Natalie Chaidez Developing Television Series Based on the Late Oscar “Zeta” Acosta’s Novels

The late Oscar “Zeta” Acosta’s life story will be getting the Hollywood treatment…

Half-Mexican American television writer/producer Natalie Chaidez has acquired the film and television rights to the late Chicano attorney, politician, novelist and activist’s novels Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and The Revolt of the Cockroach People.

Oscar “Zeta” Acosta

She will executive produce and supervise writing for an upcoming television series.

Chaidez is developing the project with Joe Loya and Phillip Rodriguez.

Acosta was a Mexican American activist in the Chicano Civil Rights Movement who disappeared in Mexico in 1974, a year after his second novel The Revolt of the Cockroach People was released and is presumed dead. He is also famously known for his friendship with Hunter S. Thomson, who characterized Acosta as Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

“Oscar Zeta Acosta has been a passion of mine since I first encountered his books in an East LA library. Acosta’s story is one of the deepest and cinematic stories in the Latinx canon. I’m thrilled to bring his story to life,” Chaidez told Deadline in an exclusive statement.

The televison series will feature elements from both of his published novels, the first is loosely based on his early years, and the second tells real stories from his later years during the Chicano movement while changing the identities of those involved. It’s currently being shopped around to networks and streamers.

Chaidez is currently co-showrunner on the second season of HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant alongside Steve Yockey currently in production. She was previously an executive producer and writer on USA Network’s Queen of the South and served as creator and executive producer of the Syfy drama Hunters.

Victoria Alonso to Speak at NALIP Media Summit

There’s a little moderation in Victoria Alonso’s future…

The three-day 2021 virtual edition of the NALIP Media Summit will feature a conversation with the 55-year-old  Marvel Studios’ executive producer moderated by Variety’s Marc Malkin.

Victoria Alonso

The three-day event will feature diverse creative leaders from the Latinx community that will connect with attendees through a series of sessions, workshops, exclusive screenings and mentorship opportunities.

The 22nd annual event will be held July 19-21. Additional speakers and sessions will be announced soon.

Alonso has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She began her career working in visual effects and quickly rose as an award-winning VFX producer at Digital Domain. After joining Marvel as EVP of visual effects and post-production in 2005, she worked as a co-producer on the studio’s early hits such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Assuming her current position in 2015, she has served as an executive on every Marvel Cinematic Universe film and television show since 2012’s The Avengers.

Alonso’s talk will stream live on July 20 followed by a signature conversation with Starz president and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch. Other speakers include actors Isabela Merced and Frankie Rodriguez.

Camila Banus to Star in the Latinx Holiday Movie “A Christmas & Postre”

It’s Christmas in July for Camila Banus.

The 30-year-old Spanish and Cuban American actress and model will headline the independent Latinx holiday movie, A Christmas & Postre from producers Autumn Federici and Jake Helgren under their production banner, The Ninth House.

Camila Banus

Banus, best known for her role as Gabi Hernandez on Days of Our Lives, will star opposite Mark Hapka in the film

Cristina Boada will write the script, which reps Colombian-American Brittany Underwood’s directorial debut.

A Christmas & Postre follows Carmen (Banus) a quirky and lovable pastry chef, dreams of one day opening her very own Puerto Rican influenced postre shop– like the one her family owned on the island. In the meantime, she showcases her treats at a local coffee shop, Coqui, where she works with her sister, Pilar. When local hotel owner, Victor Flores (David Fumero), discovers her talents, she secures a coveted pastry chef position for his grand holiday event known for bolstering the careers of pastry chefs. Carmen is paired with perfectionist chef Jax (Hapka), whom she frequently disagrees with. As they race against the clock to assemble their intricate holiday menu, Carmen and Jax realize they have a lot to learn from one another and eventually come together to create a truly inspired menu just in time for Christmas.

Melissa Marty, Terri Hoyos, and Norma Maldonado will also star.

