Eva Longoria Among High-Profile Investors in Major League Pickleball’s 12 New Teams

Eva Longoria is getting in the game…

America’s fastest-growing sport continues to attract high-profile investors from entertainment and sports, including the 47-year-old Mexican American actress, director and producer, following this week’s announcement of Major League Pickleball ’s 12 new teams for 2023.

Eva LongoriaLongoria is among a roster of investors in the clubs that includes Kevin DurantHeidi KlumMichael Phelps and Tom Ricketts.

“The diversity in the backgrounds and expertise of our fantastic new owners is an incredible asset as we aggressively expand Major League Pickleball to reach more fans than ever,” Brian Levine, the interim MLP CEO, said in a statement on the news. “We always say pickleball brings people together, and this roster of leaders from across a wide variety of industries is a strong testament to that philosophy.”

Last month, MLP merged with Tom Dundon’s rival Professional Pickleball Association, which had just announced the launch of the VIBE Pickleball League with Mark Cuban as its first team owner.

The move allowed MLP to expand to 24 teams with six events and $5 million in prize money for 2023. It had eight teams and one event in 2021. Each team will feature two men and two women. MLP added casual dining chain Margaritaville as a title sponsor last week.

The newly announced teams drafted their co-ed rosters Monday night and will start at the Challenger Level in 2023. The 12 previously existing teams, whose cap tables include LeBron James, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, will start at the Premier Level.

Last week, those teams drafted the top 48 pro pickleballers. The two sets of teams will then swap leagues for the second half of the 2023 season and have a re-draft with the combined season results determining a team’s level in 2024. The 2024 season will feature promotion and relegation between the two levels with the Premier Level the higher tier.

The newly announced ownership groups showcase pre-existing ties. The D.C. Pickleball team is made up largely of existing investors in Liga MX Club Necaxa, including Al Tylis, Sam Porter, Longoria, Justin Verlander, Kate Upton and Mesut Ozil.

D.C. had the first pick in the draft and choose 10-time ATP Tour titlist Sam Querrey, who recently retired from tennis.

Miami has attracted investments from Naomi Osaka and her agent Stuart Duguid, who launched their own agency, Evolve, this year. Evolve’s only other client, Nick Kyrgios, also invested, as did Alex Cohen, who serves as a financial advisor to Osaka and, launched his own firm, Heights, in 2021 after more than a dozen years at Main Street Advisors. Chicago’s team features four women’s tennis Grand Slam champions, including Chris Evert.

Kevin Durant and his longtime business partner, Rich Kleiman, will own the team in Brooklyn through their venture fund 35V. The expansion fee for Durant’s franchise was $1 million, and fees for other recent franchises were at and exceeded $3 million, according to multiple sources familiar with the deals who were not authorized to speak publicly about them.

“This is not about simply writing a check, it’s about finding the right strategic partners to help us grow MLP and the entire sport of pickleball,” Anne Worcester, MLP’s strategic advisor and a board member, said in an email in October.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association dubbed pickleball the fastest growing sport, with participation up 39% between 2019 and 2021. The sport’s governing body, USA Pickleball, says there are 4.8 million pickleball players in the U.S. and more than 10,000 locations to play, including nearly 800 added in 2021.

NEW MPL TEAMS/OWNERS

Atlanta Bouncers: Anheuser-Busch

AZ Drive: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Phelps, Devin Booker, Dierks Bentley, Robert Gary, Doug Hirsch, Sheila Gulati, John Merwin, Sam Frakes, Mark Dalton and Richard J. Schnall

Bay Area Breakers: Jeremy Lin, Mimi Mercado, David Mercado, Geoff Nguyen, Stacey Nishi, Jeff Nishi, Wayley Louie and Kathleen Louie

Brooklyn Aces: Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s 35V

Chicago Slice: Ron Saslow’s 35 Capital, Heidi Klum, Tom Ricketts, David Justice, Doug Ellin, Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport, Tracy Austin, Gigi Fernández, David Dobrik, Joe Bonamassa, Ted Foxman and Steve Bellamy

