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Rio

Tuesday 17th May 2011

Rio is a 3D motion picture event from Blue Sky Studios, the makers of the Ice Age films and one of the most successful producers of animated feature films in the world. The comedy-adventure centers on Blu, a rare macaw who leaves the comforts of his cage in small town Minnesota for the exotic wonders of Rio de Janeiro. But Blu's new life and adventures in Rio are complicated by the fact that he can't fly. Lucky for Blu, his new menagerie of friends are ready to help him find his inner-hero - and teach him what it really means to soar.
Karen Disher, Jason Fricchione, Sofia Scarpa Saldanha, Leslie Mann, Kelly Keaton, Jesse Eisenberg, Wanda Sykes, Jane Lynch, Rodrigo Santoro, Gracinha Leporace, Jamie Foxx, Will.i.am
Carlos Saldanha
Bruce Anderson, John C. Donkin, Chris Wedge
Twentieth Century Fox Corporation
1 hour 36 minutes
2011

From the creators of the hit Ice Age series comes Rio, a 3D comedy adventure about taking a walk on the wild side. Blu is a domesticated Macaw who never learned to fly, and enjoys a comfortable life with his owner and best friend Linda in the small town of Moose Lake, Minnesota. Blu and Linda think he's the last of his kind, but when they learn about another macaw who lives in Rio de Janeiro, they head to the faraway and exotic land to find Jewel, Blu's female counterpart. Not long after they arrive, Blu and Jewel are kidnapped by a group of bungling animal smugglers. Blu escapes, aided by the street smart Jewel and a group of wisecracking and smooth-talking city birds. Now, with his new friends by his side, Blu will have to find the courage to learn to fly, thwart the kidnappers who are hot on their trail, and return to Linda, the best friend a bird ever had.

Rio, from Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Animation, is the biggest, most ambitious animated film for the studios. It is rich with scope and grandeur, and alive with character, colour, music, emotion and fun. The story unfolds amidst a colorful jungle, a beach paradise, a sprawling metropolis - and the celebration to end all celebrations, known as Carnaval. Rio is more than a point on a map; it's a magical place, a state of mind, and an attitude.

Rio was born from the imagination of filmmaker Carlos Saldanha, who co-directed or directed the animated hits Ice Age, Robots, Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. After completing work on the second Ice Age film - and during pre-production on Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs -- Saldanha came up with the idea that would ultimately blossom into Rio. He wanted to write a love letter to his hometown of Rio - with a story about a nerdy, highly domesticated bird who goes on the adventure of a lifetime in that wondrous world. "I spent years working on the Ice Age films and had a great time in that world and living with those wonderful characters", Saldanha explains. "Rio is an even more personal journey for me". Adds producer John C. Donkin: "Carlos' passion for the project, and to take us into this world he envisioned, was contagious. Everything you'll see on screen began with that passion".

To fully realize the scope and breadth of this magical world and vivid characters, Saldanha brought together an all-star voice cast, led by Oscar® nominees Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, Oscar and Grammy®-winner Jamie Foxx, acclaimed musical artist will.i.am, actor-musician Jemaine Clement, comedic actress Leslie Mann, and actor-comedian-talk show host George Lopez. Additionally, Saldanha and his teams at Blue Sky Studios created cutting-edge tools of animation and 3D to create an immersive experience.

The filmmakers further envelop the action - and audiences - with a combination of Brazilian sounds and contemporary American music. The soundtrack features a stellar musical cast led by will.i.am (of the Black Eyed Peas), Jamie Foxx, Bebel Gilberto, Taio Cruz, Ester Dean, Siedah Garrett, Jemaine Clement, and famed Brazilian percussionist Carlinhos Brown, along with film composer John Powell - all performing under the guidance of Brazilian music legend and Rio's executive music producer, Sergio Mendes.

Rio's hero is Blu, a highly domesticated macaw - the last male of his kind - who never learned to fly. "Blu's emotional, comical and physical journey is the film's heart and core", says Saldanha. "He's a fish out of water". Jesse Eisenberg, a recent Best Actor Oscar nominee for The Social Network, voices Blu.

Blu's journey begins in the not-so-domesticated Brazilian jungle, where as a nestling, he's experiencing the joyous musical melodies of hundreds of birds flying and swooping around him. The sounds inspire the baby Blu to initiate his first attempt at flight, which is abruptly cut short when he and several other birds are captured by smugglers.

When we next see Blu, he's living comfortably in a small town in Minnesota with his owner and best friend Linda, voiced by Leslie Mann (Knocked Up). Years earlier, Linda had adopted Blu, who'd been transported by the smugglers to this wintry world. Now, Blu and Linda are inseparable. In the sheltered comfort and familiarity of Linda's home and bookstore, Blu thrives; in fact, he's become so domesticated, he's more human than bird. He can cook breakfast, brush his teeth, make the morning coffee, and serve as Linda's alarm clock.

