Salma Hayek in New 'The Vampire's Assistant'

A month shy of its theatrical release, "The Vampire's Assistant" hyped up the promo with the release of a new clip. Titled "What Did I Say?", the snippet takes a look at the scene when Salma Hayek's Madame Truska meets Chris Massoglia's Darren Shan for the first time and gets a vision about the new undead.

Based on the popular series of books by Darren Shan, this Paul Weitz-directed fantasy adventure tells the story of a teenager who unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between two warring factions of vampires. Stumbling upon a pamphlet of Cirque Du Freak one day, Darren and his best friend Steve satisfy their curiosity by checking out the traveling freak show.

When the show ends, Darren gets an offer he couldn't bear to resist, becoming a vampire. Now, pulled into a fantastic life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures of the night, he will vanish from the safety of a boring existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares. "The Vampire's Assistant" will be opened wide in U.S. on October 23.

Puerto Rico Left Out of Healthcare Reform?

There is a debate brewing over whether or not Latinos are being left out of healthcare reform efforts. Latino lawmakers say the reforms don’t apply to the 4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico, and they’re blaming Democratic leaders.

A new bill unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) raises questions about whether Puerto Ricans will be able to participate in a health insurance clearinghouse intended to reduce costs for Americans living in the 50 states. The problem with that is President Barack Obama promised Puerto Ricans during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary that they would receive equal healthcare assistance.

“During my campaign, we pledged to seek equal coverage of Puerto Rico in federal healthcare assistance programs,” Obama wrote earlier this year. “Although it may take some time to implement all of these proposals, Puerto Rico deserves no less.”

Some members of Congress maintain that Puerto Ricans don’t pay federal taxes, therefore they don’t deserve full healthcare benefits. Others—like Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.—insist that Puerto Ricans have died for this country during times of war and deserve to be treated like every other American.

"Excluding the residents of Puerto Rico from a health care bill—or any bill—that is intended to protect our families is an outrage and demonstrates the kind of hypocrisy that makes people resent Washington," Gutierrez said in a statement to The Hill. "We owe more to our country and more to the Latino population, which is increasingly being pushed out of health care reform. When we effectively bar any population from buying private insurance from the exchange, we relegate them to emergency room care at the highest cost to taxpayers.”


Sofia Vergara - the new Latin face on ABC's

ABC cancelled the George Lopez sitcom but apparently it did not completely abandon the idea of including the Latino demographic in at least one of its shows.

Modern Family premiered Wednesday night with Colombian actress Sofia Vergara in its cast as the much younger wife of an older looking Ed O’Neill, the actor best known as Married with Children’s Al Bundy.

The half-hour sitcom shows the interaction between an extended family composed by three sets of living arrangements that are becoming more and more common in our modern American society: a gay couple that adopts a child from a far away country, parents over 40 that do what they can to remain “cool” despite their children’s opinion, and a new family made up of leftover parts of old ones. While highlighting the dysfunctional moments that putting those relationships together creates, Modern Family becomes a story that is actually entertaining and has development potential.

As a bonus, those of us who are bilingual get to hear a Spanish word or two. The first show had Vergara deliver a full sentence: “Quiero ser brisa en tu espalda, no escupa en tu frente.” (I want to be breeze on your back, not spit on your face.) Part of the joke was precisely that the adage sounds much prettier before translation.

Modern Family in just one episode set up the stage for what could be a weekly 30-minutes worth watching. Certainly it has much more potential than the un-funny and tiring show that follows it, Cougar Town.

Hopefully, when the latter goes out the door, it won’t take Modern Family down with it.


