The three amigos Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón have been named the most powerful Latinos in Hollywood followed by El Gossiper…we wish.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Salma Hayek is number four, Jennifer Lopez is number ten, and Eva Longoria is number 31. Check out the full list after the jump.
Congrats to these successful Latinos representing very well!
Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo del Toro
They are three of the most original and powerful filmmakers working today, with a brand-new $100 million deal and the ability to get other helmers’ projects off the ground. In May, when the three Mexican writer-director-producers (nicknamed the Three Amigos because of their ongoing friendship) signed their five-picture pact with Universal and Focus Features, it showed just how far Latino filmmakers have come. Now, their commitment to doing it their way — making both Spanish- and English-language films across all genres — is raising the bar for other Latino filmmakers, who will have a tough act to follow. The Amigos — often working together or advising on one another’s movies — have an enviable track record that includes such films as 2001′s “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” 2004′s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and 2006′s “Children of Men” from Cuaron; 2000′s “Amores Perros” and 2006′s “Babel” from Inarritu; and 2004′s “Hellboy” and 2006′s “Pan’s Labyrinth” from del Toro. Nowhere was their impact more clear than at this year’s Academy Awards, where they drew multiple nominations, even if none walked away with the best picture Oscar. Now, Hollywood’s powers that be want a stake in their films the next time around.
(President, CBS Entertainment)
She’s the highest-ranking Latina in network television and one of the few executives who has the power to greenlight series. In the three years since she was named president of CBS Entertainment, the half-Puerto Rican, half-Jewish Tassler has developed a reputation as a tough, smart manager who has steered a safe course to keep the network at its present level. A longtime development executive who spent years at Warner Bros. Television before joining the eye network, she helped steer shows such as “Without a Trace” and the “CSI” franchise, procedural dramas that pushed CBS to the top of primetime.
The Weinstein Co.’s “Grindhouse” might have been a flop, but with credits such as the “Spy Kids” franchise and 2005′s “Sin City,” Rodriguez has earned a razzle-dazzle reputation that hasn’t been hurt by his proximity to Quentin Tarantino. One of the few homegrown Latino directors whose name appears above film titles, Rodriguez is at the opposite end of the filmmaking spectrum from fellow filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu: Rodriguez believes in mainstream, pop culture vehicles. But that’s made him even more appealing to executives, who were falling over themselves to secure the director’s services after “Grindhouse.” Despite talk that he might make a live-action version of “The Jetsons,” Rodriguez opted instead for an updated take on 1968′s “Barbarella,” which Universal is slated to release in 2008.
Casual observers might once have re-garded Hayek as simply an aspiring starlet from Mexico. Not anymore. As an executive producer of ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” she has just signed brand-spanking-new development deals with both MGM and ABC Studios and is launching into a whole new producing career. Cementing the force-of-nature reputation she earned when, by sheer will power, she turned 2002′s “Frida,” her cherished Frida Kahlo biopic, into a reality, she and her business partner, Jose Tamez, are now developing material for ABC and producing two to four movies per year for MGM that either draw on Latin themes or feature Latin talent.
Armando Nunez Jr.
(President, CBS Paramount International Television)
One of the most prominent executives on the international side of the television business, Nunez was named to head up a joint venture between CBS Broadcast International and Paramount International Television in August 2004. In his post, he oversees all international sales, distribution and marketing for programming from King World, CBS News and CBS Paramount Tele-vision, along with Hollywood’s largest library of television product. He also handles the licensing of such franchises as “America’s Next Top Model.” A 20-year veteran of the international television business, the New York native serves on the board of NATPE and Pepperdine University’s business school.
(President, NBC Universal International Tele-vision Distribution)
One of the leading lights in the international television world, Menendez is responsible for all TV sales and licensing of NBC Universal’s vast film and television library, three years after being named president of its international sales operation. The executive knows the international scene well: A graduate of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, she also spent many years in Paris working for Studio Canal prior to joining Universal in 2001.
(CEO, Arenas Entertainment)
As one of the key Latino marketing executives in Hollywood, Pozo is a go-to guy for studios and independent filmmakers seeking to market their product to Hispanic audiences within the United States — including Universal’s “Evan Almighty,” “Illegal Tender” and “Knocked Up.” In the two decades since he founded Arenas, the native of Spain has worked on the marketing campaigns for more than 300 pictures, including 2001′s “Shrek” and 2005′s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “King Kong” and “War of the Worlds.” He has also expanded into film producing, with the 2002 crime drama “Empire,” the 2003 Antonio Banderas-Emma Thompson drama, “Imagining Argentina” and Emilio Estevez’s skit-based “Culture Clash in AmeriCCa” (2005).
