William Levy to Star in Pantaya’s Dramatic Thriller “Montecristo”

William Levy is ready to thrill…

The 41-year-old Cuban actor and former telenovela star will be leading the cast of the newly announced dramatic thriller Montecristo, from Pantaya and Secuoya Studios.

William Levy

Levy’s new series is set in Havana, Madrid, and Miami.

Based on Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, the series tells the story of Alejandro Montecristo (Levy), an enigmatic figure who bursts into the public eye and raises concerns amongst the world’s elite because of the mysterious origins of his fortune.

He’s the founder and CEO of a new technology company that has incited the envy and interest of many, among those is Fernando Alvarez Mondego – a businessman connected to the Spanish aristocracy who wants to acquire the Montecristo startup. What Fernando doesn’t know is that Montecristo is someone he knew decades ago and the reason for his emergence is fueled purely by revenge.

“I’ve been drawn to the story of The Count of Montecristo since my youth,” Levy tells Deadline in an exclusive statement. “He’s a mysterious figure driven in his pursuit of justice and vengeance, which are powerful themes that resonate universally. I am so thrilled to be partnering with Secuoya Studios and Pantaya to bring this story to life in a way that has never been seen before.”

“Montecristo is our newest modernized premium classic series,” adds Mario Almeida, Head of Content for Pantaya. “This story of vengeance and passion has unforgettable characters at its core, and the new take on this timeless story is brilliantly conceived. We feel there is no better partnership to serve revenge coldly.”

Levy began his career in the Spanish-language market where he quickly rose to become to one of the most sought out talents where he remains today. He expanded his reach with U.S. audiences in the 2000s with roles in Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms ClubGirls Trip opposite Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter; and most notably on the small screen as a regular in Lee Daniels’ Star.

“We are extremely proud in our multiple project slate with Pantaya and William, they both are an integral part of our expansion plan in the Americas and the world,” said David Martinez, head of fiction, and Sergio Pizzolante, head of the U.S. and Latin America from Secuoya Studios, respectively.

The television adaptation is written by Lidia Fraga and Jacobo Díaz and will be directed by Alberto Ruiz-Rojo. The series is produced by David Martinez and executive produced by Secuoya Studios and Sergio Pizzolante. Levy and his producing partner Jeff Goldberg will also serve as executive producers.

The series will premiere on Pantaya in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Melissa De Sousa to Appear on Fox’s Drama Series “Our Kind of People”

Melissa De Sousa has found her people

The 54-year-old Panamanian American actress has landed a recurring role opposite Morris Chestnut and Yaya DaCosta in the Fox drama series Our Kind of Peoplefrom writer/executive producer Karin Gist and executive producer Lee Daniels.

Melissa De Sousa

The role reunites De Sousa with Chestnut, with whom she stars in The Best Man franchise. Joe Morton also stars in the series.

Inspired by Lawrence Otis Graham’s book Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, the series written by Gist takes place in the aspirational world of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, a historical stronghold where the rich and powerful Black elite have come to play for more than 50 years.

Our Kind of People follows strong-willed single mom Angela Vaughn (DaCosta) as she sets out to reclaim her family’s name and make an impact with her revolutionary haircare line that highlights the innate, natural beauty of Black women. But she soon discovers a dark secret about her mother’s past that will turn her world upside-down and shake up this community forever.

De Sousa will play Alex Rivera. Attractive and savvy, Alex Rivera is an accomplished financial reporter and Raymond’s (Chestnut’s) ex-wife.

A co-production between 20th Century Fox Television and Fox EntertainmentOur Kind of People is executive produced by Gist and Claire Brown via The Gist of It Productions; Daniels and Marc Velez via Lee Daniels Entertainment; Pam Williams; Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens and Rodney Ferrell via Propagate; and Montrel McKay.

De Sousa, best known for her performance as the infamous Shelby in the Universal franchise The Best Man and The Best Man Holiday, will next star opposite Chestnut in the Peacock limited series The Best Man: The Final Chapter.

