Alvaro Bedoya Nominated to Serve on Federal Trade Commission

Alvaro Bedoya could be trading up…

The Peruvian-American privacy advocate and visiting professor of law at Georgetown University, has been nominated as one of five commissioners to the Federal Trade Commission.

Alvaro Bedoya

The White House announced Joe Biden’s nomination of Bedoya on Monday.

If confirmed, Bedoya likely will be another staunch advocate of taking robust action to rein in the power of big tech platforms.

He’s the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law. The White House noted that his Bedoya’s research and report on facial recognition technology that paved the way for new restrictions on the use of the practice.

Bedoya would succeed Rohit Chopra, who Biden has selected to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Biden nominated another advocate of strong enforcement, Lina Kahn, who has been critical of the growth of large tech platforms, and appointed her to chair the commission after her confirmation. Among other things, the FTC is reviewing Google’s proposed acquisition of MGM.

Bedoya previously served as the first chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

He is a naturalized citizen born in Peru, and co-founded the college scholarship Esperanza Education Fund. He’s a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.

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.”

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.

Huascar Medina Nominated for Membership on National Council on the Arts

Huascar Medina may soon be joining the National Council on the Arts.

The Latino poet, writer, and performer, Kansas’ first Latino Poet Laureate, is among President Joe Biden’s intended nominees for the council.

Huascar Medina

The eight-person list, posted on the White House website, also includes choreographer and educator Christopher Morgan, executive producer of Harlem’s Apollo Theater Kamilah Forbes, the president of John Prine’s Oh Boy Records (and widow of the late folk music icon) Fiona Whelan Prine, and ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro.

Medina has worked as a freelance copywriter and as the Literary Editor for seveneightfive magazine publishing stories that spotlight literary and artistic events in northeast Kansas. His poems can be found in his collection How to Hang the Moon published by Spartan Press. He’s the winner of ARTSConnect’s 2018 Arty Award for Literary Art. His new collection of poems Un Mango Grows in Kansas is available at huascarmedina.com.

The National Council on the Arts was established in 1965, with members appointed by the president and approved by the U.S. Senate for staggered six-year terms, advises the National Endowment for the Arts on agency policies and programs, and reviews and makes recommendations on applications for grants, funding guidelines, and leadership initiatives. If approved, Biden’s nominees will join other members serving now.

Biden’s roster of nominees is:

  • Kamilah Forbes, executive producer at the Apollo Theater. A veteran stage director and producer, Forbes’ Broadway credits include The Mountaintop and Stick Fly, as well as Off Broadway’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, written by two-time Pulitzer prize-winning writer Lynn Nottage, among others. She served as  associate director on the Tony Award-winning A Raisin in the Sun, and Emmy Award-winning The Wiz Live for NBC. Most recently, she directed Between the World and Me on HBO and HBO Max in November 2020. Forbes is set to direct a Broadway musical adaptation of Soul Train alongside producer Questlove, playwright Dominique Morisseau, and choreographer Camille A. Brown;
  • Christopher Morgan, choreographer, educator, facilitator, curator, and arts administrator. Morgan is Executive Artistic Director of Dance Place in Washington, D.C., and has directed Art Omi: Dance, an annual collaborative residency for international choreographers in New York;
  • Ismael Ahmed, co-founder of The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and co-founder of Detroit’s world music festival Concert of Colors;
  • Kinan Azmeh, artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Players, a pan-Arab ensemble dedicated to contemporary music form the Arab world;
  • Huascar Medina, the 7th Poet Laureate of Kansas. He currently works with the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission reimagining and developing innovative programming for the poet laureateship;
  • Jake Shimabukuro, the world-famous ukulele player who, in 2001, signed a historic deal with Epic Records/Sony Music that formed the basis of a string of hit albums and standing room audiences. He has played with world-renowned orchestras and at prestigious venues and events such as the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, and Sydney Opera House, Bonnaroo, SXSW and Fuji Rock Festival;
  • Constance Williams, who, with a background in publishing, marketing, and small business and financial consulting, was the economic development and small business coordinator for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District. She has served as the Chair of the Board of The Philadelphia Museum of Art and is now Chair Emerita, and was also a trustee of the National Museum of American Jewish History;
  • Fiona Whelan Prine, President of Oh Boy Records, the country’s second-oldest independent record label still in operation. Prine oversees the multiple Grammy Award-winning recordings and publishing copyrights of her late husband, American songwriter John Prine, and serves as Founder and President of the newly established Hello in There Foundation, named after a classic song written by her late husband. In the last year alone, her community involvement has raised more than $1 million for important social causes, including those related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.

George P. Bush Announces Bid for Texas Attorney General

George P. Bush is lookin’ to move up in Texas politics….

The 45-year-old half-Mexican American politician, currently serving as Texas Land Commissioner, has announced that he’s running for attorney general in the Lone Star State, setting up a GOP showdown with one of the most high-profile Republican attorneys general in the country, Ken Paxton.

George P. Bush

“I am proud to announce I am a Republican candidate to be the next Texas attorney general,” he said before supporters in Austin.

