What would Christmas be like without Mariah Carey? It’s a sad, sad thought. But the crazy thing is Carey’s holiday classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You” almost never happened.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the song, instead of focusing on Carey’s botched performance at the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony earlier this month, let’s revisit the backstory of perhaps the greatest Christmas tune ever recorded.
First released on November 1, 1994, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was the lead single off Carey’s fourth album, “Merry Christmas,” now hailed by Billboard as the most successful Christmas album of all time.
In today’s oversaturated market, anyone with half an octave releases a holiday album. But back then, it was considered somewhat corny for a pop star to do so, especially a 24-year-old vocal virtuoso.
Idris and I at the “No Good Deed” press junket earlier this year
It’s not unusual for Rush Limbaugh to say racist things. It is unusual for the right-wing commentator to admit that he’s being racist.
On Tuesday, Limbaugh brought up the idea of Idris Elba as James Bond on his syndicated radio show (a topic in one of the thousands of leaked Sony emails) and declared the 42-year-old London-born actor unfit for the role based on his skin color.
“James Bond is a total concept put together by Ian Fleming. He was white and Scottish. Period. That is who James Bond is,” Limbaugh said. “But now [they are] suggesting that the next James Bond should be Idris Elba, a black Briton, rather than a white from Scotland. But that’s not who James Bond is…I know it’s racist to probably point this out.”
As I revisit the year, I think of all the great work we accomplished as a team at Variety Latino. Surpassing 1 million monthly uniques in four months was something I couldn’t have even imagined doing when we launched! One of my personal highlights was this on-camera interview with William Levy, who stopped by our studios to promote his film, “Addicted,” back in early October.
I had interviewed Levy before for the cover of Latina Magazine, so it was fun to catch up with him around the release of the movie, which ended up being a hit at the box office.
To date, this interview has been viewed more than 15,000 times on YouTube! Levy’s fans are dedicated.
News broke on Wednesday, December 17, that the United States plans to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and will open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than 50 years. The historic move came after the release of an American intelligence agent who had been in captivity in a Cuban prison for 20 years, and an American contractor, Alan P. Gross, who had been captive for five. In exchange, the U.S. released three Cuban spies who had been imprisoned in the U.S. since 2001.
Secret talks were held over the last 18 months between Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, encouraged by Canada and Pope Francis. Establishing direct contact between leaders of the two countries for the first time in half a century, Obama and Castro reportedly had a phone call on Tuesday to finalize the deal.
Calling the embargo on Cuba a failure, Obama addressed the nation in a televised speech Wednesday morning, stating: “We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”
Photo Credit: Greg Harris for RCA Records
Fourteen years is a long time to go in between albums, but it’s especially long for D’Angelo fans. At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, December 14, however, they got an early Christmas present in the form of “Black Messiah,” the neo-soul singer’s first offering since 2000’s “Voodoo.”
Almost exactly one year after Beyoncé nearly broke the Internet by unexpectedly dropping her self-titled visual album, D’Angelo has managed to become a trending topic himself, except it’s not part of some flashy, big-machine, strategic move; he’s been working on it since the “Voodoo” tour ended (this according to his close friend and collaborator Questlove).
And there couldn’t be a better time to release it. With “Black Messiah,” D’Angelo has made music with a message that’s as poignant and relevant as ever. While not all songs are politically conscious, enough of them are.
Mexican comedian Roberto Gomez Bolaños has died at age 85. Arguably the most beloved entertainer in the Spanish speaking world, “Chespirito,” as he was affectionately known, died on Friday, November 28, in his home in Cancun, Mexico.
Gómez Bolaños’ health had deteriorated in recent years due to his age and was under medical care at his home in Cancun when he died. The exact cause of death has not been determined.
The prolific comedian was born in Mexico City in 1929 and got his start in the early ’50s working at an advertising agency and later as a writer for radio, television and film.
He broke out in the early ’70s with his own self-titled sketch comedy show on Televisa, through which he introduced some of his most famous characters, such as “Chapulín Colorado,” a superhero who dressed as a red grasshopper, and “El Chavo del Ocho,” an orphan living inside a barrel of a low-income neighborhood filled with colorful neighbors.
*This original story which I wrote in reaction to Elizabeth Peña’s death for Variety Latino has been generously shared online, so I’m posting it here too.
Elizabeth Peña was a rare breed. The kind of actress that didn’t seek or crave the limelight, but rather focused on “the craft.” You’d have to, in order to enjoy the type of career she had.
Prolific is an understatement. Peña amassed around 100 acting credits, starting with her first role in León Ichaso’s “El Super” in 1979. Fittingly, it was the story of Cuban exiles adjusting to their life in Spanish Harlem. When she died, on October 14, 2014, she had wrapped the first season of “Matador” on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, and had a couple of projects in development.
You interview enough actors in this business and eventually those two words (“the work,” “the craft,” or any variation thereof), start to sound clichéd, and quite honestly, rehearsed. But in Peña’s case, she never, in her almost 40 years of working in showbiz, got to the point of being overexposed, so all you had to go by was “the work.” Continue reading
*I’m extremely proud of how Variety Latino’s first curated list came out. I really wanted to do something different than the usual lists and so we commissioned celebrity branding authority Jeetendr Sehdev to conduct this national survey for us. The celebrities really responded to it and shared it on their own Twitter, Facebook pages, which made me so happy. It was a big hit! And hopefully the first of many lists to come…
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Variety and Variety Latino have joined forces to launch the “POWER OF LATINOS: 20 MOST INFLUENTIAL STARS LIST,“ spotlighting the most successful Latino film and TV actors in Hollywood (10 men and 10 women). The special appears in the September 30th issue of print Variety.
But rather than focus solely on their professional accomplishments, we went one step further, and looked at how influential and appealing they are within their own community.
Known as the “Oscars of Young Hollywood,” the Young Hollywood Awards on July 27 toasted the brightest trailblazing stars in music, TV, and film at The Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.
It was a who’s who of young Hollywood – from Vanessa Hudgens to Ansel Elgort to Justin Bieber – but the one I was most excited about was Gina Rodriguez, our Variety Latino Rising Star of the Year honoree.
This fall, Gina makes history as the first Latina lead on the CW with her very own show, “Jane The Virgin,” a heartwarming new comedy about a 23-year-old girl with big dreams who gets pregnant after being artificially inseminated – accidentally!
We are so excited about the work Gina Rodriguez is doing in Hollywood and want to recognize that with this honor. She is smart, driven, uplifting, and empowering, and so are the characters she plays on the big and small screen, sending a clear message to Latina girls everywhere that they, too, are represented, and their stories are worth telling, too. Her being the first Latina lead on the CW with “Jane The Virgin” is groundbreaking, but it’s only the beginning. She is someone we’ll be talking about for years to come.
Don’t miss “Jane The Virgin” premiering October 13 on the CW.
The last time I interviewed Eva Mendes was in early April, for Variety Latino. She was promoting her clothing line for New York & Company — which I’m obsessed with, by the way. So she gave Latinas tips on how to achieve the perfect balance between sexy and sophisticated, which is what she basically does every day without even trying.
But we also talked about her childhood, the values that her parents instilled in her, how her mother inspired and shaped her, how she defines success at this stage in her career, and what happiness means to her.