She most recently recurred as Chief Ana Lopez on the CW’s Black Lightning and as the pill-popping journalist Mirta Herrera on Showtime’s On Becoming A God In Central Florida opposite Kirsten Dunst.

Fox Releases First Look Trailer for Yaya DaCosta’s Drama Series “Our Kind of People”

Yaya DaCosta isn’t Bluffin’

Fox has released the first teaser trailer for its new drama Our Kind of People, starring the 38-year-old half-Brazilian American actress.

Yaya DaCosta

The clip shows DaCosta’s character Angela Vaughn isn’t playing around when it comes to what’s truly hers.

The series hails from writer/executive producer Karin Gist and executive producer Lee Daniels.

Inspired by Lawrence Otis Graham’s book Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, the series written by Gist takes place in the aspirational world of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, a historical stronghold where the rich and powerful Black elite have come to play for more than 50 years.

Our Kind of People follows strong-willed single mom Angela Vaughn (DaCosta) as she sets out to reclaim her family’s name and make an impact with her revolutionary haircare line that highlights the innate, natural beauty of Black women. But she soon discovers a dark secret about her mother’s past that will turn her world upside-down and shake up this community forever.

“My mama worked for one of them, but I have a secret that will expose them all,” DaCosta’s Angela says about her family. “Little do they know I’m one of them. So whether they like it or not, I belong here.”

Our Kind of People premieres on Tuesday, September 21, and also features Morris Chestnut, Joe Morgan, Alana Bright, Rhyon Nicole Brown, Debbi Morgan, Kyle Bary, Lance Gross, Nadine Ellis and L. Scott Caldwell.

Our Kind of People was the first Fox drama series ordered for the 2021-22 season and the first series to come out of the network’s script-to-series model introduced last summer.

Tasha Smith will direct the series premiere.

Christina Aguilera Among Celebrities Urging U.S. Senators to Stop Gun Violence Now

Christina Aguilera is calling for politicians to take action on the issue of gun reform

The 40-year-old half-Ecuadorian American Grammy-winning singer has joined a roster of celebrities who’ve signed an open letter to U.S. Senators urging them stop gun violence now.

Christina Aguilera

Five years ago, amidst a string of deadly attacks at live music venues including the horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, the cover of Billboard‘s July 2016 issue featured an open letter to U.S. Congress signed by 200 artists and music industry executives calling for gun reform.

Unfortunately, the need for reform has only grown stronger as shootings have continued around the country at a terrifying rate.

So now, five years later, as venues prepare to reopen after their pandemic shutdown and music fans ready to return to concerts and festivals, we stand again with the music community to ask lawmakers to take swift action to stop the violence. — Hannah Karp, Billboard editorial director

An Open Letter to Senators: Stop Gun Violence Now

As leading artists and executives in the music industry, we are adding our voices to the chorus of Americans demanding change.

Music always has been celebrated communally, on dance floors and at concert halls. But this life-affirming ritual, like so many other daily experiences — going to school or church or work — continues to be threatened, because of gun violence in this country.

The one thing that connects the tragedies like the shootings in Boulder, El Paso, Las Vegas, Parkland and so many other places in America, to the one that happened in Orlando five years ago this June, is that it is far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns.

We call on the Senate to do more to prevent the gun violence that kills more than 100 Americans every day and injures hundreds more: Take action on background checks.

Billboard and the undersigned implore you — the people who are elected to represent us — to close the deadly loopholes that put the lives of so many music fans, and all of us, at risk.