(Agent, Creative Artists Agency)
During his 16 years at Creative Artists Agency, Nunez has become perhaps the best-known Latino agent in the business. A specialist in putting together large-scale independent and international financing deals, he also has helped guide the careers of clients such as Antonio Banderas (who has been with him for 17 years), Penelope Cruz and Gloria Estefan. Nunez also is active in many Latin media organizations, serving on the advisory board of the District of Columbia’s Hispanic Heritage Foundation and as a council member of New York City’s Latin Media & Entertainment Commission.
(Founder of SiTV and co-chairman of Maya Entertainment)
Once dubbed the Ed Sullivan of Latino entertainment by the Los Angeles Times, Valdez is a former stand-up comedian and comedy club owner who gave up performing to develop English-language programming starring his Latino peers — most notably through his SiTV productions. At SiTV, he produced such well-known shows as “Cafe Ole with Giselle Fernandez” and Nickelodeon’s “The Brothers Garcia.” Three years ago, he launched the United States’ first English-language, Latino-themed cable channel, also called SiTV. Now, Valdez is about to expand into film production and has partnered with producer Moctesuma Esparza to become co-chairman of his Maya Entertainment.
She’s a movie star, a Grammy Award-nominated singer, a producer and a fashion icon — not to mention the head of her own multimillion-dollar empire. True, Lopez’s movie career has been in B-flat since 2003′s terminally terrible “Gigli.” But she has more clout on camera and behind the scenes than any other Latino — or Latina — in Hollywood. The onetime Fly Girl’s savvy will be tested this summer when she stars in two new movies, ThinkFilm’s “Bordertown” and Picturehouse’s “El Cantante” (both of which she also produced), but they’re proof that projects can and do get made thanks to her name alone.
Even though Esparza has built a reputation as the most prominent Latino feature-film producer in Hollywood — working with the likes of Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez — what makes his work so distinctive is that he has never forgotten his roots. The son of a farm worker whose father came to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution, Esparza has dealt with social and Latin themes in projects from 1982′s “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” 1988′s “The Milagro Beanfield War” and 1997′s “Selena.” A prominent activist who serves as a trustee of the American Film Institute, he also co-chairs the Marathon Club, an organization that raises money for minority-owned businesses. The Emmy winner and Oscar nominee continued to shed light on the Latino experience with his 2006 HBO film, “Walkout,” drawing on real-life events that took place in 1968, when Latino high school students in East Los Angeles walked out of class to protest inequality in education — events that Esparza himself took part in as a UCLA student organizer.
Four years after being named head of William Morris Agency’s Miami Beach office, Mateu is spearheading the company’s move to establish bonds with Latin American and Latin talent. Nowhere did that effort reap clearer benefits than with “Ugly Betty,” the American version of
Colombian television series “Betty la Fea” that Mateu packaged and sold to ABC. He also has produced the South Beach Comedy Festival and serves on the
Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council, one of many organizations he’s involved with. Now, Mateu, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, who started out working in the agency’s mailroom, is developing a host of projects in film, television, music and publishing.
Lopez’s self-titled sitcom — the first major primetime hit to be named after a Latin star — might have been canceled this past spring, but that hasn’t stopped him from forging ahead with a host of projects. Based in new offices on the Warner Bros. lot, where he has a deal to produce and star in films, he also is about to topline Rogue Pictures’ summer release “Balls of Fury” and his HBO stand-up
special, “America’s Mexican,” was just released on DVD. Along the way, Lopez has sold out the Gibson Amphitheatre, earned a Grammy nomination for his comedy album “Team Leader” and published a best-selling autobiography (“Why You Crying?”) — not to mention five seasons of his sitcom, which he also executive produced.
(Founder and CEO, VOY)
As the founder of VOY, a two-year-old digital media startup that specializes in reaching second- and third-generation Latinos, the Uraguay-born Fernando Espuelas — a longtime marketing executive — is at the cutting edge of targeting predominantly English-speaking young Latinos. Prior to launching VOY, which delivers original and library programming to computers and mobile phones, Espuelas created the $4 billion StarMedia, the first Spanish- and Portuguese-language Internet portal that, at one time, was the seventh largest Web site in the world. With online chat forums, text messaging, customized radio stations and an upcoming reality series, Espuelas hopes VOY will reach the 16 million Hispanics online in the United States.