What he can't do is what most birds do best... fly.

"Blu leads a protected life", notes Jesse Eisenberg. "He's very smart, reads everything, and is very analytical. But none of that helps him fly". Indeed, Blu thinks he can use his formidable brainpower to take flight, but he crashes during each attempt. "Blu has a checklist, a pile of books about the science of aeronautics, and a mountain of advanced math equations in which he's quadrated vector angles - adjusting for wind shear, of course", Eisenberg elaborates. "But it doesn't work, because no book can unlock the art of flying for a bird". Those secrets will be revealed only in Rio - and only through the rhythm of Blu's heart and the rediscovery of his roots.

Despite his frustrations at being unable to fly, Blu and Linda are content. Says Leslie Mann: "They lead a simple life together in Minnesota. Linda is a homebody and Blu is her pal, and they're very happy". But their lives are turned upside-down with the arrival of Tulio (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro), an eccentric scientist who has traveled halfway around the world - from Rio to the U.S. - bringing news that Blu is the last male of his kind, and that Tulio wants Blu to come to Rio to meet the last female macaw, who's named Jewel. "Tulio loves birds; he's connected to them", says Santoro. "And he wants the macaws to continue. So he works very hard to persuade Linda and Blu to make the long journey to Rio".

Linda and Blu aren't so eager to uproot themselves from their happy home. "They're not 'pack up and go to Brazil' types'", says Mann. "They're more like, 'Let's go down the street to the waffle restaurant' kind of people. Blu and Linda really don't get out much, and traveling to a distant land scares them both".

After much deliberation, Linda and Blu make the fateful decision to travel to Rio, where Blu is to meet his female counterpart Jewel. But Blu and Jewel's first date is far from a love connection. The would-be lovebirds are complete opposites - Blu is domesticated and happy to spend time in a cage, and Jewel is fiercely independent and hates the idea of being stuck in a contained environment. "She rejects having any kind of limitations put on her", elaborates Anne Hathaway, who voices Jewel. She likes to have things her way. Being the last of her kind has made Jewel a survivor - and she wants to keep it that way. Blu represents many things that Jewel dislikes. In some ways, she looks at his domesticated lifestyle and inability to fly as a sell-out, and she judges him harshly.

"Jewel may also have some relationship 'issues'", Hathaway continues. "She needs to learn how to trust. Part of her initial rejection of Blu is Jewel wanting to avoid being hurt. She's secretly vulnerable". Blu's initial reaction to Jewel is, says Jesse Eisenberg, a mix of "intimidation and enchantment. But as he comes to know Jewel, he's enthralled because she's everything he isn't. Jewel is free-spirited, outspoken and heroic".

Blu is very much a fish out of water (bird out of sky?) even before his shaky meeting with Jewel. Arriving in Rio and experiencing the sensory overload of its colors, sounds and environs, Blu is completely out of his Minnesota comfort zone. The caged Blu - remember, that enclosure is home to him - meets his first friends in Rio: Nico, a canary, voiced by Jamie Foxx, and Pedro, a cardinal, voiced by will.i.am. Encountering these high-flying birds adds to Blu's culture shock, but he's also intrigued by the diminutive duo's bigger-than-life personalities - and Nico and Pedro are equally curious about Blu. "Nico loves life and music", says Foxx. "He's a little guy who thinks big. Nico and Pedro supply the wild side to Blu's new life in Rio - so they're wondering, why is this guy in a cage?"

Foxx particularly welcomed the opportunity to collaborate, for the first time, with his longtime friend will.i.am. "It was great to connect with Will and watch him go to work as a musician and as an actor". The two performers' thespian and musical collaborations are some of the film's many highlights, including a big scene set in a Brazilian club, where Nico and Pedro energise the crowd with a rousing number entitled Hot Wings (I Wanna Party), co-written by The Black Eyed Peas front man. "My character, Pedro, likes fusing samba, hip-hop and electro, and making a new jungle mash-up of techno and classical rhythms", says will.i.am.

According to producer Bruce Anderson, the Nico-Pedro dynamic was one of the film's many happy surprises. "You could feel the wonderful comedic and musical energy when Jamie and will were recording together", he says.

Blu's lucky to have Nico and Pedro in his corner; in fact, he'll need all the friends he can get in Rio because he and Jewel are kidnapped by smugglers who plan to sell the rare birds for a pile of cash. The smugglers' chief henchman is a cockatoo from Down Under named Nigel, voiced by Flight of the Conchords Jemaine Clement. "A story is only as good as its villain", says Saldanha, "and we think Nigel is a great bad guy". Saldanha and the screenwriters gave Nigel an intriguing and unexpected backstory to make their cockatoo really stand out. "Nigel is an ex-soap opera star who still holds a grudge about losing a role, years earlier, to a much younger and 'prettier' bird", Saldanha elaborates. "Nigel is very dramatic, very dry, and very, very funny". Adds Clement: "Nigel is embittered. He was once a successful and good-looking bird. But his physical appearance changed to reflect his inner evildoer. And believe me, Nigel is not a good guy. Any chance he gets to do something evil, he'll take it. He eats chicken! What kind of bird eats chicken?"

