Jhené Aiko to Perform at CNN’s “Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom” Concert

Jhené Aiko is helping celebrate Juneteenth

The 34-year-old part-Spanish and Dominican American Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter will perform as part of CNN’s first-ever Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom programming, featuring a Hollywood Bowl concert with a lineup of artists.

Jhene AikoThe goal of the program: to inform and educate viewers on the meaning of the new federal holiday.

CNN obtained the rights to the event, from Live Nation Urban and Jesse Collins Entertainment, and the lineup includes Chaka Khan, Khalid, Yolanda Adams, Anthony Hamilton, Billy Porter, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Earth, Wind & Fire, Killer Mike, Lucky Daye, Mary Mary, Aiko, Ne-Yo, Michelle Williams, Mickey Guyton, Robert Glasper and The Roots, among others.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver taped remarks.

Johnita P. Due, senior vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for CNN Worldwide, said in an interview this week that event  “is really one of the most meaningful things that I have been involved in” at the network.

“The thing that makes it special, of course, is that it was only a year ago that the federal government made Juneteenth a national holiday,” she said. “So how many times in history will we have that opportunity to really shape for the country, and for the world, how a holiday is celebrated, and the meaning of a holiday and the importance of a holiday.”

This is the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. June 19, 1865 was the date that federal troops arrived in Galveston, TX and informed citizens that slavery had been abolished in the state. The anniversary was commemorated the following year with prayers and singing, and it endured as an annual tradition.

“We really feel that with this event, we are able to not only commemorate the holiday, but we’re able to educate people around the meaning behind it, and also to uplift and inspire people to continue to make a difference and continue in the pursuit if freedom for all,” Due said.

The event also will include The Re-Collective Orchestra, a 68-piece all Black symphony orchestra that will be the first time that an all-Black symphony has performed at the bowl. Adam Blackstone and Questlove will serve as the evening’s musical directors.

Earlier in the evening, Don Lemon will anchor a pre-show highlighting African American advocates and creators.

On Thursday, CNN Business hosted a streamed conversation on advancing Black leadership, with correspondent Stephanie Elam sitting down with Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer. Also appearing were Operations Hope Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant and Collab Capital co-founder Barry Givens.

Due said that CNN staff had been brainstorming ideas for coverage of Juneteenth, and went on a tour with curators at the National Museum of African American History and Culture before they connected with Live Nation Urban. She said that artists will give music and spoken word performances that share their experiences of Black America. Interstitial packages will be woven in with the live performances.

The goal also was to have a diversity of music genres, including rap, R&B, country, soul, hip hop and gospel. Viewers also will be directed to ways they can get engaged in organizations and volunteer activities.

Due said that they “want people to be uplifted and we want people to be motivated.”

“We want people to walk away with a renewed commitment to make a difference in society as it relates to racial and social justice and equity,” she said.

Eva Longoria’s New Docuseries “Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico” Moved to CNN’s Linear Network

Eva Longoria’s search is switching locations…

CNN has moved the 47-year-old Mexican American actress, director and producer’s Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico from its fallen streaming service CNN+ to its linear network.

Eva LongoriaThe news was revealed by Chris Licht, chairman and chief executive officer of CNN Worldwide, at the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront in New York.

Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico, which was unveiled as one of CNN+’s first series, will be moved to the linear network after the axe of the streaming service.

The series, which is produced by Raw TV, follows the Desperate Housewives star as she explores cuisine in Mexico. From harvesting blue agave for tequila as the Aztecs once did, to slow cooking traditional mole sauce in Oaxaca, Longoria will journey across the country.

It now sits alongside projects like Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, See It Loud: The History of Black Television (w/t), The 2010s from exec producer Tom Hanks, and CNN Films titles like Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down and Little Richard: I Am Everything (w/t).

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Launches Initiative to Help with COVID-Related School Staffing Shortages

Michelle Lujan Grisham could be headed back to school…

Facing a dire staffing shortage in schools, the 62-year-old governor of New Mexico has launched an initiative asking state workers and National Guard members to become licensed volunteer substitute K-12 teachers and child care workers.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lujan Grisham has completed the registration to become licensed as a substitute teacher, her press secretary Nora Sackett confirmed to CNN.

The move is an effort to help fill staffing gaps and stave off closures across school districts and child care centers because of the rise in Omicron cases.

Volunteers will have to clear a mandatory background check, complete an online substitute teaching training, and then undergo a typical onboarding process done by the school where they’re placed. The new program speeds up approval of the licensing process to two days. Civil servants and Guard members who are currently involved in critical health care roles or administering vaccines are asked not to participate.

Lujan Grisham, who has no prior experience in education, expects to be placed in an elementary school this week, she told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Newsroom this weekend.

She said her state was left with no choice but to ask for additional help from the public to get more substitute teachers in New Mexico’s schools.