(Co-founder and CEO, Next New Networks)
The half-Puerto Rican Scannell might be best known for his long stint as vice chairman of MTV Networks and president of Nickelodeon, but now he’s the brains and brawn behind a brand-new venture, Next New Networks. The New York-based company, which opened its doors in March, aims to create online “micro-television” networks for niche audiences — such as Pulp Secret, for comic book enthusiasts, and two other networks it has started for car buffs. Next aims to create 101 such micro-television networks over the next five years, with initial funding of $8 million.
(General manager, MTV Tr3s)
As general manager of mtv’s brand-new, bilingual, youth-oriented network, MTV Tr3s, Lucia Ballas-Traynor brings a rare passion to the job she always felt she should be doing — running a network aimed at English- and Spanish-speaking youths, the very kind of person she was when she left her native Chile as a child and moved to the U.S. A veteran when it comes to marketing to the Latino audience, Ballas-Traynor started her career in Hispanic television at Univision 20 years ago, then segued to Mas magazine, which she left in 1994 to join Galavision, eventually becoming its general manager. She joined MTV two years ago.
(Agent, United Talent Agency)
As head of UTA’s three-year-old Latin talent division, New York-born Carreras has drawn on his own background as a singer and dancer to help identify the talent of tomorrow. He’s brought Latin stars like Mexico’s Ana Claudia Talancon (New Line’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”) and Ana de la Reguera (2006′s “Nacho Libre”) into the agency and has been very involved with other key UTA clients including actor Wilmer Valderrama, writer Guillermo Arriaga and actress Roselyn Sanchez. At the same time, he has been developing a client base that includes several influential companies like Mexican production entity Bitamina and Miami-based management giant Latin World Entertainment. Not bad for a guy who just a few years ago was playing Herod in a Broadway revival of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
(President, Reyes Entertainment)
Reyes knew something was seriously wrong with the way Latinos were portrayed in Hollywood from his early days as an actor, playing stereotypical roles such as matadors and waiters. In his current incarnation as a marketing kingpin, Reyes has been doing everything to set that straight. Today, he is one of the key advisers that studios and producers turn to in order to reach the Latino audience, an award-winning executive who has helped fashion campaigns for everything from the movies “Spanglish” (2004) and ThinkFilm’s “Bordertown” to the CBS soap “The Bold and the Beautiful.” He also joined Edward James Olmos in founding the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival in 1996 and was a longtime publicist for
(General manager, mun2)
An Emmy-nominated producer and director who was one of the founders of MTV Networks Latin America, Pels now runs day-to-day operations for the bilingual network mun2 (pronounced “moon dos”), the NBC Universal-owned cable TV station aimed at young Latinos in the United States. Under Pels’ guidance, the network has experienced 15 months of consecutive year-to-year ratings growth. Mun2, which began as a music channel in 2001, was transformed into a network with a slate of original programming that appeals to a younger bilingual audience and has also begun producing award-winning documentaries such as 2006′s Peabody Award-winning “For My Country? Latinos in the Military.”
Not since 1981′s “Pixote” from Hector Babenco has a Brazilian helmer made the kind of international splash that Meirelles did with 2002′s “City of God,” his vibrant, chaotic exploration of life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Any doubts about Meirelles’ contribution to the picture (which arose when his co-director, Katia Lund, made a fuss about being overlooked) were erased with his follow-up film, 2005′s “The Constant Gardener,” which reworked a somewhat conventional John le Carre thriller into a meditation on love, life and death. Now, Meirelles is moving ahead with an even more challenging drama, Focus Features’ “Blindness,” adapted from Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago’s novel about a city afflicted with a plague that causes everyone except one person to lose their sight.
Emilio Diez Barroso
(Chairman, NALA Investments)
As chairman of NALA Investments, Harvard grad Barroso has his finger in a panoply of media companies, from its wholly owned subsidiary, NALA Films (which finances three to five features per year) to digital media venture VOY (which he co-founded) to Summit Entertainment, where he serves as a board member. And the financier’s reach goes even deeper than that: He’s also a member of the family that created two Spanish-language media giants, Televisa and Univision.
