Rita Moreno to Star in the Feature Film “The Prank”

Rita Moreno is pranking around…

The 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer, an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony Award winner) has landed a starring role in the feature film The Prank, which will be directed by Maureen Bharoocha.

Rita Moreno

Moreno will star opposite Connor Kalopsis and Ramona Young.

The Prank follows two high school students who play a prank on their physics teacher, Mrs. Wheeler, played by Moreno. When she fails them on a test; they teach the imperious, demanding, insulting instructor a lesson by falsely accusing her of the murder of a missing student.

Other cast in The Prank includes Keith David, Meredith Salenger, Jonathan Kimmel, Nathan Janak and Kate Flannery.

Filming begins this month in and around Los Angeles.

The dark comedy is written by Rebecca Flinn-White & Zak White.

“Rita Moreno is a force of nature and an icon who continues to redefine herself,” said Bharoocha. “Her brilliant comedic mind lends itself to the perfect ‘Mrs. Wheeler’, a character we have never seen her play, and one that will no doubt surprise audiences.”

Moreno has won an Oscar (West Side Story), a Tony (The Ritz), two Emmys (for her turns respectively in 1977 and 1978 on The Muppet Show and Rockford Files), and a Grammy (Best Children’s Album for The Electric Company).

Moreno has starred on Broadway and London’s West End, appeared in more than 40 feature films and has performed in numerous regional theaters, including her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She recently co-starred in the critically acclaimed Latinx reimagining of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom One Day At A Time.

Her documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, produced by Lear, Lin Manuel Miranda and Brent Miller had its world debut at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The film, which was met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike, will have its television debut on PBS’ American Masters nationwide on October 5.

Moreno also co-stars and is an executive producer of the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story, set to open on December 10.

The recipient of the Peabody Career Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture, she was also honored by her peers as the 50th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Moreno’s all-Spanish-language album, Una Vez Más, was produced by her good friend Emilio Estefan, and she is a New York Times bestselling author with her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir. Moreno has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

Julian Castro to Serve as Political Analyst on NBC News & MSNBC

Julian Castro is ready to examine our political landscape…

The 46-year-old Mexican American lawyer and politician, who was the youngest member of President Barack Obama‘s cabinet when he served as the 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a political analyst.

Julian Castro

Castro ran for president in the 2020 cycle. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski announced his new role in an appearance on the show on Monday, as Castro joined to talk about voting rights and the debate over amending the filibuster.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) has called on President Joe Biden to support changes to the U.S. Senate rule.

“The problem is that we really haven’t seen any activity. We haven’t seen any push from the Oval Office on this issue, and you can see that, you know, that the impatience is growing among Democrats,” Castro said on Morning Joe.

Castro served as HUD secretary from 2014 to 2017, after serving as mayor of San Antonio. He launched his presidential campaign in January, 2019, one of the first candidates to get in the race, but dropped out almost a year later. He went on to endorse Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Castro is one of the few 2020 presidential contenders to go on to cable news gigs, given the sheer number of candidates who still hold elective office. After he dropped out of the presidential race, Andrew Yang joined CNN as a political commentator, but he then went on to run for mayor of New York.

Sabrina Claudio’s “Frozen” Among Songs Featured on Barack Obama’s Official Summer Playlist

Sabrina Claudio has received the (former) presidential seal of approval…

In keeping with past tradition, Barack Obama is sharing some of his favorite summer jams, with the 24-year-old Puerto Rican & Cuban American singer/songwriter making the list.

Sabrina Claudio

Claudio’s single “Frozen,” featured on her album About Time, is among four singles featuring Latinx artists to make the former U.S. president’s summer playlist.

Leave the Door Open,” the chart-topping single from Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak‘s new duo Silk Sonic; “Águas de Março” by Elis Regina and Antônio Carlos Jobim; and Rochy RD, Myke Towers and Nicki Nicole’s “Ella No Es Tuya (Remix)” also made the list.

“With so many folks getting together with family and friends, there’s a lot to celebrate this summer,” Obama captioned his tweet. “Here’s a playlist of songs I’ve been listening to lately—it’s a mix of old and new, household names and emerging artists, and a whole lot in between.”

It’s no secret that Obama is a huge lover of music. Over the years, he has shared numerous music playlists, including his recent shower-themed list on Spotify, which features Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born in the U.S.A.

