Wilmer Valderrama Becomes Shareholder of IHeartMedia’s My Cultura Podcast Network

Wilmer Valderrama is taking on more responsibility…

The 42-year-old Venezuelan and Colombian American actor has expanded his role with My Cultura Podcast Network from iHeartMedia by becoming a shareholder.

Wilmer ValderramaIn addition, Valderrama will help to curate the network’s slate of Latinx-focused podcasts and has committed to five new shows that will be executive produced by and/or star him.

According to the company, monthly podcast downloads across My Cultura have more than doubled since the beginning of the year, with 9 in 10 of the network’s total downloads coming from listeners aged 18-49.

“Representation shapes not just how others see us, but also how we see ourselves. It is imperative that every facet of our media includes narratives that uplift Latino and Hispanic voices,” Valderrama tells Deadline in an exclusive statement. “At WV Entertainment it is our mission to not just choose purposeful projects that accurately represent the stories of the Latinx community but to also make sure these stories are accessible to everyone. We are so grateful to our partners at iHeartMedia for seeing the value in this and prioritizing the need to highlight the joy, the power, and the heart of our community in ways that are still all too rare.”

Valderrama’s relationship with My Cultura began in the Summer of 2021 with the launch of his podcast, Essential Voices with Wilmer Valderrama.

The weekly interview series, executive produced by Valderrama and Leo Klemm via his production banner WV Entertainment and Clamor, features conversations with people in the front line of food service, transportation, child-care, and other systems where workers’ voices are often overlooked.

“We are excited to have Wilmer on board in an even larger, expanded capacity as a shareholder in iHeart’s My Cultura Podcast Network,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia’s Digital Audio Group. “His energy, experience, and creativity will set this network up for even further success in year two and beyond.”

“We’re incredibly proud of the rapid growth our network has seen in its first year,” said Gisselle Bances, SVP, Head of Production and Development for iHeartMedia’s My Cultura. “We are the first majority Latinx-owned podcast network, and we are grateful to our partners and our diverse roster of hosts, including Wilmer, who continue to further My Cultura’s mission to tell our own stories. It’s stories by us for everyone to enjoy.”

Other popular podcasts from My Cultura include Connections with Eva LongoriaPrincess of South Beach starring Rachel Zegler and Sheryl RubioWrestling with Freddie from Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sisters of the Underground executive produced by Eva Longoria and Dania RamirezChiquis and Chill, and Lone Lobos with Xolo Maridueña and Jacob Bertrand. Listeners can hear all My Cultura shows on iHeartRadio and anywhere podcasts are found.

Gabriela Lopez to Star in Disney+’s Original Series “The Crossover”

 Gabriela Lopez is reading for a crossover

The 30-year-old half-Peruvian American actress will star in the Disney+ original series The Crossover.

Gabriela LopezLopez is among a roster of new cast additions that includes Darone Okolie, Joel Steingold, Himie Freeman and Johnny Cantley in recurring roles.

Okolie and Freeman will play future versions of the Bell brothers, Lopez will play a future version of ‘Maya’ and Cantley will play a future version of ‘Vondie.’

Steingold will play ‘Basil St. Jean,’ the poised and stylish Vice Principal at Hughes Middle School. He’s friendly and hard-working and offers his support to Crystal (Sabrina Revelle) in any way he can, even though she secured the job he was up for. But is he a friend or a foe?

Based on the best-selling novel by Kwame AlexanderThe Crossover introduces teen brothers Josh and Jordan Bell, widely considered basketball phenoms. Through his lyrical poetry, an adult version of Josh, aka Filthy McNasty, narrates the story of he and his brother’s coming of age, on and off the court, as their former professional basketball player father adjusts to life after basketball, and their mother finally pursues lifelong dreams of her own.

Daveed Diggs will narrate the series. Stars also include Jalyn Hall as ‘Josh Bell,’ Amir O’Neil as ‘JB Bell,’ Derek Luke as ‘Chuck Bell,’ Skyla I’Lece as ‘Alexis,’ Deja Monique Cruz as ‘Maya’ and Trevor Raine Bush as ‘Vondie.’

The pilot episode was directed by George Tillman, Jr. and was written by Kwame Alexander and Damani Johnson.

The Disney Branded Television series is produced by 20th Television.

Lopez’s previous credits include Rosewood, Casual and The 5th Wave.

Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” Enters Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100 for First Time in 50 Years

Jose Feliciano is making chart history with his holiday classic…

The 75-year-old Puerto Rican musician, singer and composer’s “Feliz Navidad” moves up from No. 16 to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, dated December 19, hitting the top 10 for the first time, 50 years after its original 1970 release. It previously reached No. 12 last holiday season.