The filmmakers credit the actor-singer for giving Nigel so many unexpected layers. Not only does Clement voice the role, he co-wrote and performs a fun musical number that introduces Nigel. Saldanha and the writers came up with an idea and framework for the song Pretty Bird, but the tune and character really came to life when Clement and the songwriters locked themselves in a room and fleshed it out. "Jemaine really owned Nigel", says producer Bruce Anderson. "He added all these wonderful alliterations and textures to the character's voice, personality and attitude". But Rio's technical and design teams also made critical contributions, giving their villain a kind of lived-in, beaten-up look, including patches where he's missing feathers, and a distinct and expressive crest.

Despite Nigel's best efforts, Blu and Jewel make a narrow escape from their captors. Nigel decides he needs help to retrieve the fleeing macaws. The canny cockatoo cooks up some serious monkey business, recruiting a team of marmosets, a tribe of simians trained in the Brazilian martial art of caporeira, who'll do anything Nigel wants. (He can be awfully persuasive.) Saldanha likens the marmosets to "squirrels running around New York City's Central Park. But they have serious martial arts skills, and they even sing and dance".

Blu and Jewel, on the run from Nigel and the marmosets, continue their wild adventure across and above Rio. The good news is they're one talon ahead - barely - of the smugglers. The bad news: prior to Blu and Jewel's escape, Nigel had chained the mismatched pair together. Their forced bonding is less than ideal, but given their circumstances, the flightless Blu and high-flying Jewel must somehow find a way to work together to stay free of Nigel's clutches.

Enter Rafael, a helpful toucan who has decided to take Blu under his wing. A former King of Carnaval, Rafael is still a bird about town; he knows everyone in Rio, including a garage owner named Luiz who might be able to help free Blu and Jewel of their chains. George Lopez, who voices Rafael, calls the toucan "the voice of Rio. He's a larger than life personality, but he has domesticated himself - he's married and has 17 kids! So he's a little bit of a homebody now. But his heart still beats for Carnaval".

Rafael wants Blu to feel the macaw's own beating heart because, says Rafael, that's the only way Blu is going to fly. "Rafael tells Blu that flying comes from the rhythm of the heart", says Lopez. "Blu must connect his heart to his mind, and only then will he truly soar and discover the hero inside". Besides, Rafael's friend Luiz is clear across town, and it'll be much faster to get there by air. Alas, that's not to be - Blu's still not feeling the inner-beat, and after some failed (and painful) attempts to go airborne, Blu and Jewel slowly make their way to the garage. Along the way, they have more close calls with the smugglers, Nigel and the marmosets; Blu has an important flashback; and romance may finally blossom.

Much to Blu and Jewel's surprise, Luiz is not a fine-feathered friend; he's a bulldog, who unlike most members of his species resists the temptation to chase birds. He's a good buddy to Rafael, and eager to please the toucan and any of his pals. In addition to his friendly demeanor, Luiz is distinguished by his penchant for wearing a fruit basket as a headpiece, and for his incessant drooling - the pooch is a world-class slobberer. "I had a complex for months after seeing some footage of Luiz wearing that fruit hat", laughs 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan, who voices the role. And Morgan's not even getting into the relentless drool that trickles, drips and dribbles from Luiz's mouth. (For the research and development teams at Blue Sky Studios, the slippery goo was serious business, requiring considerable time, attention and high-tech rendering to bring to life.)

At the end of their journey, Blu, Jewel, their new friends, and Linda (who's been searching for her lost pal since they were separated by the smugglers), converge in a sequence set during the spectacular celebration of Carnaval. Music, color, scope, parades, floats, swooping birds and 50,000 human extras filling a stadium - all make for an epic finale to a tale about a world where the celebration never ends... and where adventure takes flight.

Creating the magical world of Rio and its characters presented innumerable challenges to the scientists, animators, artists, modelers, riggers, 3D, and effects teams at Blue Sky Studios. Rendering the winged leads and creating their performances was a key focus. "We wanted to create intricate performances for Blu, Jewel, Nico, Pedro, Rafael and the other birds", says Saldanha. During the production's early stages, several of the filmmakers visited the world-famous Bronx Zoo, where they observed how birds moved, used their feathers, and turned their heads - in short all the "quirks" that make birds, birds.

