annual fireworks display over the D.C. skyline.

“For four decades A Capitol Fourth has paid tribute to our nation’s birthday and the hopes and dreams of all Americans,” said executive producer Michael Colbert. “This year, our broadcast will reflect the reality of what we as a country have faced and the challenges ahead, while showcasing our message of inclusion, patriotism and love.”

The special will air on PBS on July 4 at 8:00 pm ET, and will be heard on the American Forces Network and in stereo over NPR member stations.  The concert also will be streamed on FacebookYouTube and PBS.org and will be available on demand from July 4-18.

Jimmy Smits Taking Part in PBS’ Virtual “National Memorial Day Concert”

Jimmy Smits is honoring the military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces in a special way…

The 64-year-old half-Puerto Rican actor will be taking part in the National Memorial Day Concert.

Jimmy Smits

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s show will be a virtual concert. But creators hope it takes on a special resonance.

“These important rituals and holidays have a whole meaning for all of this time too,” said executive producer Michael Colbert. “We are certainly completely focused on what Memorial Day is, but I feel like at this time it is touching so many of us today.”

The National Memorial Day Concert willair on PBS on Sunday at 8:00 pm ET. The 90-minute show honors members of the military and veterans with performances and personal stories, it’s is a 31-year tradition.

Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise are returning to host the event, with a line up that includes former Secretary of State Colin PowellCynthia ErivoRenée FlemingTrace Adkins, CeCe WinansKelli O’HaraMary McCormack, Christopher Jackson and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly, as well as General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The broadcast will also feature performances from previous concerts, including those by Sam ElliottLaurence Fishburne and Esai Morales.

Colbert believes that the concert, which has honored sacrifices made in wars of the past, sends an important message for what the country is going through today. The event also will spotlight those who have been on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis, including first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, truck drivers and postal workers.

“We just felt that, to have that focus on what we have already gone through, will bring a real connection to people to what is going on today, to show that we are going to get through this,” he said.

Also woven throughout the show will be messages from entertainers and other artists directed at members of the military, veterans and front-line workers. The list includes Chris EvansGeorge Clooney, Gwyneth PaltrowJulianne MooreJimmy KimmelMark Wahlberg and Smits. 

The National Memorial Day Concert also will air on the American Forces Network, and will be streamed on YouTube and Facebook, as well as PBS.org. It also will be available on demand.

Here’s the list of performers with taped messages: Anthony RamosBlair UnderwoodBrian TeeChely WrightChris EvansCourteney CoxDenis LearyDule HillGeorge ClooneyGraham GreeneGwyneth PaltrowJaina Lee OrtizJennifer GarnerJimmy KimmelJimmy SmitsJon HammJulianne MooreLindsey VonnLisa KudrowMarcia Gay HardenMark WahlbergMilo VentimiglioNoah WylieRita MorenoS. Epatha MerkersonSteven WeberSugar Ray LeonardVanessa Williams.

Also participating in new and some past selected performances are members from the U.S. Army Herald TrumpetsThe U.S. Army Chorus, the U.S. Army Voices and Downrange, the Soldiers’ Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

Aida Rodriguez Developing Comedy Series Based on Her Life for HBO Max

Aida Rodriguez soon be livin’ life to the Max

HBO Max has put in development a half-hour comedy series based on the life of the 42-year-old Puerto Rican/Dominican American comedian, starring and co-written by Rodriguez.

Aida Rodriguez

Co-written by Rodriguez, Chris Caseand Nastaran Dibai, the project examines the struggle of an Afro-Latina comedian (Rodriguez) who is trying to kick start a career while raising two very different teenagers on her own over multiple time zones. It’s an uplifting story of survival and triumph in the face of a darkly funny Miami ghetto upbringing, where she learned skills that allowed her to thrive and survive.

Rodriguez, Case and Dibai executive produce with Tiffany Haddishvia She Ready Productionsand Evan Silverbergand Daniel Rappaportfor Management 360.

Rodriguez was one of six comedians whose half-hour stand-up specialswere featured by Haddish in Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Readyfor Netflix

Rodriguez made history as the first Latina to appear in two specials aired in one month on both HBOand Showtime. Rodriguez has also appeared on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, the finals of NBC’sLast Comic Standing. And she’sa five-time host of the PBS’ Imagen Awards, and a regular panelist onThe Young Turks

Monica Hernandez to Moderate the Next Democratic Presidential Debate

Monica Hernandezis getting political…

The Latina broadcast journalist and WMUR-TV anchor/reporter will serve as a moderator at the next Democratic presidential debate, alongside ABC News chief anchor George StephanopoulosWorld News Tonight’s David Muir, ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis, and WMUR-TV’s Adam Sexton.