(Agent, Creative Artists Agency)
The founder of Latina magazine and an executive producer of James L. Brooks’ “Spanglish” (2004), Haubegger has been an agent at CAA for the past four years, where her savvy about the Hispanic world has been invaluable both to the agency and its clients. A powerful force for Latinos in the industry at large, Haubegger also compiles “The Latino Intelligence Report” — an on-going study about the Latino audience for the CAA-owned market research company, the Intelligence Group — which she has presented to network and studio chiefs. A Stanford MBA, she is currently helping build strategic enterprises for CAA clients such as Salma Hayek and George Lopez.
(President, Andale Pictures)
A veteran of the international sales scene, Aguero made his reputation packaging and selling indie films, serving as a key executive at Trimark Pictures before joining Endeavor to set up its indie-international division. Now, the Yale graduate is moving forward with films he is producing through his own company, Andale Pictures, specifically geared toward creating entertainment with a Latino protagonist or theme for a broad audience. Among current and upcoming projects: Warner Bros. Pictures’ Catherine Zeta-Jones/Aaron Eckhart romantic comedy “No Reservations,” which opens today; and developing “Queen of the South” for Warner Independent Pictures.
(President and founder, the Imagen Foundation)
For the past TWO decades, Hernandez has been a pivotal player in the Latino world as executive producer of the annual Imagen Awards, designed to encourage the positive portrayal of Latinos in the media. And as president of the Imagen Foundation, which she co-founded with Norman Lear in 1985, she does a lot more — helping Latinos in entertainment through advice, resources, community workshops and even an annual job fair in Pasadena. Honored with a congressional commendation in 2004, she also serves on the boards of Latino Public Broadcasting and Workplace Hollywood.
With his upcoming feature adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” for United Artists, Brazilian director Salles is about to see if a Latino filmmaker can turn a classic American novel into a celluloid reality. Whether or not he pulls it off, Salles already has earned his stripes as one of the most compelling helmers working inside and outside Hollywood. While his 2005 studio venture, “Dark Water,” flopped, Salles’ credentials have been clear since the 1998 drama “Central Station” and 2004′s “The Motorcycle Diaries,” a film about the voyage of a young Che Guevara across South America that was adored by most critics, even as they questioned his somewhat sanguine view of Guevara himself.
If any single writer most clearly defines the new Mexican cinema, it’s Arriaga, who has made such a name for himself that he is often spoken of as the co-auteur of films such as 2000′s “Amores Perros,” 2003′s “21 Grams” and 2006′s “Babel.” But Arriaga — famous for his fractured narratives, ensemble stories and intellectually challenging themes — has done more than co-script the films of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu; he’s also worked with other prominent artists including Tommy Lee Jones and Marc Forster, who will next helm Arriaga’s AIDS-themed screenplay, “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” starring Brad Pitt. He also just inked a deal to direct his first film, “The Burning Plain.”
Echevarria is a force behind not one but two major primetime series: NBC’s “Medium,” which he has executive produced for the past three years, and USA Networks’ “The 4400.” Those shows have made him one to be reckoned with in television, but Echevarria remains a writer’s writer: The Duke University graduate worked on many productions for Circle Repertory Lab and La Mama Theater Company in New York — and even saw his play “Prepared” performed at the Edinburgh Festival — before entering TV as a scribe on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
How talented is Lubezki? So talented that the late, great cinema-tographer Conrad Hall offered to do some second-unit work on 1999′s “Sleepy Hollow” just to learn from him. A regular collaborator with major Latino helmers such as his university classmate Alfonso Cuaron (1995′s “A Little Princess,” 2001′s “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and 2006′s “Children of Men,” for which Lubezki received an Oscar nom-ination) and Alfonso Arau (whose 1992 film, “Like Water for Chocolate,” propelled Lubezki to fame), the Mexican cinematographer also has become a top Hollywood player, with credits from 1996′s “The Birdcage” and 2001′s “Ali” to 2005′s “The New World.” Most recently, he was one of 12 directors of photography on Paramount Vantage’s upcoming Rolling Stones documentary, “Shine a Light,” from director Martin Scorsese.