The trip revealed some surprising human-like behaviors among the birds, such as their penchant for hugging, or at least returning hugs from their trainers. The birds and trainers also worked hard to understand one another - perhaps inspiring ideas for the Blu-Linda friendship.

Blue Sky came up with a new feather-renderer called a Ruffle Deformer, which allowed the animators to pose and shape the feathers with unprecedented control, adding important levels of performance to the characters. Saldanha wanted Rio's birds to look and feel like actual Brazilian species, with wings that were recognizable but that could also take on a subtle and stylised hand shape to heighten the characters' expressiveness.

The Blue Sky Studios Materials group put the blue in Blu - coloring each feather, then adding detail, highlights and surface textures, such as his beak's scratches, chips and dings. The film's human characters were equally challenging to render. Blue Sky hadn't created human forms since the first Ice Age picture - and those lacked significant emotions and speech. To meet those challenges for Rio, the studio's lighting department developed a new way to render skin, making it feel alive, fresh and realistic on the exaggerated, stylised features of Linda, Tulio and other principal human characters.

Renowned live action cinematographer Renato Falcão came aboard Rio early in pre-production. His work facilitated more elaborate, fluid and realistic camera movements than were previously possible. Falcao also experimented with different lenses and studied what a live action motion picture camera could reveal about depth of field, and how that information could be incorporated into the staging of the action and characters of this animated film.

Rio is Blue Sky Studios' second 3D feature (following 2009's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs), and while the filmmakers remind us that a story and characters must stand on their own in 2D or 3D, a richer and more immersive experience is in store for those who see the film in a 3D-equipped auditorium. With Rio, the Blue Sky stereoscopic team embedded the 3D procedures within - and kept imagery layered throughout - the entire the production pipeline, including the early stages of animation. "The 3D for Rio is part of the fabric of the story", says stereoscopic supervisor Jayme Wilkinson. "Audiences will be able to experience more of the action and emotion. We've really pushed the depth of field and immersive qualities". Wilkinson elaborates on the methods that facilitated this added richness: "We developed tools allowing us to capture each shot with multiple stereo camera rigs, providing additional flexibility in dialing into space we needed and removing space we didn't. The 3D landscape in Rio looks like one detailed and immersive world, and not two or three different ones".

Whether watching Rio in 2D or 3D, audiences will experience a world, says George Lopez, "that is nothing less than a wonderful character in itself. Rio draws things out of you and opens your eyes". Saldanha and his teams capture the region's vastness, including landmarks like Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Sambadome; as well as its jungles, villas, cityscapes, beaches and water. Unlike the fantastical worlds Blue Sky created in the Ice Age pictures, Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who, and Robots, Rio's Rio is a known place, so the filmmakers had to be especially creative in rendering a city that would be visually exciting, colorful, stylised and wondrous, yet remain recognizable as the familiar Brazilian metropolis.

For these artists, filmmakers and technicians, as well as for the cast members, the experience of making Rio mirrored the journey undertaken by the film's principal characters. "Rio is all about getting out of your own way and pushing expectations aside - of being in the moment and letting yourself fly", sums up Anne Hathaway.

Anne Hathaway (Jewel) shot to stardom when she starred opposite Meryl Streep in the sleeper hit The Devil Wears Prada. In 2008, Hathaway secured her place among the highest echelon of actresses when she starred in Jonathan Demme's critically acclaimed Rachel Getting Married. Her performance in the film garnered nominations for an Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, Independent Spirit and SAG AwardT in the Lead Actress category. Hathaway was awarded Best Actress awards by the National Board of Review, the Chicago Film Critics Association, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

The acclaimed actress starred in two of last year's biggest box office hits - the ensemble romantic comedy Valentine's Day, in which she collaborated for a third time with longtime friend and director Garry Marshall, and director Tim Burton's blockbuster Alice in Wonderland, in which Hathaway played the White Queen. Hathaway next starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Love & Other Drugs. Upcoming is Focus Features' One Day, also starring Jim Sturgess; the film is slated for a fall 2011 release.

Other film credits include: Bride Wars, Get Smart, the Jane Austen biopic Becoming Jane, Passengers, Brokeback Mountain, The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement, Havoc, Ella Enchanted, an adaptation of Charles Dicken's Nicholas Nickelby, and The Other Side of Heaven. Hathaway lent her voice to the successful animated feature Hoodwinked. Hathaway first gained Hollywood's attention for her acclaimed turn in the series Get Real, for which she was nominated for a 2000 Teen Choice Award for Best Actress in a Drama.

