Justino Diaz Among This Year’s Kennedy Center Honors Recipients

It’s an Honors of a lifetime for Justino Diaz.

The 81-year-old Puerto Rican operatic bass-baritone is among the recipients of the Kennedy Center’s Kennedy Center Honors this year, as the organization plans to return the ceremony to its traditional time and format in December.

Justino Diaz

In 1963, Díaz won an annual contest held at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, becoming the first Puerto Rican to obtain such an honor and as a consequence, made his Metropolitan debut in October 1963 in Verdi‘s Rigoletto as Monterone.

Diaz’s big roles throughout his career were in the operas of Mozart, taking on the title role of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro a total of 27 times in his Met career.

He was also a renowned Scarpia and Iago in his time. He was famously picked by Franco Zeffirelli to take on the villain in his film version of Verdi’s final tragic masterwork; Scarpia was the last role he sang on the Met stage.

In addition to Diaz, the recipients for the December 5 event will be singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, actress and singer Bette MidlerSaturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, and Motown Record founder and producer Berry Gordy.

CBS will broadcast the 44th annual ceremony, and it will be live streamed on Paramount+ and available on demand.

The Kennedy Center Honors traditionally takes place in the first weekend of December, with events at the White House and the State Department preceding the ceremony at the Kennedy Center Opera House. But because of Covid-19, the most recent honors were postponed until May this year, with the ceremony spread out over several days with a mix of indoor and outdoor events, some in person and some pre-taped. Instead of a White House reception, President Joe Biden had a smaller gathering of the honorees.

In a statement, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said, “After the challenges and heartbreak of the last many months, and as we celebrate 50 years of the Kennedy Center, I dare add that we are prepared to throw ‘the party to end all parties’ in D.C. on Dec. 5th, feting these extraordinary people and welcoming audiences back to our campus.”

Melky Cabrera Helps Lead the Dominican Republic Past Venezuela for Final Olympic Baseball Berth

Melky Cabrera is headed to the Tokyo Games…

The 36-year-old Dominican baseball player, nicknamed The Melkman, sparked a comeback from a three-run deficit with a two-run homer to help lead the Dominican Republic past Venezuela 8-5 on Saturday and win the final qualifier at Puebla, Mexico.

Melky Cabrera

In the process, the Dominican Republic claimed the final Olympic baseball berth for the COVID-19-postponed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Former Kansas City Royals infielder Ramon Torres hit a go-ahead infield single in a six-run fourth inning for the Dominicans, who joined host Japan, the United States, Israel, Mexico and South Korea at the Olympics. The baseball tournament will be played from July 28 to August 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.

Baseball, dropped from the Olympics after 2008, was restored for the Tokyo Games and is being dropped again for 2024, though it is likely to be added for Los Angeles in 2028.

Players on 40-man Major League Baseball rosters are not eligible.

San Francisco prospect Diego Rincones put Venezuela ahead with a three-run homer in the second inning off Radhames Liz, whose last major league appearance was with Pittsburgh in 2015.

Emilio Bonifacio walked off starter Yapson Gomez with two outs in the third, and Cabrera, a 15-year big league veteran, greeted former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Eduardo Paredes with a two-run homer.

Juan Francisco singled leading off the fourth and Milwaukee Brewers prospect Harold Chirino relieved. Boston prospect Johan Mieses singled, Diego Goris followed with a tying double and Torres singled for a 4-3 lead.

Charlie Valerio‘ had an RBI single, Gustavo Nunez hit a two-run single and Bonifacio added a sacrifice fly for an 8-3 lead.

Former big leaguer Dario Alvarez pitched a hitless fourth for the win.

Milwaukee prospect Alexander Palma singled in a run in the seventh off former Arizona prospect Luis Castillo, and Danry Vasquez hit an RBI double with two outs in the ninth off Jairo Asencio before Palma’s game-ending groundout.

The Netherlands was eliminated Friday. Australia, China and Taiwan withdrew from the final qualifier citing the coronavirus pandemic.

Jayro Bustamante’s “La Llorona” Wins Peabody Award

Jayro Bustamante is celebrating a special award…

The 44-year-old Guatemalan film director and screenwriter has won a Peabody Award for his critically acclaimed horror film La Llorona.

Jayro Bustamante

The Peabody Awards recognize the year’s most compelling and empowering stories in broadcasting and streaming media, with topics that in the year 2020 included COVID-19, racial equality, immigration and social justice.

Bustamante’s La Llorona is a reworking of the well-known Latin American folk tale about a weeping woman. The film relies on the lyrical potential of the ghost story genre. The power of this gripping project is its inventive approach to visualizing the pains of a nation’s collective memory.

“It’s a quietly powerful indictment of justice delayed and a visceral embodiment of accountability politics that rightly centers Guatemala’s indigenous population,” said the jurors of Bustamante’s film.