Bush came out swinging in his campaign announcement, taking shots at Paxton, who is currently under indictment for securities fraud and, separately, facing an FBI investigation for abuse of office.

“Enough is enough, Ken. You’ve brought way too much scandal and too little integrity to this office,” Bush said. “It’s time to go.”

Bush — the son of former two-term Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush and the grandson of the late former President George H.W. Bush — is running as a supporter of former President Donald Trump, despite the at-times blistering feud between Trump and the Bush family.

At a campaign kickoff event in downtown Austin, supporters praised Bush as the future of the Republican Party in Texas and highlighted his support of Trump as a key credential.

“I think we can all agree that President Trump was one of the best things to happen to this country,” Karen Newton, immediate past president of Texas Federation of Republican Women, said onstage as one of the introductory speakers before Bush.

Joacim Hernandez, vice chair of the Texas Young Republican Federation, argued Bush is uniquely positioned to unite the GOP. “He has a track record of support for President Trump and his America First policies, but he also has a track record of character and integrity.”

As land commissioner since 2015, Bush has long been viewed by political observers as a rising star in the GOP. He speaks Spanish and was involved in the founding of the political group Hispanic Republicans of Texas. He was also an officer in the Navy Reserves and a former businessman, with a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.

Paxton, meanwhile, has been state attorney general since 2015 after serving in the Texas Legislature for more than a decade as both a state representative and state senator. He was highly active in filing federal lawsuits during the Barack Obama administration — most notably, he led a 20-state challenge against the Affordable Care Act — and has filed multiple suits against the Joe Biden administration over a range of issues from immigration to Medicaid.

A staunch ally of Trump, Paxton also led the lawsuit contesting election results in four states that Trump lost in November. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit.

Clouding Paxton’s run for reelection will be the FBI investigation and separate indictment. Paxton vehemently denies the charges and allegations.

Bush has made it clear he won’t be shy in going after Paxton’s legal issues.

“We have a web of corruption and lies that affect one of the highest offices in our land and it’s time for a change,” Bush said.

Bush will make South Texas — where Trump made heavy inroads in November — a key part of his strategy, and he plans to make his first official campaign trip to the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday.

Given his political connections and Paxton’s legal troubles, Bush is expected to raise significant cash for the race.

Manny Mua Interviews Joe Biden About COVID-19 Vaccine

Manny Mua is helping the White House encourage people to get vaccinated…

The 30-year-old Latino make-up artist, YouTuber, entrepreneur and beauty blogger, whose real name is Manuel Gutierrez Jr.,

Manny Mua

The White House has tapped YouTube stars, including the 30-year-old Latino make-up artist, YouTuber, entrepreneur and beauty blogger, for COVID-19 vaccine messaging, as Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci appear in new videos released as part of a virtual town hall in an effort to reach young audiences unsure or hesitant to get the shots.

Manny Mua, whose real name is Manuel Gutierrez Jr., conducted an interview with President Jo Biden, in which he asks about the rumors of a vaccine passport needed to travel or to go to concerts.

“Federally, we are not going to have any mandate, and we don’t keep records, federally, of people who have gotten the vaccine,” Biden said. He said that the rumor of vaccine passports “just plays into paranoia in some people, in particular young people. That is just not the case.”

Manny Mua also asked Biden that if he were stranded on a desert island, and he could only bring one skincare product, what would it be?

“I happen to be Irish, and I think my wife before I headed to the island would tell me, you better bring some sunscreen,” Biden said.

Others appearing in the videoes include the stars of Brave Wilderness, hosted by Nathaniel “Coyote” Peterson and Mark Vins, who have an outdoor adventure channel, and Jackie Aina.

Maluma to Take Part in Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Climate Change-Themed “Earth Day! The Musical” Special on Facebook Watch

Maluma is hoping to raise awareness about climate change

The 27-year-old Colombian singer/songwriter is joining forces with Bill Nye the Science Guy and fellow superstar musicians for an Earth Day-centered Facebook Watch special dedicated to protecting the planet.

Maluma, ELLE Magazine

Earth Day! The Musical, formed in partnership with Facebook Watch and EARTHDAY.org, follows Nye, the iconic TV science educator, as he teams up with Maluma and more to share with their fans what part they can play in restoring our Earth.

Nye will also pass the mic to young climate activists discussing what work they’ve been doing to help the planet, including Alexia Akbay, CEO and co-founder of Symbrosia, a Hawaii-based startup using seaweed to reduce livestock methane; Jerome Foster II, the youngest member of the Joe Biden White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council at age 18; and Xiye Bastida, a Mexican-Chilean climate activist and one of the lead organizers of the Fridays for Future youth climate strike movement in New York.

Other A-list musical guests who will be featured in the special include Justin BieberBen PlattCharli and Dixie D’AmelioCNCOCody SimpsonIdina MenzelJack HarlowSteve Aoki, and Tori KellyZac EfronDesus Nice and The Kid MeroJasmine Cephas Jones, Karamo Brown, Nick Kroll and more are also slated to appear.

On Monday (April 19), Maluma surprised fans with his freshly minted Earth Day anthem Rumba (Puro Oro Anthem) that he recorded in collaboration with Michelob Ultra Pure Gold to toast to its first-ever organic lager brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity from solar power.

