Rita Moreno to Take Part in This Year’s Sundance Film Festival Semi-Virtual Edition

Rita Moreno is ready to rock Sundance…

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival has announced a schedule of the talks and events to be presented on the Sundance platform, with the 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer set to participate.

Rita Moreno

The festival, which runs from January 28 to February 3, opted for a semi-virtual option in lieu of its traditional exhibition in Park City, UT. Among the guests taking part in this year’s virtual “Cinema Cafe” talks are Moreno, Questlove, Robin Wright and others.

Moreno will be joined by beloved Sesame Street alum Sonia Manzano for a little café talk on Saturday, January 30 from 10:30-11:15 am.

The EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscars & Tony Awards) winner will also take part in the Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy later that night, from 8:00 – 9:00 pm.

The virtual speakeasy will feature performances from an array of talented women from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture.

In addition to Moreno, guests include poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), actor Marlee Matlin and director Siân Heder.

The following is the roster of scheduled events. All talks and events are free to view, and all times are U.S. Mountain time.

2021 Sundance Film
Festival Opening Night Welcome
Thursday, January 28,
5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The Sundance Dailies
#SundanceDailies
Friday, January 29–Tuesday, February 2,
9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.

2021 Cinema Café guests:

Shaka King & Ahmir
“Questlove” Thompson
Friday, January 29, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Sonia Manzano & Rita Moreno
Saturday, January 30, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Rebecca Hall & Robin Wright
Sunday, January 31, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Tyson Brown, Patti Harrison & Emilia Jones
Monday, February 1, 10:30-11:15am

The Big Conversation
#SundanceBigConversation
Friday, January 29-Monday, February 1,
1-2 p.m., individual slots TBA
The Big Conversation tackles science, art, culture, and the movements that are fueling the imaginations of today’s independent artists. A compelling selection of speakers discuss topics centered on the themes of this year’s program and explore broader trends in art and culture around the world. In considering how
artists — through their practice and their work — make meaning of the world, we’re reminded that it’s the big conversation that connects us to the big ideas. The topics are “Barbed Wire Kisses Redux,” “Come Together” and “The Past In the Present: A Personal Journey through Race, History and Filmmaking.”

Power of Story
Timing TBA
The Sundance Film Festival’s Power of Story looks to deepen public engagement with storytelling, delve into cinema culture, and celebrate artists whose work propels the form and reinvents storytelling as we know it.

Power of Story: Speculative Fiction Is the Place
Black speculative fiction and historiography, Afrofuturism, and utopian/dystopian visions speak to an enduring, evolving, and vibrant storytelling sensibility.

Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy
Saturday, January 30, 8-9 p.m.
A virtual speakeasy featuring performances from an array of talented women from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture. Guests include: poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), actor Marlee Matlin and director Siân Heder (CODA), actor Rita Moreno (Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It), actor SOKO (Mayday, The Blazing World), and more TBA.

Awards Night
Tuesday, February 2, 6 p.m.
Free and open to all, the event will be live-streamed on our online screening platform.

It’s a Wrap
Wednesday, February 3, 9-9:30 a.m.
Festival director Tabitha Jackson leads a ceremonial end to this all-new Sundance experience by bringing audiences together for one last moment together in the virtual space.

Carmen Osbahr-Vertiz’s Rosita to Participate in “Sesame Street” & CNN’s “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism” Town Hall

Carmen Osbahr-Vertiz is helping raise awareness on racism in America…

The 58-year-old Mexican puppeteer’s beloved Sesame Street character, Rosita, will be part of the long-running PBS series town hall addressing racism in partnership with CNN. The event comes in  response to protests around the world after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Carmen Osbahr-Vertiz's Rosita

Big Bird will join CNN’s Van Jones and Erica Hill to moderate the Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism town hall, which will cover topics of racism, protesting, embracing diversity, and being more empathetic and understanding.

In addition to Rosita and Big Bird, Sesame Street’s Elmo and Abby Cadabby will join experts to answer questions from parents and children.

