PBS’ POV Acquires Rights to Cecilia Aldarondo’s Documentary “Landfall,” About Puerto Rico’s Post-Hurricane Maria Rebuilding Efforts

Cecilia Aldarondo will be enlightening people on Puerto Rico’s post-Hurricane Maria rebuilding efforts.

PBS’ documentary series POV has acquired U.S. broadcast rights to Landfall, the Puerto Rican documentary filmmaker’s feature-length film about the rebuilding of Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria through the stories of farmers, fishermen, educators, real estate agents and newcomers.

Cecilia Aldarondo

The documentary, which had its premiere at the mostly shuttered Tribeca Film Festival, will now air as part of POV’s 34th season set to launch on PBS stations in June. Before that, it will screen at DOC NYC, which runs November 11-19.

The island and its 3.4 million residents (and U.S. citizens) was ravaged by the September 2017 storm, which shuttered electricity to the entire commonwealth and caused billions in damages, leaving behind a crippled infrastructure and a multibillion-dollar debt. Outside investors descended not as much to bail out communities but to cash in, leaving the next generation of Puerto Ricans finding themselves at an inflection point between the dream of a socialist utopia and the reality of recolonization.

Landfall is a co-production of Blackscrackle Films, ITVS, and American Documentary | POV in association with Field of Vision and Latino Public Broadcasting, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Landfall is a cautionary tale about unjust recovery, and what happens when powerful interests try to privatize public services in the wake of disaster,” Aldarondo said. “Now that we’re all facing the biggest disaster of our lifetimes, we need public media like POV to champion the visionary, ethical, and independent media we need for a healthy society. I can’t think of a better home for my film.”

“Cecilia’s masterpiece is both a sharp condemnation of the continued colonial exploitation of Puerto Rico and a warm embrace of the land and her people,” executive producer Chris White said. “Rendered with a singular vision and deep affection, you’ll be swept into solidarity with these native Puerto Ricans who resist and rebuild.”

Selena Gomez to Receive Arts Award During This Year’s Hispanic Heritage Awards

Selena Gomez is being recognized for representin’…

The 28-year-old Mexican American singer will receive the Arts Award during the 33rd Hispanic Heritage Awards, which will air on October 6 on PBS stations and streamed on PBS.org.

Selena Gomez

At the same ceremony, Bad Bunny will receive the Vision Award, and actress Jessica Alba will receive the Business Award for her entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there won’t be a live ceremony. The PBS special will feature filmed performances from across the U.S. and Latin America.

The awards were created by the White House in 1987 and commemorate the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S.

Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, said in a statement that he is “thrilled to recognize Selena Gomez with the Arts Award for her impact on American and global culture through her music [and] movies but also for her courage as an advocate for mental health.”

In April of this year, Gomez revealed that she has bipolar disorder. She has discussed her condition in several interviews.

In his statement, Tijerino praised Gomez’s courage in opening up about her mental health challenges.

“There’s power in vulnerability and Selena has made it okay to talk about difficult issues we all deal with, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Selena is a role model for so many for so many reasons.”

Gomez has been a pop star for more than a decade, first as the leader of Selena Gomez & the Scene, and since 2013 as a solo artist. All three of her solo studio albums, Stars Dance, Revival and Rare, have reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

In November 2019, Lose You to Love Me” became her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

Bad Bunny to Receive Hispanic Heritage Award for Vision

Bad Bunny’s vision is being recognized…

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican singer/rapper will receive the  Hispanic Heritage Award for Vision from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) during this year’s Hispanic Heritage Awards.

Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny, who is also known for his activism, will receive the award during the awards broadcast on PBS stations on October 6.

Bad Bunnyjoins past honorees like fellow hitmaker J Balvin who received the vision award in 2016 and brother-sister duo Jesse & Joy, the 2018 winners.

“The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is honored to recognize the transcendent impact of Bad Bunny as an artist and as an activist through the Vision Award,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of HHF.

He continued, “Bad Bunny understands his responsibility to serve as a powerful voice for those who need to be heard as well as a source of inspiration for our youth.  He radiates his Latinx and Puerto Rican pride in everything he does from the stage to the community to the entire world.”

Now in its 33rd edition, the Hispanic Heritage Awards recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Latino leaders in various fields while celebrating cultural pride and the great promise to America.

This year will see the Hispanic Heritage Awards broadcast on PBS presented in a “unique documentary style,” and will include honoree profiles and special performances filmed in intimate settings.

Steven Canals Developing Gay Rights-Themed Limited Series “81 Words” for FX

Steven Canals is ready to spread the Words

FX is developing the limited series 81 Words,from the 39-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican screenwriter, producer and Pose co-creator, Pal Pictures and 20th Century Fox Television.

Steven Canals

Written by Canals, the series centers on gay rights pioneers Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.

It’s based on Alix Spiegel’s award-winning This American Life episode, “81 Words” and the soon-to-be-released PBS documentary Cured,directed by Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon.

Until 1974, the medical establishment considered gay people sexually deviant and diagnosed them as mentally ill.

81 Words tells the true story of gay activists Kameny an Gittings, who risked their careers and reputations to conspire with the GAYPA – a clandestine group of closeted psychiatrists – and challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of homosexuality.

Canals will executive- produce the project via his Story Ave. Productions.

Canals is the co-creator and executive producer, alongside Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, of the Emmy– and Golden Globe-nominated and Peabody Award-winning drama series Pose.

The series, named one of the Best TV Programs of the Year by the American Film Institute in 2018 and 2019, will return for its third season in 2021. 

Canals was a staff writer on Freeform’s Dead of Summer and made his television directorial debut with the eighth episode of the second season of Pose titled “Revelations.”

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.