Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez has new representation…

The 30-year-old half-Afro-Puerto Rican actress has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA).

MJ Rodriguez

Rodriguez, who was with Gersh, recently made history as the first transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy in any lead acting category for her role as house mother Blanca in the FX drama from Steven Canals and Ryan Murphy.

UTA will represent Rodriguez in all areas as she continues to grow her career in film, television, theater and music, among other mediums.

With Pose having wrapped its run earlier this year after three seasons, Rodriguez will next star opposite Maya Rudolph in Apple‘s comedy series Loot.

Her previous television credits include roles in Showtime‘s Nurse Jackie and Marvel‘s Netflix drama Luke Cage.

On the big screen, Rodriguez will next star in Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s feature adaptation of Jonathan Larson‘s Tick, Tick … Boom! She previously earned praise for her role in Saturday Church, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

UTA will also help support Rodriguez as she expands her burgeoning music career. Rodriguez recently released a music video to accompany her debut single, “Something to Say,” the equality anthem she wrote with Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire, Neal Pogue and John Paris.

On stage, Rodriguez made her off-Broadway debut in the New World Stages production of Larson’s beloved Rent, playing the role of Angel. Her stage credits include the Encores! production of Runaways and portraying the lead role of Audrey in the Pasadena Playhouse’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Steven Michael Quezada to Tape Special Stand-Up Comedy Special During Tribeca Film Festival

Steven Michael Quezada is bringin’ the funny to the Big Apple…

Tribeca and Comedy Dynamics are teaming up again for a slate of 10 stand-up comedy specials to be filmed at the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9-20 in New York City, including a special by the 58-year-old Latino actor/comedian.

Steven Michael Quezada

Quezada, best known for his role as DEA agent Steven Gomez in the hit series Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, will be performing on June 15 at 10:30 pm. In addition to his acting work, Steven performs stand-up comedy across the country and also performs regularly on Carnival Cruise Lines.

Tribeca and Comedy Dynamics partnered in early 2020 to produce original stand-up comedy specials that were slated to be filmed at the annual fest. But after COVID-19 restrictions took hold nationwide, they pivoted and evolved the indoor festival into an outdoor comedy drive-in set across the country at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Tribeca x Comedy Dynamics Drive-In featured hourlong comedy sets — the first set of drive-in comedy specials filmed in the midst of the pandemic.

Produced by Tribeca and Comedy Dynamics and directed by the latter’s founder and CEO, Brian Volk-Weiss, this month’s slate of specials is part of Tribeca’s expansion into new storytelling platforms and its 12-day celebration to reopen New York and bring live entertainment back to the city.

“We had a blast working with the amazing team at Tribeca for our 2020 Comedy Drive-In at the Rose Bowl, and we’re excited to be taking the show back to New York City in 2021 to give fans a bigger, better and more interactive experience,” Volk-Weiss said.

Cisco Henson serves as executive producer for the specials, which are produced by Michael Epstein and will be filmed at Spring Studios.

Here’s a rundown of the performances with times, dates and artist bios:

Bill Bellamy
June 12, 8:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
Bill Bellamy is a comedian and actor who has been featured on Insecure, Self-Made, Def Comedy Jam, MTV Jamz, MTV Beach House, Last Comic Standing, Hot in Cleveland and more. Bill has several acclaimed stand-up specials under his belt, including Booty Call, Ladies Night Out and Crazy, Sexy, Dirty. Bill is also the host and EP of Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes, which has featured rising comedians in their early days, including Tiffany Haddish, Lil Rel Howery and Karlous Miller.

