Eva Longoria Named to Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” List for 2023

Eva Longoria is earning attention for her skills behind the camera…

The 47-year-old Mexican American actress, producer and activist has earned a spot on Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2023 list.

Eva LongoriaFor more than a quarter-century, Variety has canvassed the field of emerging filmmaking talents for the artists whose voices set them apart: directors with an original point of view and the chops to go the distance. The idea: to identify talent before they “pop,” although in some cases, they’ve already started racking up awards — like Charlotte Wells, who won the Gothams’ Breakthrough Director prize shortly after being selected for the list.

Six of these filmmakers have yet to unveil their latest work to the world, and we’re grateful to them for giving us an early look. Three — Elijah Bynum, Laurel Parmet and Niza Mansoor — will debut their films later this month at the Sundance Film Festival.

Others, such as Longoria and Jingyi Shao, have made crowd-pleasers that will be released later in the year.

Eva Longoria
Flamin’ Hot
How long has the Desperate Housewives star wanted to direct?
“I’ve always been a director who fell into acting,” insists Longoria, adding, “I feel like I’m more comfortable behind the camera. I’ve really touched every rung of the ladder: I started with short films, I did a documentary, I did half-hour TV, I did multi-cam, I’ve done one-hours and pilots.” But starring on the hit series gave Longoria a special understanding of how the process works, a chance to learn at a budget far bigger than she would have to make her debut. “I used ‘Desperate Housewives’ as my film school. I paid attention to where the lights go, cameras, lenses. That was a decade of my life,” says Longoria, who found mentors along the way, including Ron Howard, who produced her second short film.

“My first feature was supposed to be this comedy at Universal with me and Kerry Washington.” But another project she was preparing came first, one rooted in a side of Los Angeles she insisted on showing authentically: “Flamin’ Hot,” about Richard Montañez, the former gangbanger turned Frito-Lay janitor who came up with the idea for the company’s super-spicy (and ultra-profitable) line of snacks.

“I like to produce with purpose,” she says. “Contributing to the world, to our art form, to societal and cultural change. This is a really important film because we Latinos don’t get a lot of bites at the apple.”

Technically, the Searchlight-backed comedy is a biopic — a genre with a tendency to be boring. “Flamin’ Hot” is never dull, but that took work. “When I read the original script, it had no point of view. It was like a documentary,” Longoria recalls. So she said, “This should be in his voice. He’s the smartest uneducated guy you’ll ever meet. It’s Scorsese meets Adam McKay.”
A twist on the American Dream shot in just 35 days, the result is inspirational and engaging, but also authentic, owing to the care Longoria took in representing a community she knew well. “Opportunity is not distributed equally. Talent is. All his life he was told, ‘No, ideas don’t come from people like you.’”

Influences: Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese
Reps: Agency: WME; Management: Brillstein Ent.; Legal: Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein

The 10 directors were honored in person on January 6 at the Palm Springs Film Festival, where a couple of last year’s alumni (Aitch Alberto and Goran Stolevski) will also be screening their films.

Click here for the complete list.

Ariana DeBose to Serve as Presenter at Upcoming Primetime Emmy Awards

Ariana DeBose is headed to primetime

The Television Academy has announced its first batch of presenters for Monday’s 74th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, with the 31-year-old half-Puerto Rican Oscar-winning actress, singer and Broadway star making the list.

Ariana DeBose,In addition to the West Side Story star, others set to appear on the awards show include Will Arnett, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Bayer, Kelly Clarkson, Taye Diggs, Hannah Einbinder, Selena Gomez, Mariska HargitaySquid Game’s Jung Ho-yeon & Lee Jung-jae, Jimmy Kimmel, Diego Luna, Christopher Meloni, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Jean Smart, Kerry Washington and Natalie Zea.

More presenters will be announced closer to TV’s Biggest Night, which will be hosted by SNL stalwart Kenan Thompson from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

The ceremony will air live on NBC starting at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET.

The Primetime Emmys follow this past weekend’s two-night presentation of the Creative Arts Emmys.

Victor Rasuk to Appear in Disney’s Onyx Collective Series “Reasonable Doubt”

Victor Rasuk’s latest project is in (Reasonable) Doubt

The 38-year-old Dominican American actor, who previously starred in The Baker and the Beauty, has landed a recurring role in Disney’s Onyx Collective series Reasonable Doubt to stream on Hulu.

Victor Rasuk

Rasuk will be joined by fellow cast newcomers Christopher Cassarino, Brooke Lyons and Eugene Byrd.

Emayatzy Corinealdi stars in the legal drama, which hails from writer/executive producer Raamla Mohamed; executive producer Kerry Washington, who will direct the first episode; and ABC Signature.

