Ana Villafañe to Star in NBC’s Comedy Pilot “Night Court,” a Follow-Up to the Classic Legal Series

Ana Villafañe is holding court

The 32-year-old Cuban and Salvadoran American actress/singer has landed a series regular in NBC’s half-hour pilot Night Court.

Ana Villafañe

The project is a follow-up to the classic legal comedy series headlined and executive produced by The Big Bang TheoryMelissa Rauch, with the original series’ John Larroquette reprising his Emmy-winning role.

Written/executive produced by Dan Rubin based on the original series created by Reinhold Weege, the multi-camera Night Court centers on unapologetic optimist judge Abby Stone (Rauch), the daughter of the late Harry Stone, who follows in her father’s footsteps as she presides over the night shift of a Manhattan arraignment court and tries to bring order to its crew of oddballs and cynics, most notably former night court prosecutor Dan Fielding (Larroquette).

Villafañe will play Monica, the court’s assistant district attorney. Type A, superficial and tightly wound. Monica sees the night court as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. She’s above this place and all the people in it, but it’s a good way to get some courtroom experience under her belt. It’s all part of her plan to land a job at one of the big firms. Thirty will be here before she knows it and if she’s not wildly successful by then…well it’s best not to think about it.

Villafañe is recurring on the final season of Younger, which streams on Paramount+.

She has also recurred on two NBC/Universal Television series, drama New Amsterdam and comedy Sunnyside.

On stage, Villafañe originated the role of Gloria Estefan in the Broadway production of On Your Feet and starred throughout the musical’s entire 2014-2017 run, winning the 2015 Theatre World Award for Best Actress.

She later starred as Nina Rosario in the Kennedy Center’s 2018 production of In the Heights and made her off-Broadway debut in MCC’s Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties in 2018. She is a two-time Drama League Award nominee for On Your Feet and Collective Rage.

Diana Maria Riva to Star in HBO Max’s Family Comedy Pilot “The Gordita Chronicles”

Diana Maria Riva is beginning to chronicle

The 51-year-old Dominican American actress has joined the cast of HBO Max’s upcoming family comedy pilot The Gordita Chronicles, from Josh Berman’s Osprey Productions, Zoe Saldana’s Cinestar Pictures and Sony Pictures Television.

Diana Maria Riva

Riva, who recently started in NBC’s short-lived comedy Sunnyside, joins a roster of new cast additions that includes Juan Javier Cardenas, Savannah Nicole Ruiz, Noah Rico and Cosette Hauer.

They join newcomer Olivia Goncalveswho will lead the comedy written by Claudia Forestieri and directed by Eva Longoria.

The Gordita Chronicles 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.

Riva will appear as Adela, Cucu’s mom. The actress appeared as Detective Ana Perez in Netflix’Dead to Me. Her additional roles include Man with a PlanKajillionaire, and McFarland, USA.

Cardenas takes on Victor Castelli, Cucu’s dad. He played Dante in The Walking Dead and Ben in S.W.A.T. His credits also include Snowfall, Damnation, Scandal and Lusa.

Ruiz will appear as Emilia, Cucu’s older sister. High School Musical: The Musical actor Noah Rico joins the cast as Yosmel “Yoshy” Hernandez, a Cuban refugee and Cucu’s first friend in Miami.

Lastly, Hauer joins as Ashley, a needy go-getter desperate to fit in, but nevertheless always sticks out.

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. Forestieri is co-executive producer. Sony Pictures Television is the studio.

Oz Rodriguez Signs Two-Year Producing Deal with Universal Television

There are more Universal projects in Oz Rodriguez’s future…

The Latino Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live director has signed an exclusive two-year producing deal with Universal Television.

Oz Rodriguez,

Rodriguez has been with SNL since 2013, first directing Digital Shorts. He went on to become head of the film unit, and won an Emmy for his behind-the-scenes series Creating SNL.