Tanya Saracho to Make Film Directorial Debut with Adaptation of Her Off Broadway Play “Mala Hierba”

Tanya Saracho is in the (bad) weeds…

The Mexican-American actress, playwright, dramaturge, screenwriter and Vida creator is bringing her 2014 Off Broadway play Mala Hierba to the big screen, and she’ll be directing the film adaptation of her acclaimed project.

Tanya Saracho

In her film directorial debut, Saracho has teamed up with Anonymous Content to adapt the Texas border town set drama.

The film version of Mala Hierba  will be produced by AC Studios, with Dawn Olmstead, David Levine, and Whitney Dibo overseeing the project for outfit.

Former Vida EP Stephanie Langhoff, and Christine Davila, head of development and production at Saracho’s Ojala Productions, will serve as producers on Mala Hierba.

Originally opening at Second Stage Uptown nearly six years ago, the play unravels the coiffured life of a Lone Star State trophy wife who begins to see the cracks in her life of wealth and privilege as her first and perhaps true love reappears. The possibility of a renewed life together for the two women forces the Liliana character to make a searing decision about what she wants and who she is.

The stage production of Mala Hierba was directed by Jerry Ruiz and starred Marta Milans, Sandra Marquez, and Ana Nogueira in the primary roles.

The union with Anonymous comes just over a couple of weeks after the active Saracho launched the Ojalá Ignition Lab in conjunction with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group.

Part of the acclaimed playwright and filmmaker’s 2020 inked development deal with the studio, the incubator program for Latinx voices will provide five writers and their own proposed projects with mentoring from experienced showrunners and EPs, including self-described “den mother” Saracho and an extended network to draw on for the future.

Since Vida, which won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, finished its three-season stint on Starz in May 2020, Saracho stayed in Britain during the pandemic to work with musician and Lovesick actor Johnny Flynn for an upcoming project.

Alberto Belli to Direct the Latinx Dance Film “The Way You Move”

Alberto Belli is makin’ a major Move

The 36-year-old Mexican film director will direct the Latinx dance film The Way You Move.

Alberto Belli

The film follows an inner-city teenager who gets in trouble at school and is forced to serve detention in the ballroom dance club. To his surprise he discovers that he loves to dance, but he must overcome a family tragedy and the ridicule of his friends before he can bring the rhythms of the street into the ballroom and express his own unique style.

Belli, a commercials and music video director, recently directed multiple episodes of Netflix’s Spanish-language series The House of Flowers.

His debut feature, Gatlopp, is currently in post-production for Tea Shop Productions and Signature, and he’s currently co-creating drama series Loteria, which is in development with Sony Pictures Television for IMDB TV

Broken English Productions is producing with Grandave Capital financing. Filming is scheduled for fall 2021.

The original screenplay comes from Lynn Esta Goldman.

“Alberto Belli is a monumental talent, and Broken English is excited to collaborate with him. Alberto has been on the forefront of innovative storytelling through his many television shows, commercials, music videos and online platforms,” said Christopher Acebo, CEO of Broken English Productions. “We are thrilled at the prospect of him directing this uplifting, powerful and inspiring movie!”

Becky G Releases Own Beauty Brand “TresLúce”

Becky G wants you to look good…

The 24-year-old Mexican American bilingual singer/rapper has released her very own beauty brand, TresLúce, along with her beauty partners Made by Collective.

Becky G

A year in the making, TresLúce – formed from the Spanish words “tres” and “lucir” – is an homage to her Mexican-American culture and Latinx stories, and celebrates the importance of self-expression.

The chart-topping artist celebrated the release of her beauty brand this week at a private event in Los Angeles where she thanked her team, family and fans for their continued support throughout her career.

“There’s a reason I didn’t call it Becky G cosmetics because TresLúce is more than me, it’s about us.”

TresLúce products are now on sale to all consumers online.

Gloria Calderón Kellett Developing “With Love” as First Series Under Overall Production Deal with Amazon Studios

Gloria Calderón Kellett is bringing the Love to Amazon…

The 46-year-old Cuban American television writer/creator’s GloNation Studios and Amazon Studios have set With Love as the first series under Calderón Kellett’s overall deal with the streamer.