A total of 30 awards were handed out this year for the Peabodys, presented by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

There were 60 nominees this year, with winners selected by 19 jurors who considered 1,300 entries across TV, podcasts/radio and the web in entertainment, news, documentary, arts, children’s/youth, public service and multimedia programming.

Here’s the full 2020 winners list with Peabody jurors’ comments:

ENTERTAINMENT

Small Axe (Amazon Studios)
BBC Studios Americas Inc. and Amazon Studios

This anthology series by Steve McQueen focuses on Black West Indian immigrant stories in post-war Britain. It honors the sacrifices made, hardships endured, culture asserted, and battles fought—the small and large acts of courage and confidence—all for the dreams of possibility and becoming. Portrayed through the poetics and intimacies of everyday life, the richness of culture and music, and the collective power of social movement and political action, Small Axe is a stunning emotional testament, offered as both political prism and intellectual history.

I May Destroy You
 (HBO)
HBO in association with BBC, Various Artists Limited, and FALKNA

One of the year’s most critically-acclaimed series is the provocative brainchild of British screenwriter, director, producer, and actor, Michaela Coel. The story centers on her character Arabella, who awakens from a night on the town with fragmented memories of having been sexually assaulted. With a compelling narrative that mirrors the structural rhythms of psychological trauma, the show defines the emergent subgenre of consent drama and takes center stage in a developing cultural conversation around complex issues of sexuality and consent, freedom and abuse, friendship and trust.

La Llorona (Shudder)
La Casa de Producción

Jayro Bustamante’s reworking of that well-known Latin American folk tale about a weeping woman relies on the lyrical potential of the ghost story genre. The power of this gripping film is its inventive approach to visualizing the pains of a nation’s collective memory. It is a quietly powerful indictment of justice delayed and a visceral embodiment of accountability politics that rightly centers Guatemala’s indigenous population.

The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)
Showtime Presents Blumhouse Television, Mark 924 Entertainment, Under the Influence Productions

Part fiction, part history, and part dramatic satire, this Showtime limited series boldly yet humorously examines the enigmatic abolitionist John Brown. With Ethan Hawke’s rich and complex portrayal of a madman who would become a martyr, Brown’s competing legacies are given ample room to coexist. The miniseries can’t help but follow in his wake and give us an irreverent history lesson that feels fresh and pressing for our times.

Unorthodox (Netflix)
Studio Airlift and RealFilm for Netflix

A riveting thriller, the series takes a hard look at how a religious community enforces strict gender roles to maintain its identity no matter the human cost. With the raw and authentic Shira Haas as Esty, Unorthodox merges a stark portrayal of religious oppression with a coming-of-age story that resonates with gritty, desperate innocence.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
CBS Studios

With filming restrictions in place, Stephen Colbert decided to move production of his CBS Late Show to his home outside of Charleston, a remarkably successful transformation of the late-night television model by a host inviting us into his home, rather than his typical comforting presence in our living rooms and bedrooms. Amidst suffering in a global pandemic, a public fed up with police violence against African Americans, and a morally contemptuous president fighting for his political life, Colbert’s kindness, gentle spirit, and deeply felt ethical nature provided a nightly salve the nation desperately needed.

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Apple/Doozer Productions in association with Warner Bros Television and Universal Television

What this presumably Ugly American, fish-out-of-water tale offers us is a charming dose of radical optimism, with an equally endearing Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso. It turns out that more than simply a sports coach, Ted is remarkably good at honest communication with others, affecting change by being a deeply good human, one with his own quiet anxieties and pain. The Apple TV+ series is the perfect counter to the enduring prevalence of toxic masculinity, both on-screen and off, in a moment when the nation truly needs inspiring models of kindness.

DOCUMENTARY

The Cave (National Geographic)
A Danish Documentary Production, in Co-Production with Ma.Ja.De Hecat Studio Paris Madam Films for National Geographic Documentary Films

Director Feras Fayyad’s astonishing documentary tells the story of a subterranean network of tunnels that function as a hospital in Syria, where the besieged residents of war-torn Al-Ghouta come for relatively safe medical care. Most are greeted by Dr. Amani Ballour, a female doctor in her late 20s, who serves as the hospital’s managing physician. The hospital endures everything from the constant fear of daily bombing raids to the heartbreak of children suffocating in war-crime chemical attacks. These haunting and harrowing images are necessary cries for help for these seemingly forgotten victims.

Welcome to Chechnya (HBO)
Public Square Films, Ninety Thousand Words, Maylo Films, BBC Storyville and HBO Documentary Films

Filmed in secret with the use of hidden cameras and cell phones, David France’s documentary details the brutal ongoing purge of LGBTQ Chechens in the closed Russian republic by a government-directed system of abduction, torture, and execution. The film follows undercover activists who risk their own safety to deliver rescued victims to safe houses and provide visa assistance for their refuge. The film employs innovative techniques of artificial intelligence and facial replacement visual effects to protect the identities of the subjects while delivering a harrowing story of ruthless persecution, audacious courage and human survival.