Hathaway's theater credits include: Shakespeare in the Park's 2009 production of Twelfth Night, The Lincoln Center Encore series presentation of Carnival, for which she won the prestigious 57th Annual Clarence Derwent Award, Andrew Lloyd Webber's workshop of Woman in White, and Forever Your Child. In 2004-2005, Hathaway participated in the Encores Concert Gala as well as the Stephen Sondheim Birthday Gala. Hathaway has lent a hand to several philanthropic initiatives around the world. She traveled to Cambodia in January 2005 on behalf of the documentary, A Moment in the World, organised by Angelina Jolie. The project placed roughly 25 participants in various locations on a specific day; each participant was instructed to videotape his or her surroundings at the same moment in time. In additional, Hathaway has been involved with the Step Up Women's Network, a foundation created to strengthen community resources for women and girls. She also serves on the advisory board for Lollipop Theater Network, an organization that screens movies in hospitals for pediatric patients suffering from chronic or life-threatening illness.

Hathaway studied acting at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and at the award winning Barrow Group in New York City. In April 2005, the Barrow Group honored her for her achievements. Hathaway was the first and only teen admitted to their intensive acting program. She also studied in the musical theater program with the Collaborative Arts Project, CAP 21, affiliated with New York University. Hathaway is also an accomplished dancer who studied at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Additionally, she is a first soprano and has performed in two concerts at Carnegie Hall as a member of the All-Eastern U.S. High School Honors Chorus.

Jesse Eisenberg (Blu), trained in theater and film, made his feature film debut in the 2002 independent film Rodger Dodger, for which he was nominated for a Gotham Award. For his performance in The Squid and the Whale opposite Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels, Eisenberg received nominations for an Independent Spirit Award and a Boston Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2009, he starred with Kristen Stewart in Adventureland for director Greg Mottola, and with Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, for director Ruben Fleischer. For both films, Eisenberg was nominated for a BAFTA Award. In 2010, he starred in the independent film Holy Rollers, the true story of a young man from a Hasidic Jewish community who is lured into becoming an ecstasy dealer. Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg in the Sony film The Social Network for director David Fincher. Eisenberg was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his work in the picture, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, as well as numerous other honors. Eisenberg was was recognised with Best Actor Awards from the National Board of Review, Boston Society of Film Critics, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, Toronto Film Critics Association and the Village Voice/LA Weekly Critics Poll. Additionally for The Social Network, Eisenberg received a nomination for Best Actor from the Hollywood Foreign Press, as well as nominations in the category of Best Actor from the London Film Critics Circle Awards, Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Critics Association, Detroit Film Critics, Houston Film Critics Society, Online Film Critics Society, Phoenix Film Critics Society and Utah Film Critics Association.

In 2009, he starred with Kristen Stewart in Adventureland for director Greg Mottola, and with Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, for director Ruben Fleischer. For both films, Eisenberg was nominated for a BAFTA Award. In 2010, he starred in the independent film Holy Rollers, the true story of a young man from a Hasidic Jewish community who is lured into becoming an ecstasy dealer. Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg in the Sony film The Social Network for director David Fincher. Eisenberg was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his work in the picture, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, as well as numerous other honors. Eisenberg was was recognised with Best Actor Awards from the National Board of Review, Boston Society of Film Critics, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, Toronto Film Critics Association and the Village Voice/LA Weekly Critics Poll. Additionally for The Social Network, Eisenberg received a nomination for Best Actor from the Hollywood Foreign Press, as well as nominations in the category of Best Actor from the London Film Critics Circle Awards, Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Critics Association, Detroit Film Critics, Houston Film Critics Society, Online Film Critics Society, Phoenix Film Critics Society and Utah Film Critics Association.

Eisenberg reteamed with director Ruben Fleischer to shoot the film 30 Minutes or Less, opposite Danny McBride. On stage, Eisenberg recently appeared in Scarcity at the Atlantic Theater Company and starred opposite Al Pacino as Philip in Lyle Kessler's play, Orphans. Eisenberg has written several plays, to be performed off-Broadway in 2011, and the music and lyrics to a musical, Me Time! He has also written for Dave Eggers' humor website, McSweeneys, and his most recent piece was picked up by The New York Times and Harpers.

Jemaine Clement (Nigel), a native New Zealander, has been involved in a wide array of projects on stage, radio, television and film. Clement formed, with Takia Cohen, the sketch comedy duo The Humourbeasts. Earlier, in1998, Clement joined fellow New Zealander Bret McKenzie in an endeavor initially intended as a vehicle for the two burgeoning entertainers to learn guitar. The duo performed very briefly under the monikers Moustache and Vested Interest before arriving at the name Flight of the Conchords. They have since been named Best Alternative Comedy Act at the 2005 Comedy Arts Festival, Best Newcomer at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and been nominated for the Perrier Comedy award at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

They released a live album called Folk in the World and a six-part BBC Radio series for which they won a U.K. Comedy Award. In 2005, FOTC made numerous late night appearances and filmed a One Night Stand for HBO. It then became a popular HBO series, which followed the trials and tribulations of a two-man digi-folk band from New Zealand as they try to make a name for themselves in their adopted home in New York City. The show aired from 2007 to 2009. Clement's film credits include Dinner for Schmucks, a voice role in Despicable Me, Tongan Ninja and Eagle vs. Shark, the latter written and directed by Clements' Humorbeasts partner Takia Cohen.

