Comedian Jo Koy is “Comin’ in Hot” with the release of his latest project streaming on Netflix June 12th – just in time for Philippine Independence Day. According to Netflix’s description, his stand up, which was recorded at the Blaisdell Arena in Hawaii will feature his “candid take on cultural curiosities, filter-free fatherhood and more.”
Best Friends Thomas Orlina and Malia Baldovi have taken their friendship to the next level by producing and hosting their new digital talk show, “Two Besties Together” where they celebrate their friendship, highlight diversity, positive vibes and wonderful times together. The first season of TBT premiered on Thursday, January 17th with new shows releasing every Thursday.
Each episode of Orlina and Baldovi’s show focus on 3 segments – The Topic, The Product and The Throwback. In The Topic, the BFFs discuss numerous topics which range from dating in the modern world, open relationships and mental health. In The Product, Orlina and Baldovi provide a platform for entrepreneurs, influencers and sponsors of TBT to showcase their own products, projects and ideas. And perhaps one of the highlights of the show is their segment, The Throwback where the two reminisce about moments they’ve shared together during their 10year relationship. Closing out each show is their “Besties of the Week” segment where their fans are encouraged to send in their own pictures with their BFFs.
Thomas Orlina and Malia Baldovi are no strangers to the entertainment industry. Orlina is best known for producing, creating and starring in his own webisode titled “Your Time With Thomas” as well as being featured on CNN Philippines. Hawaiian born Baldovi’s background is in Production where she most recently spent working at the USA Network for Temptation Island.
In addition to hosting, Baldovi also serves as executive producer to the show. “This has been an amazing process and having a show to interact with the audience and working with someone I call my bestie is amazing,” she said.
Orlina expressed his gratitude and excitement for his latest project, saying “I’m so grateful to be able to continue to create content that allows me to tap into the world of imagination in hopes to inspire and connect with today’s society. Being the creator, host and executive producer on this show with my bestie has been an innovative and unique experience.”
Two Besties Together debuted their season finale yesterday and all episodes are now available for binge watching on their youtube channel – Two Besties Together.
See episode 1 of TBT below:
Diane Paragas and her film, Yellow Rose, will make history at this year’s 35th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, making her the first Filipina American Filmmaker to open the festival.
Directed and written by Diane Paragas, the American movie musical follows the story of Rose, played by Tony award nominee Eva Noblezada, a 17 year old girl who tries to fulfill her dream of becoming a country music star all while facing the threat of deportation. Joining Noblezada is Broadway star and Tony Award winner, Lea Salonga who plays Rose’s aunt. Rounding out the cast is Dale Watson, Liam Booth, Gustavo Gomez, Libby Villari and Princess Punzalan.
“I am so humbled that our film has been chosen for this honor.” Paragas told Deadline.com
Paragas also stated that Yellow Rose has taken over 15 years to make and “it couldn’t come at a more important time when anti-immigrant sentiment is at an all-time high. This is a story for everyone facing challenges in finding their voice, their dreams and, more importantly, their home.”
Francis Cullado, the Executive Director of Visual Communications expressed their excitement in showcasing Diane Paragas as the first ever Filipina American Opning Night presentation, saying
“We feel that Yellow Rose’s themes stemming from our collective experiences of what defines American can create cultural cross-connections throughout our diverse communities.”
The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival will run from May 2nd to May 10th. For more information, you can head to https://vcmedia.org/festival
Marvel Studios has signed on filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton to direct their upcoming film Shang-Chi.
In the comic books, Shang-Chi is born in China to a Chinese father and white American mother. His father, the villainous Fu Manchu, teaches him martial arts. and Shang-Chi becomes a hero after rebelling against his father’s ways.
Although no casting news have been announced, Marvel Studios has mentioned that Shang-Chi will be their first project featuring an Asian lead and mostly Asian and Asian American cast. Shang-Chi will be penned by Chinese American Dave Callaham whose recent works include co-writing with Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns in the upcoming DC Warner Bros sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 and Sony’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2.
Cretton, who was born and raised in Hawaii, is currently directing Just Mercy, a film he wrote, based on the memoir of Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson. The movie stars Michael B. Jordan and reunites him with actress Brie Laron who starred in his film, Short Term 12.