Collective
 (HBO Europe)
Alexander Nanau Production, Samsa Film

In the aftermath of a nightclub fire in Bucharest, the survivors suffering from non-life threatening burn injuries mysteriously begin dying. Journalists from the Gazeta Sporturilor newspaper probe into why, and their enterprising investigation, supported by key whistleblowers, is captured by director Alexander Nanau’s intimate and breathtaking cinema vérité film. What unfolds is a staggering exposure of official corruption that reaches from the highest levels of government and infects the entire health care system.

Immigration Nation (Netflix)
A Reel Peak Films Production for Netflix

Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz’s six-part documentary on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency shows how bureaucrats and officers working across different, seemingly unconnected domains make up a complex and terrorizing system. With rare access to detention facilities, ICE agents on duty, immigrant families, and lawyers and activists, the filmmakers reveal how individual and collective justifications of “we are just doing our job” rationalize a punishing system.

Crip Camp (Netflix)
A Higher Ground and Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk/JustFilms/Ford Foundation

Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht’s film features a group of summer campers who first met at Camp Jened in upstate New York in the early 1970s and went on to become key players and activists in the Disability Rights Movement in the U.S. With an unapologetic spirit and a welcome cheekiness found in its archival footage, the documentary gives us a glimpse into the warmth of the teenagers’ discovery of independence, romance, and themselves, while also offering an inspiring history of a space where people found the strength and the sense of community to take on a fight to change the very world around us.

76 Days
76 Days LLC/MTV Documentary Films

This is a hopeful film that does more than just document the beginning of the global pandemic in the lockdown period of Wuhan, China—the city in which cases of the coronavirus were first reported. It is a film about resilience, compassion, empathy, improvisation, the power of human touch and caring hearts as much as it is about panic, suffering, and indiscriminate victims. Using a direct cinema technique across four hospitals, the film captures frontline workers and the sick and dying while eschewing the story of politics and government action and statistics.

Asian Americans (PBS)
CAAM, WETA, Flash Cuts LLC, Tajima-Peña Productions, ITVS

Renee Tajima-Peña’s five-part documentary series places Asian communities at the center of debates about belonging and citizenship in America. The series asks us to consider who gets to be at the center of these American stories, offering the requisite national, ethnic, religious, political, linguistic, and cultural diversity that make up Asian American communities across the country today. In turn, we move beyond a singular representative testimony and bear witness to varying, complex, and touching portraits of individuals, identities, enclaves, and movements, collectively born in the face of tragedy and in spite of the burdens of trauma.

Time (Amazon Studios)
Concordia Studio, GB Feature LLC and Amazon Studios

This remarkable story of love and the impact of incarceration on a family is detailed through the multiple, often elusive registers of time—slow time, long time, happy time, missed time, hopeful time, and arrested time. In this brilliantly conceived, beautifully realized, and brutally honest chronicle, we travel with Fox Rich and her family toward her husband’s release and their collective freedom. Carefully building and then mining the archive of family memories, home movies, prison visits, high school and college graduations, filmmaker Garrett Bradley proffers viewers the power of dreams and the struggle to shape and sustain love and life across the divides of incarceration.

PODCAST/RADIO

The Promise: Season 2 (Nashville Public Radio)
Nashville Public Radio

Host Meribah Knight examines Warner Elementary, one of the most racially and economically lopsided schools in Nashville, especially when compared with the high-performing, almost all-white school just one mile away. Taking aim at nice, well-meaning white parents in an increasingly gentrified neighborhood, season 2 of The Promise chronicles the decades-long fight against desegregation as well as Warner’s uphill battle to turn itself around. The podcast carefully lays out how the current school system is inherently dependent on the resources white households provide, both creating and perpetuating systemic inequality in the process that most affects Black students.

Post Reports: The Life of George Floyd (The Washington Post)

George Floyd’s death ignited a global movement to end the plague of state violence against African Americans. Rather than focus on his death, The Washington Post sought to answer a simple but enlightening question: “What about his life?” Rather than a straightforward biography, their special podcast episode offers a more expansive view of Floyd’s life, keenly laying out how systemic racism operates across many institutions, creating sharply disparate outcomes in housing, education, the economy, law enforcement, and health care. The Post Reports team sketches a moving portrait of a man and of a nation, one that feels all the more archetypal for its familiar trappings.

Floodlines (The Atlantic)

This captivating podcast is a comprehensive story of Hurricane Katrina and its social, cultural, psychological, political, economic, and environmental aftermath and impact. From the national media’s ready-made criminalization of Black residents and their worthiness to be rescued, to the insensitive early response of national government officials, Floodlines also asks us to consider what happens to place, home, relationships, and community when politics, incompetence, and indifference are at the core of how we regard each other.