The 60-minute special will air on Saturday, June 6, at 10:00 am ET. The town hall will air on CNN, CNN International, and CNN en Español. It will also stream live on CNN.com and on the CNN app, without requiring a cable log-in.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled into his neck for nearly 9 minutes. The incident was caught on video by multiple bystanders and released across social media, leading to an intense response from residents in cities across the U.S., as well as other countries, calling for justice and an end to police brutality against black people.

Osbahr-Vertiz’s Rosita is a 5-year-old turquoise Hispanic female monster Muppet character on the children’s television series. Fluent in English and Spanish, she’s the first regular bilingual Muppet on the show. Osbahr-Vertiz has voiced Rosita since 1991.

Sesame Street and the news network also combined forces in May for a town hall discussing COVID-19.

To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
  • Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
  • Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.

Manzano to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys

Sonia Manzano is getting her Emmy moment…

The 65-year-old Puerto Rican actress and writer will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ 43rd annual Daytime Emmy Awards on May 1 in Los Angeles.

Sonia Manzano

Manzano is best known for playing Maria on Sesame Street from 1971 until her retirement in 2015.

During her 45 years on Sesame Street, Manzano picked up 15 Emmys for her work as a writer on the groundbreaking public television show.

“My children and just about every child in America has grown up learning their ABC’s from the iconic character of Maria on Sesame Street played by Sonia Manzano,” said NATAS President Bob Mauro. “Sonia not only brought the life events of marriage, having a baby and being a mother to viewers young and old, she also brought a seldom-seen diversity, a Latin role model, unlike anything on television at the time.”

A borinqueña daughter of the South Bronx and graduate of NYC’s famed High School of the Performing Arts, Manzano made her professional debut in the original off-Broadway cast of Godspell before joining Sesame Street in 1971. Her own life — from teenager through growing up, marrying and becoming a mother — was integrated into the complex social fabric of Sesame Street, the Peyton Place of the pre-pubescent set.

A community activist, occasional stage actress and author, Manzano wrote a memoir, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx, that was  published in August by Scholastic Press.

Miranda Contributes Cantina Music for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

The Force has awakened Lin-Manuel Miranda

The 35-year-old Puerto Rican actor, composer and writer, currently earning raves on Broadway for his latest award-winning musical, Hamilton, has partnered with Star Wars’ latest direct J.J. Abrams to make some music.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Theater and sci-fi geeks alike freaked when Abrams let the news slip on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (Nov. 30), revealing that Miranda will be lending his talents to new cantina music for Episode VII, aka Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“I go to see [Hamilton] with our son and at intermission, Lin-Manuel Miranda comes up to me and says, ‘Hey if you need music for the [Star Wars] Cantina, I’ll write it,” recalls Abrams. He notes that composer John Williams, who helmed the original cantina scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, declined to tackle the task this go-round.

Miranda, who’s Hamilton is currently dominating Broadway — and the Billboard charts — with its R&B, pop and rap-influenced take on the story of Alexander Hamilton, described the process via Twitter.

“We did. Worked on it between 6pm & 7:30 on 2 show days for the past 2 months. JJ is the best. Can’t wait to see,” tweeted the In The Heights creator to his followers.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters in three weeks (opening December18).

Miranda is responsible for Disney’s upcoming animated film Moana. His other composing credits include The Electric Company and Sesame Street.

Blacc to Appear as a Musical Guest on the New Season of “Sesame Street”

Can you tell Aloe Blacc how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

The 36-year-old Panamanian American singer-songwriter is set to guest star on the long-running educational program for its upcoming 46th season, which premieres in January and has been revamped for HBO.

Aloe Blacc

Blacc is set to appear as a musical guest, performing the song “Everyday Hero.”

In addition to Blacc, this season’s musical guests on television’s most iconic street include Fifth Harmony, Gwen StefaniPharrell and Nick Jonas.

This season also promises a new set, new opening and closing songs and a new character named Nina.