When Navarro won an Oscar for his stunning work on 2006′s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” no one was surprised. Navarro is one of the few Mexican cinematographers who are proving that Latinos can be just as important below the line as above the line. He’s made that clear in big Hollywood films like 1999′s “Stuart Little” and 2006′s “Night at the Museum.” But it’s his ongoing collaborations with Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro that have most marked his career. He has worked with Rodriguez ever since the helmer’s 1995 efforts, “Four Rooms” and “Desperado,” and he has been director of photography on all of del Toro’s major films, from 1993′s “Cronos” to 2001′s “The Devil’s Backbone” to 2004′s “Hellboy” to “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Next up: Another teaming with del Toro on Universal’s upcoming “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.”
If Guillermo Arriaga has become the quint-essential writer of the current Latin cinema, Santaolalla has become its quintessential composer. The Argentina-born singer-musician was only the third composer in history to win back-to-back original score Oscars (for 2005′s “Brokeback Mountain” and 2006′s “Babel”). His work has been marked by an ongoing collaboration with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (2000′s “Amores Perros,” 2003′s “21 Grams,” 2006′s “Babel”), but he has formed strong ties with a host of other prominent filmmakers, including Latinos such as Walter Salles (2004′s “The Motorcycle Diaries” and United Artists’ upcoming Jack Kerouac adaptation, “On the Road”), Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”) and Michael Mann (1999′s “The Insider,” 2004′s “Collateral”).
Everyone Recognizes Longoria as one of the stars of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” but she’s also a producer and philanthropist who has been active on behalf of a variety of Latino causes. In addition to hosting and producing June’s National Council of La Raza ALMA Awards for the second year in a row, she is the national spokesperson for Padres Contra el Cancer, a nonprofit that assists Latino children with cancer. She has raised $1 million for the organization over the past year and donated her salary from an episode of “Housewives.” She also works closely with the Special Olympics and founded “Eva’s Heroes,” which helps individuals with developmental disabilities. Next up: Look for Longoria the producer to come out swinging this fall with a programming slate she has been developing.
Six years after teaming with Alfonso Cuaron in his New York-based production company, Torresblanco has become a key player in films like 2006′s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which she produced with him. A longtime executive with Spain’s Lolafilms (where she was responsible for international movies like 2002′s “The Dancer Upstairs”), Torresblanco helped Cuaron with the U.S. release of 2001′s “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and produced his new documentary, “The Possibility of Hope.” Up next: She is producing Carlos Cuaron’s “Rudo y Cursi,” part of the five-picture slate his brother Alfonso and friends are developing for Universal.
She’s the prime mover behind one of the most talked-about shows of the new TV season: CBS’ “Cane,” about a powerful Cuban-American family in Miami, starring Hector Elizondo, Rita Moreno and Jimmy Smits. If the show is a success, Cidre will become one of the most influential Latina voices in network television. Cidre — who left Havana with her family at the age of 10 — has been quietly making a name for herself after nabbing the top prize in a Columbia Pictures writing competition two decades ago. She ditched a career in academia after the win
and proceeded to amass credits such as 1989′s “In Country” and 1992′s “The Mambo Kings.”
Almost two decades after Ortega helped put the modern musical on the map with his chor-eography for 1987′s “Dirty Dancing,” he scored a huge hit in 2006 as the director of “High School Musical,” Disney Channel’s unexpected TV bonanza. That project earned him a Directors Guild of America Award for children’s programming, an Emmy for outstanding choreography and another Emmy nomination for his directing skills — 14 years after Disney gave him his feature-directing break with 1992′s “Newsies.” The multi-talented artist — who also choreographed some pioneering music videos as well as the 1980 Olivia Newton-John starrer “Xanadu” and high-profile stage shows for Cher, Bette Midler and Kiss — has finished work on “High School Musical 2″ (set to premiere Aug. 17) and is currently working on the hit franchise’s third installment — a feature film.
With Paramount’s summer picture “Transformers,” which Orci wrote, a boxoffice smash — and Paramount’s latest incarnation of “Star Trek,” which he co-wrote and executive produced, set to go before cameras in November — Orci is about as much in demand as any writer toiling in Hollywood. While his films (written with longtime partner Alex Kurtzman) are mainstream, Orci’s background is not: He was born in Mexico City, and his grandmother attended university with Fidel Castro. (“She thought he was a jerk before he took over and really a jerk afterwards,” he notes.) His other credits include 2005′s “The Island” and “The Legend of Zorro,” as well as an ongoing collaboration with director-producer J.J. Abrams, (ABC’s “Alias,” 2006′s “Mission: Impossible III”).