Sincerely,

Christina Aguilera, Tori Amos, Sara Barielles, Aaron Bay-Schuck, Tony Bennett, Selim Bouab, Rob Bourdon, Scooter Braun, Cortez Bryant, Michael Bublé, Vanessa Carlton, Joseph Carozza, Steve Cooper, Tom Corson, Lee Daniels, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Delson, Diplo, Mike Easterlin, John Esposito, Melissa Etheridge, Fletcher, Luis Fonsi, Becky G, Kevin Gore, Julie Greenwald, Josh Groban, Horacio Gutierrez, Joe Hahn, Halsey, Billy Joel, Craig Kallman, Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, Carole King, Elle King, Adam Lambert, Cyndi Lauper, Kevin Liles, Dre London, Jennifer Lopez, Macklemore, Zayn Malik, Carianne Marshall, Ricky Martin, Paul McCartney, Julia Michaels, Guy Moot, Jason Mraz, Gregg Nadel, Yoko Ono, Mark Pinkus, Gregory Porter, Prince Royce, Bonnie Raitt, Dawn Richard, RMR, Paul Robinson, Maggie Rogers, Kelly Rowland, Mike Shinoda, Sia, Matt Signore, Britney Spears, Rob Stevenson, Sting, Barbra Streisand, Justin Tranter, Sir Trilli, Sharon Van Etten, Aimie Vaughn-Fruehe, Eddie Vedder, Andrew Watt.

If you’re interested in signing the letter, you can email guncontrol@billboard.com.

Benjamin Bratt’s Cancelled Fox Series “Star” May Return with a TV Movie

Benjamin Bratt’s star could shine again soon…

The 55-year-old half-Peruvian American actor’s cancelled Fox musical drama Star could return as a televised movie, according to show’s co-creator Lee Daniels.

Star

“The bad news is that Star is not getting picked up for series,” said Daniels in a video post on Instagram, calling the explanation “too long of a story to cry about.”

“The good news is: we’re doing a movie of the week to wrap things up for you all,” he said, adding, “We’re going to make something real special for you to scream about, with all of our cast members – even the dead ones.”

Star, a drama series about three girls’ rise to fame, was cancelled in May after three seasons on the air. Co-created by Daniels and Tom Donaghy, the show was produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Lee Daniels EntertainmentJude Demorest.

Bratt starred alongside Ryan DestinyBrittany O’GradyQueen LatifahQuincy Brownand Amiyah Scottin the series.

Scotty Tovar Lands Recurring Role on Fox’s “Empire”

Scotty Tovar is exploring anEmpire

The Latino actor has signed on for a recurring role on Fox’s hit musical family drama Empire.

Scotty Tovar

Tovar will portray Carlito, a young rap star on the rise, who believes he’s the savior of hip-hop and acts as such.

Empire, created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong and starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, hails from Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television.

Tovar recently guest-starred on Amazon’s Too Old To Die Young and Animal Kingdom and he recurred on Freeform’s The Fosters.

William Levy Lands Series Regular Role on Fox’s Music Drama Series “Star”

William Levy’s star is on the rise…

The 37-year-old Cuban actor is joining the cast of Fox’s music drama series Star as a new series regular for the upcoming third season.

William Levy

Levy will play Mateo Ferrera, a driven media mogul who can charm the devil into church. He is rich, successful, smooth as silk and married to his equal, Nina Ferrera, played by Camila Banus. Mateo makes and breaks his own rules as he sprints toward success. The first generation son of immigrant parents, he is determined to make his mark and build his legacy by any means necessary.

Co-created by Lee Daniels and Tom DonaghyStar follows three talented singers – running from their pasts and desperate for a new start – with ambitions of stardom, as they navigate the cutthroat music business.

The large ensemble cast includes Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt, Jude Demorest, Ryan DestinyBrittany O’Grady, Amiyah Scott, Quincy Brown, Miss LawrenceMichael Michele, Stephen Dorff and Luke James.

Telenovela star Levy’s Spanish-language Triunfo Del Amor was the most watched scripted series on American television. On the film side, Levy appeared in Lionsgate’s Addicted, Universal’s Term Life alongside Vince Vaughn, and most recently, Universal’s blockbuster Girls Trip.

John Leguizamo to Take Part in The People’s State of the Union

John Leguizamo is heading to State

The 53-year-old Colombian actor/comedian will take part in what’s being dubbed as The People’s State of the Union.