Marvel Comics’ upcoming comic book, The War of the Realms will introduce a new team of heroes including “Wave” a Filipina heroine, Aero and Sword Master from China who will be part of the Agents of Atlas. The War of the Realms universe will be set in Asia where the Agents of Atlas will be tasked to save the world.
According to Marvel editor Will Moss, “War of the Realms is this big, big Marvel universe story involving all the heroes from the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Wolverine, the whole line.”
The comic books are set to be debut in May 2019.
11 time Grammy winner Bruno Mars will be heading to Las Vegas’ Park MGM for an 11 show residency which is scheduled from April 29th to September 14th.
Tickets will go on sale at 10am on February 8th (Live Nation and M Life Rewards member presales will take place on February 6th)
For more information, you can head to the MGM website here.
47 years after its inception, a Filipina contestant was crowned Miss Intercontinental. Filipina Australian beauty Karen Gallman became the first Filipina to win the competition which was held at the Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines this past weekend.
“It means a lot to me. This is the first time the Philippines has won Miss Intercontinental so I am very happy I could do this for the Philippines. I am speechless. I can’t stop smiling. I am just so grateful,” she said in an interview after her coronation at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Gallman thanked her supporters via her Instagram account and also dedicated her crown to the Philippines.
With her Miss Intercontinental win, Gallman hopes to be a great role model for young women. She added that she wants to be voice for those that cannot be heard and would like to be an inspiration to others. Like current Miss Universe winner, Catriona Gray, one of Karen Gallman’s main goals is to fight for better education for children living in poverty and are from the rural areas of the Philippines.
Filipino singer and actor Marc Dela Cruz makes history by becoming the first Filipino to play Hamilton on Broadway. Born in Hawaii, the Filipino Japanese star made his Broadway debut in 2014 playing Swing in “If/Then” and joined the cast of Hamilton in 2018 playing various roles which included King George, General Philip Hamilton, Tennessee Congressman James Reynolds and more.
Filipino American filmmaker Bobby Rubio confirmed on his social media accounts that he will be writing and directing a short film titled “Float” as part of Disney-Pixar’s Sparksshorts program which is described as “an experimental storytelling initiative that welcomes new creative voices at Pixar Animation Studios to share their stories.”
“Float” follows the story of a father, who upon discovering that his son floats, decides to hide him from the outside world to keep him safe from the judgement. But when the public learns of his son’s ability, the father must decide to either run, hide, or accept his son as he is.
In response to a tweet, Rubio acknowledged that the characters in his film are indeed Filipino.
He also stated “I am proud to tell our stories. I know what it means to see our culture represented on screen! #RepresentationMatters.”
Joining Rubio in the Sparkshorts program is Edwin Chang and his short “Wind” which is described as a “magical realism story about a Grandma and a Grandson trapped in a massive, never ending sinkhole, living on a large boulder suspended by strong winds. Together they scavenge falling debris to build an escape, hoping to find a better life in the outside world.”
Filmmaker Rosana Sullivan whose maternal family is from Malaysia where several of her stories are inspired from, will also join Chang and Rubio with her short “Kitbull” which tells the story of an unlikely relationship between a stray kitten and pitbull.
Other shorts joining the program include “Purl” written/directed by Kristen Lester, “Loop”, written/directed by Erica Milsom, and “Smash and Grab” written/directed by BrianLarsen.
Jim Morris, the President of Pixar Animation Studios said in a statement,
“The Sparkshorts program is designed to discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows. These films are unlike anything we’ve ever done at Pixar, providing an opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale than our normal fare.”
“Kibtull,””Smash and Grab” and “Purl” will premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood starting on January 18th for an exclusive one-week run. They will then be available on YouTube next month – “Purl” (Feb 4th), “Smash and Grab” (Feb 11), and “Kitbull” (Feb 18).
The rest of the films have no release dates yet.
All of the Sparkshorts selected shorts will be available on Disney+, the upcoming Disney streaming service which is scheduled to launch later this year.