NEWS

ABC News 20/20 in collaboration with The Courier Journal: Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor (ABC)
ABC News 20/20 + Courier Journal

ABC News 20/20 and The Courier Journal’s two-hour documentary special presents a holistic picture of the events that led to the police killing of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020. Tracing the botched police investigations and operation that resulted in officers arriving at Taylor’s apartment building, this report is a lucid investigation that goes for the granular without losing sight of the systemic and structural fissures that led to her death. Exhaustive forensic reporting paints Taylor as more than the symbol she’s become, yet also reminds us why this case symbolizes how the demands for justice and police reform are so necessary.

PBS NewsHour: Desperate Journey (PBS)
PBS NewsHour

The plight of migrants and refugees is often fraught with danger, but the Darien Gap, a treacherous and lawless 66-mile trail through the wilderness on the border of Columbia and Panama, might be the most dangerous path to freedom on the planet. PBS special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico put themselves at great risk to join this caravan. What could be more consequential in helping viewers to understand the desperation of these migrants than the image of them stepping over the skeletal remains of those who have gone before them and failed?

PBS NewsHour: Coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic (PBS)
PBS NewsHour

Relentless and comprehensive reporting from PBS NewsHour gave us the best news coverage of a once-in-a-century global pandemic. Their work on “Global Pandemic” covered the pandemic’s human toll on five continents, in countries already hit hard by war, famine, and death. In the United States, “Making Sense: The Victims of COVID” put a spotlight on the millions who lost their jobs, the devastating impact on restaurants, and the near shutdown of the travel industry, while shedding new light on how the pandemic revealed and exacerbated astonishing racial disparities in American health outcomes.

Whose Vote Counts (PBS/GBH)
Frontline, Columbia Journalism Investigations, USA Today Network

From the legal battles over primary election absentee ballots to how the pandemic would exacerbate unfounded concerns over “rampant voter fraud” in November, Whose Vote Counts presents a clear breakdown of the way racial inequities, COVID-19, and voter suppression became interlinked crises in 2020. In collaboration with Columbia Journalism Investigations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and USA Today, the team at FRONTLINE and writer Jelani Cobb offer a probing and thorough investigation into the simple question of the piece’s title.

Vice on Showtime: Losing Ground (Showtime)
Vice News

Correspondent Alzo Slade explores how a little-known type of ownership known as “heirs property” leaves African Americans especially vulnerable to losing their property to unscrupulous developers through arcane and ethically questionable legal mechanisms. The abstract maneuvers occur in piecemeal, hard-to-follow fashion, but the cumulative result is that entire families are displaced and inheritances lost. Losing Ground dramatizes how the law so often favors the ruthless and illuminates a dark side of American property rights.

Muslim in Trump’s America (Exposure) (ITV)
Fuuse Films

In this rigorously reported film that chronicles the dangerous climate created around Muslims and other groups targeted during Trump’s presidency, director Deeyah Khan investigates the connection between rising hate crimes and state-sponsored racism with stories of those at the center of the storm: the downward spiral of a Kansas farmer serving 30 years for an anti-Muslim bomb plot; the conspiracy-filled world of right wing, armed militia who believe that Islam is infiltrating the United States; the painful reality of Muslims whose loved ones were hunted and killed by white supremacists; and the complex duties of embattled lawmakers such as Minnesota’s Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Full Disclosure (KNXV-TV)
ABC15 Arizona

Digging into Arizona’s “Brady list,” a system designed to track police officers with histories of lying and committing crimes in hopes of keeping police accountable, this hour-long special from ABC15 Arizona offers a stark portrait not only of why the system is broken, but why it has never been fixed. The yearlong investigation, with exhaustive reporting and damning video footage, demonstrates how law enforcement agencies rarely adhere to their own legal standards in keeping and disseminating such misconduct reports.

China Undercover (PBS/GBH)
Frontline

This documentary uncovers the story of China’s arresting an estimated two million Uyghur Muslims and putting them in concentration camps—what experts says is the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic group since the Holocaust. But the report also makes the case that this is a massive experiment in developing the most complete surveillance state in history, as the government employs technologies such as advanced algorithmic facial recognition software and houses marked with digital barcodes to monitor and ultimately detain Muslims whose behavior is “predicted” as threatening.

PUBLIC SERVICE

Cops and Robbers (Netflix)
Chemical Soup, Lawrence Bender Productions, Netflix

Timothy Ware-Hill and Arnon Manor’s animated short film, derived from the Ware-Hill poem, evokes the make-believe childhood game that rings quite differently for young Black kids, whose interactions with police officers do not make for such lighthearted play. Ruminating on his younger years, Ware-Hill paints a portrait of the innocence young Black boys like him are seldom afforded. But if the poem centers on his singular memories, the animated visuals that accompany this piece—produced by 30 individual artists, students and VFX companies from around the world—encompass many distinct animated styles, speaking to the shared, lived experience of many.

