PBS to Air Sergio Mendes’ Documentary “Sergio Mendes & Friends: A Celebration”

Sergio Mendes is celebrating with friends on the small screen…

PBS will air the documentary Sergio Mendes & Friends: A Celebration, about the 80-year-old acclaimed Brazilian musician.

Sergio Mendes

The film, which will premiere as part of special programming on PBS stations this June, is derived from the feature documentary Sergio Mendes: In The Key Of Joy by filmmaker John Scheinfeld.

Mendes, who exploded onto the scene in the 1960s with his group, Brasil ’66, played a big role in popularizing Brazilian music around the world, and at the same time created his own genre by fusing Brazilian music with American pop.

The three-time Grammy winner has made 35 albums, including Timeless, produced by will.i.am. Hit singles include “Mas Que Nada”, “The Look of Love”, “Scarborough Fair”, “Night and Day”, “Never Gonna Let You Go” and his famous rendition of “Fool on the Hill”.

In 2012, his “Real in Rio” from the animated film Rio was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song.

In Sergio Mendes & Friends: A Celebration, he is joined onscreen by friends and collaborators including Herb Alpert, Common, Lani Hall (lead singer of Brasil ’66), Quincy Jones, John Legend, Gracinha Mendes (Sergio’s lead singer since 1971 and his wife of 46 years), Jerry Moss, Carlos Saldhana and will.i.am.

“I am really looking forward to sharing my life and musical journey through the decades from Brasil ’66 through present day with PBS viewers across the nation,” said Mendes. “I hope viewers will have a joyful and uplifting experience.”

“Sergio’s warmth, humor and appreciation of life through all the senses made me feel a strong connection with him and I want others to feel the same way,” added director Scheinfeld. “His life is an exceptional blend of encounters, spontaneity and serendipity and makes him an irresistible subject for a film.”

The deal was negotiated by WNED PBS and the film’s distributor Brainstorm Media.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Rights to Penelope Cruz-Starrer “Madres Paralelas” from Pedro Almodovar

Penelope Cruz’s latest film is going global…

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all rights in North America, Australia and New Zealand to Parallel Mothers (Madres Paralelas), starring the 46-year-old Spanish Oscar-winning actress.

Penelope Cruz

It’s the 13th collaboration between the distributor and director/producer Pedro Almodóvar’s production company El Deseo.

Production began in Madrid last month on the film, which reunites the Spanish filmmaker with longtime collaborators Cruz, Julieta Serrano and Rossy de Palma.

Parallel Mothers is a drama that centers on three mothers, portrayed by Cruz, Aitana Sánchez Gijón and Milena Smit.

The film expands Almodóvar’s previous depictions of womanhood by turning his focus on imperfect mothers, in a departure from his prior work exploring mothers and motherhood.

Written by Almodóvar, the film also stars Israel Elejalde.

The film is produced by Agustín Almodóvar and Esther García through El Deseo.

Sony Pictures Classics recently released Almodóvar’s short film The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton, in theaters alongside a digitally restored re-issue of Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It will be available to stream on HBO Max starting on April 30.

Almodóvar won two Oscars for best foreign language film for All About My Mother and original screenplay for his 2002 title Talk to Her (Hable con Ella).

Cruz has starred in several of Almodovar’s films, including All About My Mother, I’m So Excited!, Volver, Broken Embraces, and Pain and Glory.

Rita Moreno Among the “Cast” for This Year’s Academy Awards Show

Rita Moreno has a special date with Oscar…

The producers of this year’s 93rd annual Academy Awards have cast an ensemble of 15 stars to handle all the presenting duties, including the 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer.

Rita Moreno

Moreno, one of the few artists to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award, is part of a “cast” that includes last year’s Oscar winners Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern.

It’s part of the producers’ pledge to do the entire broadcast as if it were a movie itself.

Last year’s Best Director winner, Bong Joon Ho, who made four trips to the stage for Parasite, is also part of this ensemble, presumably to present Best Director.

Other names announced — in alphabetical order — are Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Reese Witherspoon and Zendaya.

“In keeping with our awards-show-as-a-movie approach, we’ve assembled a truly stellar cast of stars,” said producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh. “There’s so much wattage here, sunglasses may be required.”

This idea of having a set group of presenters rotating in and out of the show is not new. When producer Gower Champion reimagined the 1969 Oscar show, he created what they called “Friends of Oscar,” with 10 stars exclusively serving as presenters (and no host). The format was then repeated successfully the next year, and has been tweaked occasionally over the decades — including for the innovative 2009 show produced by Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, which used combinations of five past winners each to present the acting awards.