Monica Hernandez

The debate is set for February 7 at 8:00 pm ET in Manchester, New Hampshire, wedged between the Iowa Caucusesfour days before and the New Hampshire primary four days after.

The eighth debate of the primary cycle is hosted by ABC News, WMUR-TV and Apple News. It is set at St. Anselm Collegein Manchester and will air on ABCHearst Television’s WMUR-TV, Apple News and on ABC News Live.

So far, all six of the candidates who qualified for the previous debate – Joe BidenPete ButtigiegAmy KlobucharBernie SandersTom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren— appear to have met the fundraising and polling thresholds to qualify for the debate. Another way in per Democratic National Committeerules would be to score a pledged delegate in Iowa.

The qualifying criteria involving grassroots fundraising (225,000 individual donors with 1,000 unique donors or more per state) likely will keep out candidate Michael Bloomberg, who is self-financing.

The previous debate hosted by CNNat Drake Universityin Des Moines, Iowa on January 14 drew an estimated 7.3 million viewers, a slight uptick from the 6.17 million who watched the debate in December, sponsored by PBSand Politico, and the 6.5 million who watched November’s event, hosted by MSNBC.

The New Hampshire debate is the second of four in each of the key voting states. Next up is February 19 in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC with The Nevada Independent, and February 25 in in Charleston, SC, hosted by CBS News, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and Twitter.

Soledad O’Brien Named to Peabody Board of Directors

Soledad O’Brien is on board

In an effort to advance the organization’s commitment to storytelling, Peabody has appointed six new members to its bicoastal board of directors, including the 53-year-old half-Afro-Cuban American journalist.

Soledad O'Brien

Joining O’Brien, a presenter on HBO’s Real Sportsand host of Hearst Television’s Matter Of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, on the board are Chris McCarthyViacomCBS’ newly appointed president of entertainment and youth brands, and ESPN’s executive vice president of content, Connor Schell.

NPReditorial director Nancy Barnesand UnivisionCommunications’ executive vice president of government and corporate affairs Jessica Herrera-Flaniganhave also joined the board.

The five executives will serve on Peabody’s East Coast board, with the sixth new arrival, CAApartner Steven Lafferty, joining the organization’s West Coast board.

The bicoastal boards are distinct from the traditional board of jurors, which hands out the Peabody Awards. Existing board members include Vicechief Nancy DubucPBS CEO Paula Kergerand Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Peabody executive director Jeffrey Jonessaid: “The intellectual capital and energy our boards bring is unparalleled, and we are excited to welcome these new members as they help us extend our reach through new partnerships and public engagements.”

Netflix to Premiere Gina Rodriguez’s Animated Series “Carmen Sandiego” in January

Gina Rodriguez will be traveling the Worldsoon…

Netflix has announced a January premiere date for its upcoming reboot of the classic animated series Carmen Sandiego, featuring the voice of the 34-year-old Puerto Rican actress and Jane the Virgin star in the title role.

Gina Rodriguez

The new Carmen Sandiego features not only a new crop of international capers packed but will look into Carmen’s past to tell who she is and why she became a super thief. Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) voices Player, Carmen’s chief accomplice and friend.

Carmen Sandiego

The character debuted in a 1980s computer game franchise Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and probably is best known for the Greg Lee-hosted game show that aired on PBS from 1991-95. The animated series ran from 1994 to 1999 on Fox Kids.

Carmen Sandiego debuts Friday, January 18 on the internet TV network.

Gloria & Emilio Estefan: First Hispanic Musicians to Receive the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize

Gloria and Emilio Estefan have earned an extra special prize…

The 61-year-old Cuban singer and her 65-year-old Cuban producer husband will receive this year’s Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Gloria & Emilio Estefan

The Estefans usher in two firsts for the prize: This year marks the first time it has been awarded to a married couple and the first time it’s awarded to musicians/songwriters of Hispanic descent.

“Emilio and Gloria Estefan… are the creative force behind the popularity of music steeped in the Latino culture,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “This dynamic couple’s professional and personal journey truly mirrors the American dream and we are so pleased to honor their musical legacy.”

Married since 1978, the Estefans catapulted to global fame in 1985 with Miami Sound Machine, creating a unique sound that blended Latin and pop rhythms that pulsed through hits including “Conga,” “Turn the Beat Around,” “Get on Your Feet” and “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You.”

The Estefans were each named BMI’s songwriter of the year and between them have garnered 26 Grammys. Their life story and music were showcased in the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical On Your Feet!, which they executive produced. In addition to their musical talents, they are also successful entrepreneurs, philanthropists and humanitarians.