During Earth Day! The Musical, Facebook will roll out its #RestoreOurEarthChallenge, which calls on international viewers to share pictures, videos and other social media posts about the steps they’re taking to combat climate change on Earth Day this year.

“Earth Day! The Musical” will air on Thursday at noon ET on Facebook Watch.

Arantxa Loizaga to Co-Host Telemundo’s Revamped Morning Show “Hoy Dia,” Launching Monday

A new day has come for Arantxa Loizaga

The Latina broadcast journalist will host Telemundo’s revamped morning show Hoy Dia, which launches on Monday.

Arantxa Loizaga

Telemundo is promising Spanish-language viewers a newsier format in the a.m. hours, with the three-hour morning show replacing Un Nuevo Día.

In addition to Loizaga, the new show will feature Nacho Lozano and Nicole Suarez as its new group of hosts.

“Telemundo understands the big responsibility of informing our community, and that’s why Telemundo decided to just have a facelift, to do a makeover of the morning show,” Loizaga said in an interview.

Citing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Latinos as well as the impact of the community in the 2020 presidential results, she said, “we understand the importance of being informed, to have all of the resources that they require to make the right decisions for themselves and their families.”

She described the show as akin to NBC’s Today but “in Spanish with a Latin flair.”

The first 90-minutes will feature headlines, newsmaker interviews and “news you can use,” presented in a less-structured way and in a “creative and engaging format,” she said. The second half of the show will feature entertainment, lifestyle and weather, with Adamari Lopez and Stephanie Himonidis as entertainment hosts. Alfredo Oropeza will be executive chef and Carlos Robles will be chief meteorologist.

Lozano said that while he would like to say that the show will “empower” the Latino community, “They are already empowered.”

“So we are going to provide the information, the argument to participate, and to of course recognize the power they have already,” he said.

He also said that the show would recognize the diversity within the Latino community.

“In order to empower them we need to talk about them, with our work, with our culture, with our accent,” Lozano said.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, pundits zeroed in on the differences in the Hispanic vote, with Donald Trump doing better than expected in Florida and Joe Biden surprising by winning Arizona.

“The thing is that we understand, and our politicians understand after this 2020 electoral cycle, that the Latino community, we are not a monolith. Not all of the people who speak Spanish are Mexican, right? That is a very important distinction that we want to make,” Loizaga said.

She added, “Even if we all speak Spanish, we all have different cultures, and at Telemundo we recognize that. So for instance, for the Latino community living in the border cities, we understand that maybe immigration is the top priority, and we are going to be able to cater to them. Maybe up north in agricultural states like Wisconsin or Iowa or Illinois, we know that their priorities are conditions of life, working for these meat processing plants and the virus. …So we may be able to provide to them more information about the advantages of receiving the vaccine or their rights that they have as employees.”

Loizaga said that the three news anchors also will bring different personalities to the show. She recently anchored Univision’s national weekend newscast, and has been living in the U.S. for the past 17 years after emigrating from Mexico. Lozano was a news anchor and radio and TV host at Grupo Imagen in Mexico, and “is very jovial and really funny,” she said. Suarez is news correspondent for Noticias Telemundoand was born in the U.S. and raised in Chicago.

“With all of these three different approaches, we will be able to provide something unique,” she said.

As Spanish-language morning shows have been primarily focused on entertainment in the past few decades, Loizaga said, Hoy Dia will stand out.

“We realized there was a need for more information and accurate information and unbiased information as well, and this is what we are going to be able to provide to them,” she said.

Jennifer Lopez to Star in & Produce Netflix’s Action Feature “The Mother”

Jennifer Lopez has landed a mother of a role…

The 51-year-old Puerto Rican superstar is reteaming with Netflix to star in and produce the action feature The Mother.

Lopez will play a deadly female assassin who comes out of hiding to protect the daughter she gave up years before, while on the run from dangerous men. The project is reportedly in the spirit of the Luc Besson classic The Professional.

Misha Green penned the original screenplay with revisions Andrea Berloff.

Lopez is producing with Elaine Goldsmith Thomas for Nuyorican Productions; Benny Medina; Roy Lee and Miri Yoon for Vertigo Entertainment; as well as Green. Catherine Hagedorn will serve as EP with Courtney Baxter as Associate Producer.

Niki Caro is in talks to direct.

Lopez is starring in and producing the Netflix adaptation of the Isabella Maldonado novel The Cipher In that movie, Lopez will play FBI agent Nina Guerrera, who is pulled into a serial killer’s case after he leaves complex codes and riddles online, which are linked to his recent murders.

Lopez recently performed at the U.S. Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden. She is currently filming Lionsgate’s Shotgun Weddingand will be seen in Universal’s musical-driven romantic comedy Marry Me with Owen Wilson, which is set for theatrical release on May 14.

In 2019, Lopez scored her biggest domestic opening for a live-action feature at the box office and stateside hit with STX’s Hustlers ($33.1M opening, $105M domestic B.O.), a role which earned her a second Golden Globe nomination, as well as a supporting actress SAG nomination.