Adam Rodriguez looks beyond Miami

Adam Rodríguez’s Detective Eric Delko may be vanishing from “CSI: Miami” in the upcoming eighth season, but the Cuban/Puerto Rican actor is reappearing everywhere else, it seems.
 “'CSI' was an amazing opportunity to develop my career,” the Yonkers-born Rodríguez said over the phone from Los Angeles. “I’m ready to explore any kind of [good] projects down the road on TV or the big screen.”
 So far, it’s going according to his plan.
 The 34-year-old with striking looks can currently be seen opposite singer Mary J. Blige and Taraji P. Henson in Tyler Perry’s dramedy “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” which opened Friday and was the highest-grossing film of the weekend.
 He’s also joining ABC’s “Ugly Betty” for the upcoming season, premiering Oct. 9. He will play an old flame of Betty’s sister, Hilda, reported.
 And he’s in three films yet to be released: the Latino thriller “A Kiss of Chaos,” “Let the Game Begin” (with Stephen Baldwin) and “Caught in the Crossfire,” a police corruption drama with rapper 50 Cent.
 “It’s not a secret that Latinos work harder,” said the actor, who splits time between L.A. and New York. “I’ve been working hard and waiting. Patience and hard work are paying off.”
 In “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” Rodríguez plays Sandino, a Mexican immigrant looking for work who ends up entangled with April (Henson), a hard-drinking nightclub jazz singer forced to care for her sister’s three misbehaving children.
 “I’m so excited about this film,” he said. “My character in the movie becomes a hero in a beautiful way. The cultural aspect came up very natural for me.”
 When he’s not acting, Rodríguez likes to write poems and play guitar. He says music holds a special place in his life, something that attracted him to sharing a film with R&B queen Blige.
 “I’ve been a fan of Blige’s work for years,” he said. “The music really plays a key role in the story, and that made even easier the connection for me. We had a genuine bond.”
 Today, his main passion clearly is acting, but that was not always the case. In his youth, he hoped to play professional baseball, until he suffered a spinal injury.
 “The injury made clear that the dream of becoming a baseball player was intercepted,” he said. “When I turned 19, I said to myself: ‘I’m going to take acting classes and dedicate myself to this passion.’”
 Though he says he has been enjoying the Hollywood life, he misses the city. “I feel at home when I’m there,” he said. “If I’m in New York, you’ll find me hanging out with my friends and spending time with my family,” he explained.
 “One thing is for sure: The Latin food and the music” — he likes Marc Anthony and Gilberto Santa Rosa — “will be included.”

Alejandro Sanz Recruits Alicia Keys

Spanish singer/songwriter Alejandro Sanz will release his new album, "Paraíso Express," on Nov. 10, the artist announced today (Sept. 22). The album's lead single, "Looking for Paradise," features Alicia Keys and finds both stars trading lyrics in English and Spanish. The song premiered on a fan club members-only section of Sanz's official site on Sept. 18.

"Looking for Paradise" - Alejandro Sanz

Listen to our exclusive stream of the Alejandro Sanz song "Looking for Paradise"

"On this album, I first composed the melody and then the lyrics," Sanz said in a statement. "It is more of a rock album than my past releases, with more elegant and positive lyrics and a happier and more rhythmic spirit."

"Paraíso Express" is Sanz's eighth studio album and the first since 2007's "El Tren de los Momentos," which sold 120,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The new set was produced by Puerto Rican artist Tommy Torres and mixed by Bob Clearmountain (Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones).

"I told [Torres] that I wanted it to have a very British pop sound with the rock touch that the songs call for," said Sanz. "Tommy did a perfect interpretation in that sense. Everything flowed in a very natural way."

Sanz's duet with Alicia Keys is not the first time the singer has teamed up with a female superstar. "La Tortura" -- his collaboration with Shakira from the Colombian singer's "Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1" album -- holds the mark for the longest reign atop Billboard's Latin Songs chart, at 25 weeks in 2005.


Juanes Introduces Dante to the World

This morning Juanes posted a picture of the latest addition to his family on his Twitter account. Baby Dante was born to the proud papa and his lovely mother Karen Martinez on Saturday, Sept. 14, in Miami. Juanes and Martinez married back in 2004 and this is their third child together.

Dante, who got his name from one of Juanes's fave books, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, joins sisters Paloma, 6, and Luna, 4 as the youngest member of the Aristizábal family. Barely two weeks old, it's clear that the adorable baby boy is destined to hog the spotlight away from his superstar dad, even if he does share his name with the family dog!  