In Reasonable Doubt, you’ll judge Jax Stewart (Corinealdi) for her questionable ethics and wild interpretations of the law… until you’re the one in trouble. Then you’ll see her for what she is: the most brilliant and fearless defense attorney in Los Angeles who bucks the justice system at every chance she gets.

Rasuk plays Mike Llanas, an overzealous D.A., a man who lives and dies for his work. He and Jax went to law school together and have a history as rivals.

Cassarino will play Rich, an attorney at the same firm where Jax works, dealing mostly with contracts and litigation. He clashes with Jax during a huge case during the season.

Rasuk played the series lead in ABC’s The Baker and the Beauty, which is currently streaming on Netflix. He’s also known for his work as the lead on HBO’s How to Make it in America and has appeared on series including ER, Stalker, Colony, Blue Bloods and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

Jennifer Lopez Joins Michelle Obama’s ‘When We All Vote’ Initiative

Jennifer Lopez is helping get out the congressional vote…

The 52-year-old Puerto Rican superstar is among the celebrities who’ve joined a national nonpartisan voting initiative launched by former Michelle Obama as the effort gears up for the November congressional elections.

Jennifer Lopez

“Are you ready for the midterm elections?” the former first lady asks in the a video announcement.

J.Lo is one the newest co-chairs of Obama’s When We All Vote initiative, alongside H.E.R, Steph Curry, Becky G and Bretman Rock.

They join Selena Gomez, Tom Hanks, Liza KoshyJanelle MonaeLin-Manuel Miranda, Chris Paul, Megan Rapino, Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Rita Wilson.

The volunteer co-chairs use their platforms to help boost voter registration and education with the goal of helping increase turnout for congressional and state elections in November. Democrats currently have slim majorities in both the House and Senate.

“The right to vote is so important and I hope to inspire many in my generation to exercise that right often and purposefully,” H.E.R said in a statement provided by When We All Vote. “That’s the only way that we can hope to make change in policies that affect us all now and for many years to come.”

Mrs. Obama launched the voter education and registration initiative for the 2018 midterm elections.

Camila Cabello Among Celebrities Calling on Corporate America to Urge Congress to Support President Joe Biden’s Climate Plan

Camila Cabello is urging the U.S. Congress to support President Joe Biden’s climate change plan…

While Democratic leadership tries to unite its progressive and moderate wings, a group of 80-plus artists, celebrities and activists, including the 24-year-old Cuban/Mexican singer, are calling on the leaders of Google, Disney, Amazon, Fox, Facebook to join them in urging Congress to support Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

Camila Cabello

The effort was spearheaded by the National Resources Defense Council Action Fund and Cabello, who convinced the sizable group of A-listers to speak out, specifically about the need to address climate change.

In addition to Cabello, signatories to the group letter included J.J. Abrams, Greg Berlanti, Cate Blanchett, Jack Antonoff, Don Cheadle, Ellen DeGeneres, Selena Gomez, Shakira, Chris Evans, Jimmy Kimmel, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Chuck Lorre, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lin-Manuel MirandaSean Penn, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Porter, Robert Redford, Ryan Reynolds, Shakira, Barbra Streisand, Wes Studi, Justin Timberlake, Kerry Washington and many more.

On Monday, a group of 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists also came out in support of Biden’s plan.

Manish Bapna, President and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund said, “These are the tastemakers of our time—and in moments like these they have an opportunity to be the changemakers, too. What started as an idea by Camila Cabello has exploded into a clarion call from entertainers overnight to take action. Congress holds in its hands our best chance at combating our biggest environmental challenge yet. We need all hands on deck to make sure they seize it, and these industry leaders can play a critical role in making sure that they do.”

In today’s initiative, the artists call out the following execs by name: Lincoln Benet at Access Industries (Warner Music Group), Sundar Pichai at Alphabet (Google, YouTube), Andy Jassy at Amazon, Tim Cook at Apple, John Stankey at AT&T (WarnerMedia), Brian Roberts at Comcast, David Zaslav at Discovery (and soon Warner Bros. Discovery), Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Lachlan Murdoch at Fox, Reed Hastings at Netflix, Kenichiro Yoshida at Sony, Robert Bakish at ViacomCBS, Arnaud de Puyfontaine at Vivendi (Universal Music Group) and Bob Chapek at Walt Disney.

“It’s no secret that climate change is here and is already affecting people’s lives across the globe,” wrote Cabello in her post on Instagram about the effort. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to act boldly to fight the climate crisis, so I am honored to join over 60 fellow artists to call on leaders of the entertainment industry to use their power and demand that Congress pass @potus’s #BuildBackBetter agenda this fall.”

