Erik Estrada returns with role in Disney film – Planes: Fire and Rescue

In one of the early sequences in the new Disney film Plans; Fire & Rescue, the animated characters watch their favorite tv show starring NICK “LOOPIN’” LOPEZ (voice of Erik

Erik Estrada in Miami

Estrada in Miami promoting the new  “Planes” film

Estrada)  as America’s favorite helicopter cop featured on TV’s CHoPs, a show about two California Helicopter Patrol choppers. Sound familiar? It should. It was a direct homage to the popular 70’s hit TV shows CHiPS staring Estrada himself as Ponch. In Planes: Fire & Rescue, Estrada’s Nick is the troublemaking macho young officer, got the nickname “Loopin’” from his signature inside loop, which no other helicopter could perform. It is this early scene that we are reminded how popular actor Estrada was during his tenure with CHIPS.  In town to share his excitement about the new film, Estrada was colorful, electric and honest as we discussed his career, life and his experience Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue.”

planes loopin lopez

Estrada as Nick “Loop’n” Lopez in the new Planes: Fire and Rescue Film

“I love doing animation, and this was not my first, having done numerous other animated projects in the past. “It was a blast doing it, and I enjoyed the fact that they put that sequence in there.  Estrada mentioned that the response during the screening was stunning because there were so many people in the audience that recognized the sequence and his voice. “I loved the movie. It’s an animated action film that reached me. I was able to co0nnect with it and get pulled in. It was fun” said Estrada.

“Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” features a dynamic crew of elite firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfire. When world famous air racer Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins a fearless team that battles a massive wildfire and in the process, Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero. Directed by Bobs Gannaway (“Secret of the Wings”), “Planes: Fire & Rescue” hits theaters in 3D on July 18, 2014.

The star of the film, Dusty takes to the skys

The star of the film, Dusty takes to the skys

Planes: Fire & Rescue is notable because of its dynamic, larger than life cast of characters and a script that is sharp, smart, funny and fast-moving. The kids and adults alike will certainly enjoy the action sequences, including the flying stunts, training scenes and rescues were loads of fun to watch, especially in 3D. Don’t be surprised if the kids start picking out their favorite characters, who happen to be planes, trucks, and helicopters that make up the fire and rescue team members.

Estrada said the experience with Disney animation project was unforgettable. “Disney knows how to do these kinds of stories and they are the best at it. As voice actors, all we had to do was come in and have fun doing it.” Besides sharing his excitement for the movie, Estrada talked about his road to success in the TV and film industry. It is a career that spans from American television, to films to telenovelas and of course, animation.

To get more information about Plane: Fire & Rescue, visit, or check out the facebook page at or follow Disney on Twitter:


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Sam and AngelinaThe Disney film MALEFICENT is an eye-popping spectacle that features mega-star Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, and rising British star Sam Riley playing the character of Maleficent’s shape shifting right-hand man Diaval.

Sam Riley wIMG_1659as a scene-stealing warm-hearted character that brought hope to the films dark tone. Recently we joined in on a chat with Sam on his visit to Miami to talk about the film and his experience making it.

HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: Tell us about your take on the character of Diaval.

RILEY: Before filming, we talked about his character and his fear of Maleficent. Yet Divial spent every day with her, for 16 years so he became the only soul companion she had. They even began bickering as he continues to voice his opinions and deepening his arc. I like the fact that he sees through her mask of coldness.

PosterHOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: When he’s not in his human form, Diaval is a Raven, not a crow as I first thought. So, what’s it like playing a Raven, and how do you prepare for such a character?

RILEY: We were looking for elements of the raven’s personality, so we got to spend time with a real one. They are pretty big; very big, and they have a certain strut and confidence. He (the raven) seemed to love himself, and had this swagger.

HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: Ravens are intimidating. What are the qualities that your character displayed that you admire?

RILEY:This character has good qualities. He’s loyal, and fun on one hand, and can be fierce if Maleficent is in danger. He is able to see things that Maleficent can’t see, but the audience does see. He talks about that to her. I’m glad they made the raven a human being. I really loved the part.IMG_1661

HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: The film has some serious fight scenes, battles, and a dark plot to some degree. Do you think kids will like the film?