Columbus Pickleball Club: David Kass and Doug Ulman

Dallas Pickleball Club: Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki, John Isner, Robert Herjavec, Chandler Parsons, and Todd Wagner

D.C. Pickleball Team: Al Tylis, Sam Porter, Eva Longoria, Justin Verlander, Mesut Ozil, Kate Upton, Shawn Marion, Rip Hamilton and Matt Walsh

Miami Pickleball Club: Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios, Patrick Mahomes, Rich Paul, Darius Garland, Mardy Fish, Alex Davis, Alex Cohen, Stuart Duguid, The Palm Tree Crew, Prakash Amritraj, Matthew Pritzker, Mark Ein, Romie Chaudhari and Swimmy Minami

Texas Ranchers: Tim Klitch, Dan Ferreri, Bryan Sheffield, Kit Sheffield and Richard Veitenheimer

Utah Black Diamonds: The Pardoe Family

Valhalla Volleys: To be determined

Starz Order Pilot of Documentary-Style Format Interview Series from Fat Joe

Fat Joe is seeing Starz

Starz has given a pilot order for an interview series with a documentary-style format from the 52-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American hip hop star and television personality and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Fat JoeProduced by SpringHill, founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter), the pilot will feature Fat Joe sitting with celebrities and high-profile guests as the show’s host.

“We’re about to create the biggest and most culturally-relevant series on television,” said Fat Joe in a statement. “With Puff, LeBron, the incredible team at Starz, and myself teaming up, you have a dream team that is guaranteed to produce TV gold. Hosting a show has always been a dream of mine and I’m thankful for everyone who helped make it a reality. I promise you that we’re going to push the envelope, deliver compelling interviews and provide pure entertainment. Do remember – you don’t know who I know!”

“I’m excited to partner with Starz and bring these cultural giants together to create the No. 1 show on television,” added Combs. “Fat Joe is a very authentic and respected voice in the culture that deserves a platform to bring these important conversations to a global audience on a major network.”

Fat Joe continues to expand in the television space with various projects on the horizon.

A pilot is currently in development from Starz and BET Studios titled The Book of Jose about the rapper’s life from Fat Joe, Kenya Barris and Jorge Reyes.

On the hosting front, he launched The Fat Joe Show, a nightly Instagram Live talk show where he interviewed politicians, musicians, athletes, actors, entrepreneurs, and influential personalities like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Floyd Mayweather, Dwyane Wade, Jamie Foxx, and Alicia Keys.

He also recently served as a guest host for both The Wendy Williams Show and the official recap for Triller’s Verzuz platform.

“Time and time again, Fat Joe has delivered outstanding, insightful interviews with legendary personalities who define the zeitgeist, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Starz family,” said Kathryn Busby, President, Original Programming, Starz. “Fat Joe, Sean Combs, and LeBron James are inspirational icons, and we can’t wait to get started on this incredible journey.”

Carmelo Anthony & His USA Basketball Teammates to Be Featured in “The Redeem Team” Olympic Documentary

It’s a redemption story for Carmelo Anthony and his fellow USA Basketball teammates…

Netflix has partnered with the International Olympic Committee for The Redeem Team—a new documentary looking at the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball team’s iconic victory of 2008, featuring the 38-year-old Puerto Rican professional basketball player and his teammates.

Carmelo AnthonyThe Redeem Team will be released globally on the streamer on October 7th.

Using unprecedented Olympic footage and behind-the-scenes material, The Redeem Team tells the story of the U.S Olympic Men’s Basketball Team’s quest for gold at the 2008 Beijing Games following the previous team’s shocking, low-point performance four years earlier in Athens.

The documentary offers a portrait of team building and features interviews with athletes and coaches from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, who reflect on how The Redeem Team set a new standard for American basketball.

The Redeem Team is an Olympic Channel, Kennedy/Marshall Company & Mandalay Sports Media production in association with 59th and Prairie Entertainment, Uninterrupted, NBA Entertainment & USA Basketball.

The project marks Netflix’s first collaboration with the Olympic Channel—the media studio owned and operated by the IOC—and also marks the Olympic Channel’s first time producing a film exclusively for a global streaming service.