Filipino Australian Catriona Gray started her 2019 Miss Universe media tour in New York yesterday making numerous television appearances including Good Morning America and Live with Kelly and Ryan. Appearing nothing short of beautiful inside and out, Gray spoke to host Ginger Zee about her mother’s premonition that she would win Miss Universe in a red gown, her talents as a singer and of course, her advocacy in helping children from impoverished areas, including working with an organization in the Philippines called, Young Focus Philippines. At the end of the interview Zee was definitely impressed, saying “Well, obviously you’re perfect, and that’s why you won Miss Universe!”
Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest welcomed Catriona Gray with open arms and also took the time to greet Gray a happy birthday, asking what she did to celebrate, as well as talk about her upbringing in the Philippines and moving to New York only 4 days ago which prompted Kelly Ripa to ask Gray what she thought about winter, and if she has a coat.
Gray confessed to going out with at least a minimum of 3 layers and jokingly said she sometimes looks like a siopao when she goes out. See Catriona Gray’s interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan below.
Lea Salonga, along with her Once on This Island cast received a Grammy nomination (Best Musical Theater Album category) for their cast album. This is the first Grammy nomination for Salonga who was in disbelief. She admitted in a tweet that she had to visit grammy.com to verify the news.
In the Broadway musical Once on This Island, Salonga plays Erzulie, the goddess of love. The musical follows the story of a peasant girl and a French descended nobleman and the gods that watch over them.
Joining the Once on This Island cast under the Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album category include albums of The Band’s Visit, Carousel, My Fair Lady and Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards will take place on February 10th 2019 at the Staples Center.
The 2019 Golden Globe nominations were announced live this morning from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. As expected, Sandra Oh received a Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama nomination for her role in Killing Eve. It’s been a wonderful 2018 for the actress who made history this year as the “first woman of Asian descent to be nominated for best lead actress in a drama series” for her work on the BBC America show Killing Eve. Previously, Oh received 5 Emmy nominations for best supporting actress in a drama series while playing Dr. Cristina Yang on ABC’s hit drama Grey’s Anatomy. She will also co-host the 2019 Golden Globes with comedian and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Andy Samberg.
Filipino American Singer and Emmy winning actor Darren Criss also received a (Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television) nomination for his role as Andrew Cunanan in The Assasination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. The FX Show also received a nomination for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and will be going up against TNT’s The Alienist, Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora, HBO’s Sharp Objects and Amazon’s A Very English Scandal. Criss’ costars Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez were also recognized for their work.
NBC’s The Good Place which stars Kristin Bell, Ted Danson, Jameela Jamil and Filipino born Canadian actor Manny Jacinto also received a nomination for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
On the big screen, the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians received a Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy nod with Constance Wu also being recognized with a Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy nomination for her lead role in the film.
The animated movie Mirai was honored with a Best Motion Picture - Animated nomination. Mirai tells the story of a boy who runs away from home because he feels forgotten when his little sister Mirai joins his family. He encounters an enchanted garden where he meets a teenage Mirai and they enter a world of wonder, meeting characters from their past and future as they uncover their beautiful family’s story. Featuring the voices of John Cho and Daniel Dae Kim, Mirai is the 10th highest grossing Japanese film in 2018 (according to Wikipedia).
Another Japanese film, Shoplifters also received a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language. According to Wikipedia, Shoplifters is the 4th highest grossing Japanese film of 2018. Upon receiving the Golden Globe nomination, Director Hirokazu Kore-eda said, “Thanks to many people’s help, Shoplifters has spread its wings farther and farther since the Cannes Film Festival in May. As it is my first nomination for Golden Globe Awards, I am looking forward to being a part of this new experience. My thanks to the Hollywood Foreign Press.”
Shoplifters won the Palm d’Or at the 2018 Cannes International Film Festival.
Filipino American Cinematographer and Academy Award nominee Matthew Libatique was the man behind the camera lens for A Star Is Born which received a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Drama. Libatique also made a couple of cameos in the film. In addition, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper received nominations for Best Actress and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. Cooper also received a Best Director – Motion Picture for the project.
The 2019 Golden Globes will air live on NBC Sunday, January 6th.
For a complete list of the nominees, you can click here
Director PJ Raval’s documentary “Call Her Ganda” will be released in select theaters in Los Angeles on September 28 and in San Francisco on October 5th, followed by a national release through Breaking Glass Pictures.