Facing Race (KING-TV)
KING 5

This audacious series tackles the deep-rooted subject of racial inequality, racism, racial privilege, and the systematic ways in which race structures and impacts the public and personal life of Seattle residents. From criminal justice to health disparities, environmental racism to land policy ramifications for Native American communities, the reporting team covers the magnitude and depth of the story sensitively yet critically. In particular, the series is attentive as well to the powerful emotional and psychological impact of racism and racial trauma, particularly among parents, trans-racial adoptees, and multiracial youth.

CHILDREN’S & YOUTH

Stillwater (Apple TV+)
Apple/Scholastic Entertainment/Gaumont

Designed to get its young audience to embrace mindfulness, empathy, and kindness, and to rejoice in the chance to rejoice in the quiet wonders of the world around them, Stillwater is a calm and soothing balm in the typically frenetic world of children’s television. Its essence is best captured by the patience of voice actor James Sie, who makes the titular character as much a role model for kids as for those parents watching. Structured around a number of parables told by the affable panda bear to his three young neighbors, every episode feels like an engrossing painting come to life that demands you slow down and take care to relish its every brushstroke.

The Owl House
 (Disney Channel)
Disney Television Animation

Alice in Wonderland. Dorothy in Oz. Coraline in Other World. To that list we should now add: Luz in Boiling Isles. Luz crosses a mysterious threshold and finds herself in a magical, colorful land where she finds both the strength and the support group she needs to become who she’s meant to be. The Dana Terrace-created animated series builds a wildly inventive other world that makes room for everyone and gives queer kids a welcome template alongside which to explore their own budding creative energies.

INSTITUTIONAL WINNER

Array

Founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is as much a center for disruptive institutional and narrative change as it is a production house. Indeed, its creative campus in Filipinotown, Los Angeles is itself a rejection of antiquated Hollywood thinking, not just in foregrounding absent voices and missing representations in front of and behind the camera by people of color and women, but in reimagining how projects are greenlit, created, produced, and distributed, and by whom. In ten short years, ARRAY has built the institutional infrastructure to produce award-winning content. Yet ARRAY is also deeply invested in the social impact of its work, creating educational and learning materials for much of its content. It’s easy to see that DuVernay and her women-led team at ARRAY have not waited for permission to build, create, grow, and envision a different and more equitable future for neglected filmmakers, artists, and social activists. Through brilliant visioning and old-fashioned sweat equity, ARRAY has crafted a new way forward in an industry heavily resistant to change.

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Sam Pollard 

A renowned editor, director and producer across film and television, Sam Pollard’s remarkable work critically conveys the historical reach of anti-Blackness, racial injustice and the enduring power of black freedom struggles. With tremendous insight and sensitivity, he mines the rich archives of African American life and culture portraying indomitable stories of struggle and determination. In the process he elevates the ordinary, stresses the pleasures, care, and compassion of Black people and ultimately serves as our guide to the power of Black freedom dreams. A Professor at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Pollard’s mentorship and teaching of a new generation of documentary storytellers continues his impact in the field and in the world. With his indomitable energy and insatiable curiosity, his generosity as a colleague, mentor, collaborator, his acute sensitivity to the complex modalities of black life and his undying commitment to social justice, Pollard is a virtuoso who continues to identify, document, curate and shape some of the most important and enduring stories that matter.

PEABODY AWARD FOR JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY

Judy Woodruff

With an award-winning career that spans more than five decades, Judy Woodruff, the anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour, represents the best of television news and is one of the most trusted broadcast journalists in America. In a world where “opinion” programs and personalities often dominate the media landscape, Woodruff has earned her reputation for delivering unbiased, fact-based news stories without the hype. From the beginning of her career, Woodruff rose quickly through the ranks of TV newsrooms, from local Atlanta television news to NBC to CNN to PBS. In 2016, Woodruff became the sole anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour. Throughout her career, Woodruff has been an outspoken advocate of the First Amendment, upholding the importance of a free and unfettered press as critical to the survival of our democracy. Never has that been more critical—never has journalistic integrity been more critical—than where we find ourselves today. For her extraordinary contributions to American television, for her groundbreaking work, and for her commitment to telling us the truth, the Board of Jurors is proud to salute Judy Woodruff with the first-ever Peabody Award for Journalistic Integrity.

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.

Demi Lovato to Perform at This Year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Demi Lovato is getting jazzed for the fall…

The 28-year-old half-Mexican American singer/actor will perform at the 2021 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in October.

Demi Lovato

Lovato joins a roster of performers that includes Foo Fighters, The Beach Boys, Lizzo, H.E.R. and Brandi Carlile.

Organizers have announced that the festival, which annually celebrates the culture and heritage of New Orleans and Louisiana alongside performances by national and international artists, is scheduled over two weekends in the fall from October 8-10 and October 15-17. Approximately 50 of the artists who will take the stage have been announced, while the full lineup will be presented next month.

