Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jon Voight at RNC Compares Obama to Cesar Chavez… Huh?

Proves Just How Much GOP Dislikes, Misunderstands #1 Growing Minority
Hollywood’s Midnight Cowboy Jon Voight is having a good time at the RNC and he is making plenty of strong commentary about President Obama and what he believes to be a strong liberal bias in the American media.That of course, includes Latin Heat Entertainment and Latinowood.
At a breakfast RNC meeting, Voight was the featured speaker and he went on and on about how terrible the Democrats and Liberals are. First he said:
“This country’s been downgraded for the last four years,” Voight warned, rallying his audience by adding, “We have this little window of time to do something about it — to get it back on track.”
Then he paid plenty of kudos to conservative documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America, which has been making headlines for its impressive box office numbers.
“Go to it,” Voight said of the film. “How can people vote for Obama after four years of failed policies? You know, it’s because of propaganda – they’re very good at propaganda … That’s what we’re battling here today.”
Then Voight took the opportunity to offer his intelligent critique of the U.S. mainstream media claiming: “this media has been overtaken by this administration in no less a way that Cesar Chavez has taken over the media in Venezuela. It’s as strong as that.”

Cesar Chavez
Obviously, Voight, who is well know for his right wing position as a Republican misspoke when he compared President Obama to Cesar Chavez. We assume he meant to compare him to Hugo Chavez. In both instances the comparison is false.
However you can’t blame him or the rest of the GOP for this mistake, because as you know all Latinos look alike. Come to think of it, all right wing Republicans sound alike.
All this Latina editor and blogger can say is, “que pendejo!”      –Elia Esparza

Hugo Chavez

Friday, August 24, 2012

Julia Vera In Her Most Important Role... Ever!

Recast into a role that was intended for Lupe Ontiveros — Julia has been on an emotional whirlwind. 

This summer was to be another busy one for actress Lupe Ontiveros. She had already accepted a role in Director Scott Sanders’ Aztec Warrior (Lionsgate) which was shooting in July in The Big Easy, Louisiana. Meanwhile, another actress, Julia Vera was looking at a calm summer. She didn’t see much work on the horizon… but, there’s a reason for everything.

 Julia and Lupe’s paths crossed many times throughout the years as both actors were usually auditioning for the same roles. Both have a strong comedic spirit but are as different as night and day. Another commonality they shared was that they were both Tejanas (Texans) living in California and working in Hollywood. They were both mothers with a strong belief in family. It was inevitable that, although competitors, they would become good friends. “Mostly we always talked about family,” says Vera. “We exchanged stories and had some good laughs.”

As Aztec Warrior’s production date approached, Sanders and the cast couldn’t wait to begin working on the hilariously fun film. Leading the cast were Luis Guzman (The Mysterious Island), Eugenio Derbez (Mexican comedic superstar), Terry Crews (The Expendables), Nadine Velasquez, and Ontiveros (Desperate Housewives). A week before filming was to begin (according to sources close to the film) Sanders received an unexpected call and without any forewarning, the director was notified that Ontiveros was pulling out. Everyone assumed it was due to a scheduling conflict or that she had gotten a better offer. Only a select few knew that Ontiveros had weeks to live, losing her battle with cancer.

The recasting of Lupe’s part was in full gear and telephone calls and emails were flying back and forth at full speed. There is no shortage of Latina talent but finding the right “mama” was important. She had to be funny. Actress, Julia Vera’s name was mentioned several times and after a few more telephone calls and emails, Vera found herself on a plane heading to New Orleans to fill some pretty big shoes.

As the old show business saying goes, the show must go on. No matter the enormity of setbacks, filmmakers have a duty to ensure their story reaches the big screen.

Vera had no idea that Lupe was dying. “I happily assumed she had moved on to a better offer somewhere else,” she recalled. It wasn’t until after her friend Ontiveros passed away, that Vera realized just how significant and precious her casting in this “mama” role had become.

So just who is Julia Vera? We know she has appeared in numerous hit television shows (The X-Files and Brothers and Sisters), some feature films (Speed and Blow), and countless commercials… we know she’s a skilled actor. The question was, what made her special enough to step into what would have been a custom made role for Ontiveros?

We sat down with Julia recently to talk about all that has been stirring in her heart.

Latin Heat: How did it come about, you being cast in a film that was originally offered to Lupe Ontiveros? 

Julia Vera: I received a call from a producer friend [Ben O'Dell] on the 4th of July asking if I was available to work on a film in Louisiana and would I be able to fly there immediately.

LH: When you first learned the role was being recast from Lupe (who has her own acting DNA) was this a little disconcerting for you? 

 JV: My first thought was that she had probably gotten a better offer. That Lupe! She was not about to solicit pity from anyone. She knew she was sick with since [last December] but she didn’t tell anyone. She was brave. She was strong till her last breath. Even her closest friends didn’t know.

