Brigitte Muñoz-Liebowitz Extends Overall Deal with Sony Pictures Television

Brigitte Muñoz-Liebowitz is staying with Sony…

The half-Colombian American television producer, director and writer has extended her overall deal with Sony Pictures Television.

Brigitte Muñoz-LiebowitzMuñoz-Liebowitz is the executive producer and showrunner of Gordita Chronicles, the coming-of-age HBO Max comedy series, which premiered this past week.

Under the new multi-year pact, Muñoz-Liebowitz will continue to develop scripted comedy series across cable and streaming, as well as run Gordita Chronicles if the series, which is drawing solid early reviews, is renewed for a second season.

Muñoz-Liebowitz already has a number of projects in the works, including Birthright, which she is co-writing with Lindsay Golder.

Created by Claudia Forestieri, Gordita Chronicles is set in 1980s Miami and tells the story of the Castellis who move from the Dominican Republic in pursuit of the American dream.

In shepherding Gordita Chronicles, which Muñoz-Liebowitz executive produces alongside Forestieri as well as Josh Berman, Jennifer Robinson and Chris King of SPT-based Osprey Productions, Eva Longoria, who directed the pilot, and Zoe Saldana, Mariel Saldana and Cisely Saldana for Cinestar Pictures, she draws on her personal experience.

Muñoz-Liebowitz, who grew up in Santa Clarita, CA, is the daughter of a Colombian immigrant mother who came to the US when she was 12, and a New York Jew father. Raised by her mom, dad and her Colombian grandmother, who only spoke Spanish, in a predominantly white neighborhood, “I was one of the brownest people in my class and the only person with two Zs and a tilde in their name, and I had very much a feeling of being the weirdo outsider,” Muñoz-Liebowitz said. “A lot of the things I really connected to when I read the original script were those feelings, and I also really saw my own family in the story of the Castellis and Gordita Chronicles, so many of the stories my mom had told me about when she came to the United States were some of the same exact stories in the show.”

With a Florida immigrant family pursuing the American dream at the center and a story told through the eyes of a school-age child, Gordita Chronicles draws parallels to ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat. Besides the Castellis coming straight from their country of origin vs. Washington DC where the Huangs moved from with their U.S.-born children, “our tone is slightly different,” Muñoz-Liebowitz said. “We tried to, not speaking about content necessarily, but we really tried to go for a different sort of comedy style, which is a bit more cinematic, referencing a lot of the movies that we grew up watching in the 80s that we looked at and were aspiring to when we thought of the American dream, the John Hughes movies and Chris Columbus films.”

Those include 16 Candles, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as well as Home Alone, which came out a few years later.

“The pacing also is quite a bit slower,” Muñoz-Liebowitz said, adding that Season 1 chronicles the family’s first few months in the new country.

Muñoz-Liebowitz says she’s always wanted to be a TV writer ever since she was a child. With an educator mother and a small business owner father, she didn’t have any connections in the business, so “I had to figure it all out for myself,” she sad.

She finished USC with a degree in screenwriting but then switched gears by going to graduate school at Columbia University for producing.

“I discovered after going to USC that at that time, the kinds of stories that I wanted to tell were not attractive to studios because they were stories about people of color, that my that kind of humor wasn’t really à la mode.”

She worked briefly as a line producer and a production manager in New York in indie film and commercials while taking comedy classes. Her first television job was as a script coordinator under Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman on the pilot for Person Of Interest and then she became a writers assistant on the series, moving to Los Angeles.

“So I actually learned about TV writing from drama writers on a sci-fi procedural,” Muñoz-Liebowitz said.

During her time on the series, Muñoz-Liebowitz kept applying to the NBC Writers On the Verge program while taking classes at the Groundlings and Improv Olympic West. She got into the NBC program on her third try. Her first job out of that was on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which led to a string of writing gigs on TBS’ People of Earth, NBC’s Abby’s, Disney+’s Diary of a Future President, HBO Max’s Love Life, and the Sony TV-produced One Day At a Time, on which she served as a Co-Executive Producer.

One Day At a Time was a wonderful experience because it was, I think, the first really safe space to be able to be myself entirely as a woman Latinx comedy writer, and watching [co-creator/EP] Gloria Calderón Kellett just be herself and push for the show and the content that she wanted was really inspiring.”

Muñoz-Liebowitz’s work on One Day at a TIme also got the attention of Sony TV brass who signed her to her first overall deal in 2020.