Lizzo, Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, H.E.R., Dead & Company, The Black Crowes, Norah Jones, Elvis Costello & The ImpostersWu-Tang Clan feat. The Soul Rebels, Tank and The Bangas, The Isley BrothersTrombone ShortyBig Freedia and PJ Morton are among the performers who were previously set for the 2020 edition of the festival, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New Orleans Jazz Fest traditionally takes place at the end of April and early May for eight days and was once again scheduled for that time of year but was postponed due to COVID-19.

Additional performers include Jimmy Buffett, Tedeschi Trucks BandLudacris, Jon Batiste, Brittany Howard, Randy Newman and Nile Rodgers & CHIC.

Three-day weekend general admission passes, VIP packages and travel packages for the 2021 New Orleans Jazz Festival are currently on sale at nojazzfest.com. Single-day passes will go on sale in July.

Those who purchased the VIP and weekend packages for the 2020 festival and held on to their tickets will receive an email from the ticketing company with instructions on how to exchange their tickets for the weekend of their choosing. Single-day ticket-holders can make their selections when information about this year’s single-day passes is available next month.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation Inc. is the nonprofit organization that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other raised funds, for year‐round activities in education, economic development and cultural enrichment. The annual event is a co‐production of Festival Productions, Inc.‐New Orleans and AEG Presents.

Mariah Duran Named to First-Ever U.S. Olympic Skateboarding Team

Mariah Duran is headed to Tokyo…

The 24-year-old Latina skateboarder will lead the women’s street team, joined by Alexis Sablone and Alana Smith, at the COVID-19 postponed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Mariah Duran

Duran was the top American woman at worlds in seventh.

She’s officially part of the first-ever U.S. Olympic skateboarding team.

U.S. Olympic skateboarding team

“I heard that the Olympics was going to be in play. I was like, wow, I’m going to go for that. The Olympics and skateboarding in one sentence, it’s crazy even to think that you know,” Duran said.

Duran will compete in the Women’s Street division.

She’s a two-time X Games gold medalist, winning in Sydney in 2018 and Minneapolis in 2018.

Soda Stereo’s COVID-19-Postponed “Gracias Totales” Tour Getting an Early 2022 Reboot

Soda Stereo is preparing for a restart…

The Argentine rock band’s long-awaited Gracias Totales tour — which launched on February 29, 2020, in Colombia but was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak – is set to resume with new U.S. dates.

Soda Stereo

Part tribute to the rock band’s late frontman Gustavo Cerati and part reunion of the band’s surviving members Zeta Bosio and Charly Alberti, the tour will resume on February 27, 2022, at Miami’s FTX Arena (formerly American Airlines Arena) and on March 3 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The Miami show will be presented by Move Concerts and Loud And Live and Live Nation will present the LA area show.

The Gracias Totales tour will feature special performances and state-of-the-art technology that will make it possible for fans to enjoy the voice and image of Cerati.

“It is exciting to hear the whole process of how the band is doing,” the tour’s production manager and the band’s first manager and sound engineer said in a statement. “I think that people are going to be moved, not only because of the technical aspects but also the spirit and energy are impressive.”

Fourteen invited artists were set to appear during the previous U.S. dates including Gustavo Santaolalla, Draco Rosa, Julieta Venegas, Richard Coleman and AterciopeladosAndrea Echeverri, to name a few. No word yet on the final guest lineup.

The previously announced shows in New York and Houston will not be rescheduled according to a “lack of availability of adequate venues because of the post-COVID concert schedule.” However, promoters will fully refund those who purchased their tickets.

Tickets for the Miami and LA shows are already on sale via ticketmaster.com.

Auli’i Cravalho to Perform at PBS’ Televised Independence Day Celebration “A Capitol Fourth”

Auli’i Cravalho is embracing the independence

The 20-year-old part-Puerto Rican actress/singer will perform at this year’s Independence Day celebration A Capitol Fourth, which will feature a pre-taped concert and live fireworks from Washington, D.C.

Auli’i Cravalho

The city has lifted almost all COVID-19 restrictions, and President Joe Biden is planning an event at the White House that day, his goal for having at least 70% of the country with at least one COVID-19 shot.

But producers have been planning the show for months, with COVID-19 forcing them to set aside the traditional live concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

In addition to Cravalho, others who will perform at the event are Jimmy Buffett, Cynthia Erivo, Alan Jackson, Pentatonix, Jennifer Nettles, Train, Gladys Knight, Mickey Guyton, Ali Stroker, Jimmie Allen and Laura Osnes.

The National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jack Everly, will perform John Williams’ Olympic Fanfare, honoring U.S. participation in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. The orchestra and the Joint Armed Forces Chorus will accompany the fireworks with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Vanessa Williams will host the event, with Renee Fleming set to open the show with the National Anthem. The concert will honor men and women of the military, with other participants including the U.S. Army BandPershing’s Own,” the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The Joint Armed Forces Chorus and The Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The concert, a co-production of Michael Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA-TV, will air on July 4 from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm ET on PBS, and it also will be broadcast to the American Forces Network. NPR stations also will air the event, and it will be streamed on Facebook, YouTube and PBS.org through July 18.

Cravalho rose to acclaim as the voice of the title character in Disney’s computer animated musical Moana. Her other credits include NBC’s Rise and Netflix’s drama film All Together Now.

Omar Apollo to Perform at Atlanta’s Music Midtown Festival

Omar Apollo is headed to The Big Peach

The 24-year-old Mexican-American singer-songwriter and entrepreneur will perform at this year’s Music Midtown Festival in Atlanta, which is getting a reboot.

Omar Apollo

The popular downtown gathering that took a year off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic is ready to roar back this fall with a lineup packed with superstar voices.

Among the headliners for the September 18-19 event at Piedmont Park are Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Maroon 5, 21 Savage and DaBaby.

Other acts scheduled to appearinclude: Megan Thee Stallion, Machine Gun Kelly, Adrian Quesada’s Black Pumas, Jack Harlow, AJR, Yungblud, Bleachers, Dashboard Confessional, Surfaces, Lauv, 24KGoldn, Latto, Oliver Tree and Tierra Whack.

Tickets purchased for the 2020 edition will be honored and organizers said that a limited number of general admission passes are on sale now before the prices go up on Friday (June 4) at 10:00 am ET.

The summer’s festival scene is beginning to heat up following last year’s total shutdown, though at press time Music Midtown had not announced whether this summer’s gathering will be at Piedmont’s full, pre-pandemic 70,000-person capacity. Other events, such as Chicago’s Lollapalooza, have said they will return at full capacity, though attendees will need to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or, for those not vaccinated, a negative test result within 24 hours of attendance.

Steven Michael Quezada to Tape Special Stand-Up Comedy Special During Tribeca Film Festival

Steven Michael Quezada is bringin’ the funny to the Big Apple…

Tribeca and Comedy Dynamics are teaming up again for a slate of 10 stand-up comedy specials to be filmed at the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9-20 in New York City, including a special by the 58-year-old Latino actor/comedian.

Steven Michael Quezada

Quezada, best known for his role as DEA agent Steven Gomez in the hit series Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, will be performing on June 15 at 10:30 pm. In addition to his acting work, Steven performs stand-up comedy across the country and also performs regularly on Carnival Cruise Lines.

Tribeca and Comedy Dynamics partnered in early 2020 to produce original stand-up comedy specials that were slated to be filmed at the annual fest. But after COVID-19 restrictions took hold nationwide, they pivoted and evolved the indoor festival into an outdoor comedy drive-in set across the country at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Tribeca x Comedy Dynamics Drive-In featured hourlong comedy sets — the first set of drive-in comedy specials filmed in the midst of the pandemic.

Produced by Tribeca and Comedy Dynamics and directed by the latter’s founder and CEO, Brian Volk-Weiss, this month’s slate of specials is part of Tribeca’s expansion into new storytelling platforms and its 12-day celebration to reopen New York and bring live entertainment back to the city.

“We had a blast working with the amazing team at Tribeca for our 2020 Comedy Drive-In at the Rose Bowl, and we’re excited to be taking the show back to New York City in 2021 to give fans a bigger, better and more interactive experience,” Volk-Weiss said.

Cisco Henson serves as executive producer for the specials, which are produced by Michael Epstein and will be filmed at Spring Studios.

Here’s a rundown of the performances with times, dates and artist bios:

Bill Bellamy
June 12, 8:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
Bill Bellamy is a comedian and actor who has been featured on Insecure, Self-Made, Def Comedy Jam, MTV Jamz, MTV Beach House, Last Comic Standing, Hot in Cleveland and more. Bill has several acclaimed stand-up specials under his belt, including Booty Call, Ladies Night Out and Crazy, Sexy, Dirty. Bill is also the host and EP of Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes, which has featured rising comedians in their early days, including Tiffany Haddish, Lil Rel Howery and Karlous Miller.

Cocoa Brown
June 17, 8:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
Cocoa Brown is a comedian and actress who has appeared on Showtime at the Apollo, One Mic Stand and BET’s ComicView. She’s also appeared in Tyler Perry’s series, For Better or Worse and comedy films such as Ted 2 and The Single Moms Club. In addition to her comedic roles, Cocoa has showcased her acting talents on dramatic series such as Fox’s 9-1-1 and FX’s The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

Helen Hong
June 16, 10:30 p.m.
A fan favorite on the hit NPR podcast Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Helen Hong was a recurring character on HBO’s Silicon Valley, CBS’ The Unicorn and Netflix’s Huge in France. She’s performed stand-up comedy on The Arsenio Hall Show, Last Call with Carson Daly, Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen and the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. Helen was featured in the Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, and has guest-starred on Jane the Virgin, Parks and Recreation and Pretty Little Liars.