Reality Hits Arreola

Saturday night’s heavyweight match up between Vitali Klitschko and Cristobal Arreola drew some eerie parallels to last week’s fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez. When all was said and done, both victories were contingent upon technical superiority and sizable height advantage. But despite Klitchko’s complete domination and tenth round knockout win over Arreola, Cristobal’s geographical advantage and his will seemed to allow more hope for a nearly impossible upset when compared last week’s fight.

The match played out more like a bullfight than a boxing match, with Arreola playing the part of the bull, charging pointlessly against Klitschko the matador, who struck swiftly, then confidently stepped away from the beast that is Arreola. Like a bull in the ring, the animal charged forward, hoping that strength and aggression would prevail, only to come to the dreadful realization that he has been slowed down, bloodied, and weakened.

Cristobal Arreola’s downfall is largely due to his bad work ethic and lack of maturation. As far as training was concerned, Arreola stepped it up for the championship fight, but mixed business with pleasure, which there is no room for in one of the most athletically demanding sports. In an HBO pre-fight profile, Arreola foolishly tried to justify his vices, comparing himself to Michael Phelps.

“If Michael Phelps is smoking weed, then why can’t I have a beer?”

Upon the 10th round stoppage of the fight, Arreola was tearful and inconsolable. Arreola begged and pleaded to the audience and his fans to forgive him. Hopefully Arreola’s shame was not purely based on Saturday night’s performance, but on his unwillingness to give 110% when preparing for a fight. If this fight offers Arreola an epiphany that his talent and likability will not win him high caliber fights, then there still is hope for the young, Mexican-American fighter.

Matador to advertise gay drink on cape

A little-known Spanish matador is breaking with a sacred tradition, agreeing to advertise on his cape while slaying bulls and endorse a soft drink that caters to gays.

Matador Joselito Ortega will be plugging a club-scene energy beverage called Gay Up and have those words embroidered into his cape in large, red cursive letters.

In Spain, matadors are seen by many as the pinnacle of macho, and Ortega's agreeing to endorse a product geared toward gay men is raising eyebrows.

But Ortega sees no incompatibility.

"I am a bullfighter. That is not going to change. I am going to go out into the ring as I have done until now, to risk my life, and the seven goring wounds on my body prove that," he told The AP Wednesday. "If the gay community welcomes me as an image or a symbol, that is fine."

Topflight Spanish bullfighters are celebrities, just like football or movie stars, and it is common for them to have commercial endorsement gigs for everything from wine to cars to fancy clothes. But it is almost unprecedented for them to advertise something while in the arena.

Bullfighting writers said the only case they recall is that of a matador named Luis Reina, who signed a deal in the 1980s with the Japanese electronics giant Akai and had that brand name embroidered on the sleeves and legs of the glittering 'traje de luces,' or suits of lights, that he wore while fighting.

No one expects Ortega to start a trend. It would border on scandalous for a top-rated bullfighter to advertise from the ring.

Gay Up is a new product in Spain, developed by firm based in the southern city of Malaga that bought the European rights to it from a manufacturer in Colombia. There, it was made from strawberries. But the Spanish firm decided that to make it a hit with gays in Europe it needed to be an energy drink, said Jose Maria Terron, the company's president.

"The fact that it is oriented toward the gay community stems more than anything from its name," Terron said.
Both he and Ortega said the advertising cape is a good way to shake up bullfighting, which they described as steeped in male bravado.

"It is a matter of changing what is normal, or usual, within this world that seem so untouchable," Ortega said.
Ortega is hardly a superstar. He became a full-fledged matador in 2006 but has been hampered by repeated and serious gorings and has not fought often, said Juan Belmonte, a bullfighting critic for TV station Canal Sur in Seville.

Belmonte said those who criticize Ortega's Gay Up deal will be angry not so much because the product is geared toward homosexuals but because Ortega is advertising in the arena, violating a tradition.

"It is like prostituting the cape," Belmonte said.