“Brigitte was a superstar for us on One Day At A Time and we quickly made a development deal with her to solidify our relationship,” said Glenn Adilman, EVP Comedy Development, Sony Pictures Television. “She did an incredible job running the amazing first season of Gordita Chronicles for HBO Max, where she helped build a very strong room of diverse writers and supported creator Claudia Forestieri’s great vision. We are beyond excited to have Brigitte tell her stories and continue our wonderful relationship together.”

Those stories include Birthright, about a Latinx woman who converts to Judaism for her fiance, then gets dumped at the altar and has to decide, am I still Jewish?

“It’s a comedy about identity and the different spaces we can we can fit into in our lives,” said Muñoz-Liebowitz who produces the project with her co-writer Golder as well as Israeli company MA Productions.

While all of her existing projects in development are comedy, Muñoz-Liebowitz said that she loves watching dramas and is open to revisiting her TV beginnings by tackling a drama under her new deal with Sony TV.

“Sony has been so incredibly supportive of all the projects that I brought to them,” she said. “They’ve been such wonderful creative partners, I’ve just felt like they’ve had my back and supported my vision.”

HBO Max Releases First Trailer for “Gordita Chronicles,” Starring Olivia Goncalves

Olivia Goncalves is heading back to the 80s…

HBO Max has released the first trailer for its coming-of-age series Gordita Chronicles, starring the Latina Hollywood newcomer.

Olivia Goncalves

The series, which is about family, opportunity, love, resilience and boldly defying the status quo in pursuit of the “American Dream,” will premiere on Thursday, June 23 on HBO Max.

Here’s the logline for the series from Sony Pictures Television and executive producers Eva Longoria and Zoe Saldana: The year is 1985 and Cucu “Gordita” Castelli (Goncalves) has just said goodbye to all of her friends and family in Santo Domingo. She has moved to Miami with her marketing-executive father Víctor (Juan Javier Cardenas), bold and vivacious mother Adela (Diana Maria Riva) and status-obsessed older sister Emilia (Savannah Nicole Ruiz). While life in America is far from what they imagined — “The song said ‘America the Beautiful,” Cucu says, “I think they oversold it” — the Castellis are determined to take charge of their strange new world. The coming-of-age series is about family, opportunity, love, resilience, and boldly defying the status quo in pursuit of the “American Dream.”

After immigrating from their home in the Dominican Republic, 12-year-old Cucu Castelli (Goncalves) and her eccentric family must discover and define their version of the “American Dream” in 1980s Miami. Cucu meets head-on the challenges of being an immigrant in a strange new world with humor, bravado and some really bad choices.

Noah Rico, Cosette Hauer and Dascha Polanco also star in the series, whose first episode was directed by Longoria. Patrick Fabian and Loni Love are guest stars.

Showrunner Brigitte Munoz-Liebowitz executive produces alongside writer Claudia Forestieri, Longoria, Saldana, Josh Berman, Jennifer Robinson, Chris King, Mariel Saldana and Cisely Saldana.

Karla Sofia Gascón to Star in Jacques Audiard’s Comedy “Emilia Perez”

Karla Sofia Gascón has landed an aunt-tastic role…

The 50-year-old Spanish transgender actress will star in director Jacques Audiard comedy Emilia Perez, with talks underway with Selena Gomez and Zoe Saldana.

Karla Sofia GascónThe project, which is creating buzz in the Cannes market, is a musical comedy about an El Chapo-type fugitive who can’t get away from the law, so has a sex change.

Ten years later she misses her children immensely and returns as their aunt.

Library Pictures International is financing the film, and The Veterans will be selling international rights to the film along with CAA Media Finance, which is also selling North American territories.

Gascón is an up and coming Spanish trans actress who has emerged as one to watch and should stand out in this musical comedy along the lines of Mrs. Doubtfire.

Zoë Saldaña Voicing Spanish Episodes of Roku’s Nature Series “Mamas”

Zoë Saldaña is reporting for Mamas duty…

The 43-year-old Puerto Rican and Dominican American actress will form part of Roku’s original documentary series Mamas, which debuts on Friday, May 6, just before Mother’s Day.

Zoë SaldañaThe nature series follows powerful matriarchs of the animal kingdom, spotlighting the universality of motherhood, and exploring what mothers of any species will do to protect their young.

Mamas will feature 14 short-form episodes ranging from 6-8 minutes in length.

The series is available in English and Spanish, with the English version voiced by Connie Britton; the Spanish by Saldaña.

The series is produced by Plimsoll Productions, Deep Blue Productions, and Cinestar Pictures, with Britton, Saldaña, Martha Holmes, Andrew Jackson, Elyse Klaits, Mariel Saldaña, and Cisely Saldaña serving as executive producers.