RILEY: Disney is able to weave in horror and tragedy. Heck Bambi saw his mother shot to death by a hunter right?                             Riley with the Miami media – with horns

HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: What was it like working with a global superstar like Angelina Joile?

RILEY: She has a very disarming charm and yet she has that real star presence and charisma. She is able to make you feel the center of attention so that is really impressive and I see how she is such an amazing figure.

HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: This role is vastly different from the independent films you’ve done in the past, which in some cases were pretty tragic.

RILEY: Yes, those previous roles were brutal, and not for young audiences. So I’m glad I was able to do a film that my son could watch before he was 18


So who is Sam Riley and how did he emerge to become a co-star in a Disney mega-budget film? The English actor and singer of the Leeds band 10,000 Things, with whom he achieved moderate success. After their first release on indie label Voltage Records in 2002, they signed to major label Polydor for one self-titled album. They disbanded in 2005. His has his breakthrough performance playing the role of Ian Curtis in the film Control, a biopic about the lead singer of the 1970s post-punk band Joy Division. The film received high critical acclaim largely due to Riley’s performance, which won him a selection of awards including the British Independent Film Award for “Most Promising Newcomer” a BAFTA “Rising Star” nomination; and a Mark Kermode nod for Best Actor 2007. He currently lives in Berlin with his wife and Control co-star Alexandra Maria Lara. They married in August 2009 and have a son, born in January 2014.

Maleficent is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. Audiences should enjoy the twists within the story and the character arcs that make it interesting.

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LMG Wraps Up its Dark-Detective Comedy: TWO COPS and A DOG


Lesesne Media Group Entertainment (LMG) wrapped up production on the first installment of its 2014 short film, TWO COPS and a DOG. The dark, satirical comedy about two veteran detectives; one burned out and the other on the way up highlight the cultural and philosophical differences that two talented City of Miami investigators  bring to the story.

“I wanted to make a Miami detective film that was completely opposite of MIAMI VICE; the iconic 80’s TV series. Our detectives in TWO COPS and a DOG bring humor and sarcasm to the story and they are gritty, unsophisticated guys.Mike Cortes as Detective Torrence

Lesesne crafted the story with specific actors in mind including his spunky little family dog Miles Davis Lesesne. The actors are a part of his Independent Film Acting Camp; including Mike Cortes (right) as detective Robert Torrence,  Clifford Townsend (below right) as detective Shane Burgess, and Woodie Lesesne (Below right) as Ms. Marcia, the dog whisperer.  Woodie is not only a talented actress, but also the co-founder and President of Lesesne Media Group Entertainment.

Cliff Townsend as Detective Burgess

“We only had a few days to prepare” said Townsend. “Working closely with a Miles the dog was a rare opportunity. Audiences should enjoy it.” Woodie Lesesne agreed. “Miles made it easy and put me at ease because he was so well behaved and attentive. The film also gave me an opportunity to use my Caribbean accent.”

39765_455382061211_732046211_6873911_3308882_n - CopyTWO COPS and a DOG may have a future beyond its short film IMG_1954status. “This is a story that has lots of situations, chapters and plots yet to be written so we will take into consideration the possibility of expanding the story into a full-length film or a web series” said Tony Lesesne (seen at left).

Tony and Woodie Lesesne will screen TWO COPS AND A DOG on the afternoon of Monday, June 2nd during the Miami Media and Film Market (MMFM) beginning at 5:45. They will also receive the first ever Golden Orange Award for Diversity during the MMFM on Wednesday, June 4th at 6:00pm.

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Who says big guys can’t be sexy? That’s the question Nick Frost answers in his recent interview 8_low-172x94about his new movie, a fest called Cuban Fury. In the film, Frost plays Bruce Garrett, a downtrodden junior executive who was once a contender for London’s Junior Salsa Championship. 25 years later, our anti-hero older, bigger (wider) and stuck in his day to day life and uninspired job. Bruce’s passion for Salsa is re-ignited when his hot new boss arrives. But there is stiff competition to overcome. Nick Frost joined us for a chat about the film.