Tracy Morgan (Luiz) stars on NBC's Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning 30 Rock, opposite Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. In the series, Morgan portrays Tracy Jordan, the unpredictable star of Lemon's (Fey) hit variety show, TGS with Tracy Jordan. In 2009 Morgan received his first Emmy nomination for this role, in the Supporting Actor category. For four consecutive years, Morgan was nominated for a Supporting Actor NAACP Image Award. The 30 Rock cast has also won the Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.

In 2010, Morgan starred with Bruce Willis in director Kevin Smith's comedy Cop Out. He and Willis portrayed two cops given the grim tasks of locating a stolen baseball card to pay for a wedding, rescuing a kidnapped woman, and combating gangsters whose main goals are laundering money and elevating the death count in Brooklyn. Also last year, Morgan starred in the comedy Death at a Funeral. The remake of the 2007 British movie of the same title, also featured Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, and Danny Glover. Next came an independent romantic comedy Nailed. Upcoming is the drama The Son of No One, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

In 2009, Morgan made his animation debut, lending his voice for producer Jerry Bruckheimer's G-Force, in which Morgan starred as Blaster, one of the highly trained secret agent guinea pigs dispatched to save the world. Another milestone for Morgan was reached in 2009 with the release of his first book, I Am The New Black, a compilation of studied anecdotes and some of the more serious moments that shaped him and his career. He headlined the famed New York Comedy Festival, with Bill Maher, Andy Samberg and Patton Oswalt. Morgan's debut HBO special was Black & Blue.

Morgan was first introduced to television audiences in his role as Hustleman on the hit comedy series Martin. He went on to join Saturday Night Live in 1996, where he appeared for seven seasons and created such memorable characters as Astronaut Jones and Brian Fellows. After leaving SNL, Morgan toplined the comedy series The Tracy Morgan Show and voiced Spoonie Luv on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers. Additional film credits include Superhero Movie, First Sunday, The Longest Yard, Little Man, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Head of State.

Tracy Morgan (Luiz) stars on NBC's Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning 30 Rock, opposite Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. In the series, Morgan portrays Tracy Jordan, the unpredictable star of Lemon's (Fey) hit variety show, TGS with Tracy Jordan. In 2009 Morgan received his first Emmy nomination for this role, in the Supporting Actor category. For four consecutive years, Morgan was nominated for a Supporting Actor NAACP Image Award. The 30 Rock cast has also won the Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.

In 2010, Morgan starred with Bruce Willis in director Kevin Smith's comedy Cop Out. He and Willis portrayed two cops given the grim tasks of locating a stolen baseball card to pay for a wedding, rescuing a kidnapped woman, and combating gangsters whose main goals are laundering money and elevating the death count in Brooklyn. Also last year, Morgan starred in the comedy Death at a Funeral. The remake of the 2007 British movie of the same title, also featured Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, and Danny Glover. Next came an independent romantic comedy Nailed. Upcoming is the drama The Son of No One, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

In 2009, Morgan made his animation debut, lending his voice for producer Jerry Bruckheimer's G-Force, in which Morgan starred as Blaster, one of the highly trained secret agent guinea pigs dispatched to save the world. Another milestone for Morgan was reached in 2009 with the release of his first book, I Am The New Black, a compilation of studied anecdotes and some of the more serious moments that shaped him and his career. He headlined the famed New York Comedy Festival, with Bill Maher, Andy Samberg and Patton Oswalt. Morgan's debut HBO special was Black & Blue.

Morgan was first introduced to television audiences in his role as Hustleman on the hit comedy series Martin. He went on to join Saturday Night Live in 1996, where he appeared for seven seasons and created such memorable characters as Astronaut Jones and Brian Fellows. After leaving SNL, Morgan toplined the comedy series The Tracy Morgan Show and voiced Spoonie Luv on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers. Additional film credits include Superhero Movie, First Sunday, The Longest Yard, Little Man, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Head of State.

Rodrigo Santoro (Tulio) is one of Brazil's most well known actors, and has also made a name for himself in the United States. He recently co-starred in the independent feature I Love You Phillip Morris, starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. Last year, Santoro starred in Post Grad, in director Steven Soderbergh's Che and in director Pablo Trapero's Lion's Den. Che and Lion's Den each received multiple nominations at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2008, Santoro was featured in writer-director David Mamet's Redbelt. Santoro is already known for his performance in the blockbuster film 300, in which he co-starred as Xerxes, the Persian King who sent his massive army to conquer Greece in 480 B.C. Santoro was nominated for an MTV Movie AwardT for Best Villain. During that time, Santoro took the role of Paulo in the hit series Lost. Additionally, Santoro was honored at the 2008 Ischia Global Film Festival in Italy. In 2007, he won Best Actor at the Cancun Film Festival for his portrayal of an obsessive photographer in the Brazilian film "Nao por acaso" (Not By Chance).

