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.

Carlo Mendez Taking Over Alvaro Orlando’s Role in Indie Film “The Legend of Jack and Diane”

Carlo Mendez is taking on a Legend(ary) role…

The 44-year-old Cuban American actor is set to take over Alvaro Orlando’s role in the indie The Legend of Jack and Diane, following Orlando’s departure due to a scheduling conflict.

Carlo Mendez

Mendez, whose credits include Parks and Recreation and 90210,  joins a cast led by Tom Sizemore, which also includes Robert LaSardo, David Timlinson and newcomer Lydia Zelmac, with production currently underway in and around the Los Angeles area.

Directed by Bruce Bellochi, the film is a revenge thriller, which takes its name from John Mellencamp’s classic song “Jack & Diane.” It centers, of course, on Jack (Tomlinson) and Diane (Zelmac), who decide to leave Indiana for a new life in Los Angeles. When the pair discover secrets about the death of Diane’s mother, their worst fears are confirmed, and they are forced to run. On the way to Los Angeles to confront evil, they create a hit list to exact revenge on everyone involved.

Mendez will play Detective Stanley Montana, the son of LaSardo’s reputed drug lord Cesar. Never accepted by his father, Montana has since fallen from his family’s good graces after choosing to become a cop.

Bellochi, Zelmac and Rick Geller scripted the project, which was originally set up as an episodic series for HBO but lost its footing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with Bellochi and Geller reworking it as a feature. Bellochi and Geller are exec producing it with Jackie Kallen.

The younger brother of actress Eva Mendes, Mendez has garnered 64 screen credits over the course of his career, finding most within the last 15 years. He’s primarily known for his work in television, on series like NBC’s Parks and Recreation and The CW’s 90210.

Bruno Mars’ Silk Sonic Announce 13-Show Las Vegas Residency, “An Evening with Silk Sonic”

Bruno Mars is headed to Sin City…

The 36-year-old part-Puerto Rican Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and Anderson .Paak‘s dynamic duo Silk Sonic has announced plans to set down roots for a 13-show run in Las Vegas as part of An Evening With Silk Sonic.

Silk Sonic Las Vegas Residency

Silk Sonic will be performing on the Las Vegas Strip beginning on February 25 at Dolby Live.

“Its happening! The sexiest party of the year! Them Silk Sonic Boyz are performing Live in Las Vegas!” Mars tweeted.

The run currently includes 13 dates at the 5,200-seat theater at the Park MGM, and the Live Nation presale kicked off at 1:00 pm ET today; the general public on-sale begins at 1:00 pm ET on Friday (Jan. 21).

The shows are subject to the venue’s Health Check standards to reduce exposure to COVID-19, which requires masks be worn by all attendees and which could also require proof of full vaccination, proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the event or a rapid on-site COVID test.

“THE TERMS ARE LOCKED AND VEGAS MIGHT NOT EVER BE THE SAME JACK!! YOU’RE INVITED TO THE HOTTEST SHOW IN SIN CITY!” .Paak added about the first substantial run of gigs in support of the pair’s debut album, An Evening with Silk Sonic.

The collection debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart on the list dated November 27, and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 after the lead single, “Leave the Door Open,” topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for eight weeks between April and July 2021.

So far, the announced dates are: February 25, 26, March 2, 4, 5, 16, 18, 19, 23, 25, 26, 31 and April 2.

Calacote Signs Exclusive, Global Publishing Deal with Universal Music Publishing Group

Calacote is going universal

The 22-year-old Dominican urban Latin artist, whose real name is Luca Newton, has signed an exclusive, global publishing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG).

CalacoteThe ambitious singer-songwriter, who was born in North Carolina and is of Dominican and French descent, hopes to revolutionize the Dembow movement with his Caribeño and European roots, and trilingual lyrics.

Through his new deal, Calacote will be given the opportunity to collaborate with many of UMPG’s composers in English, Spanish, and French.

“Calacote represents a new sound within the Latin urban community,” Alexandra Lioutikoff, president of US Latin and Latin America at UMPG, said in a statement. “UMPG is thrilled to sign a multilingual talent like him with truly global potential as both a songwriter and an artist.”

Ana Rosa Santiago, vice president of Latin Music at UMPG, added that the newcomer is “energetic, versatile and a fresh new prospect in Latin Music.”