Additional talent joining the April 25 live broadcast on ABC will be announced later.

Demián Bichir to Star in Showtime’s Vampire Drama Pilot “Let the Right One In”

Demián Bichir is sinking his teeth into a new project…

Showtime has given a formal pilot green light to Let the Right One In, a vampire drama starring the 57-year-old Mexican Oscar-nominated actor.

Demian Bichir

The project hails from Andrew Hinderaker, who’ll serve as showrunner, Seith Mann, who will direct, and Tomorrow Studios, which has been the driver behind the project in its various incarnations for more than six years.

Inspired by the best-selling 2004 novel by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist and its 2008 Swedish film adaptation, the series centers on a father, Mark (Bichir) and his 12-year-old daughter whose lives were changed forever 10 years earlier when she was turned into a vampire. Locked in at age 12, perhaps forever, Eleanor lives a closed-in life, able to go out only at night, while her father does his best to provide her with the minimal amount of human blood she needs to stay alive.

Bichir’s Mark is a husband and father who had the perfect life until it was turned upside down by a mysterious creature who bit his daughter (Eleanor) and then vanished into the night.

Let the Right One In, which had been in the works at Showtime for awhile and recently started casting the male lead, is described as an elevated genre drama, which is turning a naturalistic lens on human frailty, strength and compassion.

Let the Right One In quickly establishes itself as a thrilling, high-stakes drama that asks the question: How far would you go to save your child from the monsters out there – would you risk becoming a monster yourself?” said Amy Israel, Showtime’s EVP, Scripted Programming. “Demián Bichir is one of the world’s most dynamic and engrossing actors, and his charisma and vulnerability will surely bring Andrew Hinderaker’s exquisite script to life, guided by Seith Mann’s deft direction. We couldn’t be more excited about the potential of this show.”

Bichir will serve as a producer on the potential series.

“The series is both a love letter to the original film, and a story entirely our own,” said Hinderaker. “And casting a true artist like Demián epitomizes our bold aspiration to be one of the most terrifying shows on TV, and one of the most moving.”

Let the Right One In was originally developed by Tomorrow Studios and set up at A&E and A+E Studios in 2015. A year later, it moved to TNT where a pilot was ordered and cast but did not go to production. That version was closer to the original source material and was described as an eerie drama about a young boy, long tormented by his classmates, who finds solace in a friendship with a charismatic female vampire who appears to be near his age. Tomorrow Studios shopped the project and it ultimately landed at Showtime for redevelopment with a new writer.

Bichir received an Oscar nomination for his performance in the film A Better Life, becoming the first Mexican-born actor to be nominated in that category since Anthony Quinn.

His most recent films include starring in George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky, Robin Wright’s Land and the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong.

Rodrigo Prieto Awarded Vilcek Prize in Filmmaking by Vilcek Foundation

Rodrigo Prieto is a trailblazer…

The 55-year-old Mexican Oscar-nominated cinematographer is the recipient of the 2021 Vilcek Prize in Filmmaking, according to the Vilcek Foundation.

Rodrigo Prieto

The award is part of the Vilcek Foundation Prizes, which are bestowed in a range of categories each year, in celebration of the outstanding contributions of immigrant trailblazers, within the arts and sciences.

Prieto, a Mexican native, has established himself over the years as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after DPs. Boasting credits including Amores Perros and Brokeback Mountain, he’s known for his collaborations with renowned directors including Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, Julie Taymor, Oliver Stone and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

A three-time Academy Awards nominee most recently recognized by the Academy for his groundbreaking work on Scorsese’s The Irishman, Prieto has also received accolades for his work from BAFTA, the American Society of Cinematographers and the Independent Spirit Awards.

Known for his unconventional camerawork, and his remarkably detailed, evocative compositions, the DP grew up with a visual artist for a mother and an aeronautical engineer for a father. Thus, in his own career, he would come to balance technology with artistry, aiming with each new project to create a distinctive and visceral, cinematic experience. “That combination…is something that I have in my DNA,” Prieto says, “utilizing technology and different techniques to create art.”

Established in 2006, as a means of championing diverse perspectives—thereby advancing the arts and sciences—The Vilcek Foundation has thus far awarded over $5.8 million to immigrants from 56 different countries.

“As leaders in the arts, we have a responsibility to promote diversity by making space, providing access, and amplifying the artistic contributions of marginalized groups and individuals,” Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel says. “The Vilcek Prizes in the arts and humanities enable us to speak to the value of immigration for our society in a non-politicized way.”