The documentary is centered on Jennifer Laude, a 26 year old transgender and alleged sex worker who was found dead with her head plunged into a motel room toilet. Joseph Scott Pemberton, a 19 year old U.S. Marine was identified as the suspect. While on “liberty leave” Pemberton approaches Jennifer at a club and after discovering that Jennifer is a transgender, he brutally murders her. Her body is found by her friend and the motel receptionist. The film follows three women from different backgrounds, brought together through their united desire for justice. Virgie Suarez an activist attorney, Meredith Talusan a transgender journalist, and Jennifer’s mother Julita “Nanay” Laude.
“Amidst a media storm and police inquiry, as Jennifer’s family copes with their loss, three women intimately invested in the case, pursue justice—taking on hardened histories of U.S. imperial rule that have allowed previous American perpetrators to evade consequence: An activist attorney, Virgie Suarez, who labors to reveal the truth of Jennifer’s death from inside the courtroom, despite strategic silences and sly legal maneuvers from Pemberton’s defense team. A transgender investigative journalist, Meredith Talusan, who is determined to bring international attention to the case, writing sharp, in-the-fray essays for VICE, The Guardian and Buzzfeed. And Jennifer’s normally reserved mother, Julita, who finds herself at the effective center of a political uprising, inciting fellow protesters with a tenacious voice she never knew existed.”
For more information on the film, you can head to www.callherganda.com
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach will be the first Filipino to have a wax figure in Madame Tussauds Hong Kong in early 2019.
According to a press statement, Madame Tussauds General Manager Jenny You stated, “This is our way to showing the Filipino community living and visiting Hong Kong as well as our neighbor SEA cities that we heard them well. With Pia’s sweet, positive and fun personality, we really could not have imagined having anyone but her to represent the Philippines…”
Pia announced the news on her birthday, via her Instagram page (above).
West Covina’s The Lab took home 1 million dollars after winning NBC’s World of Dance. Second time’s a charm for the team who first made their appearance on the NBC show in Season 1, becoming the highest scoring Junior Team. After being sent home last season, they were determined to come back and clench the title in season 2 of the reality show competition.
In round one of the season finale, The Lab’s performance to Missy Elliott’s “Work It” placed them in first with Ne-Yo describing it as a “million dollar performance”. In the second round, The Lab switched up their full choreography high energy moves with an emotional, moving and thought provoking dance to John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.”
Their touching performance left Jennifer Lopez and most of the audience in tears. Derek Hough called them “warriors of light” and Ne-Yo wished that his kids saw their performance, stating “I wish my kids were here to see that just now. I wish they were. I want my children to be inspired by this, and I know that they will. It’s going to touch them the way it touched me.”
Describing their heart wrenching performance, The Lab expressed, “Our message is about love, and we don’t receive enough of it in the world. Our plan is to make the world a better place.”
18 year old Fil-Am dancer and Anaheim Hills local Hannahlei Cabanilla was crowned winner of Season 15’s So You Think You Can Dance.
This year’s prize includes $250,000 in cash which Cabanilla says she will use to take her parents on a vacation to Greece to thank them for all of their support. She will also grace the cover of Dance Spirit Magazine and will have a special role in the upcoming live adaption of Rent which is scheduled to air on Fox in 2019.
Hannahlei Cabanilla started dancing when she was just 2 years old and studied dance at the Orange County Performing Arts Academy in Anaheim. She is currently majoring in dance at UC Irvine. One of her lifelong dreams has been to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance” once she turned 18.
Kelsey Merritt will be the first Filipina model to walk the runway at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show happening later this year. 21 year old Merritt is no stranger to posing for Victoria’s Secret. This past May she booked her first shoot with the popular lingerie company for their active wear line.
Merritt, who was born in the Philippines and graduated last year from Ateneo De Manila University with a BA in Communications juggled going to college in the Philippines and modeling around the world for several years. Upon receiving her degree last Summer, on May 2017 she posted on her Instagram account:
“God knows how hard it was to constantly fly back and forth New York and London while still in school. I had to miss classes, but still make sure that I was on top of everything. At the same time, I had no right to complain I was having a hard time because I was blessed with work. I was living my dream! People often ask me how I managed to do it, and all I say is that as long as you have your priorities straight and manage your time well, then it really can be done.”