Santoro co-starred in the romantic comedy Love Actually and made his American debut in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Santoro starred as the "mystery man" opposite Nicole Kidman in a commercial for Chanel, directed by Baz Luhrmann. In 2004 Santoro starred in the Brazilian film Carandiru, directed by Hector Babenco, which broke all Brazilian box office records and was Brazil's entry in the Foreign Film category for the Academy Awards. Carandiru premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where Santoro received the Chopard Award for Male Revelation of the year. He was also nominated for the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize of Best Actor and won for Best Supporting Actor at the Cartagena Film Festival.

Santoro has won a total of eight Best Actor awards, including one from Brazilian Academy of Arts and Film for his portrayal of a young man forced into a mental institution by his parents in Brainstorm, directed by Lais Bodansky. For his role in Bicho de Sete Cabecas (2001) Santoro won five awards, including, Best Actor from the Brazilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema, Best Actor for the Cartagena Film Festival, Best Actor for Cinema Brazil Grand Prize, Best Actor from the Recife Cinema Festival, and Best Actor from the Sao Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards. Santoro also appeared in the features Behind the Sun, directed by Walter Salles (Central Station), and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.

George Lopez (Rafael) is a multi-talented entertainer whose career encompasses television, film, stand-up comedy, and late-night television. He is the host of his own late night talk show, Lopez Tonight, airing Monday through Thursday nights on TBS. He also serves as an executive producer on the show. His film credits include Henry Poole Is Here, Swing Vote, Balls of Fury, Robert Rodriguez's The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl, HBO's Fidel, and the Wonderful World of Disney Christmas movie Naughty or Nice. Lopez earned praise for his performance in the 2002 film Real Women Have Curves, which received the Sundance Film Festival's Audience Award. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed drama Bread and Roses, directed by Ken Loach, which opened the Cannes Film Festival in 2000.

Lopez lent his voice to the live action Walt Disney Pictures' blockbuster film Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Last year, Lopez voiced a key role in the live action feature Marmaduke. Lopez also appeared in Mr. Troop Mom with Jane Lynch, which was Nick at Nite's highest rated original movie premiere since March of 2007. Maintaining an extremely active schedule as a stand-up comedian, Lopez's shows sell-out coast to coast and continuously break attendance records at major theatres and arenas.

Lopez's second HBO Comedy special, Tall Dark and Chicano, aired in 2009, and his first HBO Comedy Special, America's Mexican, aired in 2007. Tall, Dark and Chicano earned a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album. Lopez also performed as part of HBO and TBS's Comic Relief 2006, and his acclaimed comedy concert, Why You Crying? debuted on Showtime in 2004. Lopez released his third standup CD, El Mas Chingon, in 2006, which also earned a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Comedy Album. In 2004, he was nominated for a Grammy in the same category for his CD Team Leader. In May 2004, his autobiography, Why You Crying? appeared on The New York Times Bestsellers Top 20 List. The book was co-written by Emmy®-winning writer and sportscaster Armen Keteyian. Lopez's success led him to be the focus of the award-winning documentary Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream.

Lopez co-created, wrote, produced and starred in Warner Bros. Television's groundbreaking hit sitcom, George Lopez, which ran for six seasons on ABC. George Lopez remains a huge success in syndication on both broadcast stations and cable's Nick At Nite, quickly becoming the cable network's highest rated program. It is now among the top five comedies and top 20 weekly programs in syndication. In 2006, Lopez received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition, Time magazine named him as one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and the Harris Poll named him as one of the Top Ten Favorite Television Personalities. Additionally, Lopez was named by TV Guide as one of the Top 50 Greatest Television Dads of All Time.

Lopez has made more than 200 television comedy, talk show, and hosting appearances, including co-hosting the Emmy Awards and twice hosting the Latin Grammys. Other honors include an Imagen Vision Award, the Latino Spirit Award, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition Impact Award, as well as receiving multiple Image, Imagen, and BET Award nominations. Lopez was presented with the Artist of the Year and Humanitarian Award by Harvard University and the Spirit of Liberty Award by the American Way. He has received the Manny Mota Foundation Community Spirit Award and was named Honorary Mayor of Los Angeles for his extensive fundraising efforts benefiting earthquake victims in El Salvador and Guatemala.

Jamie Foxx (Nico), an Academy Award winning actor and talented Grammy Award winning musical artist and comedian, is one of Hollywood's elite multi-faceted performers. Foxx will next be seen in New Line Cinema's Horrible Bosses, a Seth Gordon- directed comedy to be released later this year.

