Latinos in film and TV: Winners, Losers and New Deals
By Luis Reyes
Pantelion films spurred on by its success with Instructions Not Included and Pulling Strings have individually signed Zoe Saldana, Wilmer Valderama and George Lopez to overall film and television production deals.
Lopez is already in production for Pantelion in New Mexico on La Vida Robot, a feature film that stars Lopez. It is based on a true story about four undocumented Mexican American high school kids who build a robot as part of a science project who go on to compete in a national science competition. Young actor Carlos Pena of Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush has been cast in a key role.
Director Patricia Riggen is in pre-production on The 33, the Chilean Miners Story starring Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Lopez that begins production in Chile in January, 2014. Banderas at present is in Bulgaria where he joins Sylvester Stallone as one of the Expendables team in Expendables 3.
The beautiful and talented actress Genesis Rodriguez stars opposite Liam Neeson and Ed Harris in Warner Bros. crime thriller Run all Night, which is now filming in New York. Genesis has also just signed on for the female lead in a new independent horror film, Tusk.
Eva Longoria’s Unbelievable Entertainment and Conde Nast Entertainment has landed a pilot at CBS, Real Deal, which centers on two polar opposite women, an ambitious FBI agent and an out of control criminal informant who must learn to work together. The series pilot is based on a 2005 Glamour Magazine article “The FBI’s Secret Weapon: Women” by Emily Benedek.
Unbelievable Entertainment has sold four other television projects this season, dramas at NBC, ABC and The CW as well as a comedy at NBC.
FX’s critically acclaimed and highly rated El Paso/ Juarez set The Bridge starring Demian Bichir has been renewed for a second season and production on the new episodes will start in January.
Howard Gordon, an executive producer for Homeland and a former show runner for the series 24 is reteaming with his 24 executive producer Evan Katz for a serialized Fox legal drama Trial Of The Century which revolves around a young Latina attorney working on a unique high profile case. The script will be written by Evan Katz for Twentieth Century Fox television.
Is Tinseltown finally getting the message about including Latinos as lead actors in non-traditional roles in films and television shows that audiences want to see but that tap into the burgeoning Latino-American market? All the aforementioned recent activity leads me to believe that Hollywood is finally getting the message. Will it be a trend or is it a harbinger of future things to come remains to be seen but in the meantime let us ride that wave.
Breaking News Update: It’s official Robert Rodriquez’s Machete Kills has bombed at the nation’s box-office with a weekend gross of only $3.5 million. It’s the worst film opening of Rodriguez’s career. The original Machete opened to an $11 million box office gross. To be fair with ancillary markets including DVD sales, Netflix and International box-office the film will eventually make its money back. Action films always sell especially a film with such a highly recognizable cast from a noted director. Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity continues its record breaking run as it came in first with an incredible 2nd weekend box office of $44 million.