“There aren’t any other options,” the governor said.

Should a New Mexico school district accept her offer to serve as a substitute, Lujan Grisham says she will donate her services and will not accept payment.

“We’ll have additional information about her placement this upcoming week,” Sackett told CNN. “This work will not require the Lt. Gov. to act as governor.”

The governor is among the 100 — 50 National Guard members and 50 state employees — who have so far signed up for the initiative, according to Lujan Grisham.

“The whole goal is certainly not to interrupt the qualified experienced work that is required in our public schools,” Lujan Grisham said on CNN, adding that the aim of the initiative is to “keep schools open and to support educators, parents, and students through the worst of Omicron.”

Since winter break, roughly 60 school districts and charter schools in New Mexico were forced to switch to remote-learning due to staff members testing positive for COVID-19 or having to isolate or quarantine under CDC recommendations, according to the governor’s office.

Also due to staffing shortages, 75 child care centers have partially or completely closed since the start of the year, according to the governor’s office.

Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez, whose school district has gone remote, said Wednesday that the initiative will be “instrumental” in helping continue or return to in-person learning and reduce “the stress on our remaining staff who have taken on additional duties.”

“This initiative will help create a stable school environment, as well as help parents who are having to juggle childcare and jobs,” MaryBeth Weeks, the head of New Mexico Parent Teacher Association, said in a statement.

New Mexico is not the only state facing teacher shortages and implementing extraordinary measures to keep classrooms running, such as asking parents or alumni to become substitute teachers or dispatching office administrators.

Eva Longoria to Headline CNN+’s Original Docuseries “Eva Longoria: Searching For Mexico”

Eva Longoria is on the search south of the border

The 46-year-old Mexican American actress/producer will headline CNN+’s original docuseries Eva Longoria: Searching For Mexico, which is slated to launch in 2022.

Eva LongoriaA new iteration of CNN’s popular Stanley TucciSearching for Italythe six-part series will follow Longoria as she travels across Mexico exploring the country’s cuisine.

The streamer’s announcement teases that the multihyphenate’s journey will take her to various regions including Oaxaca, where she’ll slow cook traditional mole sauce, to harvesting blue agave for tequila as the Aztecs once did.

“Partnering with CNN on a culinary-driven expedition throughout Mexico is a dream come true. I am so proud of my Mexican American roots and can’t wait to bring the hidden gems of Mexico to the world through Searching for Mexico,” said Longoria in a statement. “I am a huge fan of Stanley’s journey throughout Italy; he set the bar high, and I can’t wait for everyone to fall in love with the magic of Mexico.”

Searching for Mexico will be produced by RAW, the film and TV company behind Searching for Italy.

Putting Eva Longoria: Searching For Mexico on CNN+ vs. the linear network which carries the mothership series illustrates the big push CNN’s leadership has been making to build up its streaming platform

Executive producers include Longoria, Ben Spector, and Tucci with RAW’s Tom Barry, Eve Kay, and Jess Orr.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Comments on Rape Victims “Disgusting”

U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is slamming the controversial comments Texas Governor Greg Abbott made Tuesday about the state’s newly enacted restrictive abortion laws.

Senate Bill 8, which became law on September 1, bans abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy — including in cases of rape and incest.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

It’s considered the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. and both Abbott and the Texas legislature have faced fierce criticism for its passage.

On Tuesday, Abbott re-ignited the fire when asked whether the new law would force a rape or incest victim to carry their baby to term.

Abbott responded that the law doesn’t do that because victims can get abortions within the six-week period. While SB 8 allows for abortion up to six weeks, this time period is usually before most people even realize they’re pregnant.

‘I find Governor Abbott’s comments disgusting,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night. “I don’t know if he is familiar with a menstruating person’s body. In fact, I do know that he’s not familiar with a menstruating person’s body because if he did he would that you don’t have six weeks.”

“In case no one has informed him [Abbott] in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period. Two weeks late on your period, for any person with a menstrual cycle, can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks.”

Abbott also continued his explanation on Tuesday by saying victims of rape and incest wouldn’t have to give birth because the state of Texas would work to “eliminate rape.”

“Let’s be clear: rape is a crime,” Abbott said. “And Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”

The concept of “eliminating rape” was widely criticized as being nonsensical and also impossible. Ocasio-Cortez said the comments also don’t reflect reality of who the perpetrators of sexual assault typically are.

“When he [Abbott] talks about going after rapists and this language that he uses about ‘getting rapists off the streets’ — the majority of people who are raped and who are sexually assaulted are assaulted by someone they know,” continued the 31-year-old Puerto Rican politician, a New York Democrat. “These aren’t just predators that are walking around the streets at night. They are people’s uncles, they are teachers, they are family friends.”

