Things That Matter

Here’s What Lin-Manuel Miranda And Quiara Hudes Have To Say About ‘In The Heights’ Being Produced By The Weinstein Company

Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein was recently fired from his own company after multiple allegations of sexual assault were made public in reports by The New York Times and The New Yorker. The news first broke in early October when The New York Times published a story about the entertainment executive paying off sexual assault accusers for decades, including actor Rose McGowan, who says Weinstein raped her. Some of those who have come forward with their stories of being harassed and assaulted by Weinstein are Angelina Jolie, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, and Ashley Judd. At least 30 women, including employees and actresses that worked with Weinstein, have come forward to tell their stories.

Although it was initially reported that Weinstein would fight The New York Times in court, a spokesperson said Weinstein “listened to the community and is pursuing a better path.”

The Weinstein Company executive board voted to remove the Hollywood mogul from his position, citing the sexual assault and harassment allegations. His wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman has announced her separation from Weinstein following the allegations. It appears Weinstein’s actions will also impact The Weinstein Company’s upcoming projects and deals.

Quiara Hudes, a co-playwright of “In The Heights,” is asking The Weinstein Company to give up the rights to the movie version of the hit play.

“As a woman, I can no longer do business with The Weinstein Company. To those women who suffered directly at Harvey’s hands, I extend my sincerest compassion and support,” Hudes wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately, my musical ‘In The Heights’ is tied up in the company. ‘In The Heights’ is part of my heart and soul. I created it about respect, community, and solidarity. I hope that The Weinstein Company has enough grace, in the wake of these revelations, to respect my stand as a woman and, and to allow us to extricate ‘In The Heights’ from them. ‘In The Heights deserves a fresh start in a studio where I’ll feel safe (as will my actors and collaborators).”

“In the Heights” is the story about a predominately Latino community in New York City as they learn what it really means to be home.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the other co-playwright of the play, stood behind Hudes’ words and reiterated her point.

“Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation is despicable enough, but combined with his staggering power it’s insidious, even devilish,” Hudes, who also wrote the book accompanying “In The Heights”, wrote. “Decades. He thrived on this. He built an empire on this.”

Ana Villafañe, who portrayed Gloria Estefan in “On Your Feet,” was quick to show her support for Hudes’ decision.

According to PlayBill, Universal Studios originally bought the rights to “In The Heights” but released the rights in 2011. When “Hamilton” started to gain popularity, The Weinstein Company scooped up the rights in May 2016.

The Weinstein Company has not released a response about relinquishing the rights to “In The Heights,” but the pressure is building. The accusations against Weinstein have prompted the Hollywood mogul to seek counseling and rehab for sex addiction.

Many women, however, are thanking Hudes for being a loud voice for the victims of sexual assault who are often left voiceless.

Though Weinstein is checking into rehab, he maintains that there was no inappropriate or non-consensual sexual contact. His publicist told the New Yorker Magazine that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied.” While he will not speak on anonymous allegations, Weinstein does believe that all of the allegations thus far were indeed consensual encounters and hopes that he will be given a second chance.

If you or someone you know needs help reporting or figuring out your next steps after a sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.


READ: After Calling Trump Out On His Response To Puerto Rico, Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Doing His Part To Send Relief

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Puerto Rican Art Groups Are Getting A Leg Up Thanks To This Foundation Created By The ‘Hamilton’ Family

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Puerto Rican Art Groups Are Getting A Leg Up Thanks To This Foundation Created By The ‘Hamilton’ Family

Flamboyan Foundation / Facebook

Maintaining funding for the arts is a challenging enough task during the best of times. For Puerto Ricans, those “best of times” have long been gone. A backlog of corruption scandals coupled with the most devastating natural disaster in the island’s history has exacerbated the arts organizations resources. Two years after Hurricane Maria’s landfall on Puerto Rico, hope for maintaining the culture and arts of Boricuas has arrived.

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller, the play’s producer, have partnered with the Flamboyan Foundation to establish an art fund for struggling arts organizations in Puerto Rico.

The Flamboyan Foundation was established just earlier this year, funded by ticket sales from “Hamilton.”

@theatermania / Twitter

Even better, the $14.7 million that was raised for the fund were all raised by Puerto Ricans. The “Hamilton” cast and crew up and went to Puerto Rico for a 17-day run. The Flamboyan Foundation, named after the flamboyán tree native to Puerto Rico, established the arts fund in 2018. “The Flamboyan Arts Fund is an extension of our deep commitment to ensuring that Puerto Rico is thriving economically and socially,” Flamboyan Puerto Rico Executive Director Carlos J. Rodríguez-Silvestre said in a statement. “We cannot be more excited to partners with our 12 inaugural grant recipients as well as the new grantees that we will welcome following this round of applications.  This is just the beginning!”

So far, at least 12 grant recipients have been named.

@ElNuevoDia / Twitter

“It’s the first time that we have funds guaranteed for the beginning of the year so it’s been very important, Lolita Villanúa, executive director of Andanza told NBC News. Andanza is a dance company and school that has been giving back to Puerto Rico since 1998, but not without struggles. “The search for funds has always been very difficult,” she said. One year, the government gave Andanza just $8,000 for a full year of operations.

Villanúa felt the grant “was like a big prize on our 20th anniversary because we [have been] working tirelessly and intensely for the country.”

The trickle-down effect goes to benefit young scholarship students.

@ynohabialuz / Twitter

One Andanza dance student, Paola Morales López is just 15 years old and wants to make a career out of dancing. “I feel super grateful because I see that they support me and that they believe in me,” Morales López told NBC News. “Andanza is like my second family.” Another 18-year-old ballet student, Gabriela Arroyo, said that, “Dance has helped me. It’s a form to escape reality, and it’s also a way to stay healthy.”