 LH: How did you attack the role without trying to give the director “a classic Lupe”? 

 JV: That thought never occurred to me. I read the script and it was comedic. I knew I had to play it straight. Comedy is suppose to be funny to the audience not to the performer. I have my own physicality. Lupe was a very small woman and I looked like an elephant next to her. I had done some improvisation in Reno 911 and other shows. The director encouraged that kind of performance. Also, playing a mother who loves her children was on par with my reality.

 LH: How does your acting differ from that of Lupe? 

 JV: Lupe was a pioneer. She got her start when things were still pretty difficult for Latino actors. There was a pause from the Ricardo Montalban, Dolores Del Rio, Rita Hayworth, and Rita Moreno eras. It was like starting all over again. El Norte is a classic now. I read all the difficulties that were experienced by the director and producer Gregory Nava. Lupe was so brave to stand up to SAG [Screen Actors Guild] for that film. Me, I came in when things were all set-up. It was easier for me thanks to the hardships endured by actors like Lupe. She was a true actor.

 LH: A little about your background… As a Tejana from Laredo, how did acting come to be your calling?

 JV: In Laredo all the children are exposed to the arts, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, and painting. I usually got cast in all the plays all the way through high school. College was mostly music.

LH: Tell us something about Julia Vera that most of your most of your fans don’t know about you.

JV: That I started my acting career at age 46, after my kids were grown and gone. I am a widow and have five children. My oldest [Pembrooke Andrews, a sound supervisor] has three Emmys and a Golden Reel… I still don’t know what that is. I also have five grandchildren which I consider my reward for raising five children and my most precious reward is my great-granddaughter who is five. She and I have a lot of fun! At the drop of a hat we take off to Disneyland (our favorite place) or to the movies. I also like to give back. I do that by coaching actors and they don’t have to pay me unless they get the job. I also give my paycheck back to those that are producing on a shoestring. Sometimes I have a hard time going out and it takes a lot for me to attend events. I just go by how I feel that day.

 LH: What advice would you give young Latinos trying to break into acting today?

 JV: Study acting. Take a dance class so that you can get in touch with your body and a singing class so that you can expand your lung capacity. Keep taking classes all through your acting career. Technique is important. Various methods like Miesner, Stella Adler, and Lee Strasberg are tried and true. As in all careers, you have to invest time and money.

 LH: If you could sit with Lupe to talk about your recent work experience, what would the conversation be like? Let’s say you’re sitting at some sidewalk cafe in paradise. Give us a sampling of how the imaginary dialogue would go. 

 JV: I believe in God and I believe we all go to heaven. I would probably ask her if she is having fun. She loved having fun. We never talked shop, only about our families. She was a dear friend. But, OK, here is how I imagine it would go:

You didn’t give me much time to prepare for your role. 
I hope you like my version of “mama.” 

 I didn’t plan to give you anything! 
I fought hard pero… ya saves… 

Yes, you did! Have you met up with Ricardo? 

LUPE No, but Herve Villechaize, you know 
‘Tatto’… the only other actor shorter than me… 
pues can you believe he’s still ringing a bell? 
Imaginate! Driving me nuts! Next thunderstorm, 
I swear that will be me banging him with his ding dong! 

You never disappoint! Everyone misses you for that, 
especially your family. 

My kids and family mean everything to me. 
I do know how strong they are 
and it was a privilege to raise my beautiful boys. 
And my grandkids… Wow. They are something. 

Yes! Oh, and speaking of privileges, because you’d 
 had been cast I inherited one mighty fine wardrobe. 
The makeup lady even asked if I wanted false eyelashes! 
Gracias, muter! 

Pues, only the best for us Latinas! 
 Always demand the best. 
But you know what the best for me is now? 
No more spandex or girdles to wear! 
Demand the best, amiga, you know why? 

Yes, because we deserve it. 

Mujer! We earned it! 
At least I’ll never have to play another maid again! 
Dang, but I forced directors to bring out the best maid in me ever! 
Nicholson never knew what hit him! 

I had a lot of fun on Aztec Warrior.
I couldn’t be you, but I did my best “me”. 

I would expect nothing less from you. 
Thank you for stepping in. 

No, gracias a ti… you left your footprint 
for my benefit and for so many others. I will never forget you. 

 No te preocupes, amiga… just keep the laughter alive! 

 With that, a breeze sweeps through us and she is gone.

 Aztec Warrior will always be remembered as the last movie that Ontiveros was cast in and had to opt out of. But it will also be a pivotal point in redefining Julia Vera’s own stellar career.

Julia Vera you have a great name and we wish you continued success. Aztec Warrior belongs to both you and Lupe.