Maija DiGiorgio
June 16, 8:30 p.m.
Maija DiGiorgio is recognized by New York’s Time Out magazine as one of “the freshest, funniest, unique voices to grace the microphone”. Maija has been featured on HBO Def Comedy Jam, Hot 97, Comics Unleashed, Sex and the City, Uncontrolled Comedy Hour and more. Maija received a standing ovation on her first television appearance on NBC’s Live from the Apollo and never stopped touring since, including several tours to serve our troops stationed overseas in Korea and Japan.

Josh Gondelman
June 13, 8:30 p.m.
Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who incubated inBoston before moving to New York City, where he currently lives and works as a writer and producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime. Previously, he spent five years at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, where he earned two Peabody Awards, four Emmy awards, and three WGA Awards for his work. Josh’s debut essay collection, Nice Try, was released in fall 2019 through Harper Perennial. In the past, Josh has written for Fuse TV’s Billy on the Street. Onstage, Joshcharms audiences using his good-natured storytelling and cracks them up with his sharp, pointy wit. He takes topics from surprise parties to his experience teaching preschool and makes them all equally hilarious. In 2016, he made his late-night stand-up debut on Conan (TBS), and made his network TV debut on Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC) in 2018. He has also appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Josh’s album Dancing on a Weeknight was released April 2019 on Blonde Medicine Records and hit No. 7on the Billboard comedy chart. His previous comedy album Physical Whisper debuted in March 2016 at No. 1 on the iTunes comedy chart (as well as No. 4 on the Billboard comedy chart) and stayed there for…well…longer than he expected, honestly.

Miz Cracker
June 13, 10:30 p.m.
Miz Cracker is a New York City drag queen, writer and comedienne. She launched her drag career in 2011 while participating in marches for marriage equality in Times Square. She went on to compete in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, landing a spot in the top five and becoming a fan favorite. She now tours the world with her one woman shows; delights fans on her YouTube channel; lectures on drag at top universities; cooks with Bon Appetit; writes for publications like Slate, ArtForum, Vice and GQ; and engages over a million followers on Instagram and Twitter. Cracker describes herself as a “woman’s lifestyle brand,” and is a vocal advocate for women’s rights. Her forthcoming solo show, American Woman, discusses how drag queens and gay men can become better allies to women in an age when Feminism is more important than ever.

Kellen Erskine
June 14, 8:30 p.m.
Comedian Kellen Erskine has appeared on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, America’s Got Talent and the Amazon Original series, Inside Jokes. He has garnered over 30 million views with his clips on Dry Bar Comedy. In 2018 he was selected to perform on the coveted “New Faces” showcase at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. Kellen was named one of TBS’s Top Ten Comics to Watch in 2017, and he performed at the Bridgetown, Big Sky, and Boston Comedy Festivals. In February 2018, Kellen made his late night TV stand-up debut on TBS’ Conan.

Katrina Davis
June 14, 10:30 p.m.
Katrina Davis is a stand-up from Jacksonville, Florida who sprang onto the Los Angeles comedy scene with a few 60-second sets on Kill Tony. She took on enough contenders in Roast Battle at The Comedy Store to be ranked amongst the top 50 battlers in 2018 and can been seen on America’s Got Talent as well as the Seed & Spark comedy special Everything Is Fine. Katrina performs at shows regularly all-around LA and was honored to be named one of Time Out LA’s Comics to Watch for 2019. During the pandemic, Katrina has been featured on many online comedy shows and even hosts her own monthly Zoom show called Valley Girl. Most recently Katrina can be seen on Amazon Prime’s Fact Check digital series and heard as a voice of a couple characters on YouTube’s Swipeothesis.

Jackie Fabulous
June 15, 8:30 p.m.
Comedian Jackie Fabulous captured America’s heart as a semi-finalist on the 2019 season of America’s Got Talent. She’s a hilarious and affable stand-up comedian, writer, actor, producer, motivational speaker, and headliner who uses her jokes and sparkling nature to simultaneously entertain, encourage, and empower audiences while keeping them laughing, and easily navigating the comedy gamut from family friendly to naughty. Jackie’s stand-up has been featured on The Arsenio Hall Show, Gotham Comedy Live, Fox, BET, Last Comic Standing, Kevin Harts LOL Network and more. In addition to her television appearances, Jackie Fabulous is a paid regular and headliner at several top comedy clubs such as The Comedy Cellar, The Hollywood Improv, The Laugh Factory and Funny Bone clubs.

Steven Michael Quezada
June 15, 10:30 p.m.
Steven is best known for his role as DEA agent Steven Gomez in the hit series Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, while also appearing in films such as Kites, Beerfest, First Snow and 3 From Hell over his career. In addition to his acting work, Steven performs stand-up comedy across the country and also performs regularly on Carnival Cruise Lines.