The former president of entertainment for Spanish-language powerhouse Telemundo, Galan is one of the most active Hispanic producers working in Hollywood today. Once dubbed the “tropical tycoon” by the New York Times, she has helped launch 10 international television networks for companies such as HBO, and produced more than 600 episodes of programming. Among her hits are the Fox reality series “The Swan.” She is currently in negotiations with NBC Universal to distribute her latest project, “The New You,” a daytime talk show that features a panel of doctors and specialists who evaluate the cosmetic and medical issues of guests. She has also signed a landmark deal with NBC Universal to create English-language novelas for all media platforms, derived from rights she has acquired from Telemundo.
Edward James Olmos
From his early acting projects, like 1981′s “Zoot Suit,” to his most recent directorial project, last year’s HBO film “Walkout,” Olmos has proved one can be both an actor and a social activist. He has lent his name to a host of movies and TV series that further Latino causes, making him arguably the best-known spokesman for Latinos in the media. The multi-hyphenate — whose credits also include 1982′s “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” the 1988 biopic “Stand and Deliver” (which earned him an Oscar nomination), 1992′s “American Me” (which he also directed), 1997′s “Selena” and PBS’ “American Family” — is continuing his acting run on Sci Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” and is producing the indie release “Divine Forces.”
Think of him as the Latino Jamie Foxx — a multitalented performer who is equally at home in comedy and drama. Leguizamo had demonstrated his comedic skills in a host of movies as well as one-man shows from 1991′s “Mambo Mouth” on, and his dramatic chops have been on display in films such as Spike Lee’s 1999 crime drama, “Summer of Sam.” Now, he’s about to spread his dramatic wings even further as one of the stars of Mike Newell’s much-anticipated adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” for New Line. But Leguizamo also has been nurturing a career behind the camera, both as a director (2003′s “Undefeated”) and producer (he executive produced, wrote and starred in the Fox series “House of Buggin’ “).
Who would have guessed that ABC’s “Ugly Betty” would become a modern American phenomenon? Not Horta — or at least, not when he was growing up with his Cuban-American family in Miami, forced to watch Spanish-language tele-novelas. Now, the Peabody Award winner and NYU film school graduate is one of the pivotal players behind the American version of the Colombian series that has turned America Ferrara into an international star and sent network executives scurrying to find other Latin shows that they can adapt for U.S. audiences.
It’s intriguing that Amenabar has been a force behind two American blockbusters without ever working in Hollywood. Based in Spain, where he moved as a child fleeing Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s Chile, the wunder-kind helmer wrote and directed 1997′s “Open Your Eyes,” which was remade as the 2001 Tom Cruise starrer, “Vanilla Sky.” He then made the 2001 English-language period-piece chiller, “The Others” — filmed almost entirely in Spain — with Nicole Kidman. Since then, his reputation has blossomed, thanks largely to his 2004 Javier Bardem starrer, “The Sea Inside,” the paraplegic-themed drama that earned him a foreign-language Oscar.
Prieto has been playing with cameras ever since he made three 8mm horror movies as a 10-year-old while growing up in Mexico City. But it’s been over the past couple of years that he has truly come into his own, thanks to 2005′s “Brokeback Mountain” and 2006′s “Babel,” two back-to-back Oscar-nominated films. Those acclaimed pictures followed a host of stellar work on movies such as 2002′s “Frida” and “8 Mile,” several projects with Oliver Stone and his two earlier collaborations with “Babel” director Inarritu: 2000′s “Amores Perros” and 2003′s “21 Grams.”
With ThinkFilm’s august release “Bordertown” — which chronicles a re-porter’s inquiry into the mysterious deaths of factory women in Mexico — Nava is underscoring his position as one of the few dir-ectors who has consistently addressed Latin American and immigrant themes. Nava achieved fame with two movies shot on minimal budgets, 1977′s medieval drama “The Confessions of Amans” and 1983′s “El Norte,” his harrowing account of a struggling immigrant family in California, which earned him an Oscar nomination for original screenplay. Since then, Nava has won acclaim for 1995′s Latino-themed “My Family” and helped make Jennifer Lopez a star with 1997′s “Selena.” Now, Lopez is reteaming with him as the star of “Bordertown,” which he also wrote and produced.