Survey: U.S. economy curbs immigration

As migration from Mexico declines, border apprehensions rise

WASHINGTON — U.S. economic woes and beefed-up border security are discouraging immigration from Mexico, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Though the Pew Research Center study found that living in the U.S. remains a goal for many Mexicans, the poll found that 40 percent of Mexican adults know people who have returned to Mexico from the U.S. because they couldn't find a job. And 47 percent of Mexicans say they know someone who had been turned away at the American border.

The survey's results ratify two studies released over the summer by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Department of Homeland Security, both of which indicated that far fewer Mexicans are trying to migrate to the U.S., even as more Mexicans view the U.S. favorably.

These trends indicate that the recession is a major factor in dampening the influx of Mexican immigrants.
“The early part of the recession did hit jobs hard,” especially in construction, said Mark Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center.

Construction is typically a mainstay of job growth for Hispanic workers, but according to a 2008 Pew Hispanic Center report, Latinos lost 250,000 construction jobs between 2007 and 2008.

A July Pew study showed Mexico-to-U.S. migration has declined 40 percent from 2006-2007 to 2008-2009. The Department of Homeland Security reported in June that border apprehensions for undocumented immigrants were at their lowest since 1976.

Historically, “in times of serious economic contraction, there definitely is a migration impact on the number of people coming to the U.S.,” said Michelle Mittelstadt, director of communications at the Migration Policy Institute. Illegal immigrants and temporary workers are particularly deterred, she added.

Despite the recession, however, an increasing number of Mexicans feel they would be better off in the U.S., according to Wednesday's Pew report: 57 percent said life would be better north of the border, compared to 51 percent in 2007.

Troubled by their own domestic problems, such as crime, drugs, and corruption, one-third of Mexicans said they would migrate to the U.S. if they had the means to. More than half of that group said they would migrate without authorization, the Pew study reported.

Mexicans also indicated they are much happier with President Barack Obama than his predecessor, Texan George W. Bush. Fifty-five percent of Mexicans said they have confidence in Obama, while only 16 percent of Mexicans surveyed last year said they had confidence in Bush. According to the new Pew survey, 69 percent of Mexicans said they have a positive view of the U.S., up from 47 percent a year ago.

Olga Tanon fires back at Cuba concert critics

A day after participating in Juanes’ historic “Peace Without Borders” concert in Havana’s iconic Revolution square, Olga Tañón fired back at her critics, challenging them to take action if they know a better way to bring peace, happiness and change to the Cuban people and telling them to 'shut up' if they don't.

The Puerto Rican tropical music singer made the comments Monday night on “Esta Noche tu Night,” a prime time, one-hour skit comedy television program which airs Monday through Fridays at 10 p.m. on Mega TV.

The hit Spanish-language show is hosted by renowned Cuban actor, comedian and director Alexis Valdés.
“If you [critics] can do it better than Juanes and I, great, let us know and we'll move aside . . . but if not, shut up . . . shut up . . . .we have to stop this nonsense,”  said a seemingly fuming Tañón as she looked straight at the camera while struggling to hold back tears.

“It's been really hard for Juanes and I to ward off all the attacks we have received lately, but with due respect to the Cuban exiles in Miami, we made history with what I always had faith in . . . .but I was born for something in my life, not to fight against the world,” she added.

Sunday's second installment of the Colombian rocker's “Peace Without Borders” series drew an estimated 1.1 million concertgoers, according to organizers. The first show in March 2008 drew tens of thousands to the border between Venezuela and Colombia.

Juanes' mega-concert was the biggest visit by a foreigner since Pope John Paul II's 1998 tour.
When he announced his plan to hold the event in Cuba this year, the 17-time Latin Grammy winner — who's known for his social activism —  said the show would be dedicated to peace and music, and that there wouldn't be any type of political overtone.

Some angered Cuban exiles in Miami didn't buy it, though, and blasted Juanes and 15 other international music stars — including the Puerto Ricans Danny Rivera and Tañón — for simply staging the show in Cuba, arguing that by going there alone they were all supporting Fidel Castro's Communist regime. Other irked Miami-based groups even called for a boycott of Juanes' music, sent him death threats on his Twitter page and held CD-smashing protests that coincided with Sunday's concert.