Here’s the full text of the letter and a list of its signatories:

Dear Entertainment Industry Executives:

Climate change has arrived on our doorstep: California is on fire, record-breaking and deadly storms are flooding New York City, hurricanes are devastating the Gulf. This summer alone, nearly one in every three people in the United States experienced an extreme weather event.

Scientists warn that if we fail to act now, every single one of us will feel the impacts, a billion people will be displaced, and low-income people and communities of color will continue to be hit first and worst. Right now, we have a critical window of opportunity to do something about it. And we need all hands on deck to demand that our leaders protect the people we love and the places they live before it’s too late.

Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in a clean, just, and equitable future for all by passing the robust climate action that President Biden called for in his Build Back Better agenda. This legislation will create healthier communities, put millions to work in clean energy jobs, and free us from the fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

As the top leaders of the entertainment industry—one of the nation’s most powerful and influential business sectors—you are needed to lead our community’s call for action and embrace this vision for a better world. The entertainment community has a long, proud tradition of driving societal change. Our industry is already leading the charge toward more sustainable practices within our own businesses and productions. Now is the time to use your influence to shape our future.

Congress needs to hear you demand, unequivocally, that it put forward and pass the most ambitious climate change agenda in U.S. history.

The plan currently before Congress will protect people’s health and clean up our drinking water. It will create a just transition away from dirty fossil fuels and create millions of new jobs. It will protect communities from climate change through investments in clean energy, clean transportation, and infrastructure upgrades. And it will make sure we finally prioritize and invest in the low-income communities and communities of color that are hit hardest by both fossil fuel pollution and climate impacts.

This plan will create a stronger, brighter, and more just America—and we need you to help make this vision a reality.

At this pivotal moment, please lead the call. Demand publicly and loudly that our senators and representatives in Congress pass this critical legislation.

And we pledge to do our part as well. We will use our platforms to remind all Americans: Tell your senators and representatives in Congress that you demand climate action now. Advocate for Congress to take up the president’s climate agenda. And don’t stop there. Tweet. Post. E-mail. Call. Whatever it takes.

Sincerely,

J.J. Abrams
Anitta
Jack Antonoff
Troian Bellisario
Greg Berlanti
Cate Blanchett
Benny Blanco
Dave Burd aka “Lil Dicky”
Camila Cabello
Dove Cameron
Alessia Cara
Don Cheadle
Glenn Close
Coldplay
Jacob Collier
Lily Collins
James Corden
Ellen DeGeneres
Cara Delevingne
Leonardo DiCaprio
Zac Efron
Billie Eilish
Chris Evans
Jimmy Fallon
Finneas
Selena Gomez
Conan Gray
Grimes
Todrick Hall
Hugh Jackman
Jimmy Kimmel
Joey King
Liza Koshy
Lady Gaga
Cyndi Lauper
John Legend
Adam Levine
Kevin Liles
Dua Lipa
Lorde
Chuck Lorre
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Demi Lovato
Ziggy Marley
Shawn Mendes
Idina Menzel
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Sean Penn
Joaquin Phoenix
Billy Porter
Zachary Quinto
Addison Rae
Robert Redford
Ryan Reynolds
Mark Ronson
Kyra Sedgwick
Shakira
Lilly Singh
Troye Sivan
Barbra Streisand
Wes Studi
Ryan Tedder
Justin Timberlake
Kerry Washington
Sigourney Weaver
Shailene Woodley
Calum Worthy

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.”

Mariah Carey Urges Fans to #CallOutYourSenator” in Campaign to Save Anti-Voter Supression ‘For the People Act’

Mariah Carey is encouraging you to help stop voter suppression efforts…

The 52-year-old half-Venezuelan American singer has joined several stars, including John Legend and Common, to urge their fans to #calloutyoursenator in a viral campaign to save the anti-voter suppression For the People Act.

Mariah Carey

Carey and the other stars have joined the Twitter campaign urging a bipartisan group of four U.S. senators to vote in favor of the bill that has already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is pending, but imperiled, in the U.S. Senate.

“No matter our color, party, or zip code, our voices and our votes count. @senatorsinema @joemanchinWV @senatortimscott @senrobportman can make that happen,” tweeted Common referring to a group of, respectively, two democrat and two republican senators who could serve as the pivotal votes in favor of the bill. “If you live in AZ, WV, SC or OH #CallOutYourSenators. Tell them VOTE YES on the #ForThePeopleAct.”

Carey, Legend, Evanescence‘s Amy Lee and actors Kerry WashingtonLeonardo DiCaprio and comedians Sarah Silverman and Billy Eichner have also joined the campaign to salvage a bill that enjoys support from nearly all the Democrats in the Senate, but is in danger of falling short due to democratic holdouts Machin and Sinema.

