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A new drama inspired by the musical legacy of Selena Quintanilla coming to ABC

ABC Studios, Campanario Entertainment and SB Projects have secured a development deal to bring a drama inspired by the musical legacy of Selena Quintanilla to television!

The drama, written by Miguel Nolla (Scandal), has the support of the Quintanilla family and ABC has given the development project a put pilot commitment. Nolla will act as co-executive producer.

The currently untitled series will focus on a pop star who finds herself starting all over again in her home state of Texas.

The series focuses on Alex Guerra, a chart-topping, award winning pop star who has been estranged from her family for 5 years.  She tries to pick up the pieces when a crisis forces her to return home. Alex finds herself back in Texas, juggling a love triangle, the demands of her career and the dark secrets of the family that she now desperately wants to win back.

“We are excited to come on board as producers on an ABC music driven, Latino family drama that celebrates Selena’s musical legacy with a lead character whose music and career is inspired by Selena,” said Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga.

SB Projects founder Scooter Braun also expressed his excitement about the upcoming series.

“We are thrilled to team up with Campanario and ABC Studios and highlight the complexities and family dynamics of a Latin pop superstar coming to grips with the reality of her influence especially in today’s social climate,” he said. “More importantly, we are proud to be collaborators on an incredibly timely show that focuses on a strong Latino family and represents the many Americans who we know will enjoy this series alongside us.”

“This project gives us all an opportunity to showcase a successful, aspirational Latino family in a way that is not currently represented on television,” said Jaime Davila, president of Campanario Entertainment. “Sergio, Rico and I are looking forward to creating with the team an original music-driven drama with authentic characters as multifaceted as our own families.”

Sergio Aguero, Jaime Davila, and Rico Martinez of Campanario Entertainment and Scooter Braun, Scott Manson, and James Shin of SB Projects will serve as non-writing executive producers. Simran A. Singh, and Selena Quintanilla family members Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., and Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga, will join the project as producers.

More about Campanario Entertainment and SB Projects: 

Campanario Entertainment is a North American media company that develops and produces broad appeal scripted and unscripted content driven by Latinos and Latinas in front of and behind the camera. Co-founded by Jaime Davila, former development executive at Bravo, and Jaime Davila Sr., former Televisa COO and Univision President and Chairman, Campanario Entertainment strongly supports original voices as well as adapts proven IP for both the U.S. and international television markets. Current productions include unique intellectual properties and adaptations such as FOX’s “Red Band Society,” “Bandolero” with Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical,” “Descendants”), and “Laugh Factory en Español.” Their first project, “Camelia la Texana,” premiered on Telemundo in the US and on Netflix in Mexico, and set a new standard in content and visual quality for Spanish-language programming. For more information, visit Campanario.com.

SB Projects is a diversified entertainment and media company with ventures integrating music, film, television, technology and philanthropy. Guided by the vision of founder Scott “Scooter” Braun (one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People In the World), SB Projects combines creativity, the ability to engage global audiences, and an understanding of “what’s next” to deliver innovative ideas as a leading architect of popular culture. For more information please visit, www.scooterbraun.com.

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New webseries alert: “Munkey in the City” starring “The Long Road Home” star Kenny Leu

Here’s a webseries that’s been simmering for a while–it’s finally ready for viewers to see, especially if you’ve been following the career of Kenny Leu, who’s starring in National Geographic’s upcoming miniseries The Long Road Home. The webseries? Munkey in the City. 

Munkey in the City, created and developed by Michael T. Nguyen, stars Leu as an aspiring writer who wants to make it big in New York City, while having tons of misadventures and growing pains along the way.

Check out the trailer:

A few years ago, I spoke with Nguyen about Munkey in the City. He told me the webseries is partially based on his own experiences as a writer in a big city.

Munkey in The City is actually based on my real life experiences living in San Francisco. I had moved here in 2010 hoping to start a new life for myself, but two years after, I was still confused about the direction I was headed in. I was busy working a job I was unhappy going to, and as a result, found myself delving deeper into alcohol as an escape. I had just dropped out of film school so I could focus on paying my overpriced rent, and I felt like I couldn’t do anything right or connect with anyone. My life was going nowhere and I realized I needed a change. Then, I decided to channel my energies into something more creative. I wrote my experiences down and decided I could use them to help me further my career as a filmmaker. Munkey in The City is really a story about my struggle with adulthood and the real world, while trying to achieve my dreams in a vast new place.

I happened to name the main character Munkey, because “Monkey” is actually a nickname I’ve acquired over the years for various reasons. And I added the fact that San Franciscans simply call San Francisco “THE City.” Thus, Munkey in The City was born. Now I’m determined to bring this story to life, not just for me, but also to share it with anyone striving for their own dreams as well.

Nguyen also laid into Hollywood’s reticence to casting Asian actors for big parts, particularly leading male roles.