Tañón, who visited Cuba for the first time for the event, also told the TV show's host that she joined Juanes' peace initiative to support him and the Cuban people.

“I don't live in Cuba . . . I know that there must be happening a thousand things in Cuba, but what we said that would happen, it did. All the artists there, with whom I do not share their political views, 'smoked' the peace pipe together that day for the good of the Cuban people and to give them a chance to see something they hadn't seen before,” stated the two-time Grammy and five-time Latin Grammy winner.

“If Juanes, Miguel and I had to do it all over again to be able to see each one of the countless happy faces that we saw in Cuba that day [Sunday] — if only to bring them joy — we would so someone does something to bring change to Cuba . . . I have a daughter with an illness . . . ., even if it is that God helps us to lift the US blockade on medicines to Cuba . . . then we would be doing a miracle,” she added.

As a devout Christian, Tañón also told Valdés that she has faith in God and that she believes in miracles.
“I have faith that my daughter will eventually be cured by a miracle, but I also have faith that wonderful things are going to happen in Cuba,” added Tañón, whose teenage daughter Gabriela, 13, was diagnosed when she was a child with Sebastian Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic bleeding disorder.

“When we were leaving the neighboring island, many Cubans told us: 'Listen, what we want is that the same people that left Cuba don't throw us rocks . . . tell those in Miami to help us because it doesn't affect the government, it affects the Cuban people,” she stated.

According to Tañón's local publicist, the artist's daughter is currently undergoing a series of medical tests to determine whether she has Sebastian Syndrome or another rare illness.

Tañón also told the audience that she's a firm believer that something big and 'wonderful' will happen in Cuba soon.
And she thinks Juanes' peace concert is the sparkle of Cuba's burning fire of change.

“If we achieved that Cuba allowed us to hold the concert there, and if we achieved that I, being the only American to have gone there and the president allowed me as an American to be there is because something wonderful will happen . . . .something good has to happen,” she opined.

“I think Cuba is ready — with all due respect to all opinions, and this is my personal viewpoint — for the world and the world is ready for Cuba,” she declared.

Tañón also told viewers that the artists who took part in the concert honored the nonpolitical overtone clause promised from the beginning by Juanes.

“I take my hat off to all who were there, because nobody dedicated anything to anyone — and we had the chance to do it — nobody accused anyone of anything — and we had the chance to do it — and the goal we had was respected: which was, yes, respect does exist . . .  respect does exist, what it needs to be done is to follow it and never give up fighting for it,” she said.

“I wrote the opening song of my set [ 'Es mentiroso ese hombre'] 16 years ago. . . nothing was dedicated in honor of anything, much less to Fidel Castro . . . and we had a chance to get out of context, and we didn't. . .  respect does exist,” she added, referring to a question asked by a reporter at the Miami airport when she arrived on Sunday.

The reporter asked Tañón whether she was thinking about Fidel Castro when she sang her hit song, which literally means 'that man is a liar,' during the concert on Sunday.

“When she asked me I immediately thought that it was disrespectful,” she explained. “In the end, I was calm during my set and I didn't dedicate any of the songs to a specific figure.”

Although Juanes promised that his concert was about music and the Cuban people — and not politics, clearly there were several moments during the show marked by political and social commentaries.

During the start of his set, Spanish pop singer Miguel Bosé repeatedly said “conflicts are no good,” while Rivera, who's also known for his social activism, said “peace is the sensation of a sublime moment after fighting for the justice of a people and for those who want peace and freedom.”

And Juanes capped off the night with “que viva Cuba libre,” or free Cuba.

For Tañón, having gone to perform in Cuba was a life-changing experience.

“What we did, we did it with our hearts . . . we didn't receive anything. But I can tell you that having gone to your [Valdés] country has changed my life forever,” she said.

“And that's why I think it's time to change. But we must learn to delete the corroded parts in our hearts. I can only hope that with this concert we opened new roads and painted a brighter future for Cuba.”


New project seeks US Latinos' oral histories

Gus Hernandez and his family spent two nights sleeping in their car before Siddiqi Hansoti gave them three weeks' stay in his motel and then, even better, a job.