“I sing in the shower, I sing outside of the shower. I am unembarrassed about singing,” Obama said during his Renegades: Born in the USA podcast with The Boss in March. “My daughters and my wife sometimes roll their eyes.”

Last December, the former president also shared his “Favorite Music of 2020” list — featuring picks from Bad Bunny, Dua Lipa, Lil Baby and Megan Thee Stallion — as well as a playlist of music that inspired him throughout his presidency.

 

Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Artists Offering Civic Lessons in Netflix’s Animated Series “We the People”

Lin-Manuel Miranda is giving a civics lesson…

The 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and playwright, the mastermind behind the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton, lends his voice to the new animated Netflix series We the People.

Lin-Manuel Miranda 

Created by Chris Nee and produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, the 10-part series provides a range of civics lessons through three-minute music videos on topics that include the Bill of Rights, immigration and the courts.

In addition to Miranda, the series also features award-winning artists H.E.R., Brandi CarlisleBebe Rexha and others.

Miranda took on the topic of “The Three Branches of Government” episode, writing and performing the song “Checks and Balances,” alongside Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Daveed Diggs, Brittany Howard and Robert Lopez.

With its light hip-hop bear, the catchy number explains the checks and balances of the United States government.

Meanwhile, Jorge R. Gutierrez directs the immigration-themed episode, which features the track “American Citizen,” performed by Bebe Rexha.

The 46-year-old Mexican animator, painter, writer, voice actor, and production designer helms Rexha’s pop message that lets everyone know from the second they are born, they are an “American Citizen.”

The episode is full of visual treats showing how the country is one built from a nation of immigrants, as animated versions of Sofia Vergara, Steven Chen, Anousheh Ansari and Padma Lakshmi are all featured to illustrate the point.

We the People premiered on Sunday, July 4 on Netflix.

George P. Bush Announces Bid for Texas Attorney General

George P. Bush is lookin’ to move up in Texas politics….

The 45-year-old half-Mexican American politician, currently serving as Texas Land Commissioner, has announced that he’s running for attorney general in the Lone Star State, setting up a GOP showdown with one of the most high-profile Republican attorneys general in the country, Ken Paxton.

George P. Bush

“I am proud to announce I am a Republican candidate to be the next Texas attorney general,” he said before supporters in Austin.

Bush came out swinging in his campaign announcement, taking shots at Paxton, who is currently under indictment for securities fraud and, separately, facing an FBI investigation for abuse of office.

“Enough is enough, Ken. You’ve brought way too much scandal and too little integrity to this office,” Bush said. “It’s time to go.”

Bush — the son of former two-term Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush and the grandson of the late former President George H.W. Bush — is running as a supporter of former President Donald Trump, despite the at-times blistering feud between Trump and the Bush family.

At a campaign kickoff event in downtown Austin, supporters praised Bush as the future of the Republican Party in Texas and highlighted his support of Trump as a key credential.

“I think we can all agree that President Trump was one of the best things to happen to this country,” Karen Newton, immediate past president of Texas Federation of Republican Women, said onstage as one of the introductory speakers before Bush.

Joacim Hernandez, vice chair of the Texas Young Republican Federation, argued Bush is uniquely positioned to unite the GOP. “He has a track record of support for President Trump and his America First policies, but he also has a track record of character and integrity.”

As land commissioner since 2015, Bush has long been viewed by political observers as a rising star in the GOP. He speaks Spanish and was involved in the founding of the political group Hispanic Republicans of Texas. He was also an officer in the Navy Reserves and a former businessman, with a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.

Paxton, meanwhile, has been state attorney general since 2015 after serving in the Texas Legislature for more than a decade as both a state representative and state senator. He was highly active in filing federal lawsuits during the Barack Obama administration — most notably, he led a 20-state challenge against the Affordable Care Act — and has filed multiple suits against the Joe Biden administration over a range of issues from immigration to Medicaid.

A staunch ally of Trump, Paxton also led the lawsuit contesting election results in four states that Trump lost in November. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit.

Clouding Paxton’s run for reelection will be the FBI investigation and separate indictment. Paxton vehemently denies the charges and allegations.

Bush has made it clear he won’t be shy in going after Paxton’s legal issues.

“We have a web of corruption and lies that affect one of the highest offices in our land and it’s time for a change,” Bush said.

Bush will make South Texas — where Trump made heavy inroads in November — a key part of his strategy, and he plans to make his first official campaign trip to the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday.