John Leguizamo

Taking place a day before U.S. President Donald Trump deliverers his State of the Union speech, Lequizamo will join celebrities like Mark Ruffalo, activists, and representatives from political organizations in New York City on Monday, January 29.

The goal? To unite against Trump’s agenda and spur voters to win back U.S. Congress in the mid-term elections.

“In essence, it’s a better reflection of our state of the union based on a more populist point of view, based on the people’s point of view,” Ruffalo told People of the event. “I think it’s important because we have a president who has a difficult time with the truth, who has a radical, divisive agenda, and spends an enormous amount of time focusing on the negative and hopelessness and despair.”

“We want to celebrate this moment that we’re in of what is now probably one of the most influential and powerful and really beautiful movements to come into play in the United States since the civil rights movement,” Ruffalo continued, going on to describe the event as “a celebration of the power and the beauty of this movement, but also of our accomplishments and to focus on what’s to come in the immediate future.”

Other participants will include Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Nixon, Michael Moore, Kathy Najimy, Wanda Sykes, Lee Daniels, Rosie Perez and Fisher Stevens, as well as Andra Day and Common, who will perform their song “Stand Up for Something” from the film Marshall.

To watch the speakers and hear the topics discussed, tune into the live-stream at peoplessotu.org.

La La Anthony Lands Recurring Role on Fox’s Drama Series “Star”

La La Anthony’s Star is rising.

The 38-year-old Puerto Rican actress and television personality has landed a recurring role on Fox’s music-fueled drama series Star.

La La Anthony

Anthony will portray Paola, the estranged mother of Angel (guest star Evan Ross) who also happens to have a connection to Jahil (Benjamin Bratt).

Co-created by Lee Daniels and Tom DonaghyStar follows three talented singers – running from their pasts and desperate for a new start – with ambitions of stardom, as they navigate the cutthroat music business.

Anthony’s recent television credits include Starz’s Power and the Lifetime telepic The New Edition Story. She also has appeared in the recent features Double Play, Deuces and Destined.

She first earned national attention in the early 2000s as a VJ on MTV’s Total Request Live and went on to host a number of reality shows for its corporate sibling VH1 including Flavor of Love. She also starred in the reality television programs La La’s Full Court Wedding and La La’s Full Court Life.

Fox Renews Bratt’s Drama Series “Star” for a Second Season

Benjamin Bratt’s star is still shining bright…

Fox has renewed its freshman drama series Star, starring the 53-year-old half-Peruvian American, for a second season.

Benjamin Bratt

The music-centric series was co-created by Lee Daniels, the co-creator of Fox’s hit series Empire, as well as Tom Donaghy.

It follows three talented singers – running from their pasts and desperate for a new start – with ambitions of stardom, as they navigate the cutthroat music business. The Season 1 finale airs March 15 before Empire returns to the Wednesday 9 PM time period. Guest stars set to appear on Star over the next four weeks include Naomi Campbell, Big Boi, Rickey Smiley, Missy Elliott and Paris Jackson.

“Lee Daniels is a true visionary, and he and Tom Donaghy have delivered a series with a unique and meaningful point of view,” Fox Entertainment president David Madden said.

Launching behind the fall finale of Empire, Star hasn’t been a breakout hit like the soapy hip-hop family drama. But it has had a stable audience, averaging a Live+Same Day rating between 1.2 and 1.3 in adults 18-49 for the past five weeks, rising to about 1.9 in Live+7. Its L7 average of 2.1 demo rating is below Lethal Weapon (2.5) and above Lucifer (1.9), both of which were recently renewed, along with Fox flagship Empire.

Star, whose cast includes Bratt, who plays talent manager Jahil Rivera, Queen Latifah, Jude Demorest, Brittany O’Grady, Ryan Destiny, Amiyah Scott and Quincy Brown, averages 7.5 million multi-platform audience, according to Fox.

Star is a production of 20th Century Fox Television in association with Lee Daniels Entertainment.