Marc Menchaca to Star in Apple TV+’s Limited Series “The Big Cigar”

Marc Menchaca is going undercover…

The 46-year-old half-Mexican American actor has joined the cast of Apple TV+’s six-episode limited series The Big Cigar, which is centered on Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton.

Marc MenchacaMenchaca, who most recently starred on Netflix’s Ozark, will star alongside André Holland, Don Cheadle, Alessandro Nivola and Tiffany Boone in the project.

Based on the eponymous Playboy magazine article by Joshuah Bearman, the series tells the extraordinary, hilarious, almost-too-good-to-be-true story of how Newton relied on his best friend, Bert Schneider (Nivola), the Hollywood producer behind Easy Rider, to elude a nationwide manhunt and escape to Cuba while being pursued into exile by the FBI.

Menchaca will portray Agent Sydney Clark. A former lawyer and Vietnam vet from Oklahoma, Clark lives undercover as a dirty hippie while pursuing Newton, who is wanted on charges of killing a teenage prostitute.

NAACP Image Award winner Janine Sherman Barrois is serving as The Big Cigar‘s showrunner. Jim Hecht wrote the show’s first episode, with Cheadle directing and executive producing the first two.

The show hails from Warner Bros. Television, where Barrois and her Folding Chair Productions are under an overall deal. Barrois and Hecht are executive producing alongside Bearman, Joshua Davis and Arthur Spector through their production company Epic, a division of Vox Media Studios.

Menchaca is best known for his scene-stealing turns as Jack Hoskins on HBO’s hit series The Outsider, and as Russ Langmore on the Emmy-winning Netflix drama series Ozark.

He will next be seen in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, HBO’s miniseries The White House Plumbers, John Hyams’ thriller Sick and Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi pic True Love for New Regency.

 

His additional television credits include Black MirrorHomelandMacGyverBlue BloodsChicago P.D.Sleepy HollowThe Blacklist, Law & Order: SVU, CSI and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Victoria Alonso Promoted to President of Physical, Post Production, VFX & Animation at Marvel Studios

It’s another Marvel-ous moment for Victoria Alonso

The 55-year-old Argentine film producer has been promoted to president, physical and post production, visual effects, and animation production at Marvel Studios.

Victoria Alonso

A 15-year studio veteran, Alonso will oversee the divisions across the studio’s slate of films and series and continue to report to Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito.

“Victoria has been an incredible partner and part of our team since the very first Iron Man,” said Kevin Feige, president, Marvel Studios and chief creative officer, Marvel, and D’Esposito on Monday. “She is one of the most dynamic, candid and accessible executives in the industry and we’re thrilled that she’ll continue to be by our side in this elevated role as we lead Marvel Studios into the future.”

Alonso will continue to serve as executive producer on all upcoming feature films including EternalsDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as EP on Marvel Studios’ upcoming series for Disney+ including Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk and Moon Knight.

“When Louis first suggested I come to work with the team on Iron Man, I never could have imagined the adventure ahead, and as far as I’m concerned, it has only just begun!” Alonso said. “We have an absolutely incredible group of people who are bringing their many talents to the exciting slate of films and series we have on the horizon, and I’m especially thrilled about ramping up our studio’s animation efforts, which is a personal passion of mine. Look forward to more singing!”

Alonso joined Marvel in 2006 as the company’s EVP of visual effects and post production, doubling as co-producer on Iron Man, a role she reprised on Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

In 2011, she was upped to executive producer on the blockbuster The Avengers, a role she has maintained on all Marvel Studios releases since then including Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Black Widow and most recently Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

During her tenure at the studio, Marvel films have amassed over $23 billion in global box office.

In 2021, Alonso became an Emmy-nominated producer for her work on the MCU’s first series on Disney+WandaVision. She has also become an important voice in Hollywood as a producer, a Latina, and a senior female executive.

She was named one of People en Español Magazine’s top “Poderosa” Most Influential Hispanic Women in 2019 and 2020, and was honored in 2015 with the Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement from the New York Women in Film & Television.

She was also the first woman to be presented with the Harold Lloyd Award from the Advanced Imaging Society, which is given to a filmmaker who has created a body of work and specific achievements in 3D that advanced the motion picture art form.

In 2017, she was the first woman to be honored with the Visionary Award at the 15th Annual VES Awards for her advancement of unforgettable storytelling through visual effects.

