Daniel Espinosa to Direct the Jamal Khashoggi Murder Drama “The Execution”

Daniel Espinosa has a new Post production…

The half-Chilean filmmaker has agreed to develop and direct the Good Films Collective’s The Execution.

Daniel Espinosa

The narrative drama focuses on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian-born dissident and Washington Post columnist who was killed and dismembered after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to get a marriage license. 

The film will explore how it happened, why it happened and what happened in the aftermath. 

Petter Skavlan is attached to write the script.

Espinosa’s previous directing credits include Safe House, Life, Child 44 and Easy Money.

His next project to hit the big screen is the upcoming film Morbius with Jared Leto

Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team that was closely connected to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Rodrigo Garcia to Direct the Drama “Four Good Days”

There are good days in store for Rodrigo Garcia.

The 60-year-old Colombian television and film director is set to direct the drama Four Good Days, about a mother helping her daughter work through four crucial days on the road to recovery from substance abuse.

Rodrigo Garcia

The film will star Glenn CloseMila Kunisand Stephen Root

Launched at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the project is due to begin shooting next week in Los Angeles. 

Root will play the role of Chris, a man worn down by the emotional stress caused by his stepdaughter’s (Kunis) addiction and his wife’s (Close) attempts to save her.

Garcia directs from his own script, co-written by Washington Post 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Saslow, based on Saslow’s article.

Garcia’s credits include the films Nine LivesMother and ChildAlbert NobbsLast Days in the Desert, as well as the HBO drama series In Treatment.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Urges Congress to Help the People of Puerto Rico

Lin-Manuel Miranda is asking Congress for a lifeline…

It has been 85 days since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and people are still struggling in the darkness nearly three months later.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Their plight is the subject of an impassioned op-ed written by the 37-year-old Puerto Rican Broadway star and Hamilton creator.

Appearing in the Washington Post on Thursday (December 14), the piece is entitled “This is What Puerto Ricans Need from the Government. Right Now,” in which he urges Congress to take decisive action to help the residents of the island.

Miranda has spoken out frequently about the need to help following the September 20 landfall of the Category 4 storm that knocked out the power to the island and destroyed thousands of homes, releasing the all-star charity single Like Praying” and visiting last month to hand out food, also announcing a partnership with a nonprofit to raise millions for relief. But it’s not enough and in his Post piece Miranda lays out four concrete things the government can and should do to help.

“Since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico 85 84 days ago, my Uncle Elvin hasn’t had electricity. You read that right. Eighty-five Eighty-four days without being able to turn on a light, or stock a refrigerator, or take a hot shower,” he writes. “Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans on the island cannot do the simple things we all take for granted. Add to this lack of power the destruction of thousands of homes, rural areas still isolated, small businesses not operating and an ever-increasing migration of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland. It will take a long time for Puerto Rico to be totally functional again under the best of circumstances.”

Miranda calls the government’s response so far “painfully slow” and not commensurate with the aid offered to hurricane victims in Texas and Florida, pleading with Washington to increase the island’s Medicaid funding, move quickly on the $94 billion aid package requested by the Puerto Rican government and, most importantly, wipe out the nation’s debt.

In particular, Miranda also pointed out that the $5 billion aid package approved by Congress was followed by a 20 percent import tax on products manufactured in foreign jurisdictions — which applies to P.R. — in the tax-reform bill passed in November, a move he said could cost the island’s fragile economy more than 250,000 jobs.

Read Miranda’s full op-ed below.

Since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico 85 84 days ago, my Uncle Elvin hasn’t had electricity. You read that right. Eighty-five Eighty-four days without being able to turn on a light, or stock a refrigerator, or take a hot shower. Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans on the island cannot do the simple things we all take for granted. Add to this lack of power the destruction of thousands of homes, rural areas still isolated, small businesses not operating and an ever-increasing migration of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland. It will take a long time for Puerto Rico to be totally functional again under the best of circumstances. 