This year, other prize recipients include geneticist Ruth Lehmann, chemical biologist Mohamed Abou Donia, entrepreneur (and former presidential candidate) Andrew Yang, and a number of filmmakers—among them, Juan Pablo González, Miko Revereza and Nanfu Wang.

González has been awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Filmmaking for the artistic rigor and deep emotional engagement that he brings to his immersive and intimate explorations of his hometown in rural Mexico.

Up next for Prieto is Scorsese’s sprawling crime drama, Killers of the Flower Moon. Set in 1920s Oklahoma, the Apple Original Film centers on an investigation into a string of brutal murders within the Osage tribe. Eric Roth wrote the script, adapting an acclaimed work of nonfiction by David Grann.

Adriana Barraza to Star in Amazon Studios’ ‘Welcome To The Blumhouse’ Anthology Horror Film “Bingo”

Adriana Barraza is playing bingo

The 65-year-old Mexican Oscar-nominated actress will serve up some scares in Amazon Studios’ next slate of films in the horror anthology Welcome To The Blumhouse. Barraza will star in Bingo directed and co-written by rising genre filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero. The film is currently in production.

Adriana Barraza

The collaboration is a Latinx-driven narrative that includes two generations of Mexican artists. In this case, Barraza and the up and comer Guerrero.

Set in the barrio of Oak Springs, Bingo follows a strong and stubborn group of elderly friends who refuse to be gentrified.  Barraza plays the leader of the pack, Lupita, a “chingona” who grew up in the neighborhood formerly filled with crime and dangerous characters. Lupita has dedicated her life to cleaning up the neighborhood and creating a community the residents could be proud to call home. Little does Lupita and her friends know, their beloved bingo hall (hence the title) is about to be sold to a much more powerful force than money itself.

Bingo continues Amazon Prime Video’s Welcome to the Blumhouse slate of genre, horror-thriller films highlighting female and emerging filmmakers, and diverse casts with new and established actors in unexpected roles. The upcoming 2021 slate for the anthology also includes The Manor, Black as Night, and Madres

Guerrero co-wrote Bingo with Shane McKenzie and Perry Blackshear. The film comes from Blumhouse Television and Amazon Studios.

Prime Video launched the Welcome to the Blumhouse in October of last year with Black
Box
, The Lie, Evil Eye and Nocturne.

Barraza’s career spans more than 40 years in film, television and theater. In 1999, Barraza starred in a breakout role opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in Amores Perros directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, who she worked with again in 2006 on BabelShe is one of only six Mexican actresses to ever receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Jayro Bustamante’s “La Llorona” Makes Oscars Short List in International Feature Film Category

Jayro Bustamante is one step closer to having a date with Oscar…

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has revealed its shortlist of International Feature Film potential nominees, with the Guatemalan film director and screenwriter’s supernatural horror drama La Llorona making the grade.

Jayro Bustamante

Bustamante’s third feature film, representing his native Guatemala in the race, is rooted in the more recent history of Guatemala’s ruthless military leaders and their efforts in erasing indigenous tribes.

La Llorona recently made history as the first Central American film to earn a Golden Globe nomination.

But Bustamante isn’t the only Latinx director to have a project make the shortlist…

Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent, representing Chile, is among the 15 shortlisted films…

The 37-year-old Chilean writer/director’s documentary centers on a private investigator in Chile hires someone to work as a mole at a retirement home where a client of his suspects the caretakers of elder abuse.

Fernando Frías de la Parra’s I’m No Longer Here, representing Mexico, still has an Oscar shot as well…

Written and directed by the 42-year-old Mexican filmmaker, the film has been called “a thoughtful portrait of cultural identity.” It centers on a teen from Monterrey, Mexico who forges a new life in Queens, New York.

The full Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15, and ABC will air the 93rd annual Academy Awards live on April 25.

Here are the shortlisted films:

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Quo Vadis, Aida?
Chile, The Mole Agent
Czech Republic, Charlatan
Denmark, Another Round
France, Two of Us
Guatemala, La Llorona
Hong Kong, Better Days
Iran, Sun Children
Ivory Coast, Night of the Kings
Mexico, I’m No Longer Here
Norway, Hope
Romania, Collective
Russia, Dear Comrades!
Taiwan, A Sun
Tunisia, The Man Who Sold His Skin

La Llorona

The Mole Agent

I’m No Longer Here


 

The Christina Aguilera-Performed “Mulan” Single, “Loyal Brave True” Makes Oscars Shortlist

Christina Aguilera is one step closer to having an Oscar moment…

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has revealed its shortlist of Original Song potential nominees, with the 40-year-old half-Ecuadorian American actress’ single for the live action Mulan film still in the running.