Species featured in the series include potter wasps, grizzly bears, hummingbirds, yellow baboons, cheetahs, lions, wildebeests, black-backed jackals, strawberry dart frogs, praying mantis, African elephants, hyenas, meerkats, toque macaques, and Tomson’s gazelles.

The series features scenery and landscapes from the forests of Sri Lanka to deserts in Africa.

Mamas dives into the enchanting and challenging lives of mothers in the wild, and the powerful relationships these animals have with their children,” said Brian Tannenbaum, head of alternative originals at Roku. “Connie Britton and Zoë Saldaña take us through the captivating world of a mother’s protective instincts and loyalty to their young. It truly is a must-see documentary series that The Roku Channel is excited to share with our viewers.”

Zoe Saldana to Receive “Star of the Year” Award at CinemaCon

Zoe Saldana is a shining star

The 43-year-old Puerto Rican and Dominican American actress will be among the honorees at CinemaCon’s Big Screen Achievement Awards.

Zoë SaldañaSaldana will receive a CinemaCon Star of the Year award as The Adam Project star prepares for the release of a slate of projects that includes a new David O. Russell filmKeyhole Garden, the Avatar franchise and a new Guardians of the Galaxy installment.

The Big Screen Achievement Awards will be held at CinemaCon headquarters at Caesars Palace on April 28 and will be hosted by Entertainment Tonight veteran Kevin Frazier from inside the Colosseum. The awards are designed to shine a spotlight on the big-screen achievements of actors and filmmakers.

Other honorees include Robert De NiroBilly Eichner, Abby Ryder Fortson and Glen Powell.

Additional honors are expected to be announced.

“CinemaCon may be the only time during the course of the year where the exhibition community gets to thank the creative world for providing the very best in the world of movies,” said Neuhauser. “Our roster of honorees this year represents an incredible scope of talent and to have one of the most legendary actors in the history of film being honored, that of course being Robert De Niro — well, it really doesn’t get better than that.”

The news comes just days before the big event that sees Hollywood studios and cinema operators gather in Las Vegas for the annual convention hosted by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

This year, all five major Hollywood studios plus Lionsgate and Neon will be touting their upcoming slates during their time on stage inside the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

CinemaCon, expected to draw upward of 6,000 guests, runs April 25-28. Partners this year include both the International Cinema Technology Association and National Association of Concessionaires.

Zoe Saldaña to Star in & Executive Produce the CIA Drama “Lioness”

Zoe Saldaña is roaring into her latest role…

The 42-year-old Puerto Rican and Dominican American actress will star in Lioness, a film she will executive produce alongside Nicole Kidman and others.

Zoe SaldañaLioness is based on a real-life CIA program and follows a U.S. Marines recruited to befriend the daughter of a terrorist to bring the organization down from within.

Saldaña stars as Joe, a strong-willed, hard-nosed station chief of the CIA’s Lioness Program, who is tasked with training, managing and leading her female undercover operatives working to assassinate the world’s most dangerous terrorists.

Production on the film will begin in June.

Saldaña is best known for her work in Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek and Avatar.

HBO Max Orders Family Comedy Pilot “Gordita Chronicles,” Starring Olivia Goncalves, to Series

Olivia Goncalves is preparing to Chronicle(s) her latest endeavor…

HBO Max has picked up to series the family comedy pilot Gordita Chronicles, starring the Latina actress and Hollywood newcomer.

Olivia Goncalves

The project hails from Claudia ForestieriJosh Berman’s Osprey ProductionsZoe Saldana’s Cinestar Pictures and Sony Pictures Television

Goncalves leads the comedy, written and executive produced by Forestieri and directed by Eva Longoria. Diana Maria Riva and Juan Javier Cardenas also star.

Gordita Chronicles, inspired by Forestieri’s life, 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.

“We are thrilled to partner with Zoe, Eva, Josh and Sony Pictures Television to bring to life this beautiful coming-of-age story inspired by Claudia’s personal journey,” said Jennifer O’Connell, Executive Vice President, Non-Fiction and Live-Action Family Programming, HBO Max.

“HBO Max is proud to work with the powerhouse Latinx talent in front of and behind the camera for this series, which we believe will resonate with all families,” added Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content, HBO Max.

Cast also includes Savannah Nicole Ruiz, Noah Rico and Cosette Hauer.