HS: What inspired the name of the film?

FROST: Cuban Salsa is among the best. It’s so cool. The second part was more like trying to have a title that made you think of a superhero. Our central character has that passion for Salsa.

HS: The dancers in the film were amazing. Where did you find them?

FRONT: Yes, they were amazing. Many of the salsa dancers appearing in the film were among the very best of the London Latino Salsa scene. 

HS: You’ve action films with fights and shoot outs. How does this film compare?

FROST: You’d be surprised to learn that dance choreography was harder than fight choreography.  But one thing I learned from doing both of them is that there is a powerful correlation between dancing and happiness.

HS: Your character got his sexy on every time he broke into Salsa. That’s not something you see very often with the big guys in movies.

FROSTNo it’s not often you see that. When you are big, and dance, people look at you a certain way. It’s like they really feel sorry for you. But really, It is about passion.  Sexy isn’t about a six pack.

HS: You had to learn to dance salsa. This was something of a challenge. How did you catch on?

FROST: From the very start, I was accepted by the Cuban salsa community. Its like family. We wanted to tell a funny story, a love story and something with lots of action. We worked around the clock. When it came to preparing for those dance sequences, it was all business. We had to make sure that we paid homage to Salsa.

HS: The laughs come frequently and from unexpected places.

FRONT: It’s a fun story with colorful characters played by brilliant actors. Sometimes it was hard to keep a straight face with some of them.



Join CUBAN FURY on Facebook

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Sci Fi in the spotlight

Avatar was one the highest grossing films in history

Avatar was one the highest grossing films in history

Today, we shine the HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT on Science fiction film. It may not be everybody’s favorite genre, but it’s certainly one of mine. After all, some of the all-time greatest movies have been science fiction, from STAR WARS and BACK TO THE FUTURE, and their many episodes, to AVATAR, and DISTRICT 9 as well as dozens of classics over the past decade alone.

According to Wikipedia, Science fiction film is a film genre that uses science fiction: speculative, science-based depictions of phenomena that are not necessarily accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial life forms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception and time travel, often along with futuristic elements such as spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, interstellar space travel or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition.

Early science fiction can be traced back to Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon in 1902, which dazzled audiences with photographic tricks that laid the foundation for special effects. In 1927, the film Metropolis became the first feature length science fiction film. Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey, placed the science fiction genre on a new platform, earning new fans. In the late 1970s, big-budget science fiction films filled with special effects became popular with audiences after the success of Star Wars and paved the way for the blockbuster hits of subsequent decades.

Because if its cost factors and creative challenges, science fiction has not been an easy genre for independent filmmakers to create. One of the best places to catch loads of good films in the science fiction genre is at science fiction films festivals. There are festivals held around the world throughout the year, including the Sci-Fi London, the Boston Science Fiction Film festival, the Phillip K. Dick Science fiction film festival; Lille France, the Science fiction and Fantasy Film Fest in Seattle, and most recently, the Miami International Science Fiction Festival in Miami.
Sci-Fi lands in Miami
When I heard about a press screening for the Miami International Science Fiction Festival, I re-arranged my calendar to get there to get an advanced peek at a few films they planned to screen. After all, these are films that may not get major distribution, but deserve to be seen. Dust of War was one such film. The post-apocalyptic setting where the bad guys run amok was pretty entertaining. Big props to Troy Millard and his partners, and festival team for bringing the event to sunny Miami in the dead of winter.
For more about the Miami International Science Fiction Festival in Miami, keep checking in at or the Hollywood Spotlight on Facebook. For free passes, be sure to e-mail me so I can enter your name for the daily drawing.

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Best Man Holiday hits the mark by Rashondra Jackson

Director Malcolm D. Lee strikes gold again with the sequel to his box office hit “The Best Man.” “The Best Man Holiday” is a dramedy about college friends reuniting over the Christmas holiday. Even though time has passed, careers have developed, and families have began, they quickly discover that not all scars have healed and not all flames have dwindled.