The New York Democrat Ocasio-Cortez also explained that the legal process of prosecuting a rapist can be long, unsuccessful and retraumatizing to victims. She said that while some victims do choose to pursue charges, many don’t want to perpetuate the trauma through litigation.

AOC, as she’s known, concluded by saying: “It’s awful. And he [Abbott] speaks from such a place of deep ignorance and it’s not just ignorance. It’s ignorance that is hurting people across this country.”

In addition to the post-six-week procedure ban, SB 8 enables private citizens to sue for $10,000 or more against anyone who helps someone get an abortion after the specified time period. Opponents of the bill say this will lead to widespread harassment, deputizing of citizens against one another, and a backlog of frivolous lawsuits.

Carlos Santana to Perform Alongside Rob Thomas at “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert”

There’s more than a walk in the (Central) park in Carlos Santana’s future…

Amid concern over the Delta coronavirus variant, a mega-concert in Central Park to celebrate New York City’s reopening will go forward as planned next month, with performers including the 74-year-old Mexican-American guitarist/musician.

Carlos Santana

Santana, considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, will perform alongside Rob Thomas. The pair teamed up in 1999 for Smooth“, a dynamic cha-cha stop-start number co-written and sung by Thomas of Matchbox Twenty and laced throughout with Santana’s guitar fills and runs. “Smooth” spent twelve weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming in the process the last No. 1 single of the 1990s.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined music industry legend Clive Davis, who is co-producing the concert, for a press conference to unveil the details of what de Blasio promised will be a “historic,” “blockbuster” event. Officially titled “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert,” the event is set for August 21 at 5:00 p.m., it will be broadcast live globally on CNN and 80% of tickets will be free.

While de Blasio initially proposed having vaccinated and unvaccinated sections, he said that attendees will be required to present proof of vaccination.

“New York City is back,” de Blasio said. “You can see it, you can feel it, and it’s time to celebrate on the Great Lawn.”

The lineup, which includes many New York natives, so far spans Jon BatisteAndrea Bocelli, Kane Brown, LL Cool J, Elvis Costello, Earth, Wind & Fire joined by Lucky Daye and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Cynthia Erivo, Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Hudson, Wyclef Jean, Journey, The Killers, Gayle King, Don Lemon, Barry Manilow, The New York Philharmonic, Polo G, Carlos Santana joined by Rob Thomas, Paul Simon and Patti Smith duetting with Bruce Springsteen.

“As a born, bred and true New Yorker, I well know how resilient we are and how New York always comes back,” Davis said. “I cannot think of a more appropriate way to celebrate this than an unforgettable concert in the most special venue in the world: the Great Lawn at Central Park. My team, along with our partners at Live Nation, has been hard at work for weeks curating what I submit to you will be a once-in a lifetime event […] It will celebrate a spectacular range of musical genres, styles and eras while including some of the most iconic artists in the history of modern music.”

Davis, who was raised in Brooklyn, is co-producing alongside Live Nation. Restauranteur Danny Meyer, the recently-appointed chairman of the New York City Economic Development Corporation board of directors, is also involved, as is Universal Hip-Hop Museum executive director Rocky Bucano.

“We’re so honored to be part of this event,” added Live Nation regional president Geoff Gordon. “I too have goosebumps after hearing that, even though we’ve been involved in lining this up. Live music has the unique ability to bring us all together, which is really what we’re doing. There’s nothing like a live music experience.”

Tickets for the concert go on sale on Monday, August 2 at 10:00 a.m. EST on the new NYC Homecoming Week website, and the Great Lawn has a capacity of 60,000. The 20% of tickets not designated as free are VIP tickets available for purchase. De Blasio said that event workers will be checking for proof of vaccination as attendees enter, with more details to come. Asked by a reporter whether the vaccination requirement means the concert is for attendees aged 12 and over only, de Blasio said, “right now, that’s a fair assumption.”

The event will cap off a reopening celebration dubbed NYC Homecoming Week, during which the City of New York will host concerts in each of the five boroughs starting August 14, leading up to the Great Lawn spectacle on the 21st. The lead-up concerts will be held Aug. 16 at Orchard Beach in The Bronx; Aug. 17 at Richmond County Bank Park in Staten Island; Aug. 19 at Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn; and Aug. 20 at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens.

Julian Castro to Serve as Political Analyst on NBC News & MSNBC

Julian Castro is ready to examine our political landscape…

The 46-year-old Mexican American lawyer and politician, who was the youngest member of President Barack Obama‘s cabinet when he served as the 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a political analyst.

Julian Castro

Castro ran for president in the 2020 cycle. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski announced his new role in an appearance on the show on Monday, as Castro joined to talk about voting rights and the debate over amending the filibuster.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) has called on President Joe Biden to support changes to the U.S. Senate rule.