Of course, the “Hamilton” funds will also go to help local theaters stay open.

@ynohabialuz / Twitter

Another grant went to a collective of seven artists who started the San Juan theater company, Y No Había Luz (“And There Was No Light”) when they were just students at the University of Puerto Rico. For the last 15 years, the group has continued to stay open, using their literal theater platform to advocate for social change and to humanize Boricuas.

Without the grant, Puerto Ricans may have never witnessed a play centered around an ancient tree that fell during Hurricane Maria.

@ynohabialuz / Twitter

Y No Había Luz created the play “Centinela de Mangó,” which retells the experience of the town of Orocovis, which survived Hurricane Maria only to find the tree that symbolized the island’s identity had fallen. The company has been able to bring the play to New York City, as well, where many Hurricane Maria victims were directed by FEMA. The company wants to turn the story into a children’s book, forever immortalizing the tree’s meaning into words that will be passed down for generations.

With rent paid, the art grant recipients can dream even bigger.

@ynohabialuz / Twitter

“For three years I can plan and create a healthier structure for my team. I can make dreams more long-term,” Yari Helfeld of Y No Había Luz told NBC News. She added, “My dad always told us that we should do what we wanted and not let anyone tell you what to do.” Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda and the “Hamilton” family, dreams are being made a reality for art directors and young children alike. The arts will have a safe home in Puerto Rico for the foreseeable future.

READ: Puerto Rico, Still Recovering From Hurricane Maria, Is Losing Recovery Dollars To Fund Part Of The Border Wall

Here’s How Julio Torres Convinced Lin-Manuel Miranda To Play A Little Cactus On An HBO Special

Entertainment

Here’s How Julio Torres Convinced Lin-Manuel Miranda To Play A Little Cactus On An HBO Special

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / NBC / HBO

Julio Torres may have just achieved next level respect and stardom because all he had to do to get thee Lin-Manuel Miranda to play the voice of a tiny cactus in his upcoming HBO special was DM him. During an interview on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, Torres hinted at the presence of some big-name cameos in his HBO comedy special, My Favorite Shapes. 

The most obvious cameo that Torres could think of would be the infamous Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter, composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda playing a “self-conscious cactus.” Of course. Torres has had a successful career behind the screen thus far. Born in El Salvador, Torres began writing for Saturday Night Live, where he initially met Lin-Manuel Miranda. His most recent claim to fame was his starring role alongside Fred Armisen in the HBO series Los Espookys

“We were lucky that some really great actors are voicing the inner spirits of some of those objects because we just needed that,” he told Fallon.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

“The role of the cactus went to Lin-Manuel Miranda. I DM’ed him, being like, ‘Can you just be this cactus? This feels like it should be you.’” Wow. That’s all it takes, huh? We love Miranda for just saying ‘yes.’

“’Cause it’s like, can you think of anyone else who would play a little cactus trapped in a little glass container?” Pues, can you?

HBO

In the teaser trailer for the comedy special, we get a glimpse of the very cactus that Miranda is set to play. “This next shape that I need to show you,” Torres tells the audience through a microphone at his seat, “This is me coming in late for a meeting and immediately chiming in.”

We can’t wait to hear what the cactus iteration of Lin-Manuel Miranda is going to say.

Credit: @joseramonmarmtz / Twitter

The Puerto Rican Hamilton creator and star is on vacation in Europe right now, so we haven’t heard his comment on the new break of his latest role. Miranda and Torres have worked together in the past. Torres’ rise to fame began as a writer for Saturday Night Live. Torres wrote the sketch “Diego Calls His Mom” for Miranda’s episode as a host. 

“Lin-Manuel is the lil cactus…. awwww,” tweets one fan. Why is the prickliest side of Lin-Manuel Miranda the cutest side we might ever see? Call it an obsession with succulents or just an obsession with literally anything Miranda chooses to do. Take your pick, no me importa.

Right now, fans are just tickled that Lin-Manuel Miranda appears to have no ego whatsoever.

Credit: @k_bowes / Twitter

Miranda has won a Pulitzer Prize, three Tony Awards, three Grammys, an Emmy, and two Olivier Awards. He’s also been been nominated for an Academy Award. He’s a GOAT, and yet, he’s also down to be the tiniest of cacti “trapped in a little glass container.”

“He solved the problem,” Torres said of Miranda’s willingness to play the tiny cactus.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Torres asked Fallon if he could really think of anyone else that could play the role of the cactus, to which Fallon replied, “I mean, don’t even make me thing of that. Of course not, no. Lin-Manuel Miranda!” Torres agreed–“He solved the problem. 

Torres is the Salvadoran precioso you *would* want to spend time with meeting all his favorite shapes.

HBO 

 HBO describes the Los Espookys comedian’s new special as a worthwhile peek into his “fantastical stories and humorous anecdotes.” We can expect to meet “a plexiglass square, an oval that wishes he were a circle, a self-conscious cactus, and a Ferrero Rocher chocolate.”

We’re curious to see how Lin-Manuel Miranda could ever lead us to believe he could be “self-conscious.” This will be the truest test of his acting abilities. Just kidding, just kidding. 

Tune into HBO August 10 at 10:30 p.m. for what’s looking to be an interesting night with Julio Torres.

Expect Julio Torres to be dressed in a glitter suit on stage with a glass conveyer belt shepherding strange objects his way. The teaser trailer gave us a taste of what we were expecting to be Torres dryly musing on his “favorite shapes.” Now, we know that there’s going to be some serious stardom in the shape of a cactus, and many more cameos to look forward to.

Be there or be square!

READ: HBO’s New Spanish-Language Series Is Exploring Another Widely-Held Love Within Our Culture