Cocoa Brown
June 17, 8:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
Cocoa Brown is a comedian and actress who has appeared on Showtime at the Apollo, One Mic Stand and BET’s ComicView. She’s also appeared in Tyler Perry’s series, For Better or Worse and comedy films such as Ted 2 and The Single Moms Club. In addition to her comedic roles, Cocoa has showcased her acting talents on dramatic series such as Fox’s 9-1-1 and FX’s The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

Helen Hong
June 16, 10:30 p.m.
A fan favorite on the hit NPR podcast Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Helen Hong was a recurring character on HBO’s Silicon Valley, CBS’ The Unicorn and Netflix’s Huge in France. She’s performed stand-up comedy on The Arsenio Hall Show, Last Call with Carson Daly, Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen and the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. Helen was featured in the Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, and has guest-starred on Jane the Virgin, Parks and Recreation and Pretty Little Liars.

Maija DiGiorgio
June 16, 8:30 p.m.
Maija DiGiorgio is recognized by New York’s Time Out magazine as one of “the freshest, funniest, unique voices to grace the microphone”. Maija has been featured on HBO Def Comedy Jam, Hot 97, Comics Unleashed, Sex and the City, Uncontrolled Comedy Hour and more. Maija received a standing ovation on her first television appearance on NBC’s Live from the Apollo and never stopped touring since, including several tours to serve our troops stationed overseas in Korea and Japan.

Josh Gondelman
June 13, 8:30 p.m.
Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who incubated inBoston before moving to New York City, where he currently lives and works as a writer and producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime. Previously, he spent five years at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, where he earned two Peabody Awards, four Emmy awards, and three WGA Awards for his work. Josh’s debut essay collection, Nice Try, was released in fall 2019 through Harper Perennial. In the past, Josh has written for Fuse TV’s Billy on the Street. Onstage, Joshcharms audiences using his good-natured storytelling and cracks them up with his sharp, pointy wit. He takes topics from surprise parties to his experience teaching preschool and makes them all equally hilarious. In 2016, he made his late-night stand-up debut on Conan (TBS), and made his network TV debut on Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC) in 2018. He has also appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Josh’s album Dancing on a Weeknight was released April 2019 on Blonde Medicine Records and hit No. 7on the Billboard comedy chart. His previous comedy album Physical Whisper debuted in March 2016 at No. 1 on the iTunes comedy chart (as well as No. 4 on the Billboard comedy chart) and stayed there for…well…longer than he expected, honestly.

Miz Cracker
June 13, 10:30 p.m.
Miz Cracker is a New York City drag queen, writer and comedienne. She launched her drag career in 2011 while participating in marches for marriage equality in Times Square. She went on to compete in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, landing a spot in the top five and becoming a fan favorite. She now tours the world with her one woman shows; delights fans on her YouTube channel; lectures on drag at top universities; cooks with Bon Appetit; writes for publications like Slate, ArtForum, Vice and GQ; and engages over a million followers on Instagram and Twitter. Cracker describes herself as a “woman’s lifestyle brand,” and is a vocal advocate for women’s rights. Her forthcoming solo show, American Woman, discusses how drag queens and gay men can become better allies to women in an age when Feminism is more important than ever.

Kellen Erskine
June 14, 8:30 p.m.
Comedian Kellen Erskine has appeared on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, America’s Got Talent and the Amazon Original series, Inside Jokes. He has garnered over 30 million views with his clips on Dry Bar Comedy. In 2018 he was selected to perform on the coveted “New Faces” showcase at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. Kellen was named one of TBS’s Top Ten Comics to Watch in 2017, and he performed at the Bridgetown, Big Sky, and Boston Comedy Festivals. In February 2018, Kellen made his late night TV stand-up debut on TBS’ Conan.

Katrina Davis
June 14, 10:30 p.m.
Katrina Davis is a stand-up from Jacksonville, Florida who sprang onto the Los Angeles comedy scene with a few 60-second sets on Kill Tony. She took on enough contenders in Roast Battle at The Comedy Store to be ranked amongst the top 50 battlers in 2018 and can been seen on America’s Got Talent as well as the Seed & Spark comedy special Everything Is Fine. Katrina performs at shows regularly all-around LA and was honored to be named one of Time Out LA’s Comics to Watch for 2019. During the pandemic, Katrina has been featured on many online comedy shows and even hosts her own monthly Zoom show called Valley Girl. Most recently Katrina can be seen on Amazon Prime’s Fact Check digital series and heard as a voice of a couple characters on YouTube’s Swipeothesis.