Christina Aguilera

Loyal Brave True,” performed by Aguilera is one of the 15 tracks to make the shortlist, which will be whittled down to five.

Co-written by Billy CrabtreeHarry Gregson-WilliamsJamie Hartman and Rosi Golan, the song was released as a single on March 6, 2020 by Walt Disney Records.[

While Aguilera won’t win an Oscar should the song ultimately win, since she didn’t contribute either to music, lyrics, or both in her own right, she would perform the song during the ceremony and before this award is presented.

The full Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15, and ABC will air the 93rd annual Academy Awards live on April 25.

Here are the tracks making the shortlist this year:

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
Turntables, from All In: The Fight for Democracy, Janelle Monae
See What You’ve Done, from Belly of the Beast, Mary J. Blige
Wuhan Flu, from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Husavik, from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Never Break, from Giving Voice, John Legend
Make It Work, from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Fight For You, from Judas and the Black Messiah
lo Sì (Seen), from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)
Rain Song, from Minari
Show Me Your Soul, from Mr. Soul!
Loyal Brave True, from Mulan, Christina Aguilera
Free, from The One and Only Ivan
Speak Now, from One Night in Miami
Green, from Sound of Metal
Hear My Voice, from The Trial of the Chicago 7

 

Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa Productions Developing HBO Max Series Based on Leslie Lehr’s Book “A Boob’s Life”

Salma Hayek is putting the boob in boob tube…

The 54-year-old Mexican actress/producer’s Ventanarosa Productions is helping develop Leslie Lehr’s book A Boob’s Life as a series for HBO Max.

Salma Hayek

The project marks the first project they’ll develop under their new first-look deal with the company.

A Boob’s Life is a half hour comedy about Leslie, a woman turning 40 and in crisis, whose life gets turned upside down when her boobs start talking to her, forcing her to look at herself in a completely different light. The show blows open the reality of life in a female body in a culture that is obsessed with breasts.

The series will be based off Lehr’s book A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Meand You, which is being released on March 2 by Pegasus Books. Lehr will also serve as an executive producer.

Hayek will executive produce alongside Jose Tamez and Siobhan Flynn under their Ventanarosa Productions banner.

Cynthia Mort, who created and produced the HBO series Tell Me You Love Me, will write and serve as showrunner and executive producer for the series.

“We are so appreciative that HBO Max was insightful and bold enough to develop this show with us,” said Hayek. “In A Boob’s Life, we use breasts as a metaphor for the constant judgement women are submitted to, creating a collective sensation that no matter what we do we are never enough. In this show, we give the breast a voice that takes us through the life of a woman from a unique perspective that often we don’t dare to see.”

Ventanarosa Productions was founded by Hayek in 1998. The company’s highlights include Frida, which won two Academy Awards, The Maldonado MiracleUgly Betty and Kahlil Gibran’s animated film The Prophet. Other credits include the recently announced Santa Evita at Fox Latin America and Netflix’s Monarca, which recently released its second season.

Javier Bardem In Talks to Portray Desi Arnaz in Amazon & Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos”

Javier Bardem may soon be saying, “Lucy, I’m Home!”

The 51-year-old Spanish Oscar-winning actor is in talks to play Desi Arnaz opposite Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in Amazon and Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos.

Javier Bardem

The film centers on the relationship between the I Love Lucy stars. Having penned the screenplay, Academy Award winner Sorkin also will direct the film from Amazon Studios and Escape Artists.

The film is set during one production week of I Love Lucy — Monday table read through Friday audience filming— when Lucy and Desi face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.

Sorkin originally was going to pen the script only, when Cate Blanchett was circling, but after enjoying himself on the drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, he decided to attach himself as a director as well over the summer.

After The Trial of the Chicago 7 bowed on Netflix in October, Being the Ricardos began to gain momentum with Kidman and Bardem quickly interested in the couple behind television’s first family. Deals still need to close for both actors, but even if and when they do, when production will start is still up in the air as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to push productions throughout the country.

After years as one of Hollywood’s most prolific screenwriters with such classics as A Few Good Men, Moneyball and his Oscar-winning The Social NetworkSorkin has found himself more and more behind the camera as well. His directing debut was the drama Molly’s Game starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, and he followed that up with The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Bardem most recently starred in The Roads Not Taken and can next be seen in Legendary’s DuneHe also is set to play King Triton in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid.