Entertainment

We Finally Have A First Look At The Walter Mercado Documentary ‘Mucho Mucho Amor’ And I Can’t Wait

Walter Mercado was to the Spanish-speaking world, what Miss Cleo was to the English-speaking one. Equal parts Oprah, Liberace, and Mr. Rogers, the legendary Puerto Rican psychic and astrologer captivated the Latin world with his glamorous style, gender-nonconforming persona, and warmhearted cosmic readings. Now, he is poised to reach a new level of fandom with a lovingly crafted documentary about his life and career

Our stars dimmed when we lost the great Walter Mercado last year, but with a new Netflix documentary, we get one more glimpse into the man’s flamboyant life.

It’s finally here: the first trailer for Netflix’s Mucho Mucho Amor.

Each and every day more than 120 million viewers tuned in to watch the extravagant, flamboyant Puerto Rican astrologer, psychic, and gender nonconforming artists charm the world with televised horoscopes. He enthralled his viewers with sequined capes, opulent jewelry, and shared a message of love and hope to his devoted viewers. Then, he mysteriously disappeared.

If you’re like countless tías out there, you’ve been wondering about him ever since. That’s where Mucho, Mucho Amor comes in.

Directors Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch spent the last two years of Mercado’s life documenting this icons legacy – when he grabbed with the struggles of aging.

The film also drops hints about Mercado’s financial issues and his hiatus from public life. But it also features magnificent footage from his unforgettable entrance at the opening party for HistoryMiami’s 2019 exhibit “Mucho, Mucho Amor: 50 Years of Walter Mercado.”

It’s an over-the-top moment that celebrates how many in Miami viewed him as royalty as they eagerly awaited his recommended New Year’s Eve rituals each year (customized for each Zodiac sign). It’s safe to say that Mercado captivated people’s attention, and he’ll do it once again with this documentary.

Mercado is often described as the glue that binds migrant communities from all over Latin America.

Credit: Mucho Mucho Amor / Netflix

At its peak, Mercado’s show was watched by more than 120 million viewers from around Latin America. But he was also an actor, dancer, and writer throughout his career. In fact, he starred in several Puerto Rican telenovelas, including Un adiós en el recuerdo (A Farewell to the Memory) and Larga distancia (Long Distance).

In 1970, he started his regular astrology segment on Puerto Rico’s variety show, El Show de las 12. His star continued to grow, and for decades, his astrology prediction shows aired in Puerto Rico, Latin America and the United States.

“We grew up with him,” Lin-Manuel Miranda says in the trailer for Mucho Mucho Amor. “I can’t think of an English language astrologer that would command the attention of millions of households.” 

Then, Mercado mysteriously vanished from the public eye. “Maybe he didn’t want to grow old in front of the cameras,” Eugenio Derbez speculates. 

He was also an icon for the LGBTQ community, who – especially in the Latino community – needed one so badly.

Credit: Mucho Mucho Amor / Netflix

Although Mercado was unapologetically sexually-ambiguous, many were still preoccupied with the man’s sexuality. He always took the questions and innuendo in stride though, responding with a joke that would get him off the hook with most. But he meant a lot to gay Latinos during an era where they feared coming out much more than today, just merely for existing.

Even though Mercado never publicly addressed his sexuality, he was an inspiration for many LGBTQ kids, including director Kareem Tabsch.

“I’m a queer kid from Miami and the first time I ever saw Walter on television, it was the first time I ever encountered another person who was queer,” Tabsch recalls.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, he added: “I had a simpatico. Seeing him on TV I remember thinking, ‘Huh, there’s something in you that’s like something in me. I see a reflection of me in you, even if I’d never be nearly as fabulous.’ But there was this otherness that I recognized. I felt, ‘If my family loves you just as you are then maybe they could love me as I am too.”

Although before his death he disappeared from public life somewhat unceremoniously, his legacy lives on for millions of Latinos.

Credit: Mucho Mucho Amor / Netflix

Mucho, Mucho Amor does a great job at showing the human-side of Mercado. Yes, he was a beloved television personality, for whom many, he was a literal superhero. But he was also a human, and Netflix’s new documentary will show an entirely new side of the superstar to the world.

Mucho, Mucho Amor debuts on Netflix on July 8.

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Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

Entertainment

Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

A new teen series has dropped on Netflix that the internet can’t stop talking about. The newest cultural phenomenon that has hit the juggernaut streaming service is a musical series called Julie and the Phantoms, based on the 2011 Brazilian show of the same name.

The series follows a 16-year-old insecure girl named Julie who has lost her love of music after the tragic death of her mother. But with the help of a (stay with us here) band of musical ghosts she stumbles across in her garage, she soon re-discovers her love of singing and performing. Backed by her band of “phantoms”, Julie confidently takes the stage again, blowing everyone away in the process. ,

But the wacky, heartfelt story-line isn’t the only reason people are excited about the show. The buzz around the show is building because its star, 16-year-old newcomer Madison Reyes, is an Afro-Latina singer-actress of Puerto Rican descent.