As former president Donald Trump and a number of his Republican allies continue to spread the unfounded “Big Lie” alleging massive voter suppression in the 2020 election — which election integrity experts said was actually the most secure vote in the nation’s history — the Senate is stalled on passing the bill that would, among other things, outlaw partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, overhaul campaign finance laws, make federal campaign spending more transparent and protect early voting while requiring states to adopt Automatic Voter Registration.

According to a recent survey, 67 percent of Americans are in favor of the bill, which has effectively been put on ice due to West Virginia democrat Sen. Manchin’s stated refusal to vote for it, which means it will fall short of the 50 votes necessary to break a filibuster; fellow democrat Arizona Sen. Sinema has also said she would not support the bill known as “S 1.”

Experts say passage in the Senate is vital to combat the hundreds of bills introduced (and passed) in Republican-led states so far this year that aim to gut early, vote-by-mail and no-excuse voting, repealing automatic voter registration and limit the powers of local officials to oversee elections, among other actions that critics say would heavily impact, young and Black voters.

Eva Longoria to Direct & Executive Produce HBO Max’s “The Gordita Chronicles” Pilot

Eva Longoria has lined up her next directorial project…

The 45-year-old Mexican American actress/producer will direct and executive produce The Gordita Chronicles pilot at HBO Max.

Eva Longoria

The single-camera family comedy hails from Josh Berman’s Osprey ProductionsZoe Saldana’s Cinestar Pictures, and Sony Pictures Television, where Berman’s Osprey Prods is under a deal.

Written by Claudia Forestier, The Gordita Chronicles centers on a willful, chubby, 12-year-old Dominican who struggles to fit into hedonistic 1980s Miami as her family pursues the American Dream.

Brigitte Munoz Liebowitz serves as executive producer and showrunner. Longoria executive produces via her UnbeliEVAble Entertainment. Zoe Saldana, Mariel Saldana and Cisely Saldana executive produce for Cinestar Pictures.

Sony Pictures Television is the studio.

Longoria will be making her film directorial debut with Searchlight’s Flamin’ Hot, an inspiring biopic about the janitor turned executive who created the flaming hot Cheetos snack. She’ll also direct the workplace comedy 24/7 and star alongside Kerry Washington for Universal and direct the action comedy Spa Day for Sony.

The former Desperate Housewives star made her television directing debut on Devious Maids in 2014. Her television producing/directing credits also include ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Versus, and episodes of Black-ish, The Mick and Telenovela.

Longoria made her pilot directing debut with the CW’s Glorious.

 

Eva Longoria to Take Part in Presidential & Vice Presidential Inauguration Special “Celebrating America”

Eva Longoria is celebrating America in a special way…

The 45-year-old Mexican American actress and producer will introduce segments during the two-hour Joe Biden and Kamala Harris inauguration special that starts at 8:30 pm ET on January 20th.

Eva Longoria

While Tom Hanks will serve as the official host the program, Longoria and Kerry Washington will reprise their duties from last summer’s semi-virtual Democratic National Convention, which had the same producers.

The Celebrating America television special will air on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and more next week.

Biden and Harris are scheduled to give remarks of their own during Celebrating America.

The finale for the five-day America United themed event in a deeply and violently divided nation, Celebrating America has already made public that Justin Timberlake will be busting a move or two onstage. Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons and that other Garden State superstar Jon Bon Jovi will be performing also.

More acts and big names are expected to be revealed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee in the next few days.

Along with the TV networks, Celebrating America will be seen on Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW from Fox, and AT&T DIRECTV and U-verse as well as the PIC’s social media feeds.

Netflix Releases Trailer for Ariana DeBose’s Musical “The Prom”

Ariana DeBose is heading to prom

Netflix has released the first trailer for Ryan Murphy’s musical The Prom, starring the 29-year-old half-Afro-Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer.

Ariana DeBose in The Prom

The plot centers on four Broadwayactors who’ve seen better days who come up with a publicity opportunity to reignite their careers by flying to a small town in Indiana to help a lesbian student banned from bringing her girlfriend to the prom.

The adaptation of the Tony Award-nominated stage musical has a screenplay from original playwrights Chad Beguelinand Bob Martin.

In addition to DeBose, who competed on So You Think You Can Dance, the all-star cast includes Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Jo Ellen Pellman, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Chamberlin, Mary Kay Place, Nico Greetham, Logan Riley, Nathaniel J. Potvin, Sofia Deler, and Kerry Washington.

The film will launch on the streaming service on December 11.