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LA Screenings: Endemol Shine North America Preps English-Language Celia Cruz Bio-Series (EXCLUSIVE)

The queen of Latin music, Celia Cruz, is coming to the small screen in English, thanks to Endemol Shine North America and Major TV, which have jointly optioned the rights to Celia Cruz’s best-selling autobiography, “Celia: My Life.”

Triple Emmy-winning film and TV producer-director-choreographer Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical”) will serve as executive producer and direct the series. Flavio Morales, executive vice president, Endemol Shine Latino, U.S. Initiatives, will also serve as an EP.

This is not the first time a TV series has been made about Cruz. In 2015, NBC Universal’s Hispanic broadcaster Telemundo aired an 80-episode telenovela about the iconic singer, albeit in Spanish.

Cruz was one of the most popular recording artists of all time, winning four Grammy Awards and five Latin Grammy Awards, as well as recording 23 gold albums and gaining millions of loyal fans worldwide before her death in 2003.

Cruz’s only authorized autobiography, with a foreword by the late Maya Angelou, is based on more than 500 hours of taped interviews by the Smithsonian, recorded just months before her passing.

“There is no bigger name in Latin music than Celia Cruz,” said Endemol Shine North America CEO Cris Abrego. “We are thrilled to be adapting her amazing life story, one filled with triumph and tragedy, for a dramatic television series with a producer of Kenny Ortega’s pedigree attached.”

“I had the extraordinary honor of working with Celia Cruz many years ago as a burgeoning choreographer on a little movie called ‘Salsa,’” said Ortega. “While we were working together, Celia and her husband invited me to join them for her concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Celia seated me in a chair on stage and I was there, in the light, watching La Reina de la Salsa hypnotizing the audience with her voice and performance magic,” he recalled.

“With a voice that transcended language, color, race, and gender, Celia Cruz broke barriers, changed the landscape of music and became a global icon. Capturing her authorized life story for the first time on screen, in any language, is an incredible milestone,” said Major TV’s Raymond Garcia.

“Celia Cruz was a black woman, of limited means, who painfully abandoned her small island and triumphantly conquered the world with the power of her voice. Her story is a testament of perseverance, hope and inspiration that deserves to be told,” said Omer Pardillo Cid, executor of the Celia Cruz Estate and her former manager.

Endemol Shine and Major TV have also optioned the rights to Chris Perez’s “To Selena With Love,” the best-selling book that tells the late Latin superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez’s love story, as told by her husband.

Endemol Shine North America and its Spanish production division Endemol Shine Boomdog, currently have numerous scripted series in development, including “To Selena With Love” (with Major TV) and the upcoming drama “Nicky Jam: El Ganador,” which is slated to debut later this year on Telemundo and Netflix.

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