"I just needed a little bit of help," Hernandez says in a recording of his story of finding an unexpected benefactor after being evicted from his home.

Hernandez and Hansoti shared their story in Salinas, Calif., with public radio's StoryCorps, which has been capturing moments of American life since 2003 and archiving them at the Library of Congress.

StoryCorps is seeking more life stories from U.S. Latinos and launched StoryCorps Historias on Thursday in an effort to get them.

"The mission is just to honor and celebrate our lives through listening," said Diana Velez, a StoryCorps Historias spokeswoman.

Plans are to send a StoryCorps Historias Airstream trailer to different towns and cities over four weeks to record conversations with at least 700 Latinos. Possible stops are Los Angeles; Yuma, Ariz.; Granger, Wash.; Miami; Boston; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Brownsville, Texas; San Antonio; and Albuquerque.

Stories also will be collected through community organizations, libraries and other local spots.
StoryCorps recordings are generally conversations between two people, talking over important times in their lives. Some are abbreviated for broadcast on National Public Radio.

Some, but not all, of the StoryCorps Historias recordings will focus on uniquely Hispanic experiences. StoryCorps Historias is funded through a $700,000 Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant.

"It's really important for Latinos to be fully represented in our country and this is just one way for Latinos to be fully represented," said Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, a University of Texas at Austin professor who has been recording the oral histories of Latino veterans for a decade.

Rivas-Rodriguez's US Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project is a partner in the project. Other partners are Latino Public Radio Consortium, radio show "Latino USA" and community groups.


Sony Mexico raided

Police have raided Sony Music's offices in Mexico City, seizing albums, master recordings and cover art for one of Latin music's biggest stars.

Mexico's public ministry and federal police were acting on a court order concerning ranchera singer Alejandro Fernández. A two-time Latin Grammy winner, Fernández was signed to Sony Music from 1998 to 2008 but left last year for Universal. Sony has gone ahead with plans to release an album of unreleased material, called Diferente, which Fernández alleges they have no right to do.

"Sony assumed that they could take tracks that weren't part of previous albums and release them as an eighth album, as if it were new material, over which they had rights," Jose Luis Caballero, Fernández's attorney, told Billboard. "It's perfectly clear that the company's contract is limited to seven albums."

Caballero said that they had issued a cease and desist letter two weeks ago and after this was ignored, sought a search and seizure order. Police reportedly seized 6,397 Fernández CDs, masters of unreleased music, and art for Diferente.

Sony Music issued a statement saying it was "surprised and disappointed" by the raid, calling the recordings "totally authorised". "We trust that the Mexican courts will confirm our rights as soon as possible," a spokesperson said.

Fernández has sold more than 15m records worldwide.


Luis Cedeno, hip hop's first Latino DJ

It's a tale of a time and a temper in the Bronx from three decades ago, yet some of its lines are as current as today.

It's a story of a kid who endures an abusive father, agonizes over his chronically ill mother, drops out of school and finds his place in crime - robbing, stabbing, beating and shooting to gain a warped respect on the streets.

There's a stretch in Rikers Island and being sentenced to a state prison term for attempted murder.
Remarkably, the most dramatic downward spirals in this saga take place BEFORE Luis Cedeno turned 17 years of age, and AFTER he had made a mark in pop culture history as the first Latino hip hop deejay.

And just when you think Cedeno can't change, just when you get angry with him for sliding back to the worst of street life, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
The love of a good woman.

A life turned around, despite more tragedies - not of his doing - that befall him.
"The message is inspiration and hope," Cedeno, 48, said in an interview last week.
"My story is not unique, it's generational."

It's Cedeno's just-published book, "It's Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop's First Latino DJ."

He will be signing it at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cedeno is recognized as a pioneer of hip hop, in its formative days in the Bronx. He became enthralled with the pulsing sounds at 13.

Soon he was known as DJ Disco Wiz, and with Grandmaster Caz they rocked parties, spinning records and combining sound bites, special effects, and blending two records to sound like one in a groundbreaking style.
But while Cedeno says his love of the music is a big part of his life, it's not the reason for the book.