Gloria Calderón Kellett

The one-hour romantic dramedy, created and written by the One Day At a Time co-creator, had been fast tracked since the pitch stage with the goal to launch it during the 2021 holiday season.

Additionally, Calderón Kellett has set up three other series projects for development at Amazon Studios through GloNation as part of her deal. The wide-ranging slate includes Shakespeare-themed high-school drama Verona, co-created by Calderón Kellett; Glowing Up, a half-hour adult animation musical series based on the graphic novel Mismatched, a modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma; and Dating the Lopez Ladies, a half-hour animated comedy created by Calderón Kellett.

Glowing Up and Dating the Lopez Ladies follow Calderón Kellett’s foray into animation with the well-received special episode of One Day At a Time, which was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Meanwhile, With Love and Verona mark a return to the hour-long side for Calderón Kellett, who previously worked on Devious Maids and iZombie.

With Love follows the Diaz siblings, Lily and Jorge, who are on a mission to find love and purpose. The Diaz siblings cross paths with seemingly unrelated residents during some of the most heightened days of the year –the holidays.

“I started writing as a way to create characters and stories that represented myself and the community I love,” Calderón Kellett said. “After such a heavy year, there was nothing I wanted more than to see a happy, warm, loving family that looked like mine, celebrating trauma-free and falling in love. So, to be bringing that family to life as my first project with Amazon Studios feels especially personal and is incredibly exciting. I cannot wait to share With Love this holiday season!”

The holiday series is currently in prep, with production set to begin in June. Its pilot episode will be directed and executive produced by Meera Menon.

With Love is a special project and Gloria at her best, creating a world with a vibrant family at its center, hysterical circumstances, and so much heart and soul. We’re so proud of what’s to come of this series and can’t wait for the world to fall in love with it,” said Marc Resteghini, US and Global Head of Development for Amazon Studios.

Here are details about the three other projects from Calderón Kellett’s GloNation Studios in the works at Amazon:

VERONA
As Shakespeare so famously wrote, all the world’s a stage… and never is that truer than as a teenager, when you are performing for yourself, your peers, your parents, and social media. Verona is an hour-long drama series which takes the classic Shakespearean stories you know and love out of the renaissance and into present-day high school. The highs are still high, the lows are still low, but one thing is certain… high school drama is about to get a lot more poetic. We follow the Del Castillo sisters Nico, Delilah, and Inez as they play out familiar stories interweaved together in fair Verona where we lay our scene.
Created By: Roja Gashtili & Julia Lerman, Kelly Younger and Gloria Calderón Kellett.
Writers / Executive Producers: Roja Gashtili, Julia Lerman

GLOWING UP
Based on the graphic novel Mismatched (a modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma), Glowing Up is a half-hour adult animation musical series centered on Evan Horowitz, an out and proud Latino/Jew amateur matchmaker and wannabe makeup influencer. Evan is an old-school romantic who dedicates himself to getting true love to trend at his high school in Queens — through singing, dancing, and contoured cheekbones. A big gay musical comedy that focuses on love and celebrates LGBTQIA+ youth.
Writers / Executive Producers: Debby Wolfe & Marcos Luevanos
EPs: Gloria Calderón Kellett and Will Graham (for Field Trip)

DATING THE LOPEZ LADIES
A half-hour animated comedy series following plus-sized powerhouse Ilana Lopez. She’s a 25-year-old artist who runs a wildly successful comic strip about dating called Sharp Curves following the misadventures of her alter-ego Gabby. Gabby becomes all too real and is the devil on Ilana’s shoulder in life as well as on the page. When Ilana’s mother, the 49-year-old glamorous divorcee, Sofia visits, she points out that fictional Gabby has more fun than real-life Ilana. It makes Ilana and her friends energized to start a date club and take their romantic conquests seriously. Inspired by the young people, Sofia decides to join her daughter and friends in date club! Adventures and hilarity ensue.
Creator/Writer/EP: Gloria Calderón Kellett

Calderón Kellett, a leading voice in Latinx storytelling on television, was executive producer/co-showrunner, director and actress on Netflix/Pop’s One Day At A Time, which was universally praised for its authentic and nuanced portrayal of the the Latinx experience.

