Auli’i Cravalho to Perform at PBS’ Televised Independence Day Celebration “A Capitol Fourth”

Auli’i Cravalho is embracing the independence

The 20-year-old part-Puerto Rican actress/singer will perform at this year’s Independence Day celebration A Capitol Fourth, which will feature a pre-taped concert and live fireworks from Washington, D.C.

Auli’i Cravalho

The city has lifted almost all COVID-19 restrictions, and President Joe Biden is planning an event at the White House that day, his goal for having at least 70% of the country with at least one COVID-19 shot.

But producers have been planning the show for months, with COVID-19 forcing them to set aside the traditional live concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

In addition to Cravalho, others who will perform at the event are Jimmy Buffett, Cynthia Erivo, Alan Jackson, Pentatonix, Jennifer Nettles, Train, Gladys Knight, Mickey Guyton, Ali Stroker, Jimmie Allen and Laura Osnes.

The National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jack Everly, will perform John Williams’ Olympic Fanfare, honoring U.S. participation in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. The orchestra and the Joint Armed Forces Chorus will accompany the fireworks with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Vanessa Williams will host the event, with Renee Fleming set to open the show with the National Anthem. The concert will honor men and women of the military, with other participants including the U.S. Army BandPershing’s Own,” the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The Joint Armed Forces Chorus and The Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The concert, a co-production of Michael Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA-TV, will air on July 4 from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm ET on PBS, and it also will be broadcast to the American Forces Network. NPR stations also will air the event, and it will be streamed on Facebook, YouTube and PBS.org through July 18.

Cravalho rose to acclaim as the voice of the title character in Disney’s computer animated musical Moana. Her other credits include NBC’s Rise and Netflix’s drama film All Together Now.

Roadside Attractions Acquires North American Rights to Rita Moreno’s Documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It”

Rita Moreno is ready to bring her life story to America…

Roadside Attractions has acquired North American distribution rights to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It, about the 89-year-old Latina living legend.

Rita MorenoA release is planned for June 18.

Roadside’s deal excludes the television license to PBSAmerican Masters, which will present the exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere of the doc after it hits theaters.

In addition to Moreno, others featured in the Mariem Pérez Riera-directed doc include George Chakiris, Héctor Elizondo, Gloria Estefan, Tom Fontana, Morgan Freeman, Mitzi Gaynor, Whoopi Goldberg, Norman Lear, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Terrence McNally, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo.

The film covers Moreno’s 70-year-plus career rise and struggles, from her beginnings in poverty on a Puerto Rican farm to becoming a rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscars, Tony Awards) winner.

She’s the first Latina actress to win an Oscar (for her role as Anita in 1961’s West Side Story). Despite the win, studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent.

“Roadside Attractions, I’m so pleased for your commitment to my story and especially for making it available to a broader audience. Curtain Up!,” Moreno commented.

“Stars like Rita are few and far between, her showbiz story and personal remembrances resonate for a large, diverse audience, and the heights she continues to achieve are a true crowd pleasing uplift after the year we’ve all had,” said Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff.

“Rita is an incredible inspiration to so many, hers is a success story for all women who feel alone as they struggle to assert themselves with courage and bravery against heavy odds,” offered director Pérez Riera. “We are so thrilled to bring Rita to theaters for audiences to spend time with a woman who, when speaking about herself, speaks to and for a lot of us.”

“There were only a small group of distributors we hoped would take notice at Sundance. Roadside was at the top of that list,” said film’s producer, ACT III’s Brent Miller and EP Norman Lear. “We think we’re in great hands with Howard and Eric at the helm and couldn’t be more excited for the world to know the Rita we now know and love.”

American Masters Pictures and Act III Productions in association with Artemis Rising and Maramar Films are producers.

Demián Bichir Among AARP The Magazine’s ‘Movies for Grownups Awards’ Winners

Demián Bichir has landed another acting honor…

AARP The Magazine has announced the winners of its annual Movies for Grownups Awards, with the 57-year-old Mexican Oscar-nominated actor taking home a prize.

Demian Bichir, Land

Bichir was named Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Land opposite Robin Wright.

Bichir portrays soft-spoken local Miguel, who meets Edee (Wright) just in time to save Edee (Wright), not only physically but spiritually. Over the next few seasons, he teaches her how to live with the land rather than fight against it.

