“Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network Builds Heat With Young Latinos”

“For the first year of its on-air life, the El Rey Network has been about as DIY as any microbudget indie movie ever was, an apt trait, given the net’s origins.

Comcast gave filmmaker Robert Rodriguez a distribution commitment for the channel in the spring of 2013; El Rey snuck on the air with a soft launch in December, after Univision came onboard as a financing and operational partner. The Austin-based filmmaker and his team at FactoryMade Ventures effected some quick hires, and bought up as much programming as they could find — and afford — that focused on Rodriguez’s love for genre pics, 1970s pop culture (think “Starsky & Hutch”) and other cool stuff that would appeal to movie- and TV-loving millennials, particularly U.S.-born Hispanics.

Rodriguez also reached out to friends including Quentin Tarantino and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to get a handful of original series off the ground quickly. (The launch timing was dictated by Comcast’s obligation to carry multiple minority-owned channels, per the terms of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal.)

Now that they’ve made it through year one, Rodriguez and Co. are expanding the programming to include a broader range of original fare and fan-friendly ideas, such as the People’s Network initiative, which solicits material directly from viewers…”


“Why Ava DuVernay joining Marvel would be a big step forward”

“As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) encourages federal and state agencies to look into the lack of female directors working in Hollywood, Marvel Studios is reportedly considering hiring “Selma” director Ava DuVernay to head up one of their films.

According to the New York Times, the ACLU asked the agencies to examine how the hiring for TV networks, movie studios, and talent agencies occurs. “Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed,” Melissa Goodman, director of the L.G.B.T., Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the A.C.L.U. of Southern California, told the Times.

Kathryn Bigelow is still the only woman to have won the Best Director Oscar, which she received in 2010 for her film “The Hurt Locker…

As for DuVernay possibly coming on board at Marvel, a woman has never directed a film released by Marvel Studios…”


“Hollywood Accused of Gender Bias in Hiring Female Directors”

“The ACLU is asking federal and California civil rights agencies to investigate what it calls “the systemic failure” to hire female directors in the entertainment industry.

The ACLU of Southern California and the national ACLU Women’s Rights Project said Tuesday they were moved to act after compiling statistical evidence of “dramatic disparities” in the hiring of women as film and television directors. This was bolstered, they said, by anecdotal accounts from more than 50 female directors.

“Hearing such an outcry about it, and when it’s backed up with statistics, it’s a pretty solid sign there’s discrimination going on,” Ariela Migdal, a senior attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, said in an interview Tuesday.

Fewer women are working as directors today than two decades ago, according to the ACLU. It cites research that shows women represented only 7 percent of directors on the 250 top-grossing movies last year. That is 2 percentage points lower than in 1998…”


“Hasbro and IDW Creating All-Female Transformers Team”

“Fresh off confirming plans for a shared Transformers universe, Hasbro has now revealed that it is working with IDW Publishing to craft an all-female Transformers team.

The news broke via USA Today that the team will consist of six new female Autobots who join to form new “Combiner” character, Victorion. Expect the group to appear first in comics with July’s Transformers: Combiner Hunters miniseries, with Hasbro debuting a toy line sometime later this year…”


“Furious 7 and diversity: Why Hollywood needs to catch up with reality”

“Vin Diesel still recalls the bad old days of street-race apartheid. In 2001, his breakthrough movie, The Fast and the Furious, powered into multiplexes featuring separate but equal factions of outlaw hot-rodders from across the racial divide—glowering Latino gearheads, African-American wheelmen with cornrowed hair, a pack of Asian “tuners” known as the Little Saigon crew—all competing for drag-strip primacy in late-night L.A.

“There were cliques not totally unlike The Warriors or other gang movies,” says Diesel. “It was segregated in its own way while still trying to incorporate a multicultural theme.”

But over the franchise’s transformation into one of the highest-grossing series of all time, boundary lines of turf and skin color have become increasingly blurred. By the fourth installment, 2009’s Fast & Furious, members of those factions had banded together to form a United Nations-like “family” of scofflaw speed demons, including an ass-kicking Latina (Michelle Rodriguez), a Korean-American cool guy (Sung Kang), a golden-boy cop-turned-criminal (Paul Walker), and Diesel’s own ethnically ambiguous, chrome-domed dragster Dom Toretto.

At last, here was a cast that reflected the reality of our country’s racial makeup: 37 percent of Americans now identify as nonwhite, and the U.S. Census Bureau projects a “majority-minority” population in 2043. The importance of the Furiousmovies’ multiethnic ethos is not lost on Diesel, who is gearing up for Furious 7, in theaters April 3.

“It doesn’t matter what nationality you are.  As a member of the audience, you realize you can be a member of that ‘family,’” he says. “That’s the beautiful thing about how the franchise has evolved…”


“Grandmaster Flash Close To The Edge In Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Get Down’”

“Hip-hop icon Grandmaster Flash is set as an associate producer and adviser on The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Netflix series about the 1970 NYC music scene and the birth of rap.

“I can’t tell you just how much joy and great spirit we are getting from working with some of the founding fathers of the form,” Luhrmann said in a statement. “Not only in music, dance and graffiti but the culture of the time in general. The whole team is absolutely thrilled to have Grandmaster Flash on board…”


“Meet the Class: Who Are Fox’s ‘New Mutants’?”

“News that Josh Boone will develop New Mutants for Fox will likely raise some questions from comic book fans and non-comic readers alike. From the former, how will this connect with the previously-announced X-Force movie, as — in comic book lore — the New Mutants became X-Force? From the latter, a more basic question: who are the New Mutants anyway?

The answer to that last question comes in two forms. The real-world answer is that New Mutants was Marvel’s first attempt to expand its successful X-Men franchise beyond the main comic book series; written by then-X-Men author Chris Claremont with art by Bob McLeod and, later, Bill Sienkiewicz, the 1983 series revived the original concept behind the X-Men by giving Professor Xavier a new class of super-powered students to teach.

Unlike the original X-Men, however, New Mutants went far beyond mostly-privileged white Americans for its lineup. Indeed, of its original roster, only one of the New Mutants conformed to what was still the superhero norm; alongside Sam Guthrie (Cannonball), there was the native American Danielle Moonstar (Mirage), Xia’n Coy Manh (Karma) from Vietnam, Roberto da Costa (Sunspot) from Brazil and Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), a werewolf from Scotland.

The international nature of the team continued when Amara Aquilla (Magma), who’d been raised in a secret society based on ancient Rome, and Illyana Rasputin (Magik), the little sister of the X-Men’s Colossus, became the first new recruits to the team within two years of the series’ launch…”