“From the minute we heard Claudia’s childhood story, we knew it was not only incredibly funny, but emotionally poignant and an important story to tell,” said Jason Clodfelter, Co-President, Sony Pictures Television Studios. “Cucu and the Castellis remind us of the iconic sitcom families we grew up watching, but none of those ever captured a Dominican family’s experience of coming to America. This show changes all of that, and we are thrilled and grateful to dive back in and make a wonderful series for our friends at HBO Max.”

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. Sony Pictures TV is the studio.

Jonathan Del Arco to Appear on Netflix’s limited series “From Scratch”

Jonathan Del Arco is starting from scratch

The 55-year-old Uruguayan American actor has joined the cast of Netflix’s limited series From Scratch.

Jonathan Del Arco

Del Arco joins a roster of cast newcomers that includes Terrell CarterMedalion Rahimi, Peter MendozaLorenzo Pozzan and Jonathan D. King.

The crew of actors, who will recur in the project form Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Zoe Saldana’s Cinestar banners, join previously announced cast members Saldana, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Danielle Deadwyler, Keith David, Kellita Smith, Judith Scott, Lucia Sardo, Paride Benassai and Roberta Rigano.

Rodney GardinerGiacomo GianniottiElizabeth Anweis and Kassandra Clementi will guest star throughout the limited series based on Tembi Locke’s 2019 bestselling memoir.

Adapted by Locke’s sister Attica Locke, who serves as showrunner, From Scratch is the story of an African American woman who falls in love with a Sicilian chef while studying abroad in Florence and goes on to build a life with him in Los Angeles, merging two seemingly opposite cultures. When they are faced with his unexpected cancer diagnosis, Amy becomes her husband’s caregiver and the person who brings their two very different families together, creating a new, blended family for her and her daughter after he dies.

Del Arco plays David, a warm and friendly art professor, who is also Amy and Lino’s (Mastrandrea) landlord.

Del Arco’s previous credits include his roles as Hugh the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Picard, and as medical examiner Dr. Morales in The Closer and Major Crimes.

Mendoza plays Andreas, Lino’s co-worker, who looks after newcomer, and is happy to welcome him to the neighborhood sports bar where their fellow immigrants hang out.

His previous credits include Nathan’s Kingdom, Dead Bullet and Ana Maria in Novella Land.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Animated Musical Film “Vivo” Headed to Netflix

Lin-Manuel Miranda is getting animated once again…

Netflix has picked up the streaming rights to Vivo, an animated movie that boasts new music from the 41-year-old Broadway star, actor, lyricist/composer and Hamilton creator.

Lin-Manuel Miranda 

The family friendly film was initially scheduled to be released in theaters on June 4. But Sony Pictures, the studio that originally backed Vivo, has instead offloaded the project to Netflix. It’s unclear when it will debut on the streaming service.

Sony Pictures will retain all rights in China, along with home entertainment and linear television rights everywhere else, following periods of exclusivity on Netflix.

Netflix recently signed a lucrative deal with Sony, which gives the streamer exclusive U.S. rights to the studio’s theatrical releases in the first pay TV window.

In addition, Netflix has a first-look deal with Sony’s offerings. However, the pact doesn’t commence until 2022 so it doesn’t include the sale of Vivo.

Vivo was directed by The Croods filmmaker Kirk DeMicco and co-directed by Brandon Jeffords. Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the book for Miranda’s In The Heights, has co-written the screenplay with DeMicco.

The animated musical adventure follows a unique kinkajou (a.k.a. a rainforest “honey bear,” voiced by Miranda), who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively Havana square with his beloved owner Andrés. Though they may not speak the same language, Vivo and Andrés are the perfect duo through their common love of music. But when tragedy strikes shortly after Andrés receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), inviting her old partner to her farewell concert in Miami with the hope of reconnecting, it’s up to Vivo to deliver a message that Andrés never could: A love letter to Marta, written long ago, in the form of a song. Yet in order to get to the distant shores of Miami, Vivo will need to accept the help of Gabi (newcomer Ynairaly Simo) — an energetic teen who bounces to the beat of her own offbeat drum. The voice cast also includes Zoe Saldana, Brian Tyree Henry and Nicole Byer.

“Bringing Vivo to life has been an incredible artistic journey. I couldn’t ask for better creative partners than Kirk, Quiara, Alex and the entire team at Sony Animation,” Miranda said. “I’m so excited Vivo will have a home at Netflix, where kids of all ages will be able to enjoy the film’s songs and adventures again and again.”

Vivo isn’t the first movie musical from Miranda that skipped theaters in favor of streaming. The live-recorded version of Hamilton was supposed to play on the big screen, but instead debuted on Disney+ last July.

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.