The federal government’s response to the disaster in Puerto Rico has been painfully slow and not commensurate with the hurricane response in Texas and Florida. It reminds me of Ricky Martin’s 1995 song “María.” He sang, “un pasito pa’lante María, un dos tres, un pasito pa’tras.” That’s the reality in Puerto Rico — one step forward, one step backward. We rejoiced when the first package of $5 billion in aid was approved by Congress. But then the House included a 20 percent import tax on products manufactured in foreign jurisdictions in the tax-reform bill it passed in November. Because Puerto Rico would be considered a “foreign jurisdiction” under the bill, this tax would deal a mortal blow to the island’s fragile economy, costing up to 250,000 jobs.

Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and so many of my friends in the artistic community can continue to do fundraising activities. We can march on Washington. I can write music and dedicate proceeds to Puerto Rico; Americans from all walks of life can continue to donate, following the examples of the 150,000 who already donated $22 million to the Hispanic Federation relief fund. There’s no shortage of compassion and goodwill for Puerto Rico among the American people. But it must be matched by the recognition of our government that the American citizens of Puerto Rico need, demand and require equal treatment.

I’m much more comfortable writing a song than a political opinion column. Calling members of Congress, knocking on their doors and asking you to do the same is strange territory for me. I can already imagine the online comments: “Stick to entertainment.” I wish I could. But the news is full of scandals and tragedies, and every day is a struggle to keep Puerto Rico in the national conversation.

Puerto Rico needs a lifeline that only Congress and the Trump administration can provide. The list of needed actions is short, straightforward and agreed upon by Puerto Ricans of all political stripes. First, drop the crippling 20 percent excise tax on Puerto Rican products. This is an easy one given that the tax doesn’t exist yet. It can simply be removed from the tax-reform bill right now being finalized in House-Senate conference negotiations.

Then, let’s take care of the health of 3.4 million Americans on the island. Puerto Rico receives only a small portion of the Medicaid funding that it would qualify for as a state. The island’s hospitals and health centers are struggling in the wake of the storm. We all have watched in horror how the death toll has been undercounted — by perhaps 1,000 people, according to credible estimates. With the health of so many at risk, let’s provide Medicaid parity while streamlining enrollment to many who are not working and need health care.

Next, move quickly on the $94 billion aid package requested by the Puerto Rican government. I was last in Puerto Rico in November; the massive need is not an invention. Alongside the Hispanic Federation, we’ve worked to raise money to purchase and distribute millions of pounds of food and millions of gallons of water. We have made water-filtration systems available to schools as part of the American Federation of Teachers‘ Operation Agua. These partnerships, made possible by the generosity of everyday Americans, have been incredible. But they’re not enough.

Finally, Puerto Rico cannot pay its debt to creditors. President Trump said it best during his rocky visit, before his administration walked his comment back — “wipe that out” and move on. Investors do this every day. On Broadway, I’ve seen many invest in what they hope will be a successful show, only to lose their investment. Puerto Rico’s creditors should do the right thing and walk away. It is the only way forward. Anything short of full debt forgiveness would be a brutal form of economic punishment to a people already suffering.

The past 84 8584 days have been trying for Puerto Ricans on the island and in the diaspora. More Puerto Ricans join us on the mainland every day. These are soon-to-be voters, moving to Florida, to Texas, to South Carolina, to Pennsylvania, just in time for midterm elections. It’s becoming increasingly clear that helping Puerto Rico is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the politically smart thing to do. 

I remain in awe of the generosity of everyday Americans toward their fellow citizens. Congress, meet the American people where they already are. My Uncle Elvin and so many others wait in Puerto Rico.

Rubio Named the Winner of the First Republican Debate

Marco Rubio is gaining some respect in his presidential bid…

The 44-year-old Cuban American politician, the junior U.S. Senator from Florida, has emerged as the real winner of the first debate among 10 of the 17 candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination despite the show put on by business tycoon Donald Trump.

Marco Rubio

The nation’s leading media and analysts unanimously gave the win to Rubio – he managed to present himself as the new blood the party needs to inspire voters and defeat the Democratic favorite, Hillary Clinton.

Rubio jumped into the national arena as a senator in 2010, and two years later made a name for himself with his nominating speech for Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Nonetheless, Rubio came into the debate as seventh in the polls, far below the big favorites – Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The latter two disappointed in a debate where they were supposed to look “presidential” in contrast to the buffoonery of Trump, whose outrageous remarks have been the big news of the campaign over the past six weeks.