It all begins on January 16 at 9:00 am ET on HBO. The new episodes also will air on PBS, although at a later date.

Here’s the full lineup of musical guests and their songs:

Gwen Stefani, “Be a Good Friend”
Pharrell, “B Is for Book”
Nick Jonas, “Check That Shape”
Fifth Harmony, “That’s Music”
Sara Bareilles, “Just Like Magic”
Ne-Yo, “You’ve Got a Body, So Move It!”
Aloe Blacc, “Everyday Hero”

Univision to Begin Airing “Sesame Amigos” in Saturday Children’s Programming Block

There are some new Amigos heading to Univision

The Spanish-language network will begin airing Season 1 of Sesame Amigos, a new 30-minute Spanish-language program from Sesame Workshop, on August 1 at 8:30 am ET/PT as part of Univision’s Saturday children’s programming block “Planeta U.”

Sesame Amigos

The network has scheduled 26 episodes featuring Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie and other familiar denizens of Sesame Street.

Along with signature segments promoting learning, cooperation and being nice, each show will also feature the characters interacting with a Univision celebrity, among them Sal y Pimenta hosts Carlos Calderon and Lourdes StephenPrimer Impacto correspondents Tony Dandrades and Jackie GuerridoDespierta América’s Maity Interiano and William Valdez and Univision DeportesPablo “La Torre de Jalisco” Ramirez.

Non-Univision Hispanic celebrities will also appear, including Vahdir Derbez, Diego Luna and Leslie Grace.

Sesame Amigos is a new and innovative show designed specifically for Spanish-speaking families in the U.S.,” said Alberto Ciurana, president of Programming & Content, Univision Communications Inc. “While versions of Sesame Street air in more than 150 countries, Sesame Amigos will provide Spanish-speaking preschoolers the tools they need to succeed in the United States.”

Cruz Cordova to Star in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”

Ismael Cruz Cordova has his walking papers…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican actor has been cast in the upcoming film adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

 Ismael Cruz Cordova

The film follows a unit of decorated Iraq War soldiers who, at the height of the war, survive a bloody battle and come out of it hailed as heroes. Brought back stateside to participate in patriotic events to boost support for the war, they become disillusioned with the military and noncombatant civilians when they learn that despite their service, they’re going to be sent back for another tour.

Directed by Ang Lee from a script by Simon Beaufoy and Jean-Christophe Castelli, the film is being shot using state-of-the-art Sony cameras in native 3D, promising high resolution and an unprecedented frame rate.

Cordova, who gained national attention playing Mando on Sesame Street, joins a cast that includes Arturo Castro, Barney Harris, Beau Knapp, Mason Lee and Brian “Astro” Bradley. In addition, Makenzie Leigh will play Faison, a Texas cheerleader and love interest to main character Billy Flynn. They join actor Joe Alwyn, already cast in the title role.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk hits theaters November 11, 2016.

Cruz Cordova’s credits include several appearances on The Good Wife.

Miranda Wins His First-Ever Emmy at Saturday’s Creative Arts Emmys

Lin-Manuel Miranda has some new hardware for his mantel…

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican composer, rapper, lyricist, and actor was awarded his first-ever Emmy at this year’s Creative Arts Emmys, which were held Saturday night at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

Tom Kitt & Lin-Manuel Miranda Emmys

The awards show took place just over a week before the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, set for Monday, Aug. 25.

Manuel, a Tony Award– and Grammy-winner for writing the hit Broadway musical In the Heights, won the Emmy for Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics
 for penning the lyrics to the song “Bigger!” from the 67th Annual Tony Awards. He shares the award with Tom Kitt, who wrote the music to the seven-minute song.

The track was performed by host Neil Patrick Harris on the live Tony Awards telecast on CBS.

Earlier this year, Manuel was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song for penning the Sesame Street song “Rhymes with Mando.”

Miranda Earns His First-Ever Daytime Emmy Award Nomination for His Bilingual “Sesame Street” Song

Lin-Manuel Miranda 
can tell you how to get, how to get to Sesame Street… And, he may soon have the hardware to prove it.