“The problem is that we really haven’t seen any activity. We haven’t seen any push from the Oval Office on this issue, and you can see that, you know, that the impatience is growing among Democrats,” Castro said on Morning Joe.

Castro served as HUD secretary from 2014 to 2017, after serving as mayor of San Antonio. He launched his presidential campaign in January, 2019, one of the first candidates to get in the race, but dropped out almost a year later. He went on to endorse Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Castro is one of the few 2020 presidential contenders to go on to cable news gigs, given the sheer number of candidates who still hold elective office. After he dropped out of the presidential race, Andrew Yang joined CNN as a political commentator, but he then went on to run for mayor of New York.

Gloria Estefan to Perform at ‘Vax India Now’ COVID-19 Vaccine Support Livestream Event

Gloria Estefan is helping to raise awareness and money for COVID-19 vaccine support in India.

The 63-year-old Cuban singer, songwriter, actress and businesswoman will perform during the Vax India Now livestream event.

Gloria Estefan

Estefan joins a roster of performers that includes Sting and Josh Groban.

Andrea Bocelli, his son Matteo Bocelli, Yo-Yo MaDavid Foster, Alan Walker, Asif Mandvi, Nishat Kahn and the Ranjani Gayatri Sisters are also slated to perform.

Anuradha Palakurthi, who runs her own foundation in New England that promotes Indian culture, organized Vax India Now, which is primarily funded by the Giving Back Fund, a national nonprofit that encourages and facilitates charitable giving by high-profile individuals and organizations.

“When our longtime Board member Prashanth Palakurthi proposed doing something truly significant on a worldwide scale to help his native India at this critical time, we jumped at the chance to help,” Giving Back Fund president and founder Marc Pollick said in a statement. “This is what we are built for – to mobilize quickly and provide assistance and philanthropic administration to help those in need. At this moment in time, the need in India must become the center of the universe.”

India’s second wave of the virus in February has resulted in 30 million total confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. On June 10, the nation reached its record-high total of deaths in one day with 7,374 lives lost. Earlier this week, Al Jazeera reported on the unsustainable distribution of the COVID vaccine in India after the world’s second-largest country received a record 8.6 million doses on Monday.

Vax India Now will be livestreamed on Wednesday, July 7, on CNN and Dreamstage.live. Fans can also view the program on vaxindianow.com and CNN’s YouTube channel.

Ana Cabrera to Anchor CNN’s “CNN Newsroom” During the Week

Ana Cabrera is expanding her role at CNN

The cable news network has announced changes to its weekday morning and dayside lineup, with the 38-year-old Mexican American broadcast journalist joining the roster.

Ana Cabrera

Cabrera, who has anchored CNN’s weekend newscasts for the last four years, will now anchor CNN Newsroom weekdays from 1:00 – 2:00 pm.

The news network also unveiled new roles for Jim Acosta and Boris Sanchez on weekends, with all changes effective in April.

Sanchez will join Christi Paul as co-anchor of Weekend New Day on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sanchez previously served as a CNN White House correspondent.

Acosta will anchor CNN Newsroom on Saturdays and Sundays from 3:00 – 6:00 pm. Acosta had previously been named the network’s chief domestic correspondent. Prior to this new role, he covered the White House for CNN for the past seven years, having served as Chief White House Correspondent since 2018.

Rachel Campos-Duffy to Serve as One of the Rotating Hosts of “Fox News Primetime”

Rachel Campos-Duffy will be pulling hosting duties in the near future.

The 49-year-old Mexican American television personality, a former cast member on MTV’s reality television series The Real World: San Francisco, has been added to the list of rotating hosts who’ll anchor Fox News Primetime, which is set for its debut in the 7:00 pm ET hour as part of a plan to fill the slot with opinion programming.

Rachel Campos-Duffy

Campos-Duffy, who has been a regular contributor to Fox News, joins a roster of rotating hosts that includes Maria Bartiromo, Brian Kilmeade, Trey Gowdy, Katie Pavlich and Mark Steyn.

Back in October, Fox News said that they were planning new formats “as appropriate after the election.” But since election day, much has been made of the growth of Newsmax’s viewership, particularly in the 7:00 pm hour, as Greg Kelly Reports was a platform for pro-Donald Trump guests to advance unfounded claims of election fraud.

Fox News topped other cable networks in viewership last year, but CNN has seen gains post election. In the first week of January, CNN topped primetime with an average of 4.18 million viewers, to 3.78 million for MSNBC and 3.19 million for Fox News.

Campos-Duffy was a guest host on the ABC talk show The View, before moving onto Fox News, where she has guest-hosted the show Outnumbered.

Campos-Duffy has served as the national spokesperson for the LIBRE initiative, a non-profit organization that promotes ideas about constitutionally limited government, property rights, rule of law, economic stability, and free market capitalism to the Hispanic community.