Jose Feliciano

The holiday classic sports gains of 6% to 23 million in radio airplay audience, 15% to 18.5 million U.S. streams and 34% to 3,000 sold, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

Feliciano adds his second Hot 100 top 10, after his debut entry, his cover of The Doors‘ “Light My Fire,” hit No. 3 in August 1968. (The Doors‘ original ruled for three weeks in the summer of 1967.) He has charted 11 total Hot 100 entries, as well as 16 titles, including eight top 10s, on the Hot Latin Songs chart.

The legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist is celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Feliz Navidad” this year. He performed on NBC‘s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and CBS Sunday Morning last week and, among other festivities, has a livestream scheduled for December 20.

Last month, Amazon Music Lat!n revealed a special 50th anniversary reimagining of Feliciano’s iconic holiday classic, featuring 30 artists including CNCOJon Secada, Frankie JJencarlos Canela, Pablo Montero, Julio Iglesias, Jr.Jason MrazGloria GaynorPatricia Manterola and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Michelle Nuñez to Star in BET+’s Drama Series “Tyler Perry’s Ruthless”

Michelle Nuñez is ruthless

The Afro-Latina actress has been cast as a series regular of BET+’s drama series Tyler Perry’s Ruthless.

Michelle Nuñez

Nuñez is among a list of new cast members that includes Stevie Baggs, Jr.Colin McCallaSamantha L. Thomas, Alise Willis, and Jael Pettigrew.

Three episodes will exclusively premiere on November 26 on the streaming platform with new episodes launching every Thursday.

As the season continues, many of the faithful followers have begun to uncover the evil that exists beneath the surface of the Rakudushis movement. Armed with this knowledge, Ruth and several new fearful cult members try to take control of their individual destinies. The attempts will prove to be almost impossible for anyone who does not have allies they think they can trust. Viewers will see more sex, lies, and murder in this cult that is living up to its fate. Being aware of false prophets has never reigned more true.

The six new cast members join Ruthless stars Melissa L. Williams, Matt Cedeño, Lenny D. Thomas, Yvonne Senat Jones, Baadja-Lyne Odums, Jaime Callica, Nirine S. Brown, Blue Kimble, Stephanie Charles, Hervé Clermont, Anthony Bless, and Bobbi Baker.

The series is executive produced, written, and directed by Tyler Perry.

Nuñez will portray Zane, who wants to leave the cult but is much more fearful and tentative than her friend Paula.

 

Lin-Manuel Miranda & His Hamilton Cast Mates to Reunite for Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Fundraiser

Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing his bidding for Biden…

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican Tony Award-winning composer, lyricist, actor, singer/rapper, producer and playwright and the original cast of his hit musical Hamilton will reunite this week for a fundraiser for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, the latest pop culture themed virtual event.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's final Hamilton curtain call

The campaign announced that among those participating will be Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Javier Muñoz, Leslie Odom, Jr., Okieriete Onaodowa and Phillipa Soo. Director Thomas Kail will moderate a Q&A, and it will be followed by a special performance.

The event will take place at 9:00 pm ET on Friday, October 16 with no ticket amount. Proceeds will go to the Biden Victory Fund.

The cast of Hamilton also performed in 2016 for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Democrats have been drawing on cast reunions as a way to raise small-dollar contributions. The Wisconsin Democratic Party has hosted recent virtual reunions of the cast of The Princess Bride and Veep.

HBO Max is debuting a West Wing reunion on October 15 to benefit When We All Vote, the get-out-the-vote effort led by Michelle Obama.

Jorge Ramos Partners with Fusion for News Series “Real America with Jorge Ramos”

Jorge Ramos is getting Real

The 59-year-old Mexican journalist, author and Univision news anchor is launching a news series with Fusion, according to Variety.

Jorge Ramos

The five-episode program, titled “Real America with Jorge Ramos,” will see the veteran news journalist asking provocative questions of the disrupters, dreamers, dynamic-thinking Americans who are on the cutting edge and making a difference in this uncertain time.

The series will premiere on Tuesday, November 21 at 10:00 pm ET/PT on Fusion.

In the premiere installment, Ramos travels to Puerto Rico to measure the impact of the disaster. Ramos explores what life is really like in Puerto Rico weeks after Hurricane Maria, and asks why it has taken so long for these U.S. citizens to get much needed aid and electricity. He interviews those struggling to live without basic resources, along with the Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz—who has challenged President Donald Trump on response efforts—the Governor Ricardo Rosello, and others who are providing aid including former New York Yankee and Puerto Rico native Jorge Posada and his wife Laura.

Upcoming episodes will feature profiles of actor and comedian John Leguizamo, Governor John Kasich (R-OH), artists and activists Ai Weiwei and JR, and world-renowned brain surgeon Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, among others.

“Jorge is the quintessential American—a proud, hard working immigrant for whom the promise of America is tangible. His curiosity is infectious and this series, like all his projects for FUSION, will further elevate the voices that are writing the next chapter of our nation’s history,” said Fusion President Daniel Eilemberg.

