Eva Longoria Joins Coalition Set to Launch LA-Based Magnet School, Roybal School of Film and Television Production

Eva Longoria is helping “drive transformational change across the entertainment industry for students from underserved communities.”

The 46-year-old Mexican American actress, producer and activist has joined a coalition of industry leaders who are partnering with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner to found the Roybal School of Film and Television Production, a specialized academy housed within the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.

Eva Longoria

In addition to Longoria, the project is also being spearheaded by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Don Cheadle, Kerry WashingtonMindy Kaling, Nicole Avant, Working Title Films founders Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd.

The Roybal School is set to launch in fall 2022 as a magnet school, providing LAUSD teachers with access to storytellers, industry professionals and experts, while supporting students with academic education and practical training.

The inaugural program will be overseen by Principal Blanca Cruz. Roybal will feature a curriculum designed to meet standards prescribed by the state of California and the University of California system. Students also will receive real-world experience through a dedicated internship initiative.

The school will launch with grades 9 and 10, and include grades 11 and 12 over the next two years. The pilot program could be expanded later to additional schools throughout the Los Angeles area.

“This effort will help open the doors of opportunity for a diverse group of students from underserved communities,” Beutner said. “This groundbreaking program will help prepare students for good-paying jobs in the film and television industry by integrating practical industry experience and internships for students into the curriculum.”

Beutner explained how industry lessons could be woven into the curriculum: “Physics is involved in the choice of a lens by a cinematographer, math is part of the foundation for a musical score in a film, critical thinking skills are needed to design a set, screenwriters need a foundation in literacy, and a make-up artist needs to know the chemistry of the different materials they might use – all of this will be tied into the curriculum at the school,” he said.

“Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country,” Clooney said. “That means starting early. It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities that this industry has to offer. It means internships that lead to well-paying careers. It means understanding that we’re all in this together.”

The founding members will serve on the school’s Production Advisory Board, lending expertise and support with the intent of building a more inclusive pipeline of career-ready talent for the film and television industry, according to the announcement.

Said Avant, “Everyone involved with this effort understands the need to create points of access: access to resources, information, skills, and mentorship. It is our hope that every guild and company across the entertainment industry landscape joins our efforts to build a bridge to opportunity.”

Added Lourd, “We invite every interested and committed person and company in our industry to join this effort. We have the collective power to accelerate the academic and professional trajectories of so many students and bring about positive change.”

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)

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.

Mel Rodriguez to Star in YouTube Premium’s Dark Comedy “On Becoming a God in Central Florida”

Mel Rodriguez has landed a God-sized project…

The 45-year-old Latino actor has been cast in On Becoming a God in Central FloridaYouTube Premium’s a one-hour dark comedy series set in the 1990s.

Mel Rodriguez

Rodriguez will star opposite Ted LevineKirsten Dunst and Beth Ditto, the lead singer of Gossip, who’ll be series regulars, as well as Usman Ally, who has a recurring role.

The web series hails from George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures and Sony’s TriStar Television.

On Becoming A God In Central Florida, one of the passion projects for the late TriStar television head Suzanne Patmore Gibbs, was written by Robert Funke and Matt Lutsky based on a spec script they wrote.

Set near Orlando in the early 1990s, it centers on Krystal Gill (Dunst), a minimum-wage-earning water park employee who will eventually scheme her way up the ranks of the Founders American Merchandise, the cultish, flag waving, multi-billion dollar pyramid scheme that drove her family to ruin.

Rodriguez will play the manager of the low-rent waterpark where Krystal works.

Rodriguez’s previous credits include Getting On, The New Normal, Hot in Cleveland and The Middle.

Demi Lovato to Join School Shooting Survivors at “March for Our Lives” in Washington, DC

Demi Lovato is heading to Washington, DC next week to help shine a light on the issue of gun violence…

The 25-year-old part-Mexican American singer/actress will join survivors of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, as they take to the streets of Washington to protest gun violence.

Demi Lovato

On March 24, survivors will be joined by Lovato, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson as they call for gun legislation reform.

One of the survivors, David Hogg, made the announcement for March for Our Lives during an appearance on CNN.

“We’re gonna have four major independent women that are standing with us and walking beside us,” Hogg said.

According to the March for Our Lives mission statement, organizers will “demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before (the U.S.) Congress to address these gun issues.”

The shooting at Stoneman Douglas High claimed the lives of 17 people.

Lovato  invited survivors onstage during the opening show of her tour in San Diego.

Other celebrities, including Jimmy Fallon and George Clooney, are set to attend as well.

The march will occur 10 days after a national student walkout, which was met with similar support by celebrities including Katy Perry and Zendaya.

Sister marches will take place in cities across the nation.

Daniel Espinosa to Direct the Film Adaptation of Clinton Romesha’s “Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor”

Daniel Espinosa is seeing Red

Sony Pictures has selected the 40-year-old Chilean filmmaker to direct an adaptation of Clinton Romesha’s book Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor.