Compelling movie and television characters just aren’t written for Asian American males. That, combined with the industry’s unwillingness to take chances on them, for fear that audiences won’t fork over time and money to see them, equals very few opportunities outside the martial arts genre. The industry happens to run on a very basic premise: if you can bring in money, you can be on screen. But even with John Cho’s huge success with the Harold and Kumar franchise, the industry still hesitates to put him into leading roles. So there has to be something else at work here. And I can call it bias and racism all I want, but the industry will just call it a poor business decision.

The fact is that it’s going to take a lot more work by a lot of people to fight for that opportunity from Hollywood, and to sway audiences into accepting an Asian American as a dynamic leading man. But the foundation is being laid, for sure.

Munkey in the City debuts on YouTube, Vimeo, and its official website October 18.

Rami Malek stuns as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” first look image

Rami Malek posed as Freddie Mercury in a white tank top and black, spiked armband. He's in front of a blue concert-lit background.

What can I say that this picture can’t say for itself? Rami Malek is going to kill it as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Bohemian Rhapsody†Rami Malek

As you can see from the watermark, the image was first released on what would have been Mercury’s 71st birthday through Entertainment Weekly, and while we still haven’t heard Malek’s vocals (if you’ve been listening to him speak about the film on the late night talk show circuit, you’ll know that he has had to record himself singing for the members of Queen themselves), I’m almost past caring about that now that we’ve seen this picture of him in full the Freddie Mercury regalia.

Malek mentioned his vocals in a quick interview he did with Entertainment Weekly, saying that the film will use parts of his own voice as well as Mercury’s voice coupled with a sound-alike to fill in any missing spots.

“We’re going to use Freddie as much as possible and use myself as much as possible,” said Malek. “I’m in Abbey Road [Studios] right now if that should say anything to you. I’m not working on my acting.”

As for sound-alikes, this sounds like a job UK singer Mika, who was tailor-made for this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were actually using him in this film. He even references Mercury in his 2009 breakout song Grace Kelly. If director Bryan Singer isn’t using him–WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE, SINGER?! Put ME on your team to help you make these decisions!

As far as the look goes, Malek said the first time he finally saw himself-as-Mercury staring back at him in the mirror, it brought everything into focus.

“When you’re able to open your eyes and see a different person staring back at you in the mirror, it’s a very affirming moment,” he said, adding that the experience of being in hair and makeup to become Mercury”only adds to the level of confidence that one would need to play Freddie Mercury.”

As reported in 2016, Malek is perfect casting as Mercury, not only because of his resemblance to the late singer or his massive acting talent (which I’m glad has finally been recognized through Mr. Robot), but because casting Malek as Mercury is actually quite respectful casting coming from Hollywood, since Mercury was Parsi, an Indian community that has its roots in Iran, and Malek is of Middle Eastern background (Malek isn’t Iranian or of the Parsi community, though; he’s from a Coptic Egyptian background). While it’s not a Parsi actor playing Mercury, it’s better than the whitewashed alternatives that were out there and for Hollywood, this is a baby step towards better casting practices as a whole. At least that’s how I see it, if I’m looking at it from an optimistic perspective. As I stated back then:

Freddie Mercury’s family is from Gujarat (they later relocated to Zanzibar). Mercury’s family were Parsi, which is, as Wikipedia states, “one of two Zoroastrian communities…primarily located in South Asia.” Parsis migrated to Gujarat from Greater Iran, so there’s a crossover of Persian and Indian influence. While there are some Hollywood “all brown people are the same” tactics happening with Malek’s casting, at least this is closer to a semblance of respectful accuracy than Hollywood has been about big roles like these in the past. Remember, Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw were the first and second choices for this movie.

Check out the Entertainment Weekly video below for more info. Bohemian Rhapsody comes to theaters Christmas day, 2018 (such a long time away!!!)

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Alessia Cara and Jordan Fisher featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda perform end-credit songs on the forthcoming Disney’s “Moana” animated film and soundtrack

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BURBANK, Calif., Oct. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Set for release on November 18, the Moana original motion picture soundtrack features seven original songs and a full original score, plus two reprises as well as two end-credit versions of songs from the film.  Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.

The diverse and dynamic team behind the film’s inspired music includes Tony®- and Grammy®-winning songwriter/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who counts among his credits Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and multiple Tony-winning “Hamilton” and the Tony-winning “In the Heights.”  The creative team also includes three-time Grammy®-winning composer Mark Mancina (“Speed,” “Tarzan” and the Oscar®-winning “Training Day”) and Opetaia Foa’i, the founder and lead singer of Te Vaka, a winner of numerous world music awards.

“How Far I’ll Go” is Moana’s song written by Miranda and is performed in the film by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho.  The end-credit version of the song is performed by Canadian singer/songwriter and Def Jam recording artist Alessia Cara.  Her gold-certified album Know-It-All includes the multi-platinum singles “Here” and “Wild Things,” plus the critically-acclaimed single “Scars to Your Beautiful.”  Cara is a Juno Award winner for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and is a 2016 American Music Award nominee for New Artist of the Year.  She recently completed a tour with Coldplay.