Rivera was propelled onto Hollywood’s A-list with a Spanish-language film he wrote while living in Los Angeles. That film was 2004′s “The Motorcycle Diaries,” and Rivera’s ability to turn snippets of Che Guevara’s ramblings into fully fleshed-out scenes earned him an Oscar nomination — as well as the chance to collaborate again with director Walter Salles on their upcoming adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” for United Artists. Other credits include Lionsgate’s “Trade” and NBC’s “Eerie, Indiana,” which he created. After helming a short, “The Tape Recorder,” Rivera will try his hand at directing a feature with his script “Celestina.”
Jesus Salvador Trevino
One of the few Latino directors to have made a real mark in network TV, the East Los Angeles-raised Trevino has had credits on a host of well-known TV shows from ABC’s “NYPD Blue” to Fox’s “Prison Break.” He has also directed TV movies like ABC’s “Date Rape,” CBS’ “Gangs” and HBO’s “Power: The Eddie Matos Story” and executive produced PBS’ “I Am Chicano!” about the history of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement. Just as significantly, Trevino has helped other directors get breaks, too: He co-founded and served for many years as the chair of the DGA’s Latino Committee, which aims to facilitate the hiring of Hispanic directors.
Before anyone had heard of new wave helmers Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro, Arau carved out a beachhead as the first modern-day Mexican director to have a major hit stateside with his 1992 comedy-drama, “Like Water for Chocolate.” It became the biggest success in Mexican movie history and legitimized Arau as a filmmaker, after pre-viously being best known for acting in films such as 1969′s “The Wild Bunch.” While his subsequent American projects (such as 1995′s “A Walk in the Clouds” and a 2002 miniseries remake of “The Magnificent Ambersons”) might have disappointed, he remains the godfather of today’s Mexican film movement; he’s about to direct another English-language film, Arclight’s “Dare to Love Me,” about iconic tango singer Carlos Gardel.
With just three films under his belt — two of them yet to be released — Reyes is gaining a behind-the-scenes reputation as one of the most promising young Latino filmmakers in America. His debut, “Empire,” was a hit at Sundance in 2002, and now he’s got Universal’s John Singleton-produced “Illegal Tender” out next month, to be followed by the John Leguizamo starrer “The Ministers.” All of which is quite a turnaround for a guy who started out as a dancer-choreographer and then became a top 40 songwriter before turning to film with a well-regarded short in the late 1990s.
Veteran television actor Smits is poised to take a big step forward in his career with “Cane,” CBS’ new fall series, which he stars in and executive produces. The series is centered on a powerful Cuban-American family in Miami — though Smits, a Cornell University graduate, is Brooklyn-raised and of Puerto Rican descent. Smits was the first Latino to become a heartthrob on a primetime drama when he came to prominence in Steven Bochco’s “L.A. Law.” Since then, he’s become a staple of the small screen, proving his mettle when he took over for David Caruso and helped save ABC’s “NYPD Blue,” then playing a memorable politico on NBC’s “The West Wing.”
(Executive vp, Columbia TriStar Consumer Marketing Group)
Leon is sony’s go-to guy when the studio has plans to incorporate product placement in their theatrical releases. He also is instrumental in planning and implementing promotions and product tie-ins; and he supervises consumer products, all on a global scale. Recent successes include “Spider-Man 3,” 2006′s “Casino Royale,” “Open Season” and the product-laden “Talladega Nights.” Before joining Sony in 2000, Leon was vp of promotions for Fox Family Worldwide/Saban Entertainment and director of sales and marketing at Camelot Licensing.
With a newly signed deal in the works to develop series for FremantleMedia North America, heartthrob Valderamma is proving he is a talent behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. Best known for Fox’s “That ’70s Show” and 2006′s “Fast Food Nation,” he’s also the creator and executive producer of MTV’s comedy-reality series “Yo Momma,” now in its third season, and is developing the feature “PartyBuddys” with Universal Pictures. Through his WV Enterprises, he plans to executive produce programming in the scripted and unscripted arenas.
OK, so we’re breaking our own rule, but Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar is such an iconic presence in independent cinema that it would be criminal to omit him. Although he does not make English-language films, his work is widely distributed in art houses across the country thanks to his ongoing relationship with Sony Pictures Classics. If anyone can qualify as the ambassador of Spanish cinema, it’s Almodovar.