Calacote, who unearthed his talent and passion for composing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, moved from Canada to Miami for a shot in the music industry.

He was discovered by the award-winning Latin hitmaker Maffio, and later signed to his label Alkatraks Music Group in 2021. The artist’s proposal is a “unique and unheard of” musical mixture full of witty hooks and experimental fusions with Dominican dembow always at the forefront.

“I’m thrilled to be working with the amazing team at UMPG,” Calacote noted. “This marks an exciting chapter in my career, and I am excited to have the opportunity to collaborate creatively with UMPG’s writers in the U.S. and abroad as well to develop commercially with Alexandra’s and Ana Rosa’s input. I know we will achieve great things together.”

“Alexandra and Ana Rosa understand our vision and we are excited to be collaborating with them and the entire UMPG global team on the development of Calacote’s career,” said Maffio.

On Jan. 14, Calacote will release his third single “Intercambio” in collaboration with Venezuelan rapper and Latin Grammy nominee Akapellah. The single follows his debut track “Azafata” and his Kiko el Crazy-assisted “Bruja.”

His debut album is slated to be released in the second quarter of 2022.

Robert Trujillo & His Metallica Band Mates to Perform at This Year’s BottleRock Festival

Robert Trujillo is putting the rock in this year’s BottleRock festival…

The 57-year-old half-Mexican American musician, songwriter and bassist and his Metallica band mates will be headlining this year’s BottleRock, California’s premiere food, wine and music festival.

MetallicaMetallica will headline the event, taking place Memorial Day weekend (May 27-29), alongside P!nk, Twenty One Pilots and Luke Combs.

The fest, which includes more than 75 musical acts, also includes The Black CrowesKygoPitbull, Greta Van Fleet, Mount Westmore, a new hip-hop supergroup featuring Snoop DoggIce CubeE-40 and Too $hort.

The Napa Valley festival will also showcase the region’s wine, craft brew and culinary legacy.

“We’re happy to be bringing the first taste of summer back to music fans here in the Napa Valley,” says Dave Graham of BottleRock Napa Valley. “As fans have come to expect, our 2022 lineup has something for everyone, featuring a wide variety of genres that offer legendary performers with some of the most exciting new and emerging artists in the world.”

This year’s festival includes the highly entertaining Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage, showcasing a unique mashup of cooking demonstrations with renowned chefs, celebrities, performers and rock stars. Details on the 2022 Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage will be announced at a later date.

BottleRock Napa Valley will follow all local and state COVID-19 health & safety guidelines in place at the time of the event and will communicate all requirements to ticket holders beforehand.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Pacific. More details here.

Rafael Nadal Defeats Maxime Cressy for Melbourne Crown in Return to Competitive Play After Nagging Foot Injury

Make that 19 in a row for Rafael Nadal

The 35-year-old Spanish tennis star defeated American Maxime Cressy, 7-6 (6), 6-3 at the Melbourne Summer Set 1 on Sunday in one of six tournaments this week ahead of the Australian Open, which begins January 17.

Rafael Nadal

In the process, Nadal has added another title to his illustrious career, capturing at least one ATP title for the 19th consecutive year.

“Very happy to start the season with a title … and from where we are coming, it’s very special,” said Nadal. “Tonight I think I played my best match so far since I arrived here, without a doubt, against a very difficult player.”

It was Nadal’s successful return to competition from a niggling foot injury that had kept him out for nearly four months.

It’s Nadal’s 89th career title.

Nadal saved a set point in the first-set tie-break and fought back from a break down in the second set, before closing out the match in one hour, 44 minutes.

Nadal participated in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi last month but tested positive for COVID-19 on his return, further affecting his preparation for the Australian Open where he’s aiming for his second title — and first since 2009.

“If we put everything together and analyze all the things that I went through the last five months, including the COVID after Abu Dhabi, of course I am happy,” he added.

“Of course there have been still doubts, but even more doubts during a lot of months, if I will be able to be back.”

But Nadal insisted there was still much to be done as he looks to regain match sharpness and add to his tally of 20 majors, a record he currently shares with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

“Well, exactly where I would like to be is being 100 percent healthy … playing until the end of the season and without coming back after five, six months outside of the competition … I have a lot of things to keep improving … and I’m going to try hard.”