Kelsey Merritt’s other modeling credits include projects with Maybelline, Uniqlo, Kashieca, Palmolive and Vera Wang’s White Bridal Collection.
Although Merritt will be the first Filipina model to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show runway, Janine Tugonon became the first Filipino to be featured in a Victoria’s Secret promotional material when she appeared in the VS Pink Line. However, Tugonon did not make the cut to appear in the 2016 fashion show.
The award winning short, “Diwa” will make a world premiere at the 21st Dances with Films screening on Saturday, June 9th at 5pm, at the historic TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood. Dances with Films is an annual Academy Awards qualifying festival.
Filipina actress and filmmaker Aina Dumlao stars in the award winning short film, “Diwa” which centers around a young undocumented immigrant by the same name. Diwa comes to America in search of a better life and to help her family in the Philippines, the most popular way, sending money back home.
As is most often the case, life isn’t always greener on the other side and Diwa faces the harsh reality of living in America as an immigrant who becomes exploited by her employer and then falls victim to a broken immigration system.
Aina Dumlao and her business partner (Undercurrent Films) and husband, Bru Muller both share directing, writing and producing credits for this beautifully told film. Dumlao was initially inspired to write “Diwa” by her uncle who spent over 3 decades as an overseas worker and barely saw his own family. When his wife passes away from cancer, he is out at sea, working to pay for their mounting medical bills. Aina hopes that “Diwa” will “give voice to the hopes, dreams and struggles of the millions of undocumented immigrants who come to America, desperate to carve out better lives for themselves and their loved ones.”
Aina Dumlao is compelling as Diwa. In the first three minutes of the film, without any dialogue, she transports you into Diwa’s heavily burdened life which is full of frustration, internal and external struggles and exhaustion. The cinematography beautifully captures the spirit of the film and the music was absolutely moving.
"Diwa" also stars Leslie Thurston, Maria Pallas, Seli M. Rose, Shaw Jones, Jeremy Andorfer-Lopez and Eddie Martinez.
You can show your support by attending the screening. For more information, you can head to www.mynameisdiwa.com
Check out my personal thoughts on the film here
Here's a look at the trailer:
Netflix has announced that Brillante Mendoza’s drug war drama “Amo” will be available through their streaming service starting April 9th becoming the first Philippine Series to air on the popular on demand service.
“Amo” is a 12 part miniseries that tackles the controversial drug war in the Philippines and follows the lives of many who are affected by drug trafficking – including the government, drug dealers, and corrupt police officers.
Actor Vince Rillon plays high school student Joseph, a small time crystal meth dealer whose life is made complicated after his dealings in the drug world, while veteran actor Derek Ramsay, plays a policeman trying to keep the streets clean. “Amo” also stars Allen Dizon, Felix Roco, Archie Adamos, and Baron Geisler.
According to Robert Roy, the VP of Content Acquisition at Netflix, “AMO is a bold and suspenseful show that has the potential of capturing thrill-seeking audiences worldwide.” Roy also added “We are always seeking to work with passionate, talented storytellers like Mendoza, to bring premium content to Netflix’s 117 million members around the world.”
“Amo” was produced by TV5 and TV5 President & CEO Chot Reyes said in a statement, “We are excited to finally be able to share AMO with everyone. Brillante has done a beautiful job in bringing paper to life, and the show’s acquisition provides an additional platform to help share the first-ever Filipino series on Netflix to a worldwide audience.”
Brillante Mendoza is no stranger to garnering positive reviews for his work. Many of his films have premiered at numerous legendary film festivals including Cannes, Berlin International Film Festival, and Venice International. Among his awards are the Best Director award for his film, “Kinatay” at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival as well as receiving the Best Film award for the 2009 movie “Lola” at the 6th Dubai International Film Festival. His past movie credits include Thy Womb, Captive, Ma’Rosa, Serbis and Taklub.
For more on Brillante Mendoza and his work, you can head to http://brillantemamendoza.com/