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican composer, rapper, lyricist and actor, a Grammy and Tony Award winner for the hit Broadway musical In the Heights, has earned the first Daytime Emmy Award nomination.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Miranda received the nod in the Outstanding Original Song category for composing “Rhymes with Mando” for PBS’ long-running Sesame Street program. He’s nominated alongside Luis Santeiro, the bilingual song’s lyricist.

Miranda, who appeared in the show’s season 40 premiere of Sesame Street as real estate agent Freddy Flapman and voiced a lamb in a season 42 episode, starting composing songs for the show in season 42.

“Rhymes with Mando,” performed by Ismael Cruz Córdova, the show’s new Latino character, will face off against 
“30,000 Reasons to Love Me”
from Let’s Make A Deal, the “ABC’s of Moving”
from Sesame Street, “I Belong”
from Sofia the First, and “Spring Has Sprung”
from Peter Rabbit.

Meanwhile, Joseph Rosendo could soon be expanding his Daytime Emmy collection. The 67-year-old Cuban American travel journalist and broadcaster, a three-time Daytime Emmy Award-winner, has earned two nominations this year.

Rosendo is nominated in the Outstanding Host in a Lifestyle/Travel Program and Outstanding Directing in a Lifestyle/Culinary/Travel Program categories.

Other Latino nominees include El Gordo y la Flaca’s 
Carlos Calderon, Alejandra Espinoza, Lili Estefan and Rodner Fugueroa and Nuestro Mundo’s Patricia Janiot, all nominated in the Outstanding Daytime Talent in Spanish category.

The nominations were announced by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in cooperation with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

There is still no TV network for the ceremony, which will be held at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday, June 22

Lopez Partnering with nuvoTV to Develop Latino-Themed Content

It’s a nuvo day for Jennifer Lopez…

The 43-year-old Puerto Rican multi-hyphenate is partnering with nuvoTV to develop new programming behind the scenes and on camera with the English-language cable channel targeting Latinos.

Jennifer Lopez

The former American Idol judge will also be involved in marketing strategies at nuvoTV, where she’s a part owner.

The channel was launched in 2004, and last year changed its name from Si TV to nuvoTV.

“I teamed up with them because I felt that there’s a real, great opportunity to do something that has not yet been done,” Lopez told The Hollywood Reporter. “Thinking about myself growing up as a Puerto Rican girl in the Bronx, speaking English as my first language, and knowing that there was really nothing on TV for me! I remember very clearly, like on Sesame Street, Luis and Maria, the Spanish couple, or going to movies and loving West Side Story and that being a huge influence on my life to become an artist because there were Puerto Ricans in it.”

As part of the deal, Lopez—one of the world’s most powerful women—aims to introduce high-level, HBO-style films to the channel as well as scripted and unscripted series. In the works: a backstage docu-series on her upcoming European concert tour with co-headliner Enrique Iglesias, slated to air in early 2013. A reality show about Lopez’s backup dancers (including her beau, Casper Smart) is being considered.

Lopez’s goal: to create content similar to that found on BET, where the quality of the programming goes well-beyond the core audience.

“It’s not an easy sell to go sell a Latino story to a network about a whole Latino family … even in the movies,” she said. “And at the end of the day, that’s content that we’re going to be looking for. There is a place now to go for that. … We’re dedicated to improving the content that’s there, making it even better and, at the same time, creating new content that’s gonna be entertaining.”

Lopez’s work with nuvoTV isn’t expected to affect her deals with other channels; earlier this year, she sold an English-language version of her Univision competition series Q’Viva!, The Chosen to Fox, where it aired earlier this year.

Last month ABC Family ordered a pilot for a potential new series Lopez is executive producing currently called The Fosters, a one-hour drama revolving around a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms.

“I still have a lot of other shows that I’m developing with other networks, ABC, Fox … that’s not gonna stop,” she noted. “I’m gonna continue to be producing. I just might put them all on nuvo now.”