AARP, which advocates for the 50-plus audience and with its awards highlights films that resonate with older viewers, also featured television categories for the first time.

The Movies for Grownups Awards will air its ceremony on March 28 on PBSGreat Performances with Today’s Hoda Kotb as host.

Here’s the full list of winners:

MOVIES

Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups
The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Actress
Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead)

Best Actor
Anthony Hopkins (The Father)

Best Supporting Actress
Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian)

Best Supporting Actor
Demián Bichir (Land)

Best Director
Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Screenwriter
Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Ensemble
One Night in Miami

Best Intergenerational
Minari

Best Buddy Picture
Da 5 Bloods

Best Time Capsule
Mank

Best Grownup Love Story
Supernova

Best Documentary
A Secret Love

Best Foreign Film/Best International Film
Collective (Romania)

TELEVISION

Best Actress
Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek)

Best Actor
Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True)

Best Series
This Is Us (NBC)

Best TV Movie/Limited Series
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

Career Achievement
George Clooney

Juanes to Perform on PBS’ New Year’s Eve special “United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America”

Juanes will be helping celebrate the United States’ resilience in a special way…

The 48-year-old Colombian singer/songwriter and musician will take part in PBS’ New Year’s Eve broadcast event United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America.

Juanes

Juanes, who has won a combines 26 Grammys and Latin Grammys during his career, will take part in several performance and interview segments filmed at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, including a special Spanish-language rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark.

Other artists participating in the special include Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Yo-Yo Ma and Audra McDonald.

United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America will premiere on Thursday, December 31, 2020 from 8:00-9:30 pm ET and again from 9:30-11:00 pm ET (check local listings) on PBSPBS.org and the PBS Video App. 

The star-studded performance—filmed at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—encourages the nation to come together and celebrate its irrepressible strength as the world welcomes the New Year. Despite the enormity of COVID-19 and the significant presence of social injustice, this special evening of wide-ranging music is part of the ever-present pursuit of uniting America as one.”

Selena to Receive the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award

There’s no denying Selena’s life, cut too short, has left a lasting impression on the world. And, now the music industry’s learned academy is celebrating her impact.

The late Mexican-American singer, known as la Reina de la Musica Tejana, is among the six artists selected by the Recording Academy to receive 2021 Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Selena Quintanilla

Selena, who was shot and killed on March 31, 1995, 16 days before her 24th birthday, by her friend and the former manager of her Selena Etc. boutiques, received two Grammy nominations in 1993-94. She won the 1993 award for best Mexican American album for Live, marking the first time a female Tejano artist had won in the category.

Selena ranks among the most influential Latin artists of all time and is credited for catapulting a music genre into the mainstream market. She has sold around 30 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling female artists in Latin music.

This year’s other lifetime achievement award recipients include Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Salt-N-Pepa, Talking Heads, Marilyn Horne and Lionel Hampton.

The honorees will be recognized on the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on January 31, and at greater length subsequently. For the last five years, the Special Merit Awards honorees were saluted on a PBS special, Grammy Salute to Music Legends.

“As we welcome the new class of Special Merit Award honorees, it gives us a chance to reward and recognize the influence they’ve had in the music community regardless of genre,” Harvey Mason Jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement.

Here’s a detailed look at this year’s honorees:

Lifetime Achievement Awards:

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: The group was formed in the South Bronx in 1978. The group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, consisted of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, The Kidd Creole, Keef Cowboy, Mr. Ness/Scorpio and Rahiem. The group was praised for its use of turntablism, break-beat deejaying, choreographed stage routines, and lyricism. The group’s 1982 classic “The Message” was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012.

Lionel Hampton: The jazz musician started his career as a drummer in Chicago in the 1920s before he played the vibraphone with Louis Armstrong. In the 1930s, he broke barriers with the Benny Goodman Quartet, one of America’s first integrated jazz bands. In the 1940s, he formed his own Lionel Hampton Orchestra, which became one of the longest running orchestras in jazz history. Hampton received five Grammy nominations between 1984 and 1991, but he never won. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1992. Hampton and his Orchestra’s 1942 classic “Flying Home” was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996.  Hampton died in 2002 at age 94.

Marilyn Horne: The opera star, 86, received four Grammys, including the 1964 award for most promising new classical recording artist. (She has now officially fulfilled that promise!) Horne received 15 Grammy nominations between 1964 and 1993. She received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1995.