Skydance Sports’ Jon Weinbach directed the doc, with Greg Groggel and Diego Hurtado De Mendoza producing.

The Redeem Team represents the very best of what the Olympics are all about,” said Olympic Channel Services GM, Mark Parkman. “This film will bring viewers directly inside that team and the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 by showcasing the personality and dynamics of a special group of superstars who came together as one to reclaim basketball supremacy on the biggest stage in sports.”

“In 2008, I played with heroes of mine, all stars, friends and future teammates. Outside of winning and showing the world that we were still the most dominant, our other big challenge was changing the perception of what everyone thought about the NBA and USA Basketball!” added Wade. “I’m excited for everyone to get an opportunity to go behind the scenes and see all the work that went into this iconic team — The Redeem Team!”

In addition to Anthony, the 2008 USA Basketball team included Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams.

Amazon Prime Video Releases Trailer for Kid Cudi Documentary “A Man Named Scott”

Kid Cudi’s life story is headed your way…

The 37-year-old part-Mexican American rapper, singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and actor, whose real name is Scott Mescudi, will be the subject of Amazon Prime Video’s new documentary A Man Named Scott.

Kid Cudi

The documentary comes 13 years after Kid Cudi’s debut mixtape A Kid Named Cudi catapulted him into the hip-hop scene in 2008.

Helmed by director Robert Alexander, who has previously directed episodes of LeBron JamesHBO talk series The Shop, the film will cover Kid Cudi’s decade-plus tenure in the spotlight as both a “musical star and cultural hero.”

Amazon Prime Video will release the documentary globally on November 5.

The documentary will explore the creative choices that went into Kid Cudi’s records, including those outside the Man on the Moon trilogy, along with the personal struggles that affected his life throughout the process. The trailer features clips and dialogue from Kid Cudi about his philosophy as an artist, from fans about his music’s impact on their lives, and thoughts from his closest collaborators about Kid Cudi’s artistry.

Kid Cudi is most celebrated for his Man on the Moon album trilogy, which includes songs about topics like depression, anxiety and loneliness.

Before Man on the Moon: The End of Day‘s 2009 release, those subjects were treated as taboo in the hip-hop world, with the exception of influential records like frequent collaborator Kanye West‘s 808s and Heartbreakswhich came a year prior.

The documentary comes almost a year after Kid Cudi released his last full-length project, Man on the Moon III: The Chosenin December 2020 to close out the trilogy, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, selling 144,000 album-equivalent units, and at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Carmelo Anthony Launching “What’s In Your Glass?” Podcast

Carmelo Anthony is expanding his creative empire…

The 37-year-old Puerto Rican professional basketball player and NBA All-Star is moving into the world of podcasting.

Carmelo Anthony

The former New York Knicks star and his content company Creative 7 have teamed up with Audacy-owned Cadence13 to launch the What’s In Your Glass? podcast.

Anthony, who is in the top ten of all time scorers in the league, is adapting the wine-focused YouTube series into audio form.

On the series, which will launch on July 22 and be available across podcast platforms and on YouTube, he’ll talk wine with the likes of Mark Cuban, Andra Day, Shaka King, T-Pain, and JJ Redick.

He’ll talk to guests from the worlds of sports, wine, business, entertainment, music, politics, and more over a glass or two as well as spearhead in-depth conversations about the timely issues facing our society including social justice.

Anthony is at the forefront of a growing wine movement in the NBA, widely considered the unofficial wine ambassador to the league and responsible for increasing the interest of the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Paul during a 2015 boat trip.

“I’m excited to be working with Cadence13 to bring back What’s In Your Glass? in a brand new format and introduce it to the world of audio,” said Anthony. “We have some incredible conversations lined up, so I can’t wait for listeners to pour a glass and join us each week as we talk about life, current events, and of course, all-things wine.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with world-class athlete, and a leading voice for social justice, Carmelo Anthony as he continues to achieve greatness on and off the court,” added Chris Corcoran, Chief Content Officer. “As he explores his passion for wine and more, we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Carmelo to the Cadence13 family and listen to these conversations.”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/whats-in-your-glass/id1576873726

Daddy Yankee Partners with Sprite for Limited-Edition Flavor, “Daddy Mix by Daddy Yankee”

Daddy Yankee is getting carbonated…

The 45-year-old Puerto Rican singer, songwriter and rapper has teamed up with Sprite for a limited-edition flavor.