He’s next set to direct all six episodes of SNL star Michael Che’s new HBO Max sketch series from Universal Television.

“We feel so lucky to be solidifying our relationship with Oz, who has been in the family for many years and has played a key role in our success,” said Jim Donnelly, Universal Television EVP of Comedy Development. “He brings a creative vision and distinct visual style to every project he is involved in, and we couldn’t be more excited for all that’s to come.”

Rodriguez just wrapped the pilot of AMC’s Kevin Can F***k Himself. He directed the pilot and multiple episodes of AP Bio, in addition to the Kal Penn/Mike Schur pilot Sunnyside, both for NBC, as well as episodes of Last Man on Earth for Fox, Detroiters for Comedy Central, Shrill for Hulu, and Mixed-ish for ABC.

He most recently directed NBC & Peacock’s 30 Rock reunion, which aired on July 16.

On the film side, Rodriguez wrote and directed Vampires vs. the Bronx for Universal and Broadway Video, which premiered on Netflix earlier this month.

“I am very excited to continue my partnership with Universal Television,” said Rodriguez. “The studio has been my home for the last eight years, starting with my first season of Saturday Night Live. There are so many opportunities at the studio right now and we have a chance to tell stories that reflect characters that have been missing from television for far too long. It feels great to keep this creative partnership going with the studio that gave me my first big break.”

NBC Orders Diana-Maria Riva’s Immigrant Comedy “Sunnyside” to Series

Diana-Maria Rivais ready for the Sunnysideof life…

NBC has picked up to series the Queens immigrant comedy Sunnyside,  starring the 49-year-old Dominican American actress.

Diana Maria Riva

Co-written and executive produced by Kal Penn and Matt Murray and executive produced by Michael SchurSunnyside stars Penn as former New York City Councilman Garrett Shah, who finds his calling when faced with six recent immigrants in need of his help and in search of the American Dream. In keeping the authenticity of the project, the producers assembled a cast of predominantly immigrant actors to star opposite Penn, a rarity on broadcast television.

In addition to Riva and Penn, the cast includes Joel Kim BoosterKiran DeolPoppy LiuMoses Stormand Samba Schutte.

Sunnyside is produced by Universal Televisionin association with Fremulonand 3 Arts Entertainment.

Riva previously starred on the short-lived NBC series Telenovela, as well as CBS’  Man with a Plan.

Diana Maria Riva to Star in NBC’s Comedy Pilot “Sunnyside”

Diana Maria Riva is looking at the sunnyside of life…

The 49-year-old Dominican American actress has been cast opposite Kal Penn in NBC’s comedy pilot Sunnyside (formerly Untitled Kal Penn/Matt Murray).

Riva joins a cast that includes Kiran Deol, Moses Storm, Samba Schutte, Poppy Liu, Joel Kim Booster and Tudor Petrut.

Co-written by Penn and Matt MurraySunnyside is named after the neighborhood in the historically diverse Queens borough of New York where the show is set. It centers on former New York City Councilman Garrett Shah (Penn), who finds his calling when faced with seven recent immigrants — five of them played by immigrant actors — in need of his help and in search of the American Dream.

The single-camera comedy is being executive produced by Penn, writer-producer Murray, The Good Place creator/executive producer Michael Schur and Universal Television.

The seven recent immigrants are Jin Hao, played by South Korea-born Booster; Mallory, played by UK-born Deol; Mei Lin, played by China-born Liu; Drzen, played by Romania-born Petrut; Hakim, played by Africa-born Schutte; Griselda, played by Riva, a first generation Dominican; and Brady, played by Storm.

Directing the pilot is another immigrant, Oz Rodriguez. The ensemble was put together by casting director Allison Jones who also has worked with Schur on his other shows, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place

Riva was last seen in the CBS sitcom Man with a Plan and NBC’s Telenovela. She’ll next appear in the Netflix series Dead to Me and the Appledrama series Morning Show.