Salt-N-Pepa: The trio, consisting of Salt (Cheryl James), Pepa (Sandra Denton) and DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper), was one of the first all-female rap ensembles. Formed in Queens, New York, in 1985, the group crafted hits such as “Push It,” “Shoop” and “Whatta Man.” The group received five Grammy nominations between 1988 and 1996. It won the 1994 award for best rap performance by a duo or group for “None Of Your Business.”

Selena: The Tejano queen received two Grammy nominations in 1993-94. She won the 1993 award for best Mexican American album for Live, marking the first time a female Tejano artist had won in the category. Selena was just 23 when she was shot to death in 1995.

Talking Heads: The group, formed in 1975 in New York City, helped to pioneer new wave by blending elements of punk, rock, art pop, funk, and world music with an avant-garde aesthetic. The group received two Grammy nominations (in 1983 and 88), but never won. Group member David Byrne went on to win a Grammy and an Oscar on his own for co-scoring The Last Emperor. Byrne also made the cover of TIME in October 1986 in a story titled “Rock’s Renaissance Man.” The other group members were Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison. In 2002, 11 years after the group disbanded, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

PBS to Launch New Animated Series “Alma’s Way,” Based on Sonia Manzano’s Childhood

Sonia Manzano has found her alma

PBS Kids’ has announced plans to launch Alma’s Way, a new animated series from the 70-year-old Puerto Rican actress, screenwriter, author, speaker, singer-songwriter and former Sesame Street star, and Fred Rogers Productions that hits close to home for Manzano.

Sonia Manzano

Set to debut on PBS and PBS Kids next fall, Alma’s Way follows a 6-year-old Puerto Rican girl in the Bronx as she offers young viewers glimpses into her diverse and close-knit community. While she takes her audience for a trip around the neighborhood, Alma will encourage kids demonstrate their thinking decision making and social awareness skills.

“I am thrilled to return to public television and to work with PBS Kids and Fred Rogers Productions on this project inspired by my own childhood,” Manzano, who created the series. “Alma’s way is to think things through, and I hope by animating the thought process, kids will be inspired and excited about what goes on in their own minds. I want them to know we all have the power to think regardless of who we are.”

Alma's Way

Currently in-production, Alma’s Way will feature 40 half-hour episodes of adventures with Alma, her friends and family. The series will also highlight different aspects of Latino culture – from music, food, language and more.

“We can’t wait for kids to meet Alma. She’s an optimistic and confident Puerto Rican girl who models for viewers how to think their way through any dilemma,” said Ellen Doherty, Chief Creative Officer, Fred Rogers Productions. “The show is funny, warm, and relatable. We love how it showcases the diversity of New York City, too, and authentically reflects the cultures of all the characters.”

Alma’s Way is produced by Fred Rogers Productions with Manzano and Doherty serving as executive producers. Jorge Aguirre is the series head writer. Pipeline Studios animates the series.

PBS’ POV Acquires Rights to Cecilia Aldarondo’s Documentary “Landfall,” About Puerto Rico’s Post-Hurricane Maria Rebuilding Efforts

Cecilia Aldarondo will be enlightening people on Puerto Rico’s post-Hurricane Maria rebuilding efforts.

PBS’ documentary series POV has acquired U.S. broadcast rights to Landfall, the Puerto Rican documentary filmmaker’s feature-length film about the rebuilding of Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria through the stories of farmers, fishermen, educators, real estate agents and newcomers.

Cecilia Aldarondo

The documentary, which had its premiere at the mostly shuttered Tribeca Film Festival, will now air as part of POV’s 34th season set to launch on PBS stations in June. Before that, it will screen at DOC NYC, which runs November 11-19.

The island and its 3.4 million residents (and U.S. citizens) was ravaged by the September 2017 storm, which shuttered electricity to the entire commonwealth and caused billions in damages, leaving behind a crippled infrastructure and a multibillion-dollar debt. Outside investors descended not as much to bail out communities but to cash in, leaving the next generation of Puerto Ricans finding themselves at an inflection point between the dream of a socialist utopia and the reality of recolonization.