Gloria is having a banner year of acknowledgment by the vaunted cultural institutions of the nation’s capital. This past December, Gloria was inducted into the Kennedy Center Honors. She also was part of the ensemble who last year feted 2017’s Gershwin Prize tribute to Tony Bennett.

The Estefans will receive the prize at an all-star tribute concert in March in Washington, D.C., that will later be aired on PBS.

Esai Morales to Star in Sony Pictures’ “Superfly” Remake

Esai Morales’ career is soaring to new heights…

The 55-year-old Puerto Rican actor will star in the Director X-helmed Superfly remake from Sony Pictures, which will debut in theaters June 15.

Esai Morales

Morales will portray play Adalberto.

The Alex Tse-penned script is based on the 1972 original blaxploitation crime drama, which followed an African American cocaine dealer who tries to secure one more deal before getting out of the business.

Morales joins a cast that includes Trevor Jackson, Jason MitchellLex Scott Davis, Andrea Londo, Jacob Ming-Trent, Omar Chapparo, and Allen Maldonado.

Joel Silver is producing the film with rap star Future, who is also putting together the film’s soundtrack.

Morales, who currently stars on ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder, rose to acclaim in the Richie Valens biopic La Bamba. He’s also appeared in PBSAmerican Family, Showtime’s Resurrection Blvd., NYPD Blue and Caprica.

Salma Hayek Earns Movies for Grownups Awards Nomination from AARP

Salma Hayek’s all grown up with reason to celebrate…

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has announced its nominees for the 17th Annual Movies for Grownups Awards, with the 51-year-old Mexican actress earning a nod.

Salma Hayek

Hayek is nominated in the Best Actress category for her performance in Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner.

She’s nominated opposite Annette Bening (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Meryl Streep (The Post).

Guillermo del Toro earned a nod in the Best Director category and one in the Best Screenwriter category for the 53-year-old Mexican filmmaker’s Golden Globe-winning drama The Shape of Water, which earned a nod for Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Chavela, a film about the life of Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, who gained worldwide fame for her beauty and charm and her interpretation of traditional ranchera, earned a nomination in the Best Foreign Film category.

Winners will be honored at the annual awards at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles on Monday, February 5 with Alan Cumming as host.

Co-produced by the Great Performances series, the awards will be broadcast for the first time on Friday, February 23 at 9:00 pm on PBS.

Here’s the complete list of nominees:

Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups
Get Out, Lady Bird, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actress
Annette Bening (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool), Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul), Salma Hayek (Beatriz at Dinner), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Meryl Streep (The Post)

Best Actor
Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Tom Hanks (The Post), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)

Best Supporting Actress
Holly Hunter (The Big Sick), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Melissa Leo (Novitiate), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Laurence Fishburne (Last Flag Flying), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), and Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World)

Best Director
Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Reginald Hudlin (Marshall), Ridley Scott (All the Money in the World) and Steven Spielberg (The Post)

Best Screenwriter
Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), James Ivory (Call Me by Your Name), Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour), Steven Rogers (I, Tonya), Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game)

Best Ensemble
Get Out, Girls Trip, Last Flag Flying, Mudbound, Murder on the Orient Express

Best Grownup Love Story
Breathe, Films Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, The Leisure Seeker, Our Souls at Night, The Greatest Showman

Best Intergenerational Film
The Big Sick, The Florida Project, Lady Bird, Marjorie Prime, Wonder

Best Time Capsule
Battle of the Sexes, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, I, Tonya, The Post

Readers’ Choice Poll
Beauty and the Beast, Dunkirk, Get Out, Girls Trip, Last Flag Flying, Murder on the Orient Express, The Post, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wonder, Wonder Woman

Best Documentary
Dolores, Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, I Am Not Your Negro, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo

Best Foreign Film
Chavela (Mexico), The Insult (Lebanon), Like Crazy (Italy), A Taxi Driver (South Korea), The Women’s Balcony (Israel)

Rodriguez to Voice Title Character in Netflix’s Animated Series “Carmen Sandiego”

Where in the world is Gina Rodriguez? Well, you’ll soon find out…

Netflix is developing an animated reboot of the once-popular children’s series Carmen Sandiego, with the 32-year-old Puerto Rican actress and Jane the Virgin star voicing the title character.

Gina Rodriguez

Produced by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the 20-episode Carmen Sandiego will feature a new crop of international capers, as well as a look into Carmen’s past to reveal who she is and why she became a super thief.

Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) will voice Player, Carmen’s chief accomplice and friend.

The character debuted in a 1980s computer game franchise Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and probably is best known for the Greg Lee-hosted game show that aired on PBS from 1991-95.

Before her breakout role on Jane the Virgin, Rodriguez, a Golden Globe winner for her performance on the CW series, previously appeared on television in Rizzoli & Isles, Longmire, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Mentalist and Happy Endings.