Roberto Bautista Agut Helps Lead Spain Into ATP Cup Final

Roberto Bautista Agut has helped send his country to the ATP Cup final…

The 33-year-old Spanish professional tennis player clinched Spain‘s spot in the ATP Cup final with a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 7-6 (5) victory over Poland‘s Hubert Hurkacz on Friday.

Roberto Bautista Agut

In the opening singles match, Pablo Carreno Busta gave Spain the advantage with a 6-2, 6-1 win against late replacement Jan ZielinskiKamil Majchrzak went 3-0 for Poland in the group stages but was forced into isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Russia and Canada will meet Saturday to play for the other spot in Sunday’s final.

Two years ago, Bautista Agut played a leading role during Spain’s run to the final, which Serbia won. Bautista Agut has won all four of his matches at No. 1 singles in this tournament to lead the way for the two-time finalists.

“It’s a match I’ll always remember. Both of us could have got the win today,” Carreno Busta said. “This is our game, this is tennis, and today I was the one who got the win.”

Majchrzak, who is experiencing minor symptoms from his illness, announced his positive COVID-19 test moments before he was due to step on court to face Carreno Busta.

Hurkacz saved five match points before finally succumbing to Bautista Agut.

“Sometimes you get the win on the first [match] point. He played two or three lines in a row, but sometimes you stay focused like today, you keep working, and finally you lose the tiebreak,” Bautista Agut said. “But today I kept working and I got the win.”

Ariana DeBose to Make Her Debut as Host on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”

Ariana DeBose is preparing for a special late night debut…

The 30-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress/singer, who is earning Oscar buzz for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, will make her debut as host on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Ariana DeBose

DeBose will be joined by Live Life Fast pop star Roddy Ricch, who will be making his debut on the show as the musical guest.

DeBose is well known to the late-night show’s creator Lorne Michaels as she plays Emma in Apple’s Michaels-exec produced comedy series Schmigadoon!

It will be the first show of 2022 for SNL and comes after the show rallied impressively for its COVID-19-hit final episode of 2021, a show that featured only Keenan Thompson and Michael Che from its regular cast as well as special guests Tina Fey and Tom Hanks.

The plan for the January 15 show is to be back with a full cast and crew as well as studio audience, according to Deadline, but given the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, a decision will be made closer to the time.

The show will also be streamed live via Peacock with the remainder of season 47 also airing live on the streaming service at 11:30pm ET.

Saturday Night Live is produced in association with Broadway Video.

Carlos Vives Delays Restart of U.S. “Después de todo … Vives” Tour Indefinitely Due to COVID-19 Surge

Carlos Vives’ trek across the United States has been put on hold…

The 60-year-old Colombian singer, songwriter and actor has announced that his Después de todo … Vives tour is being postponed until further notice due to the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.

Carlos VivesVives’ latest tour kicked off in December and was set to pick up January 13 in Seattle.

The Loud and Live-produced tour is being canceled for the time being to protect the public, artists and their teams.

“This difficult decision has been made in a prudent manner to ensure the well-being and health of the entire community,” stated Nelson Albareda, CEO and founder of Loud and Live.

New dates will be announced in the next few days, according to a press release, and tickets purchased will remain valid.

The emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant has resulted in a spike in coronavirus infections across the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 206.6 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but the country still hit a record high on January 3 with more than one million people diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data from the John Hopkins University.

Los Temerarios Postpone U.S. Tour Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Los Temerarios are hitting the pause button…

The Mexican Grupera band, comprised of brothers Adolfo Angel and Gustavo Angel, has postponed its U.S. tour amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the nation.

Los Temerarios,

In an official press release shared on their social media accounts, Los Temerarios said that due to the “critical situation,” they decided to postpone their 2022 tour — which was set to kick off February 4 — and move it to 2023.

“At this moment, everyone’s health is top priority, and although we want to return to the stage and reunite with our fans, we don’t want to put anyone at risk,” Los Temerarios, led by brothers Gustavo and Adolfo Angel, wrote. Tickets purchased for the 2022 tour will be valid for the new dates, which they’ll be announcing in the upcoming months, according to the post.

The emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant has resulted in a spike in coronavirus infections across the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 206.6 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but the country still hit a record high on January 3 with more than one million people diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data from the John Hopkins University.