She began her TV writing career as a staff writer on the CBS comedy series How I Met Your Mother, rising to co-producer and earning an ALMA Award for one of her scripts in 2008. She then worked as a writer-producer on such series as CBS/Sony Television’s Rules of Engagement, Lifetime’s Devious Maids and the CW’s iZombie before taking on One Day at a Time. 

Bad Bunny: The Top Latinx Winner at the Billboard Music Awards

Bad Bunny is celebrating a memorable night…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican superstar took home four awards at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, the most of any Latinx artist.

Bad Bunny W Magazine Cover

Bad Bunny collected the awards Top Latin Artist, Top Latin Male Artist, Top Latin Song (“Dákiti“) and Top Latin Album (YHLQMDLG).

Bad Bunny, who performed “Te Deseo Lo Mejor” after accepting his Top Latin Artist award, presented by Lena Waithe, holds the record for the most top 40 hits on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart with 104. He also holds the record for the most hits in total on that chart: 111. His chart-topping YHLQMDLG won him his first Grammy on March 14, when it was named Best Latin Pop or Urban Album.

In the Top Latin Artist category at the BBMAs, Bad Bunny was up against Anuel AA, J Balvin, Maluma and Ozuna.

“I share this [award] with all of my colleagues nominated who are doing big things for the genre,” he said in Spanish during his speech.

El Conejo Malo wasn’t the only one representing Latin music at the BBMAs. Colombian hitmaker Karol G also took center stage performing “Bichota” and “El Makinon” after being announced winner of the Top Latin Female Artist award, beating out Becky G and Rosalía.

Karol G, whose most recent album KG0516 debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, becoming her first No. 1 on that list, has amassed 25 hits on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, including three No. 1s. She has had 10 No. 1s on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart.

She performed a medley of her hits “Bichota” and “El Makinon,” both from her latest album KG0516. She also flaunted her “next level” dance moves that she rehearsed “very hard” for, as she told Billboard’s Leila Cobo.

“I’m happy and I’m nervous,” she said ahead of her big night. “A lot of power…with this performance, I want to express that I feel like a woman and a business girl. I feel so happy and grateful for everything that’s happening in my career and my life, and to have the opportunity to inspire girls all over the world.”

Finally, representing the Regional Mexican realm, Eslabon Armado took home the Top Latin Duo/Group award. The teenage trio was up against Banda MS de Sergio Lizárraga and Los Dos Carnales in that category.

Known for their sierreño ballads, Eslabon Armado – comprised of brothers Pedro (lead vocalist) and Brian Tovar (bass and bajoloche), along with friend Gabriel Hidalgo (harmony and background vocals) – scored three consecutive chart-topping albums in 2020: Tu Veneno MortalVibras de Noche and Corta Venas.

“Always grateful to God, our parents, our label and our fans,” Eslabon Armado posted on their social media after they won the award. “This award is for all of you.”

Hosted by Nick Jonas, the ceremony also honored P!nk as the Icon, Drake as the artist of the decade and Trae Tha Truth as the Change Maker.

Here’s the full list of winners:

Top Artist: The Weeknd
Top New Artist: Pop Smoke
Top Male Artist: The Weeknd
Top Female Artist: Taylor Swift
Top Duo/Group: BTS
Top Billboard 200 Artist: Taylor Swift
Top Hot 100 Artist: The Weeknd
Top Streaming Songs Artist: Drake
Top Song Sales Artist
: BTS
Top Radio Songs Artist:
The Weeknd
Top Social Artist (Fan Voted): BTS
Top R&B Artist:
The Weeknd
Top R&B Male Artist: The Weeknd
Top R&B Female Artist
: Doja Cat
Top Rap Artist: Pop Smoke
Top Rap Male Artist: Pop Smoke
Top Rap Female Artist: Megan Thee Stallion
Top Country Artist: Morgan Wallen
Top Country Male Artist: Morgan Wallen
Top Country Female Artist: Gabby Barrett
Top Country Duo/Group: Florida Georgia Line
Top Rock Artist: Machine Gun Kelly
Top Latin Artist: Bad Bunny
Top Latin Male Artist: Bad Bunny
Top Latin Female Artist
: Karol G
Top Latin Duo/Group: Eslabón Armado
Top Dance/Electronic Artist
: Lady Gaga
Top Christian Artist
: Elevation Worship
Top Gospel Artist
: Kanye West
Top Billboard 200 Album: Pop Smoke, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon
Top R&B Album: The Weeknd, After Hours
Top Rap Album: Pop Smoke, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon
Top Country Album: Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album
Top Rock Album: Machine Gun Kelly, Tickets to My Downfall 
Top Latin Album: Bad Bunny, YHLQMDLG 
Top Dance/Electronic Album
: Lady Gaga, Chromatica 
Top Christian Album: Carrie Underwood, My Gift
Top Gospel Album: Maverick City Music, Maverick City Vol. 3 Part 1 
Top Hot 100 Song: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
Top Streaming Song: DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch, “ROCKSTAR”
Top Selling Song: BTS, “Dynamite”
Top Radio Song: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
Top Collaboration (Fan Voted): Gabby Barrett ft. Charlie Puth, “I Hope”
Top R&B Song: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
Top Rap Song: DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch, “ROCKSTAR”
Top Country Song: Gabby Barrett, “I Hope”
Top Rock Song: AJR, “Bang!”
Top Latin Song
: Bad Bunny & Jhay Cortez, “Dákiti”
Top Dance/Electronic Song: SAINt JHN, “Roses (Imanbek Remix)”
Top Christian Song: Elevation Worship ft. Brandon Lake, “Graves Into Gardens”
Top Gospel Song: Kanye West ft. Travis Scott, “Wash Us In The Blood”

Henry R. Muñoz III Acquires Funny or Die

Henry R. Muñoz III is preparing for a little funny business…

The 61-year-old Latino designer, activist and philanthropist has acquired early digital video player Funny or Die.

Henry R. Muñoz III

Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Judd Apatow and Chris Henchy co-founded Funny or Die in 2007. Ferrell and McKay appeared in one of the company’s first breakout clips, The Landlord.

Muñoz bought Funny Or Die from its former stakeholders, a group that included AMC Networks, Turner Entertainment and Sequoia Capital. Ferrell will continue to collaborate creatively with Funny Or Die and serve as an advisor.

Muñoz be sole owner of the Funny Or Die brand, and the acquisition also includes its library, longform slate and social media portfolio of more than 40 million followers.

Financial terms for the transaction were not disclosed.

After the transaction, Muñoz will become chairman of Funny or Die. Mike Farah will continue as CEO. Michele Rosette, who has been the CFO of Funny Or Die since 2016, will remain in her role. Joe Farrell, who oversees Funny Or Die’s longform slate, has been promoted to Chief Creative Officer.

From its roots in short-form, viral video, Funny or Die has evolved into a supplier of series like Brockmire, whose run on IFC ended last year, and this year’s History of Swear Words on Netflix.

Other credits include true crime docuseries For Heaven’s Sake on Paramount + and the Feeding America Comedy Special for NBC.

The pivot followed challenges in recent years as smaller video purveyors have faced daunting economics when reckoning with the forces of tech giants like YouTube and Facebook. Like many digital outlets, Funny or Die had to lay off staff and restructure as it navigated the 2010s.

The arrival of Muñoz will enable the company to deficit-finance certain projects, the company said, promising to reveal more specifics about that strategy at a later date.

A CBS special produced by Funny or Die last fall connected the company with Muñoz and wound up leading to the acquisition. Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event, hosted by Eva Longoria, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan, celebrated America’s diversity with a focus on Latinx culture and highlighted the impact of Covid-19.