Jackie Fabulous
June 15, 8:30 p.m.
Comedian Jackie Fabulous captured America’s heart as a semi-finalist on the 2019 season of America’s Got Talent. She’s a hilarious and affable stand-up comedian, writer, actor, producer, motivational speaker, and headliner who uses her jokes and sparkling nature to simultaneously entertain, encourage, and empower audiences while keeping them laughing, and easily navigating the comedy gamut from family friendly to naughty. Jackie’s stand-up has been featured on The Arsenio Hall Show, Gotham Comedy Live, Fox, BET, Last Comic Standing, Kevin Harts LOL Network and more. In addition to her television appearances, Jackie Fabulous is a paid regular and headliner at several top comedy clubs such as The Comedy Cellar, The Hollywood Improv, The Laugh Factory and Funny Bone clubs.

Steven Michael Quezada
June 15, 10:30 p.m.
Steven is best known for his role as DEA agent Steven Gomez in the hit series Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, while also appearing in films such as Kites, Beerfest, First Snow and 3 From Hell over his career. In addition to his acting work, Steven performs stand-up comedy across the country and also performs regularly on Carnival Cruise Lines.

Sony Pictures Classics Releases Trailer for Martin Sheen’s “12 Mighty Orphans”

Martin Sheen is ready for a mighty summer…

Sony Pictures Classics has released the trailer for 12 Mighty Orphanswhich stars the 80-year-old half-Spanish actor.

12MightyOrphans, Martin Sheen

The film will be released on June 11 and expands a week later.

The film is set to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival during the week of June 13.

Sony Pictures Classics will open Ty Roberts’ 12 Mighty Orphans on June 11 in New York and Texas with a wider expansion on June 18.

Texas theaters will do advance screenings starting June 10.

12 Mighty Orphans tells the true story of the Mighty Mites, the football team of a Fort Worth orphanage who during the Great Depression went from playing without shoes—or even a football—to playing for the Texas state championships. Over the course of their winning season the underdogs and their resilient spirit became an inspiration to their city, state, and an entire nation in need of a rebound, even catching the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The architect of their success was Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson), a legendary high school coach who shocked his colleagues by giving up a privileged position so he could teach and coach at an orphanage. Few knew Rusty’s secret: that he himself was an orphan. Recognizing that his scrawny players couldn’t beat the other teams with brawn, Rusty developed innovative strategies that would come to define modern football.

Sheen, Vinessa Shaw, Wayne Knight, Jake Austin Walker, Treat Williams, Ron White, Scott Haze, and Robert Duvall also star.

The film, written by Roberts, Lane Garrison and Kevin Meyer was adapted from Jim Dent’s bestselling book of the same name.

MJ Rodriguez to Star Opposite Maya Rudolph in Apple TV+ Untitled Comedy Series

MJ Rodriguez is taking a bite of the Apple(TV+)

The 30-year-old part-Puerto Rican actress, currently appearing in the third and final season of FX’s Pose, will star alongside Maya Rudolph in Apple TV+’s untitled half-hour comedy series created by Emmy winners Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard.

MJ Rodriguez

Created and written by Yang and Hubbard, the series follows Molly (Rudolph), a woman whose seemingly perfect life is upended after her husband leaves her with nothing but $87 billion.

Rodriguez will play Sofia, the hard-working executive director of the non-profit funded by her absentee billionaire boss, Molly.

Yang and Hubbard executive produce alongside Rudolph through her production company, Animal Pictures, with the company’s Natasha Lyonne and Danielle Renfrew Behrens also executive producing.

Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, will serve as the studio.

Rodriguez stars as housemother Blanca in Ryan Murphy’s Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winning series Pose.