They committed no real gaffes, but neither Bush nor Walker excited the crowd, while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie engaged in a heated argument about government spying, and Ohio Governor John Kasich had a good night in front of a supportive audience in Cleveland.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Texas Senator Ted Cruz were the invisible men on a night when, except for a few out-of-line remarks, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also went unnoticed though he came into the debate fourth in the polls.

“Natural talent tends to shine through in big moments when the bright lights turn on. The senator from Florida, who had dipped in polls after a bump in the wake of his announcement, was terrific on Thursday night,” the Washington Post said Friday.

Rubio, without getting theatrical, managed to sell better than any other candidate his “American dream” – he has built an admirable political career despite being the son of a waiter and a housekeeper who left Cuba before the 1959 revolution.

“If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton gonna lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

“How is she – how is she gonna lecture me – how is she gonna lecture me about student loans? I owed over $100,000 just four years ago. If I’m our nominee, we will be the party of the future,” Rubio said.

Besides shaking up the list of favorites, the debate also served to show that Republicans remain very much on the right, which makes life difficult for the most moderate of them, Jeb Bush, and distances them from voting groups that are key to regaining the White House after its eight years as home to a Democrat.

“Overall, however, the debate did little to expand the appeal of the Republican brand. With the exception of Bush’s advocacy of immigration reform, the candidates offered little that would make their party more palatable to the portions of the electorate – especially women, young adults, and minorities – where they have struggled in recent presidential elections,” said William A. Galston, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and former advisor to ex-President Bill Clinton.

“The party’s eventual nominee will have to do more to convince persuadable voters that Republicans stand for more than the sentiments of their aging, mostly white, mainly male, and highly disgruntled base,” the political analyst said.

Lovato Supports Same-Sex Marriage in New HRC Video

Demi Lovato has joined the Human Rights Campaign’s fight for gay rights.

The 21-year-old part-Mexican American singer, who filmed her “Really Don’t Care” music video at L.A. Pride, is voicing her support for same-sex marriage in a new web video.

Demi Lovato

Lovato is serving as the face of a re-launch of the Human Rights Campaign‘s Americans for Marriage Equality operation. HRC promises more celebrity endorsements to come.

“I believe that love comes in all different shapes, sizes and colors,” says the former Disney Channel star and judge on Fox‘s The X Factor in the 45-second clip. “So whether you’re LGBT or straight, your love is valid, beautiful and an incredible gift. … Please join me in supporting the majority of Americans who support marriage equality.”

Recent polling indicates that a solid majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage—59 percent, according to one recent ABC News/Washington Post survey.

For respondents younger than 30, that number jumps up to 77 percent. Among Republicans, marriage equality is supported by 40 percent, a jump of 16 points from just two years ago.

Lovato’s voice is a powerful one among her young fan base, which boasts 20 million Twitter followers and 30 million Facebook fans.

The singer has made anti-bullying a cornerstone of her public life, most recently having served in June as the grand marshal of the Los Angeles gay pride parade, where she filmed her dancetastic new video.

Molina Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Mario Molina has earned a major presidential honor…

The 70-year-old Mexican chemist and environmental scientist has been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mario Molina

Molina, the first Mexican-born citizen to ever receive a Nobel Prize in chemistry, joins a list of 16 individuals that includes jazz musician Arturo Sandoval, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, veteran Washington Post journalist Ben Bradlee, former President Bill Clinton and country singer Loretta Lynn.

The award established 50 years ago by President John F. Kennedy is the country’s highest civilian honor given to Americans who’ve made contributions “to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Molina, one of the most prominent precursors to the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, has received several awards and honors throughout his career, sharing the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Paul J. Crutzen for their discovery of the role of chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs) in ozone depletion.

Molina had been assigned by President Barack Obama to form part of the transition team on environmental issues.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science.

This year’s other honorees include: baseball player Ernie Banks, Senator Daniel Inouye (posthumous), Nobel Prize-winning scholar Daniel Kahneman, Senator Richard Lugar, astronaut Sally Ride (posthumous), civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (posthumous), ex-UNC basketball coach Dean Smith, Gloria Steinem, civil rights leader Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, and Judge Patricia Wald.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” said President Obama. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”