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Before landing the role of Julie, Reyes was just a regular shmegular Nuyorican girl going to high school in Brooklyn. Needless to say, the process of auditioning for Julie and the Phantoms was both a whirlwind and a game-changer.

“I found out about Julie and the Phantoms through my school. At first I was nervous to send my video in, but after talking to some friends, I sent it in and got a call back,” Reyes told Refinery 29. “From there it was just figuring out when I could fly to L.A. When I finally made it out there, the audition process lasted two days.”

Reyes, for one, understands the burden of her load. “[Julie] is Latin American, she’s got textured hair, she’s a strong and independent female character,” Reyes recently told the LA Times. “As a person of color who wants more diversity [on-screen], I’m kind of scared about the hate comments that I’ve seen other people have to go through, especially women.”

As if having an Afro-Latina actress at the center of a popular Netflix show wasn’t exciting enough, the series is also being helmed by Mexican-American director and all-around legend Kenny Ortega. For those of you unfamiliar with Ortega, he is the creative genius who directed bonafide classics like High School Musical and Hocus Pocus.

Ortega has been publicly effusive in his praise of Reyes. “She has this raw talent that can take on any genre of music, and this promise of greatness that excited everybody,” he told the LA Times. “And yet she’s so relatable and grounded.”

Fans are already calling for a second season after watching the cliffhanger season finale. Reyes, herself, can’t wait to get back in the shoes of Julie. When asked in an interview about where we’ll see her next, she responded: “Hopefully in the next season of Julie and the Phantoms!”. We second that wish.

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‘Cheer’ Star Jerry Harris Is Being Held In Federal Custody For Child Pornography Charges

Entertainment

‘Cheer’ Star Jerry Harris Is Being Held In Federal Custody For Child Pornography Charges

Update: September 23, 2020

After being arrested last week by the FBI, it has been decided that Netflix’s “Cheer” star Jerry Harris, the “Cheer” fan favorite will remain in federal custody on child pornography charges.

According to reports, Harris has been charged in federal court with the production of child pornography. The charge stems from a criminal complaint filed against Harris alleging that he sought sexual acts and photos from boys as young as 13 at cheerleading competitions.

Harris was scheduled to appear before a court magistrate on Thursday to face the charge. The charge of the production of child pornography comes with a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison if he is convicted.

The charges are connected to Harris’ alleged advances on a 13-year-old cheerleader. Harris, who was 19 at the time, was soliciting photos and videos from the minor on Snapchat in 2018. The charge also states that Harris confronted the young cheerleader in the bathroom at a cheerleading event and asked for solicited oral sex.

The news continues to shock and surprise people on social media.

The news broke earlier this week that the FBI had opened an investigation into Harris because of a complaint filed claiming the sexual misconduct. The charge includes several photos, videos, and messages sent between Harris and minors demanding sexually explicit images from the minors.

Harris has been held at the MCC in downtown Chicago since his arrest. According to the Chicago Tribune, Harris admitted in an interview with FBI agents that he solicited lewd images and sex from one of the minors who reported him on several different occasions. The complaint states Harris also admitted to soliciting and receiving child pornography on Snapchat from “at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors.”

Harris, 21, gained national attention earlier this year when he was introduced to Netflix viewers in a six-part docuseries called “Cheer.”

The series followed the nationally ranked Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team as they prepared for a Daytona Beach competition. Fans of the show became captivated by Harris a cheerleader whose positivity and energy seemed utterly contagious. Soon after his appearance on the show, Harris rocketed to stardom and made appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” nabbed interviews with Variety magazine, and even made a guest appearance on the cheerleading themed song “Mas(k)ot” by Todrick Hall.

A recent revelation however is revealing that Harris’ standing as a lovable household name is no longer.

Recently, fans of Harris learned of an FBI investigation into him is underway and regards allegations that the celebrity cheerleader solicited sexually explicit photos as well as sex from minors.

In a statement to USA Today, Siobhan Johnson, a FBI special agent and public affairs officer said that “The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area.”

The criminal investigation stems from allegations brought forward by 14-year-old twin brothers. The two minors claim that Harris made them endure a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions. The two claim the harassment started when they were 13 and Harris was 19 and continued for over a year.

At the start of August, Varsity Brands, a private company that governs the cheerleading industry, reported to police in Florida and Texas that its Chief Legal Officer Burton Brillhart had learned of “inappropriate sexual conduct” allegations against Harris. Brillhart reported the information to police officials as required by law.

“Harris is accused of asking one of the brothers to have sex with him in 2019 at two Varsity cheerleading competitions,” reports USA Today.

“As a result of the recent allegation, we have barred this person from having any affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future,” Brillhart wrote.

Brillhart described Harris as a former employee and emphasized that he was no longer actively working for Varsity at the time of when the alleged incidents took place.

The current lawsuit against Harris claims that the Netflix star solicited explicit photos from the twin brothers and also asked one of the twins for oral sex.

Last week, Harris denied the accusations.

“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” a spokesperson for Harris said in a statement to Variety last week. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”

The twin brothers are seeking $1 million in damages. If convicted Harris could face a minimum of 15 years in prison.

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