Rodriguez made history in becoming the first trans woman to win Best Actress in Television for her role in Pose at the 2019 Imagen Awards. She was most recently nominated for a Critics Choice Television Award and an MTV Movie + TV Award, and she won two Gold Derby Awards for her performance as well.

On the film side, Rodriguez starred in indie film Saturday Church, which earned her a Tribeca Film Festival nomination for best actress.

Her other television credits include Nurse Jackie and Marvel’s Luke Cage

Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival to Host Special Screening of Anthony Ramos’ “In The Heights”

Anthony Ramos will be reaching new heights sooner than expected…

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival will host a special screening of “In The Heights,” starring the 29-year-old Puerto Rican singer/actor.

Anthony Ramos in In The Heights

The screening will take place on June 4 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

It will come ahead of the world premiere of the Jon M. Chu-directed adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical five days later to open the Tribeca Film Festival.

It’s a coup for the L.A.-based fest, which is run by the Edward James Olmos-founded Latino Film Institute.

The preview is taking take one week before In the Heights premieres on June 11 in theaters and on HBO Max.

The news comes as LALIFF and Tribeca said they are partnering as a celebration of their 20th anniversaries this year.

Mexico Enters Fernando Frías de la Parra’s “I’m No Longer Here” into International Feature Film Oscar Race

Fernando Frías de la Parra is representing…

The Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences has chosen the Mexican filmmaker’s I’m No Longer Here as Mexico’s official entry for the International Feature Film Oscar race.

Fernando Frías de la Parra

The film centers on the young leader (Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino) of a small Monterrey street gang from the Cholombiano subculture who longs for home after being forced to move to Jackson Heights, Queens, after an altercation with a local cartel. It premiered at the 2019 Morelia Film Festival, where it won Best Feature and was a selection of this year’s truncated Tribeca Film Festival.

The film received 10 Ariel Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and is Mexico’s official submission for Spain’s Goya Awards.

I'm No Longer Here

Netflix acquired worldwide rights back in 2018, and it bowed on the streamer on May 27.

“The news took me by surprise, and I am overwhelmed with happiness and excitement,” said Frias. “I am enormously grateful to the Academy and its members and the entire industry that has supported us, such as Netflix and IMCINE, but also to the people. The public has shown us that they are ready to connect with our stories here in Mexico. That fills me with pride.”

Mexico has seen nine film nominated for the Academy Awards’ International Feature race (it was formerly known as Outstanding Foreign-Language Feature) with films from the likes of Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. It’s only one the top prize once, however, for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, also from Netflix, in 2018.

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.”

Tanya Saracho Signs Development Deal with UCP

Things are developing nicely for Tanya Saracho

The Mexican screenwriterand Vida creator has signed a development deal with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group.

Tanya Saracho

As part of the deal, Saracho will develop and create original content for television, as well as podcasts via the studio’s UCP Audio extension. She’ll also establish a lab and incubator program for Latinx voices.

“To say that I’m immensely enthusiastic about this union is not enough. This partnership with UCP is a vital opportunity to keep amplifying the voices and stories that matter to me – those brown, queer narratives which have been missing from the landscape, and which are so important to tell,” said Saracho.

 “I’m also elated and looking forward to establishing a lab and incubator program aimed to nurture, amplify and empower intersectional Latinx voices,” Saracho added. “And on a personal level, it is greatly gratifying to find a home where I already feel so seen and supported.”

Saracho most recently served as creator, showrunner, and executive producer of Starz’s critically-acclaimed Vida, which aired its third and final season this spring. The series featured all Latinx directors in season one, and all Latina directors in seasons two and three, including Saracho, who made her television directorial debut last year. The series had an all-Latinx writers room for seasons one and two, and in season three, the room was composed of all Latina writers.