After developing characters and filling in the blanks from “The Best Man,” Lee reunites the gang, Harper (Taye Diggs), Jordan (Nia Long), Julian (Harold Perrineau), Quentin (Terrence Howard) and Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) and their significant others, Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), Brian (Eddie Cibrian) and Candace (Regina Hall) when the beloved Nia (Monica Calhoun) invites them into her and Lance’s (Morris Chestnut) home for the holidays. Mind you, it was Lance and Nia’s wedding that brought the gang together again in the first feature film. That’s when we discovered that the best man, Harper, had slept with the bride. All of which was revealed through characters in his first novel “Unfinished Business.” Since the wedding of course, Lance and Harper’s friendship hasn’t been the same.

Come to find out, Harper is not doing so well financially. He and his pregnant wife Robyn are in debt from fertility treatments, his newest book isn’t selling and he just got fired from his college teaching position. Jordan is now a big time exec at MSNBC, her best friend Nia is the loving wife to star New York Giants running back Lance Sullivan and the mother to their children. Husband and wife Julian and Candace run their own school and Shelby is now a reality star in a popular “housewives” franchise. I didn’t really catch what Quentin does but I did learn that white folks pay him a lot of money to tell them what n****s think.

In the midst of the festivities Lee foreshadows that something is wrong with Nia, the glue that holds them all together. I couldn’t help but shed some tears when the news broke, but as always, we can count on Quentin for some comedic relief when things get a little too intense. However, the twist does relieve the tension between Harper and Lance and even aids in repairing their friendship.

Overall, I think Lee did a fantastic job of developing characters, tying up loose ends, writing a compelling storyline and evoking strong comedic and emotional responses from the audience. “The Best Man Holiday” is an instant black Christmas classic, joining the ranks of “The Preacher’s Wife,” and “This Christmas.” Too bad we don’t have many, but in my opinion, this one definitely made the list.

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Cruise vs Downey Jr.


Two Hollywood heavyweights are about to go head to head. Tom Cruise has Ghost Protocol on tap in a few days and so does Robert Downey Jr. In both cases, people are going to get beat up, shot, tricked and things are going to blow up…a lot.  You gotta love it.

These guys are going to make the holiday movie season all the more exciting. Of course, we’re talking about one of them, Cruise portrays super-agent Ethan Hunt, while the other portrays super detective Sherlock Holmes.  Let’s see how they turn out. I invite you to tell us how you enjoyed the films and if you have time, check then out with us.

In the case of Sherlock Holmes, You have a film that takes place way back in the early days of Scotland Yard, at the turn of the century in London. The film takes off like a rocket and doesn’t stop. The fighting scenes rival anything you’ll see in a Tom Cruise action flick, creating a revised view of what could have been a stale brand. Thanks to guy Ritchie for bringing his brand of action to the Sherlock Holmes legacy.


Gui Agustini as C.T. is a ruthless young crime boss

We are seeing the making of a leading man. 23 year-old actor Gui Agustini seems to have a few things in common with Cruise and Downey Jr. “He has talent, desire, focus and on screen appeal” says Woodie Lesesne who is co-producing MIDTOWN CREW, an independent film which stars Agustini. He recently won an award for his work in the 48-Hour Film Festival Challenge in Miami and currently plays a lead role in the film MIDTOWN CREW.  In the film, Agustini portrays Claudio Thiago or “C.T.”, a deadly serious chief strategy officer jockeying for control of the powerful Mesa-Cruz crime family in Miami. “C.T is a very complex character” says Agustini. “His personality and behaviors are opposite from mine. C.T doesn’t smile much and he is a killer. Nobody messes up with him. I love to smile and prefer to be kind to people.

 As a teen, the versatile Agustini excelled in competitive tennis while developing as an actor and model.  “He has developed his timing and on-screen power  that positions him to be an excellent leading man” says Independent film director Curtis Ballard. Ballard is working with producer, director Tony C. Lesesne on MIDTOWN CREW, after having completed production of his own independent film called BAGHDAD. Lesesne notes. “In the past year, Gui has reached levels that I thought would take five years to reach.


The 2012 Sundance Film Festival takes place January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. A program of the non-profit Sundance Institute, the Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades.Sundance Institute’s year-round programs for independent film and theatre artists.

Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, and Amreeka.




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