Daddy Yankee

Coined “Daddy Mix by Daddy Yankee,” the new tropical soda was made 100% in Puerto Rico and inspired by the island’s vibe and Yankee’s music.

This marks the first time Sprite has partnered with an artist in Puerto Rico, and only the second time the brand created a new flavor, following “Sprite LeBron’s Mix,” formulated in collaboration with NBA star LeBron James.

Daddy Yankee, Daddy Mix by Daddy Yankee, Sprite

Calling him the “perfect partner” for this exclusive flavor, Michelle Serrano, product life manager at Sprite Puerto Rico, said in a statement: “The ‘Big Boss’ brings you his tropical mix Daddy Mix by Daddy Yankee with the same intensity of our original lemon-lime formula that quenches your thirst with a perfect tropical twist for this summer.”

In true DY fashion, the can and boxing are inspired by the reggaeton superstar’s career, including elements like his initials, signature, and emoji from his 2021 hit “Problema.”

Sprite’s Daddy Mix, available in either a 12oz can or 1.75-liter bottle, will be sold in Puerto Rico for a limited time.

Anthony Ramos Contributes Single “The Best” to “Space Jam: A New Legacy” Soundtrack

Anthony Ramos is ready to (space) jam

Republic Records and Warner Bros. Pictures have announced details of the official soundtrack for Space Jam: A New Legacy, the upcoming sequel starring LeBron James, with the 29-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer and In The Heights star contributing a track.

Anthony Ramos

Among the 16 singles on the soundtrack: Ramos’ “The Best.”

Other artists in the mix are Lil Uzi Vert (“Pump Up the Jam“), Jonas Brothers (“Mercy”), Big Freedia (“Goin’ Looney“), Lil Baby and Kirk Franklin on the lead single “We Win (Space Jam: A New Legacy)” and SAINt JHN and SZA on follow-up single “Just for Me.”

Space Jam: A New Legacy Official Soundtrack arrives in stores and on digital platforms on July 9, one week before the film’s July 16 release.

Here’s the full track list for Space Jam: A New Legacy Official Soundtrack:

Lil Baby & Kirk Franklin – “We Win (Space Jam: A New Legacy)”
24kGoldn feat. Lil Wayne – “Control the World”
Chance the Rapper feat. John Legend & Symba – “See Me Fly”
Saweetie feat. Salt-N-Pepa & Kash Doll – “Hoops”
Lil Uzi Vert – “Pump Up the Jam”
SAINt JHN feat. SZA – “Just for Me”
John Legend – “Crowd Go Crazy”
Jonas Brothers – “Mercy”
Lil Tecca & Aminé – “Gametime”
Dame D.O.L.L.A., G-Eazy, P-Lo & White Dave – “About That Time”
BROCKHAMPTON – “MVP”
Cordae & DUCKWRTH – “Settle the Score”
Big Freedia – “Goin’ Looney”
Joyner Lucas – “Shoot My Shot”
Leon Bridges – “My Guy”
Anthony Ramos – “The Best”

Bad Bunny to Appear on HBO/HBO Max’s “The Shop: Uninterrupted”

Bad Bunny is hittin’ the shop…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican superstar will be making an appearance on The Shop: Uninterrupted’s upcoming fourth season.

Bad Bunny

The show is set to premiere on Friday May 28 on HBO and HBO Max.

In addition to Bad Bunny, the other stars joining LeBron James and Maverick Carter for the season premiere are iconic music mogul Jay-Z; WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike; and marketing executive Paul Rivera.

The group will discuss confidence on the big stage, parenthood and WrestleMania.

Staged periodically throughout the year, the show offers conversation and debate between some of the biggest names in sport and entertainment.

Past guests include Drake, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Diddy, Jimmy Kimmel, Patrick Mahomes, Lil Nas X, Will Smith, Megan Rapinoe, Kevin Hart, Rob Gronkowski and most recently, Barack Obama.