Ramos has been the anchor of Noticiero Univision since 1986 and hosts the Univision weekly public affairs program Al Punto. He also famously sparred with then-Presidential candidate Trump in an August 2015 press conference over Trump’s comments regarding Mexican immigrants.

“Real America with Jorge Ramos” is a Fusion original series.

Dawson Appears in Special #IAmAnImmigrant PSA

Rosario Dawson is embracing her roots…

The 37-year-old Puerto Rican and Afro-Cuban American actress has joined several Hollywood stars in commemorating Immigrant Heritage Month with a new PSA in partnership with Welcome.us.

Rosario Dawson

Dawson appears in the PSA that also features Bobby Cannavale, Lupita Nyong’o, Wilmer Valderrama, Rosie Perez and Harry Shum, Jr.

The #IAmAnImmigrant clip aims to recognize the multiple and vibrant roles immigrants – whether forced or voluntarily – contributed in the creation of the United States.

“You can trace back from trains being built and cities and industries being developed because of different influxes of people who came in,” said Dawson, the daughter of a Puerto Rican and a Cuban immigrant. “It’s incredible to be a part of a culture that’s just still living. What we expect or think about what America is, it’s fluid.”

It’s this fluidity that most excites Kenyan-Mexican Nyong’o about the country. “What I think is so wonderful about America is the fact that it is a society of immigrants,” she said,

Miami-born Colombian-Venezuelan Valderrama agrees, saying “every time we get a chance to say out loud that we are an immigrant, I think it’s important that we embrace that opportunity.”

González Iñárritu’s Black Comedy “Birdman” to be Released in October

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s next project will be migrating to theaters in October…

Fox Searchlight co-president Stephen Gilula has announced that the 50-year-old Mexican filmmaker’s Birdman will open in theaters on Friday, October 17.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman

The film isn’t expected to complete post-production until late May or early June, with producers it eyeing fall festivals for its premiere.

It’s González Iñárritu’s first black comedy, following the Academy Award-nominated director’s dramatic films Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006) and Biutiful.

“It’s the heart of the fall, and a great time historically for us with films like Sideways, 12 Years A Slave, and historically Slumdog Millionaire and Black Swan,” Gilula tells Deadline.com. “We’ve had great success launching films at festivals, but this hasn’t been screened for anyone, despite the speculation. Alejandro is famous for his meticulous work in post-production, and this film is unusual for him in that is has some visual effects, and an unusual sound design. The most important thing is to make sure that the film is right.”

The film has an all-star cast that includes Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and his muse Naomi Watts, who appeared in the director’s Babel and 21 Grams.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman

Keaton plays a washed up actor who once played an iconic superhero who tries to mount a stage play despite his dysfunction and the dysfunction of others in his repertoire.

Inarritu wrote the film with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo.

Rodriguez’s “Machete Kills” to Open at Austin, Texas’ Fantastic Fest

Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills is getting a Fantastic opening…

The 45-year-old Mexican American filmmaker’s sequel to the cult classic Machete, starring Danny Trejo, will debut in his hometown of Austin, Texas at the annual genre-packed Fantastic Fest.

Machete Kills

In the film, Trejo returns as the title character – an ex-Federale turned vigilante – who is recruited by the President (Charlie Sheen – billed as Carlos Estevez) to stop an eccentric billionaire (Mel Gibson) from launching a missile into space.

Rodriguez has again assembled a B-movie dream team of name actors and unorthodox stars for his gory action-packed film, including Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Demian Bichir, Alexa Vega, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding, Jr., William Sadler and Marko Zaror.

Machete Kills will have its world premiere September 19 at the new Lakeline location of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters, home to the annual horror, action, sci-fi, fantasy, and foreign film festival.

Two weeks later Open Road Films will release Machete Kills nationwide on October 4.

This year’s Fantastic Fest runs from September 19-26, 2013.

Rodriguez Launching Limited-Edition Collection for Kohl’s

His creations are regularly worn by Michelle Obama and Hollywood starlets like Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies and Rachel Weisz… But Narciso Rodriguez will soon be dressing the masses.

The 51-year-old Cuban American fashion designer, who outfitted the First Lady in a stunning black-and-red dress on election night back in 2008, is launching a is launching a limited-edition collection for Kohl’s.

Narciso Rodriguez

Rodriguez’s capsule collection, set to debut this fall, will reportedly be the first of several collaborations the retailer has lined up with noted fashion designers, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

In recent years, Kohl’s, which has a long-term contract with Vera Wang, has focused on celebrity collaborations, with lines by Daisy Fuentes, Lauren Conrad and Jennifer Lopez.

Rodriguez, who rose to acclaim when he designed Carolyn Bessette‘s dress for her 1996 wedding to John F. Kennedy, Jr., has since become well known for his red carpet creations.

He last partnered with eBay on an eight-piece collection in 2010.