Moctesuma Esparza, the executive producer of “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” has inked a trifecta of deals for original movie projects-at Disney Channel, Lifetime and HBO-and a deal for a new series at Si´TV.
Mr. Esparza’s latest productions add to his growing slate of cable projects being developed under the banner of Esparza-Katz Productions, which Mr. Esparza runs with partner Robert Katz. The development deals include:
Representatives for HBO, Lifetime and Disney Channel had no comment.
“I’m really into movies that explore what it is to be human,” Mr. Esparza said. “That’s why I’ve done so many in war settings and biographies.”
Mr. Esparza, an East Los Angeles native who has previously produced big-screen projects such as “Selena” and “Gettysburg,” said he has increasingly found cable to be a receptive venue for his work. “[Cable networks are] replacing what used to be done in the independent feature film world,” he said.
Recently, Mr. Esparza has also branched into series development. He recently sold a pilot to Si´TV called “Extreme Movie Makeover,” where foreign films are recut with new plots and soundtracks.
If his slate weren’t already enough to keep him busy, Mr. Esparza is active in championing social justice enterprises outside his producing career.
Mr. Esparza was recently approved to form a performing arts and entertainment business charter school called the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Business Enterprise.
“There is only one performing arts high school in the country,” he said, “but many students are desirous of getting that kind of education.”
In another project, Mr. Esparza recently broke ground on a $21 million, 14-screen movie theater called Maya Cinemas in the California town of Salinas, which has a significant Hispanic population. Town officials are hoping the cinema will revitalize their downtown area, and Mr. Esparza hopes to expand Maya into a chain.
“He’s one of the reasons I got into this business,” said Si´TV co-founder Jeff Valdez. “He’s become the Jimmy Carter of Hispanics-an elder statesman who’s done terrific things for the community.”
Previously, TelevisionWeek reported Mr. Esparza’s “Walkout” was in development at HBO (June 18, 2004) and his “Green Card Marines” was set up at FX (Feb. 16, 2004).
“Walkout” is the true story of thousands of East Los Angeles Latino high school students (one of whom was Mr. Esparza) who took to the streets to protest substandard education in the 1960s. “Green Card Marines,” based on a four-part Los Angeles Times series about noncitizen U.S. soldiers who died fighting in Iraq, is still in script development.