Executive producers are  James, Carter, Jamal Henderson, Devin Johnson and Philip Byron; director is Robert Alexander; producers are Kevin McGrail, Brandon Riley and Rob Roediger; co-executive producer is Camille Maratchi; and creators are Paul Rivera and Randy Mims.

La La Anthony Executive Producing Limited Series “The Case of Cyntoia Brown”

La La Anthony is officially on the case

The 38-year-old Puerto Rican television personality, producer and actress is executive producing The Case of Cyntoia Brown, a limited drama series inspired by the story of Cyntoia Brown-Long, who served 15 years of a life sentence for killing a man when she was 16 years old.

La La Anthony

Starz has put the series, based on Brown-Long’s book, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System, in development.

The project hails from Curtis 50 CentJackson and Anthony, and writer Santa Sierra.

Brown-Long and her husband Jamie Long will consult on the project.

Anthony has been a long-time supporter of Brown-Long and brought the project to Jackson’s G-Unit Film & Television, Inc. banner, which is developing the series under G-Unit’s overall deal with Starz.

Written by Sierra, the series tells the story of Cyntoia Brown-Long who was sex trafficked by a boyfriend, tried as an adult at 16 years old and sentenced to life in prison for aggravated robbery and first-degree murder. Despite being a minor, the sentence required her to serve at least 51 years before being eligible for parole consideration, which would not make her eligible for parole until she was 67.

Sierra also will serve as executive producer.

“We’re honored to be entrusted with Cyntoia’s story, which shines a light on the injustice of a system that tried and sentenced an at-risk minor as an adult when she was a victim herself of sex trafficking,” said Christina Davis, President of Original Programming for Starz. “This limited series from Curtis, La La and Santa chronicles Cyntoia’s long journey to freedom and furthers our #TakeTheLead programming mandate centered on narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.”

For years, Brown-Long maintained that the 2004 killing was an act of self-defense. Over the years, the fight for her release brought prominent lawyers to her defense and support from celebrities in addition to Anthony including LeBron James, Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna. While incarcerated, Brown-Long earned her associates and bachelor’s degrees while also mentoring at-risk youth.

She was granted clemency and released in 2019 and now advocates for criminal justice reform and victims of trafficking. Her case also inspired the introduction of state legislation aimed at protecting minors who are victims of sex trafficking. Since her conviction, juvenile sentencing guidelines in Tennessee have been amended: now, children under the age of 18 cannot be tried for prostitution. If she were to be arrested today, Brown-Long would be treated as a child human trafficking victim.

Laurie Hernandez to Appear in Peacock’s Women’s Gymnastics-Themed Docuseries “Golden”

Laurie Hernandez is golden

The 20-year-old Puerto Rican Olympic gold medal gymnast and Dancing with the Stars champion will appear on Golden, a docuseries about women’s gymnasts vying for a spot on the U.S. team heading to the Tokyo Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez

The six-episode series, which hails from Peacock and LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted will track five hopefuls competing for four spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

A premiere date hasn’t yet been confirmed for the show, which is part of a broad array of live and on-demand Tokyo programming heading to NBCUniversal platforms.

In addition to Hernandez, the series also features Morgan HurdSunisa LeeKonnor McClain, and MyKayla Skinner.

A major theme will be the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the postponement of the Games from 2020 to 2021 and also dramatically altered athletes’ preparations and training.

Each hour-long episode of Golden will center on one of the individual gymnasts, with storylines of the other competitors woven into the narrative.

Hernandez is known to Olympic viewers for winning a gold medal as a member of the “Final Five” team and an individual silver on beam at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The series will cover a five-month span and milestones like national team training camps, the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which start June 24.

Three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes is executive producing, along with James, Carter and Uninterrupted’s Jamal Henderson and Philip Byron.

“When I look back, I remember the tremendous sacrifice it took me to achieve my own Olympic pursuits,” Dawes said. “Similarly, these gymnasts have and will continue to endure physical, emotional and mental hurdles that most cannot fathom. The millions of viewers who watch the Summer Games are accustomed to witnessing the short-lived glory of the podium without truly understanding the demands these young female athletes face.”