Briarcliff Entertainment Acquires US Rights to Raúl Castillo’s Latino Superhero Film “El Chicano”

El Chicano will be sweeping into theaters next year…

Briarcliff Entertainment has acquired U.S. rights to the Latino superhero film with an all-Hispanic cast, including star Raúl Castillo.

El Chicano

The action film tells the story of twin brothers Diego and Pedro (both played by Castillo), who grew up together on the streets of East Los Angeles. As adults, their lives took radically different paths as Diego became a celebrated detective for the LAPD, and Pedro turned to a dead-end life of crime. When clues start connecting Pedro’s death to a case Diego is working on, a mythological figure from his youth, The Ghetto Grim Reaper, draws Diego in deeper than he ever expected. He becomes that figure, a Hispanic version of Batman or Black Panther.

The film also stars George Lopez, Aimee Garcia, Emilio Rivera, Kate del Castillo, Mr. Criminal, Noel G. Marco Rodriguez, Marlene Forte, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sal Lopez, David Castañeda and Armida Lopez.

El Chicano marks the feature film directorial debut of 25-year veteran stuntman Ben Hernandez Bray, who co-wrote the script with Joe Carnahan.

Carnahan was frustrated waiting for Bad Boys 3 to come together, he succumbed to Bray’s rationale and bailed on one franchise in hopes of starting another.

“I was frustrated with Bad Boys 3, and Ben had been talking about this for a decade,” Carnahan said. “He would tell me that 25% of movie tickets are purchased by Latinos, and so where are their big heroes? We wrote this on spec, and these white oil and gas guys from Canada gave us the money to make it at an under $8 million budget. It got an amazing response at the L.A. Film Festival. We believe in this, and that it can find a big audience and launch a franchise.”

Said Bray: “Just the fact that we’re making this announcement during Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the vital and important presence of Hispanics and Latinos in North America, is wonderful to me. The time is now for a film like El Chicano. A Latino superhero franchise is long overdue, but to have the forces of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo, Tom Ortenberg and Lorenzo di Bonaventurain the mix just makes it even sweeter and well worth the wait!”

The film will be released theatrically on March 22, 2019, with a reported target of 600-800 screens.

Cardi B to Make Her “Saturday Night Live” Debut in April

Cardi B is headed to Saturday Night Live

The 25-year-old Dominican American rapper/singer will make her SNL debut on April 7.

Cardi B

Carbi B has been tapped as the guest performer that night.

She’ll share the stage with Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who will be the host.

Cardi B has managed to crush records thanks to the might of her hit singles “Bodak Yellow” and “Bartier Cardi,” as well as collaborations that have kept her topping both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts.

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” Opens Strong in China

Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is shaping up to be a hit in China…

The 53-year-old Mexican filmmaker’s Best Picture Oscar winner, The Shape Of Water, opened in fairy tale fashion in China over the weekend, grossing $10.35M (RMB 65.7M) on 17,000 screens.

The Shape of Water

The score tops all comps including Fox Searchlight stablemate Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri which bowed to $2.4M (RMB 15.2M) a few weeks back. It also helps push the awards-season darling across the $100M mark at the international box office.

Few recent Best Picture winners have even been released in China, so comps there are difficult to come by. However, Shape topped other films that have figured heavily in recent seasons including The Darkest Hour which opened to $2.2M (RMB 14.1M) and La La Land, which tapped out a $9.35M (RMB 59.3M) debut last year before twirling to a $36M final. The Middle Kingdom result is doubly impressive for a film that leans towards the art house.

The Chinese opening is also Shape‘s best Day One performance ($3M+) and its best launch weekend worldwide. Its PROC share this frame was 11.1% for the No. 4 position behind Tomb Raider, Black Panther and Operation Red Sea.

Online sentiment has been strong; the Sally Hawkins-starrer has a 7.3 score on reviews site Douban. Although del Toro was unable to visit China to promote the movie, he and Searchlight engaged with audiences there.

Post winning his Oscars, del Toro did a round of interviews for the Chinese press and spoke to a number of online influencers and ticketing apps. He also did greetings for some of those platforms and others.

Shape will continue to see play this week, coincidentally before the release this Friday of the del Toro produced Pacific Rim: Uprising.