Landfall is a co-production of Blackscrackle Films, ITVS, and American Documentary | POV in association with Field of Vision and Latino Public Broadcasting, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Landfall is a cautionary tale about unjust recovery, and what happens when powerful interests try to privatize public services in the wake of disaster,” Aldarondo said. “Now that we’re all facing the biggest disaster of our lifetimes, we need public media like POV to champion the visionary, ethical, and independent media we need for a healthy society. I can’t think of a better home for my film.”

“Cecilia’s masterpiece is both a sharp condemnation of the continued colonial exploitation of Puerto Rico and a warm embrace of the land and her people,” executive producer Chris White said. “Rendered with a singular vision and deep affection, you’ll be swept into solidarity with these native Puerto Ricans who resist and rebuild.”

Selena Gomez to Receive Arts Award During This Year’s Hispanic Heritage Awards

Selena Gomez is being recognized for representin’…

The 28-year-old Mexican American singer will receive the Arts Award during the 33rd Hispanic Heritage Awards, which will air on October 6 on PBS stations and streamed on PBS.org.

Selena Gomez

At the same ceremony, Bad Bunny will receive the Vision Award, and actress Jessica Alba will receive the Business Award for her entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there won’t be a live ceremony. The PBS special will feature filmed performances from across the U.S. and Latin America.

The awards were created by the White House in 1987 and commemorate the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S.

Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, said in a statement that he is “thrilled to recognize Selena Gomez with the Arts Award for her impact on American and global culture through her music [and] movies but also for her courage as an advocate for mental health.”

In April of this year, Gomez revealed that she has bipolar disorder. She has discussed her condition in several interviews.

In his statement, Tijerino praised Gomez’s courage in opening up about her mental health challenges.

“There’s power in vulnerability and Selena has made it okay to talk about difficult issues we all deal with, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Selena is a role model for so many for so many reasons.”

Gomez has been a pop star for more than a decade, first as the leader of Selena Gomez & the Scene, and since 2013 as a solo artist. All three of her solo studio albums, Stars Dance, Revival and Rare, have reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

In November 2019, Lose You to Love Me” became her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

Bad Bunny to Receive Hispanic Heritage Award for Vision

Bad Bunny’s vision is being recognized…

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican singer/rapper will receive the  Hispanic Heritage Award for Vision from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) during this year’s Hispanic Heritage Awards.

Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny, who is also known for his activism, will receive the award during the awards broadcast on PBS stations on October 6.

Bad Bunnyjoins past honorees like fellow hitmaker J Balvin who received the vision award in 2016 and brother-sister duo Jesse & Joy, the 2018 winners.

“The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is honored to recognize the transcendent impact of Bad Bunny as an artist and as an activist through the Vision Award,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of HHF.

He continued, “Bad Bunny understands his responsibility to serve as a powerful voice for those who need to be heard as well as a source of inspiration for our youth.  He radiates his Latinx and Puerto Rican pride in everything he does from the stage to the community to the entire world.”

Now in its 33rd edition, the Hispanic Heritage Awards recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Latino leaders in various fields while celebrating cultural pride and the great promise to America.

This year will see the Hispanic Heritage Awards broadcast on PBS presented in a “unique documentary style,” and will include honoree profiles and special performances filmed in intimate settings.

Steven Canals Developing Gay Rights-Themed Limited Series “81 Words” for FX

Steven Canals is ready to spread the Words

FX is developing the limited series 81 Words,from the 39-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican screenwriter, producer and Pose co-creator, Pal Pictures and 20th Century Fox Television.

Steven Canals

Written by Canals, the series centers on gay rights pioneers Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.

It’s based on Alix Spiegel’s award-winning This American Life episode, “81 Words” and the soon-to-be-released PBS documentary Cured,directed by Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon.

Until 1974, the medical establishment considered gay people sexually deviant and diagnosed them as mentally ill.

81 Words tells the true story of gay activists Kameny an Gittings, who risked their careers and reputations to conspire with the GAYPA – a clandestine group of closeted psychiatrists – and challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of homosexuality.

Canals will executive- produce the project via his Story Ave. Productions.

Canals is the co-creator and executive producer, alongside Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, of the Emmy– and Golden Globe-nominated and Peabody Award-winning drama series Pose.

The series, named one of the Best TV Programs of the Year by the American Film Institute in 2018 and 2019, will return for its third season in 2021. 

Canals was a staff writer on Freeform’s Dead of Summer and made his television directorial debut with the eighth episode of the second season of Pose titled “Revelations.”