 About Aztec Warrior
Co-written by Scott Sanders (Black Dynamite, Thick As Thieves); Don Handfield from an idea by Handfield; and Javier Chapa. Sergio Aguero and James McNamara, executive produced and Chapa also produced. The action story finds its hero (Guzman) up against El Diablo (Derberz). The action story takes place in present day San Antonio, Texas and Mexico. Aztec’ is about the entertaining sport of Mexican wrestling (lucha libre) and not much more is known other than that it’s a comedy. Cast: Luis Guzman (The Mysterious Island), Eugenio Derbez (Mexican superstar), Terry Crews (The Expendables), Nadine Velasquez, and Julia Vera.
(Release date: 2013)

All Rights Reserved, © 2012, Latinowood/Latin Heat

Edited by: Casandra Moreno Lombera

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney Promises to Cut PBS Subsidy And Major Arts Funding Per His 5 Point Plan for the Economy!

Not if this angry American can prevent it!

I try to refrain from expressing my political views on Latinowood because, for one, Bel Hernandez my Latin Heat publisher respects fair and balanced journalism. I nod and ruminate over the ones who understand its true meaning over at Faux News (sarcasm vented and duly noted). And, second, I like to focus on Latino celebrities and their projects... OK I also like a good chisme (gossip) just enough to entice our readers’ curiosity.

However, when I heard that the republican presidential candidate had made a promise to ax out precious funding for PBS, well that hit a nerve. Bel would have to tie me up and gag me until after the elections to shut me up about this one!

Public television is America’s largest classroom, the nation’s largest stage for the arts and a trusted window to the world – all at the cost of about $1 per person per year. - PBS Online Message about Federal Funding

It is also one of the few family friendly programming sources in the world today. The GOP candidate heralded PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger’s worst nightmare. Here is what Romney said to Fortune Magazine in its interview on August 15th, 2012:

Fortune: You’ve promised to cap government spending at 20% of the GDP. Specifically where will you cut?

Mitt Romney: There are three major areas I have focused on for reduction in spending. These are in many cases reductions which become larger and larger over time. So first there are programs I would eliminate. Obamacare being one of them but also various subsidy programs — the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.

Really Mr. Romney? And all this time your party has been screaming that it’s a waste of my tax dollars. In July of 2012, during the same week that PBS received 58 Primetime Emmy Nominations, the GOP House proposed zeroing out federal funding for public broadcasting for TV and radio by 2015! Do they even care that this is one place I actually prefer having my tax dollars spent?

I cannot believe that there is not more than a few dozen Republicans who watch PBS and probably even in the past have personally made donations. Their quality of programming is beyond comparison especially in the area of education. PBS Kids has amazing programming! What would parents do without Sid the Science Kid, The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About That!, and Curious George? Also, documentaries like Journey to Planet Earth, Faces of America, or Saving the Titanic are all family brain food! Plus, there are the adult shows that so many of us are addicted to like Antiques Roadshow.  

How many millions of Americans have also picked up their phone to support and purchase music concerts and specials like An Evening With Smokey Robinson!; Andrea Bocelli, One Night in Central Park; Billy Joel Live at Shea Stadium; and David Foster: Hit Man! Currently, there is a live concert (http://video.pbs.org/video/2264495679) on the introduction of American singer/songwriter Nathan Pacheco singing his new single “Avatar” – listen to it and then tell me you are not affected! PBS says about Pacheco:

On the heels of a recent sold-out concert tour of the United Kingdom with soprano Katherine Jenkins and the National Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the release of his debut album, Introducing Nathan Pacheco on Disney Pearl Series, the popular young American singer-songwriter brings his own solo concert special to public television.
PBS is an American Institution -- should we dismantle the Smithsonian while we’re at it Mr. Romney? My personal conviction is that I’m not willing to let this Republican, tax evading flip flopper take away more of our freedom and our moral rights! I can’t even begin to tell you what I think about him wanting repeal the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare! I can personally attest to its success!

PBS’ Kerger warned the television industry at a Television Critics Association presentation this summer that a number of stations, in underserved areas, will go dark as a result of Romney delivering on his promise to cut funding. It would also affect funding for NPR. Federal funding represents 15% of the PBS budget - but given local differences in how some stations are funded, federal funding can represent 50%-60% of these stations’ entire budget. Now we’re losing jobs and, if you think it through, the full ripple effect will bring devastation mainly upon our children.

Join me and Latinowood in stopping this man from becoming our next American President. He just doesn’t care about America’s true treasures, it’s people, or any company that is not in league with his wealthy Wall Street banks and corporations. PBS the non-profit organization does not have any off shore accounts to fall back on. Does their very small dependency on Government funding produce a wealth of goodness in our society and economy? Yes! And, they are dependent on us... their intelligent, thoughtful and educational programs enrich our lives.

All Rights Reserved, © 2012, Latinowood
Edited by: Casandra Moreno Lombera http://shewentthere.wordpress.com

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

President Obama Loves Latinos. Why?

