Latino studio signs big names

Arenas Entertainment, the first Latino film studio in Hollywood, has signed deals with three major forces in the Spanish-language entertainment world: the band Los Tigres del Norte; syndicated radio host Renan Almendarez Coello, better known as "El Cucuy"; and bestselling Chicano author Victor Villasenor.

The Grammy-nominated Los Tigres will co-develop and co-produce films based on their story or music by other Latino musicians. Arenas also acquired the movie rights to "En la Cumbre de la Pobreza" (At the Summit of Poverty), the autobiography of "El Cucuy," a Honduran immigrant who can be heard locally on KSCA-FM (101.9) and Villasenor's "Macho!," the story of a young Mexican immigrant working as a California fruit picker.

Arenas Chief Executive Santiago Pozo formed a partnership with Universal Pictures in the fall of 2001. The company got off to a good start with last year's "Empire," a film starring John Leguizamo that was acquired for $650,000 and took in more than $17 million at the domestic box office. "Imagining Argentina," a romantic and political thriller with Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson, is expected to be released by Universal in the fall.

-- Elaine Dutka

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