Daniel Espinosa

George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures will produce the film. Sony optioned the book last year., with Suicide Squad 2‘s Adam Cozad penning the script.

Medal of Honor winner Romesha was part of Red Platoon and the Black Knight Troop , which in 2009 prepared to shut down Command Outpost Keating. The outpost was the most remote and inaccessible in a string of bases built by the U.S. military in Nuristan and Kunar to keep Taliban insurgents from commuting between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It took three years for military to understand what was instantly clear to the men guarding it: The outpost was too isolated and dangerous to defend. After a series of smaller attacks, the Taliban came with everything it had, on October 3, 2009. While Romesha and his compatriots beat back the assault after 14 hours, they lost eight men in the balance. Romesha spearheaded both the defense of the outpost and the counterattack that drove the Taliban back.

The deal puts Espinosa back in business with Sony Pictures, which released the sci-fi thriller LifeRed Platoon potentially falls right into the filmmaker’s wheelhouse, and could follow in the footsteps of great war films like Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers.

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

Hayek Receives Olive Medal of Peace from Pope Francis

Salma Hayek has been extended a new olive medal…

Pope Francis has honored the 49-year-old Mexican actress, awarding her the Olive Medal of Peace at a Vatican event to promote the Scholas Occurrentes foundation.

Salma Hayek

In addition to Hayek, Richard Gere and George Clooney and Salma Hayek with the Olive Medal of Peace in an event.

Hayek and her fellow honorees have agreed to work as ambassadors for the foundation’s arts projects, said The Hollywood Reporter.

According to its website, Scholas is an International Organization founded in 2013 and operating under the auspices of the Vatican, which “connects technology with arts and sports in order to promote social integration and the culture of encounter for peace.”

Hayek was joined by husband Francois-Henri Pinault and daughter Valentina.

“Important values can be transmitted by celebrities,” said Lorena Bianchetti, an organizer of the event.

Huizar to Host Fundraising Event for Hillary Clinton

Jose Huizar is ready to play host…

The Mexican politican, who currently served as a member of the Los Angeles City Council, will host a fundraising event for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton during her return trip to Southern California on Cinco de Mayo (May 5).

Jose Huizar

Clinton was in Los Angeles last weekend for a series of events, including a campaign speech at Los Angeles Southwest College and a series of fundraisers.

The highest profile was a gathering at the Studio City home of George and Amal Clooney, with the money raised going to the Hillary Victory Fund. That is a joint fundraising committee that splits proceeds between the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state party committees.

Huizar was elected to the Los Angeles City Council’s 14th District in 2005 and re-elected in 2007, 2011 and in what will be his final term, 2015.

George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures Acquires Film Rights to Navarro’s “Three Minutes to Doomsday”

It’s a special three minutes for Joe Navarro

George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures has acquired the film rights to the Cuban author, public speaker and former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent’s book Three Minutes to Doomsday.

Joe Navarro

The deal was brokered by Abrams Artists Agency, after Scribner bought the book’s North American rights.

Written by Navarro and Howard Means, Three Minutes to Doomsday recounts efforts by Navarro, during his career the FBI’s leading body-language expert, to track down Clyde Lee Conrad, an Army officer who sold secrets to Hungary during the Cold War. The book focuses on Navarro’s relationship and interviews with Rod Ramsey, who knew of Conrad’s crime.

Co-author Means has collaborated on multiple bestsellers, including the Robert Baer books See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil that led to Clooney’s movie Syriana, for which he received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Baer these days is a frequent national-security commentator on CNN and elsewhere.

Smokehouse Pictures’ next film is Our Brand Is Crisis, a comedy set during the 2002 Bolivian presidential election and based on the true story of Democratic political consultants Greenberg Carville Shrum as they bring U.S. campaign techniques to South America. It’s directed by David Gordon Green and set for release in 2016.

Navarro is represented through Abrams Artists Agency by Steve Ross and Paul Weitzman.

Spanish-Language Adaptation of “ER” Heading to Colombian TV

It’s ER time for the people of Colombia…

Warner Bros. International Television Production has announced the first Latin American format deal for the critically acclaimed series ER, which aired on NBC from September 19, 1994 to April 2, 2009.

ER

RCN, Fox International Channels and TC have commissioned a local-language version for Colombia with a 60-episode order.

Colombia’s Resonant is producing the medical series, with plans to air the program this spring.

Originally produced in the U.S. by Constant c Productions and Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros. Television, the series ran for 15 seasons.

It’s the most Emmy-nominated series in history with 124 and notably helped kick-start the careers of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies.

“Even though ER is a fundamental American series, its characters and situations are so strong, moving and universal that will surely find a place in the hearts of Latin American audiences,” said Fernando Gaitan, RCN’s VP Content and Production. “We are eager to have it on our screen.”