Foxx continues to expand his role as a producer. He is currently executive producing a new sketch comedy series starring Affion Crockett for Fox Television that will premiere in June 2011. Foxx is also producing Thunder Soul, a documentary following the astonishing alumni from Houston's Kashmere High School Stage Band, who return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old Prof, their beloved band leader who broke the color barrier and transformed the school's jazz band.

In addition to his outstanding work in film, Foxx has a thriving career in music. In December 2010, he released his fourth album, Best Night of My Life, featuring Drake, Justin Timberlake, Rick Ross, T.I., and more. In January 2010, Foxx and T-Pain's record breaking #1 song Blame It, from his previous album, Intuition, won Best R&B performance by a Duo/Group with Vocals at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Showing his versatility in a variety of film genres, Foxx was most recently seen in a hilarious cameo appearance opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis in Due Date, Todd Phillips's directorial follow up to The Hangover. Foxx appeared in Garry Marshall's box office hit romantic comedy Valentine's Day; the film's stellar ensemble cast included Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, George Lopez, and Patrick Dempsey.

In 2009, Foxx starred opposite Gerard Butler in the dramatic thriller Law Abiding Citizen. His performance earned him a NAACP Image Award Nomination for Best Actor. Foxx starred in director Joe Wright's inspirational film, The Soloist, in which Foxx played Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a real-life musical prodigy who developed schizophrenia and dropped out of Julliard, becoming a homeless musician wandering the streets of Los Angeles. The film was based on a series of articles by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, who was portrayed in the film by Robert Downey, Jr.

In September 2007, Foxx appeared in The Kingdom, in which he portrayed the leader of a counter-terrorist team on the hunt for those responsible for a deadly bombing attack on Americans working in the Middle East. Foxx executive produced the film Life Support, which closed the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Starring Queen Latifah, the film is an inspirational true-life story of a mother who overcame a cocaine addiction and became a positive role model and AIDS activist in the black community.

In December 2006, Foxx was seen in the critically acclaimed screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, Dreamgirls, opposite Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, and Eddie Murphy. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical Comedy, and received a SAG nomination for Best Ensemble Cast and a nomination for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture. Foxx was also nominated in the Best Actor Category for his performance as Curtis Taylor Jr. In January 2006, Foxx announced his partnership with SIRUS Satellite Radio to start his own radio station called Foxxhole, which broadcasts both music and comedy.

Foxx's album Unpredictable topped the charts in late December 2005 and early 2006, taking the number one spot for five weeks and selling over one million units in 20 days. Foxx was nominated for eight Billboard Music Awards, three Grammy Awards, one Soul Train Music Award, and two American Music Awards; at the latter event, Foxx won Favorite Male Artist. His NBC special, Unpredictable was a creative live performance of his album, whose all-star lineup included Mary J. Blige, Common, Snoop Dogg, The Game, and Angie Stone. The album was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2006, including: Best R&B Album; the track Love Changes, featuring Mary J. Blige, for Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group; and the track Unpredictable, featuring Ludacris, for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

In 2005, Foxx's portrayal of the legendary Ray Charles in the Taylor Hackford-directed biopic Ray garnered Foxx an Academy Award for Best Actor. In addition to winning the Oscar, Foxx shared in a SAG Award nomination received by the film's ensemble cast, and single-handedly swept the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, BAFTA, and NAACP Image Awards, as well as numerous critical awards for his performance, which captivated audiences worldwide.

Also in 2005, Foxx earned Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG Award, BAFTA Award, and Image Award nominations in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his work in Michael Mann's dramatic thriller Collateral, opposite Tom Cruise. For his portrayal of condemned gang member-turned-Nobel Peace Prize nominee Stan Tookie Williams in the FX movie Redemption, Foxx received Golden Globe nominations, SAG Award nominations and won an Image Award for Best Actor in a Television Movie. Additional film credits include: Michael Mann's Ali, Michael Mann's Miami Vice Sam Mendes' Gulf War drama Jarhead, Stealth, Bait, Booty Call, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, and The Great White Hype. Foxx's big-screen break came in 1999 when Oliver Stone cast him as star quarterback Willie Beamen in Any Given Sunday, with Al Pacino.

Foxx rose to fame as a comedian. After spending time in the comedy circuit, he joined Keenan Ivory Wayans, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans and Tommy Davidson in the landmark Fox sketch comedy series, In Living Color, creating some of the show's funniest and most memorable moments. In 1996, he launched his own series, The Jamie Foxx Show, which was one of the top-rated shows on the WB Network during its five-year run. Foxx not only starred on the series, he was the co-creator and executive producer of the series, directing several episodes himself. Foxx released his first HBO Comedy Special, Jamie Foxx: I Might Need Security, in February 2002.

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