Given his political connections and Paxton’s legal troubles, Bush is expected to raise significant cash for the race.

Bad Bunny to Appear on HBO/HBO Max’s “The Shop: Uninterrupted”

Bad Bunny is hittin’ the shop…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican superstar will be making an appearance on The Shop: Uninterrupted’s upcoming fourth season.

Bad Bunny

The show is set to premiere on Friday May 28 on HBO and HBO Max.

In addition to Bad Bunny, the other stars joining LeBron James and Maverick Carter for the season premiere are iconic music mogul Jay-Z; WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike; and marketing executive Paul Rivera.

The group will discuss confidence on the big stage, parenthood and WrestleMania.

Staged periodically throughout the year, the show offers conversation and debate between some of the biggest names in sport and entertainment.

Past guests include Drake, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Diddy, Jimmy Kimmel, Patrick Mahomes, Lil Nas X, Will Smith, Megan Rapinoe, Kevin Hart, Rob Gronkowski and most recently, Barack Obama.

Executive producers are  James, Carter, Jamal Henderson, Devin Johnson and Philip Byron; director is Robert Alexander; producers are Kevin McGrail, Brandon Riley and Rob Roediger; co-executive producer is Camille Maratchi; and creators are Paul Rivera and Randy Mims.

Demián Bichir Earns Movies for Grownups Awards Nomination from AARP

Demián Bichir has landed on an awards list…

The AARP has announced its nominees for the upcoming Movies for Grownups Awards, with the 57-year-old Oscar-nominated actor earning a nod.

Demian Bichir

Bichir is nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for his performance as Miguel, a local hunter, in the drama Land.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who earned a USC Libraries Scripter Award nomination last month, is nominated in the Best Screenwriter category for penning Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, while Colman Domingo and his cast mates are nominated in the Best Ensemble category for their work in the drama, based on the play of the same name by August Wilson.

Two Latin films are in the running for the Best Foreign Language Film prize.

Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles are representing Brazil with their western thriller Bacurau, which Barack Obama chose as one of his favorites of 2020, while Juan José Campanella’s The Weasels‘ Tale is representing Argentina.

For two decades, AARP’s Movies for Grownups program has championed what it calls “movies for grownups, by grownups.” It claims to advocate for the 50-plus audience, fighting industry ageism and encouraging films that resonate with older viewers. AARP’s Movies for Grownups continues its commitment to celebrate quality content by expanding to honor standout television programs in new categories.

Hoda Kotb, NBC News’ Today coanchor and cohost of Today with Hoda & Jenna, will host the awards ceremony broadcast by Great Performances on Sunday, March 28 at 8:00 pm ET on PBS, its PBS.org website for the event, and the PBS Video app. Winners will be announced on March 4 on the website section dedicated to the event.

George Clooney will receive the Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award.

Here’s the complete list of nominees:

Film

Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups
Minari
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Actress
Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead)
Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit)
Robin Wright (Land)

Best Actor
Ralph Fiennes (The Dig)
Tom Hanks (News of the World)
Anthony Hopkins (The Father)
Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods)
Gary Oldman (Mank)

Best Supporting Actress
Candice Bergen (Let Them All Talk)
Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman)
Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)
Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian)
Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)

Best Supporting Actor
Demián Bichir (Land)
Bill Murray (On the Rocks)
Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods)
Paul Raci (Sound of Metal)
Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Director
Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday)
Regina King (One Night in Miami)
Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods)
Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Best Ensemble
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
One Night in Miami
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Intergenerational
Hillbilly Elegy
Minari
On the Rocks
The Father
The Life Ahead

Best Buddy Picture
Bad Boys for Life
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Da 5 Bloods
Let Them All Talk
Standing Up, Falling Down

Best Screenwriter
Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods)
Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies (News of the World)
Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami)
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Time Capsule
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
One Night in Miami
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Grownup Love Story
Emma
Ordinary Love
Supernova
Wild Mountain Thyme
Working Man

Best Documentary
A Secret Love
Crip Camp
Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy
Dick Johnson Is Dead
Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation

Best Foreign Language Film
Another Round (Denmark)
Bacurau (Brazil)
Collective (Romania)
The Life Ahead (Italy)
The Weasels’ Tale (Argentina)

Television

Best Series
Perry Mason
Succession
Ted Lasso
The Crown
This Is Us

Best TV Movie/Limited Series
Mrs. America
Small Axe
The Queen’s Gambit
Unorthodox
Watchmen

