You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Leguizamo bandleader for ‘Esquivel’

Actor will produce and star in pic

John Leguizamo is attached to star in the title role of “Esquivel,” a biopic of the famed Mexican bandleader Juan Garcia Esquivel for Fox Searchlight and Leguizamo’s Gotham-based Lower East Side Films.

Based on their pitch, the project will be written and directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman, the duo behind the documentary “Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s.”

Leguizamo, David Bar Katz and Kathy DeMarco will produce, and David Lewis will take exec-producing chores. Searchlight’s Matt Gannon brought in the project and will supervise the film.

“Esquivel” is set in the 1960s and will chronicle the life and career of the Mexican composer, producer and band leader.

Esquivel’s recordings were sprung from obscurity in late 1994 when the Bar None label issued “Space Age Bachelor Pad Music,” a term that had been applied to the hi-fi music he pioneered in the 1960s.

Coupled with reissues on other labels, Esquivel soon became the sultan of exotica and was reinstated, as Variety had reported in the 1960s, as being “to pop music approximately what Aaron Copland is to serious music or what a John Coltrane is to jazz.”

Born in Mexico in 1918, Esquivel moved to the U.S. in 1957 to record for RCA Victor. His arrangements took full advantage of the stereo phenomenon through bongos, glass-shattering brass, worldless vocals, sparkling xylophones and steel guitar. As his arrival coincided with the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, Esquivel was in essence the last great big band leader; although he was able to work into the 1970s in Las Vegas and Reno showrooms, he returned to Mexico, where he now lives, and retired in the ’80s.

He also arranged and wrote for television and film and his work has been featured in more than 400 TV episodes.

Leguizamo was seen last year in New Line’s “Spawn,” and currently is starring in his one-man show “Freak,” which makes its Broadway bow Feb. 12 at the Cort Theater.

Leguizamo’s other credits include Fox’s “Romeo and Juliet,” TriStar’s “The Fan” and New Line’s “The Pest.”

Lower East Side was formed last year by Leguizamo and screenwriter Katz, who hired their longtime agent Lewis to run the banner, which has a two-year, first-look deal at New Line Cinema (Daily Variety, August 29, 1996).

Leguizamo is repped by Scott Lambert and Brian Gersh at the William Morris Agency and attorney Jason Sloane of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller & Hoberman.

Pulcini and Springer Berman are represented the Irv Schecter Co.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 'Lost in London' film rehearsals, at

    AFM: Germany's Tiberius Acquires Woody Harrelson's Comedy 'Lost in London' (EXCLUSIVE)

    German distributor Tiberius Film has acquired the local rights to Woody Harrelson’s comedy “Lost in London” at the American Film Market, as well as two films from Russian producer Central Partnership – action movie “The Ninth” and horror thriller “The Widow.” “Lost in London,” Harrelson’s directorial debut, was experimental. It was shot over a single [...]

  • Coming to America

    Eddie Murphy on Making 'Coming to America' Sequel: 'I'm Just Over the Moon'

    Eddie Murphy revealed how he chose his “Dolemite Is My Name” director Craig Brewer to helm his “Coming to America” sequel. Murphy, who starred in and created the story for the original 1988 romantic comedy, chatted about “Coming to America” — and much more — with former co-star Antonio Banderas for “Variety Studio: Actors on [...]

  • Antonio Banderas Actors on Actors

    Antonio Banderas Reveals How His Priorities Changed After His Heart Attack

    Antonio Banderas used his recent heart attack to fuel his performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s film “Pain and Glory.” Banderas — who suffered a cardiac arrest two years ago — discussed how it fueled his performances and changed his priorities during a conversation with former co-star Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”) for “Variety Studio: Actors [...]

  • Robert Pattinson Twilight Was Weird

    Robert Pattinson Finds the Whole ‘Twilight’ Premise 'Weird'

    While speaking with Jennifer Lopez for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Robert Pattinson confessed that the blockbuster “Twilight” series always struck him as a profoundly “weird” saga. “It’s a weird story, ‘Twilight.’ It’s not just like – it’s strange how people responded a lot to it. I guess the books are very romantic, but at [...]

  • Robert Pattinson

    Robert Pattinson Says Actors Only Go Method When They’re Playing A--holes

    Robert Pattinson is no fan of method acting, as he told Jennifer Lopez during an interview for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. Discussing his work in the nightmarish drama “The Lighthouse,” Pattinson revealed the psychological challenges that come with playing a character who slowly descends into madness. “It was a kind of no limit part, [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Batman Actors on Actors

    Robert Pattinson Thinks Jennifer Lopez Would Make an 'Awesome' Batman

    From his iconic portrayal of a lovestruck vampire in the “Twilight” series to his latest role as a disturbed lighthouse keeper in director Robert Eggers’ frightening drama “The Lighthouse,” it’s clear that Robert Pattinson is drawn to playing dark and brooding characters. While that might make his casting as Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’ upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content