From our guest contributor...

By Adrian Tafoya

Try 50.5 million reasons why. Today’s $1 trillion Latino buying power has also been known to turn a few heads. In addition, one in every six individuals is Latino and one in every four children are Latino. Let’s face it, Latinos represent a whole lot of votes.

Latinos are also championing the re-election campaign. Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria is Co-Chair of the Reelect Obama Campaign and joining her are: George Clooney, Alexis Bledel, Cristina Saralegui, Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Salma Hayek, and Barbra Streisand, Anne Hathaway, Aaron Sorkin, Joanne Woodward, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks and the majority of Black actors in America!

When former Senator Barack Obama won his party’s nomination for president in 2008, it was irrefutable that he had been blessed by Latino voters. However, immigration reform (a key campaign item) quickly landed on the back burner and the disappointment began to chip away as Latinos realized they were once again being taken for granted. In fact, he suffered a huge decline in his overall approval rating as president after Latinos disapproved of his handling of deportations. President Barack Obama’s approval in 2011 fell to 49% from 58% in 2010 (Pew Hispanic Center).

In June of this year, when the president announced that he would defer deportation proceedings for many young undocumented immigrants, it was safe to predict that he would regain his good standing with the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. The president recaptured Latino love by boldly breathing life back into the DREAM Act. An impressive 91% of Latinos support this legislation that would permit young adults who were brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children to become legal residents if they go to college or serve in the military for two years. Way to win over nine-in-ten Latino hand raisers.

Latino kinship with Black-Americans has grown over the years as Latinos have mutually experienced disenfranchised rights in an America that has kept them swept under the rug like dust-bunnies. Going back to the 50.5 million people identifying themselves as Latino… Latinos cannot be ignored any longer. No, not this election year. Not according to statistics published in the Summer 2012, SAG-AFTRA magazine which states, “Latino culture has developed a larger and stronger influence in our nation’s media, advertising, and politics. According to the 2010 census, Latinos represent 16.3 percent of the population of the United States… Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country.”

On a personal note, Latino voters are American, not illegals. Latino Americans are not “climbing fences” to cross over any borders. Latinos, like myself [Tafoya], are Americans and we have to start owning it. Latinos have to stop referring to non-Latinos as “Los Americanos!” According to today’s demographic calculations, we are Los Americanos! And, it is Latinos as Americans that President Obama has embraced.

President Obama’s campaign understands that 65.5% of Latinos in the U.S. are of Mexican descent and that only 3.5% are of Cuban ancestry. This explains why 54% of all Latino registered voters say that they have never heard of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, (Pew Hispanic Center). Politicians who think that all Latinos are alike are extending a significant advantage to the Obama reelection effort.

To further arouse Latino love for President Obama, the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina (in September of 2011), has appointed as its Convention Chairman, our very own Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa—a Latino from Boyle Heights, Los Angeles who attended East Los Angeles College. Furthermore, Villaraigosa will not be the only Latino taking center stage: he will be joined by San Antonio, Texas’ mayor, Julian Castro as Convention Keynote Speaker, making Castro the first Latino American to be given this high-profile role at a Democratic convention. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan chose former U.S. Treasurer Katherine Davalos Ortega to keynote at the Republican convention in Dallas.

Castro is the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American City and was first elected in 2009. In 2011, he easily won re-election with nearly 82% of the vote!

It is also clear that President Obama is the center of a highly influential Hollywood love fest with an escalating mutual admiration society.

“He [Obama] is the Paul Newman of American Presidents,” said Harvey Weinstein.

Last year, Mayor Villaraigosa hosted a star-studded fundraiser at the mayor’s mansion in the tony L.A. neighborhood of Hancock Park, California. The mayor frequently escorts the president to other local fundraising events like Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith’s soirĂ©e and, more recently, both were seen at George Clooney’s Studio City home extravaganza (an evening reporting $15 million in campaign contributions). Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is certainly a powerful politician with national recognition and his staunch support for President Obama is formidable. Undoubtedly, President Obama deeply values his alliance with the Los Angeles mayor.

In reference to Academy Award winning screenwriter and producer, Aaron Sorkin, President Obama recently commented, “He writes the way every Democrat in Washington wished they spoke.”

President Barack Obama loves Latinos and, here in Los Angeles, he may well thank Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Eva Longoria for bridging Hollywood with Latinos and politics. After the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Julian Castro will become a household name ...and if one could predict the first Latino President of the United States, names like Castro and Villaraigosa would surface in a heartbeat.

--Elia Esparza contributed to this story
--Edited by Casandra Moreno Lombera

Adrian Tafoya is a film and television professional with 28 years experience. He is a writer, producer, actor, stage productions, technical director, creative consultant, and theatrical design. Mr. Tafoya received his B.A. in Theatre Arts from CSUSB.