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A Decade of Comedy: Rick Najera to Direct CBS Diversity's Sketch Comedy Showcase for 10th Consecutive Year

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Award-winning film and television screenwriter, director, author and comedian, Rick Najera, will direct the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase for the 10th consecutive year.

Each year, more than 4,000 diverse talents audition for the CBS showcase, under the direction of Rick Najera coupled with CBS' production team of Fern Orenstein, Vice President of Casting; Josie Thomas, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer; Peter Golden, Executive Vice President, Talent and Casting; and Tiffany Anoi Smith, Vice President, Diversity and Communications. The showcase has developed into a hybrid comedy show with Broadway-worth, live performances and original, creative writing.

"Rick is an amazing director and an invaluable asset to the CBS Diversity Talent Showcase team," said Tiffany Anoi Smith. "Rick brings immense levels of passion, energy and expertise. This program would not be as successful without his efforts."

The showcase focuses on ethnicities such as Latino, African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander and Native American actors with extensive sketch comedy experience in addition to actors with disabilities or LGBT actors of any ethnicity. Najera, an expert in entertainment diversity and author of award-winning book, "Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood," works and mentors the most diverse talent pool in the industry.

Najera was first asked to direct the show in 2005 on the heels of completing a run on Broadway with his stage comedy, Latinologues, in order to shape its up-and-coming group of chosen actors focusing on multicultural and diverse industry talent. Najera agreed and a new standard of industry showcases was born.

Najera not only directs the show, but mentors the actors of all levels, teaches writing and stage performance, and punches up sketches that are close to falling flat or worse, not getting a laugh. Najera pulls out the best from each actor and shapes the show into a polished production, producing four live show performances each January to an overflowing theatre filled with casting directors, managers and industry agents.

It's no wonder that with a background in sketch comedy ("In Living Color," "MAD TV," "Latinologues on Broadway") and Najera's keen eye for talent and direction, more than 26 showcase actors have gone on to land series regular roles including "Saturday Night Live."

Najera has received two Writers Guild of America (WGA) award nominations for Best Writer in a Television Series for Fox's "MAD TV" and "50 Most Creatives in Hollywood" by Variety. Najera won an ALMA Award for writing the feature film, "Nothing Like the Holidays" starring Debra Messing, Elizabeth Peña, Alfred Molina, John Leguizamo and Freddy Rodriguez.

The CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase will take place in January 2015. For more information on Rick Najera, visit www.ricknajera.com.

CONTACT: Susie Albin-Najera (213) 500-7837 sanpresents@yahoo.comSource:Rick Najera, Director