Muñoz has operated at high levels in the realms of politics, art, business, public affairs and philanthropy. In addition to his own design practice, he has launched national movements including Momento Latino, TheDream.US and Latino Victory in support of the Latinx community. He is the cofounder of SOMOS US, a healthcare network in New York treating largely immigrant communities. It has been on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

His design firm, Muñoz & Company, is one of the largest and oldest minority-owned design practices in the country. It pioneered an approach to architecture, urban planning, and design that acknowledges the imprint of the Latino community. He also helped with the effort to create a Latino Museum on the Mall in Washington, DC, and is the Finance Chairman Emeritus of the Democratic National Committee, the first openly gay, openly Latino and openly Texan person to hold that position.

“The future of comedy and entertainment is in companies that empower talent and creative forces to make content that reflects the cultural identity of our country at this moment in our history,” Muñoz said in the official deal announcement. “Funny Or Die’s own rich history as a place of innovation and as a voice of new generations speaks for itself and our team led by Mike Farah is poised to seize this unique moment. I understand the responsibilities of owning a brand like Funny Or Die and I am excited to work with our team to make sure we have the resources we need to develop funny, original and diverse new content.”

He went on to note the importance of his sole ownership of the company. “I also understand the importance of being one of the very few Latinos in a position like this in the entertainment industry and I will do my best to make my community, our industry and our country proud as we move forward,” he added. Diversity and inclusion will be more central to the company’s mission moving forward, he noted.

Farah said Muñoz’s “unique background in social activism and business” makes him the “perfect person to guide FOD into the future.” He added, “The company is in great hands with Henry, and he’s brought a new sense of purpose to our mission to empower original, authentic creators in comedy and beyond.”

HBO Max Orders Family Comedy Pilot “Gordita Chronicles,” Starring Olivia Goncalves, to Series

Olivia Goncalves is preparing to Chronicle(s) her latest endeavor…

HBO Max has picked up to series the family comedy pilot Gordita Chronicles, starring the Latina actress and Hollywood newcomer.

Olivia Goncalves

The project hails from Claudia ForestieriJosh Berman’s Osprey ProductionsZoe Saldana’s Cinestar Pictures and Sony Pictures Television

Goncalves leads the comedy, written and executive produced by Forestieri and directed by Eva Longoria. Diana Maria Riva and Juan Javier Cardenas also star.

Gordita Chronicles, inspired by Forestieri’s life, centers on Carlota “Cucu” Castelli (Goncalves), a willful 12-year-old Dominican immigrant with a heart of gold. Cucu leaves her home and her parochial school in Santo Domingo to live in Miami and pursue the American Dream during the hedonistic 1980s after her father, a marketing executive with a large airline, gets transferred there. Cucu meets head-on the challenges of being an immigrant in a strange new world with humor, bravado and some really bad choices.

“We are thrilled to partner with Zoe, Eva, Josh and Sony Pictures Television to bring to life this beautiful coming-of-age story inspired by Claudia’s personal journey,” said Jennifer O’Connell, Executive Vice President, Non-Fiction and Live-Action Family Programming, HBO Max.

“HBO Max is proud to work with the powerhouse Latinx talent in front of and behind the camera for this series, which we believe will resonate with all families,” added Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content, HBO Max.

Cast also includes Savannah Nicole Ruiz, Noah Rico and Cosette Hauer.

“From the minute we heard Claudia’s childhood story, we knew it was not only incredibly funny, but emotionally poignant and an important story to tell,” said Jason Clodfelter, Co-President, Sony Pictures Television Studios. “Cucu and the Castellis remind us of the iconic sitcom families we grew up watching, but none of those ever captured a Dominican family’s experience of coming to America. This show changes all of that, and we are thrilled and grateful to dive back in and make a wonderful series for our friends at HBO Max.”

Brigitte Munoz Liebowitz serves as executive producer and showrunner. Berman, Chris King and Jennifer Robinson executive produce for Osprey Productions. Longoria executive produces via her UnbeliEVAble Entertainment. Saldana, Mariel Saldana and Cisely Saldana executive produce for Cinestar Pictures. Sony Pictures TV is the studio.