Written by Miranda and performed by Dwayne Johnson in the film, “You’re Welcome” showcases the colorful personality of Maui.  Hollywood Records artist Jordan Fisher teams up with Miranda for the end-credit version of “You’re Welcome.”    After a breakout performance in the Emmy® Award-winning production of Grease: Live, Jordan Fisher released his debut single, “All About Us,” which soared to the top of the Billboard Pop charts.  Fisher, who recently opened for Alicia Keys at this year’s Apple Music Festival, has joined the Broadway cast of “Hamilton,” and is set to release his full-length album in 2017.

For centuries, the greatest sailors in the world masterfully navigated the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, 3,000 years ago, their voyages stopped for a millennium – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who is inspired to leave the safety and security of her island on a daring journey to save her people. Inexplicably drawn to the ocean, Moana (voice of Auliʻi Cravalho) convinces the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) to join her mission, and he reluctantly helps her become a wayfinder like her ancestors who sailed before her. Together, they voyage across the open ocean on an action-packed adventure, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills her quest and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

The Moana soundtrack can be pre-ordered today HERE and a digital pre-order will be available Friday, Oct. 28th.  The Moana original motion picture soundtrack features 14 tracks and will be available wherever music is sold and streamed on Nov. 18, 2016.  The Moana two-disc deluxe edition and the digital deluxe edition soundtrack, which are also available Nov. 18, feature additional tracks including demos, outtakes and instrumental karaoke tracks.  For more information on Walt Disney Records’ releases, like us on Facebook.com/disneymusic or follow us at Twitter.com/disneymusic and Instagram.com/disneymusic/.

Netflix Acquires “Where the Road Runs Out”, First Film Shot in Equatorial Guinea

Netflix is trying to step up their movie game, and it would seem they are on the right track with their acquisition of Where the Road Runs Out. The film, directed by Rudolf Buitendach and starring Isaach De Bankolé, is a history making film; it’s the first film to be shot in Equatorial Guinea.

The film has impressed audiences across the indie circuit. As the press release states, “the indie has also won awards at Sunscreen film Festival, Helsinki African Film Festival, and has also featured and been warmly received at the Pan African film festival, AFI Silver and Heartland film festivals.”

The film looks like it’ll be one you’ll have to put in your queue when Netflix releases it next year. Take a look at the poster and the press release in its entirety below.

WHERE THE ROAD RUNS OUT, the first film to ever shoot in Equatorial Guinea, picked up by Fairway Film Alliance, has been acquired by Netflix for US and partial foreign (Canada, The UK, Australia, New Zealand and English speaking African countries) distribution. The film, which premiered at and won best narrative film at the San Diego film festival in 2014, is directed by Rudolf Buitendach and stars Isaach De Bankole, Juliet Landau, Stelio Savante and Sizo Matsoko.

SYNOPSIS: A Rotterdam-based respected scientist and lecturer (Isaach De Bankole) has grown weary of the world of academia. The sudden death of an old friend who has been running a field research station in Africa gives him the incentive he needs to turn his back on his academia and return to his African roots. Arriving in Equatorial Guinea he finds the field station in a state of disrepair. Through a local boy Jimi, his jaded eyes are opened to the possibilities of life there. Jimi also introduces him to Corina (Juliet Landau) who runs the local orphanage and a tentative but heartfelt romance begins. With the unexpected arrival of George’s old friend Martin (Stelio Savante), George discovers there are many obstacles on the road to redemption… and many more where the road runs out.

Lensed in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and the Netherlands; the indie has also won awards at Sunscreen film Festival, Helsinki African Film Festival, and has also featured and been warmly received at the Pan African film festival, AFI Silver and Heartland film festivals.

NETFLIX is planning for an early 2017 release in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and English speaking African countries. The deal was brokered by US Distribution/Production Company Fairway Film Alliance and Ocean Avenue Entertainment (Chris Bueno).

Fairway Film Alliance is a Los Angeles based full service independent film sales agency and production company, founded by long time indie film veteran, Marty Poole. Fairway Film Alliance along with Rogue Arts has distributed or produced films that have appeared in the Sundance Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, and Toronto Film Festivals.  Earlier in 2016, Lionsgate released Fairway Film Alliance’s family film Army Dog starring Casper Van Dien, Grace Van Dien and Stelio Savante.

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MOC Monday: Jason Momoa

Game of Thrones is still making people highly uncomfortable and, to be frank, angry. It’s gotten so bad that now, what with the amount of “rape as character development” the show tends to engage in, with Sansa Stark being the latest victim, The Mary Sue has decided to withdraw their support of the show. 

I have never been a fan of Game of Thrones; I couldn’t get past the first episode for many reasons, chief of which being the horror at seeing two siblings have rough sex with each other. But despite all of the horrors of the show (so much so that I can’t even get into it as much as everyone else seems to), I do know there are some fan favorite characters, such as Tyrion Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, and Khal Drogo, played by Jason Momoa.*