Best Actress (TV/Streaming)
Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show)
Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America)
Regina King (Watchmen)
Laura Linney (Ozark)
Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek)

Best Actor (TV/Streaming)
Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Hugh Grant (The Undoing)
Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird)
Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to Swear in U.S. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris

Sonia Sotomayor will make a special appearance at this week’s inauguration…

The 66-year-old Puerto Rican Supreme Court Justice will swear in U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Wednesday, January 20, a ceremony in which the first woman of color to become vice president will take her oath of office from the first woman of color to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor

Harris chose Sotomayor for the task, according to a Harris aide who was confirming a report by ABC News. The vice president-elect and Justice Sotomayor have a shared background as former prosecutors. And Harris has called the justice a figure of national inspiration.

“Judge Sonia Sotomayor has fought for the voices of the people ever since her first case voting against corporations in Citizens United,” Ms. Harris wrote on Twitter in 2019. “As a critical voice on the bench, she’s showing all our children what’s possible.”

Justice Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2009, swore in Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his second term as vice president in January 2013 (first in a private ceremony and again in public the next day because of a quirk of the calendar).

Sotomayor was born in The Bronx, New York City, to Puerto Rican-born parents. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and received her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor at the Yale Law Journal. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for four and a half years before entering private practice in 1984. She played an active role on the boards of directors for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, and the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991; confirmation followed in 1992. In 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Her nomination was slowed by the Republican majority in the U.St Senate, but she was eventually confirmed in 1998. On the Second Circuit, Sotomayor heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases and wrote about 380 opinions. Sotomayor has taught at the New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School.

José Andrés Takes Part in Prince Harry & Meghan’s Spotify Holiday Special

José Andrés has joined the royal court…

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, are kicking off their multi-year audio partnership with Spotify with a holiday special featuring a royal court’s worth of A-list guests, including the 51-year-old Spanish chef.

The stand-alone special promises “a collection of personal anecdotes and inspirational stories from a variety guests around the world … plus a surprise or two,” according to a press release.

In addition to José Andrés, billed guests include Stacey Abrams, Christina Adane, Brené Brown, Rachel Cargle, Deepak Chopra, James Corden, Matt Haig, Sir Elton John, Hussain Manawer, Naomi Osaka, Tyler Perry, and George the Poet.

Following the pattern set by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground, the royal couple’s exclusive podcast partnership with Spotify, which starts in 2021, became known earlier this month. It followed the announcement of a Netflix deal earlier in the year. Archewell Audio is their production banner and teamed with Spotify-owned Gimlet Media to produce the special.

“We thought, what if we can bring together some people that inspire us – people that we admire…  and get their thoughts on what they learned from 2020,” the Duchess says in setting up the special.

Bidding good riddance to 2020, Prince Harry adds, “As we all know, it’s been a YEAR. And we really want to honor the compassion and kindness that has helped so many people get through it.”

The Duke and Duchess also single out a song that they say offers inspiration for listeners heading into 2021. “’This Little Light of Mine’ played at the very end of our wedding… while we were walking down the steps of the church,” Markle says. “It was the music that we wanted playing when we started our lives together. Because as we all know, ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that…’” Replies Prince Harry, “The message of this song is one we hold so dearly. It’s about using the power we each have within us to make this world a better place.”

Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles’ “Bacurau” Among Barack Obama’s Favorite Films of 2020

Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles are getting the presidential seal of approval…

Former President Barack Obama’s list of his favorite television shows and movies of 2020 includes t52-year-old Brazilian filmmaker and the 40-year-old Brazilian filmmaker’s Bacurau.

Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles

Mendonça Filho and Dornelles’ western/thriller stars Sonia BragaUdo KierBárbara ColenThomas AquinoSilvero Pereira and Karine Teles.

Here’s the film’s synopsis: After the death of her grandmother, Teresa (Colen) comes home to her matriarchal village in a near-future Brazil to find a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all of its residents.

Here are the complete lists:

MOVIES

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Beanpole
Bacurau
Nomadland
Soul
Lovers Rock
Collective
Mank
Martin Eden
Let Him Go
Time
Boys State
Selah And The Spades
Crip Camp

TV:

Better Call Saul
The Queen’s Gambit
I May Destroy You
The Boys
The Good Lord Bird
Devs
The Last Dance
Mrs. America
The Good Place
City So Real