Vida won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and was also honored by the National Hispanic Media Coalition with the 2019 Impact Award. The series won the Audience Award at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and made its season two premiere as an Official Selection of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

“Tanya came on the scene like a comet with such a strong point of view and a drive to tell culturally diverse stories that push boundaries and open our imaginations. Oh, the places we will go with Tanya’s deep curiosity, experience, commitment, enthusiasm, joy and fervor to tell the diverse stories we haven’t explored on television yet. We are such fans of her work on Vida and are thrilled to partner with her,” said Dawn Olmstead, president, UCP.

“One of our goals at Universal Studio Group is to provide access through on the job training and opportunities to empower the next generation of culturally diverse storytellers. Tanya’s program fully embodies that intention and we look forward to supporting her as she mentors aspiring Latinx writers,” said Bonnie Hammer, chairman, Universal Studio Group. “This is the first of many programs we will be backing across our three studios.”

Saracho was recently honored by the LGBTQ California Legislative Caucus as their 2020 Pride Month Honoree. She received the Rising Star Award at the Outfest Legacy Awards, and was awarded the New Voice Award by Final Draft.

She’s the founder of Teatro Luna, the first all-Latina theatre company in the country, as well as the founder of ALTA (Alliance of Latino Theatre Artists).

Saracho’s other television writing/producing credits include Devious Maids, Looking and How to Get Away with Murder.

Gael Garcia Bernal to Star as Saul Armendariz, aka the Liberace of Lucha Libre, in the Biopic “Cassandro”

Gael García Bernal is hitting the ring to play a Lucha Libre legend.

The 41-year-old Mexican actor/filmmaker will star in Cassandroan independent feature from Oscar winning and two-time Emmy nominee filmmaker Roger Ross Williams.

Gael García Bernal

Cassandro tells the true story of Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rises to international stardom after he creates the “exotico” character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” and in the process upends not just the macho wrestling world but also his own life.

Armendáriz at the age of 15 quit school and began training for Lucha Libre, beginning his professional wrestling career in 1988 under the mask as Mister Romano. Ultimately he would abandon the character and take on the exotico character of Baby Sharon. Exoticos are male wrestlers who dress in drag.

Ultimately, Armendáriz would take the new ring name of Cassandro, from a Tijuana brothel keeper Cassandra whom he appreciated.

In January 1991, after bad press that he was going to wrestle El Hijo del Santo in the UWA World Welterweight Championship, Armendáriz reportedly attempted suicide by cutting his wrists with a razor blade, but was saved.

The title match occurred a week later and Armendáriz credits it as the match that earned him the lucha libre community’s acceptance.

While Cassandro failed to win the UWA World Welterweight Championship from El Hijo del Santo, he managed to win his first title, the UWA World Lightweight Championship in October 1992, by defeating Lasser, becoming the first exótico in history to hold a championship in UWA.

Bernal, who will star in M. Night Shyamalan’s new secret movie from Universal, will shoot that movie first before stepping into the ring for Cassandro, which is eyeing a November start in Mexico.

Cassandro will rep the feature narrative directorial debut for Williams, who took home the Oscar for his short docu Music by Prudence in 2010, and recently was nominated at the Emmys a second time, this time in Outstanding Documentary/Nonfiction Special category for the HBO doc The Apollo. That movie, which made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, follows the historic and famed Harlem NYC venue and its legacy.

“As a filmmaker, my own life experience has inspired my passion to tell inspirational stories about outsiders and uplift the voices of people we don’t normally see on screen. The true story of Cassandro, Saúl Armendáriz, was one I knew I wanted to tell from the moment I met him. I look forward to being able to bring Saúl’s story to a wide audience,” said Williams.

Williams wrote Cassandro with Emmy-winner David Teague and Julián Herbert (Satelite).

Bernal is a two-time Golden Globe nominee and winner for the Amazon series Mozart in the JungleHe was part of the SAG ensemble nominated cast of Paramount’s Babeland a BAFTA nominee for Focus Features’ 2004 The Motorcycle Diaries

The filmmakers are reportedly in talks with Amazon to acquire Cassandro once complete, but that deal is contingent on several factors before it’s a negative pick-up.