"I never tried to market this as a hip-hop book," he said. "It's really about the journey of a young man who never thought he could see beyond his reach.

"I always wanted to do a book; I just didn't know what kind."

He sat down with author Ivan Sanchez a couple of years ago and did a series of interviews.
"I told my story to a virtual stranger, and it opened up layers, it was a therapeutic process," he said. "A lot of stuff I had put away.

"I wanted to keep it matter-of-fact, not glorify anything."

The book is an easy read, with a conversational tone, and all the grit, violence and sadness come through.
You can't get any more hardscrabble than Cedeno's Ryer Ave. block, near 183rd St., off the Grand Concourse, in the 1960s and '70s, and he chronicles the flavor.

The book also bluntly describes prison life, the even more violent streets in the 1980s and '90s, and then his turnaround, getting an education and pursuing a career as a chef at tony places in Manhattan.

Obama names members to Latino museum

U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday appointed several people to a panel studying the feasibility of creating an American Latino museum, the White House said.

Appointed to the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino were entertainment mogul Emilio Estefan Jr., lawyer Andres W. Lopez, businesswoman Cindy Pena, lawyer and activist Abigail M. Pollak, and lawyer Cid Wilson, the White House said in a release.

Obama said commission members Gilberto Cardenas and Jose B. Fernandez were reappointed to the panel.
"I am pleased to appoint these outstanding men and women to the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino -- a museum that would be dedicated to celebrating the history and achievements of Latinos in America," Obama said.

Legislation creating the commission was signed into law in May 2008. The 23-member group is charged to conduct a two-year study on the feasibility and planning aspects for a new national museum in Washington is dedicated to exhibiting the art, history and culture of the U.S. Latino population.


The Latino education challenge

Here's a number to remember: 20 percent. In fact, memorize it. It tells the story of America's future, especially in big states such as Texas, California and New York.

It's the percentage of America's public school students who are Hispanic. In the two largest states, California and Texas, the figure is closer to 50 percent.

Another fact to remember: There's a serious gap between Latinos' successes in school, including their high school graduation and college-going rates, compared with their white peers. The difference is what educators call the "achievement gap," and closing it is the second-greatest challenge facing the country (behind getting the international religion-and-politics equation right, so we don't blow one another up).

If we don't close that gap, America's work force will lack the high-order skills the economy demands. There's no upside to allowing such a fast-growing demographic group to trail behind, unless we prefer second-tier nation status.

Fortunately, the Obama administration gets the problem, as did the Bush administration. In fact, going back to the first Bush presidency, the White House has had an initiative to improve Latinos' educational progress.
Juan Sepuvelda now heads that effort, and the former San Antonio management consultant was in Dallas recently as part of a national listening tour. He's learning what communities are doing to improve Latino success in schools and what they must do to ramp it up.

About 100 people went to Dallas' Mountain View College, sitting in tables of six to eight people, each asked to write goals for greater Latino academic progress. Some were asked to present them to the whole group.
The refreshing part was the younger attendees. The older ones were activists who tended to talk like bureaucrats. By contrast, the under-30s spoke passionately about real-life problems, like attending school with little parental support. They talked movingly about Hispanic parents needing to support their children in school.

In a discussion on the Education Front blog last month (, Sunset High School principal Tony Tovar pointed to his school's parents as a reason a predominantly Latino Dallas high school improved to the state's second-highest rank. He explained how the school's community liaison, Nora Garcia, works constantly to attract parents to PTA meetings, parenting classes and teacher meetings.

More Hispanic teachers also would help. Remember the 20 percent number? Sepuvelda foils that against only 5 percent of America's teachers being Latino. His boss, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is on a campaign to improve that ratio, too. The answer is not a quota system, but more teachers who can reach students from a similar culture.

Strong teachers, too. Sepuvelda said in an interview that the best schools not only have longer days and Saturday classes, their teachers are classroom leaders.
But here's the reality: Even when largely Latino schools progress, too few of their students are truly ready for college.

The data at some heavily Hispanic Dallas schools highlights this problem. Often, far fewer than half their students pass the state's achievement exam at the "commended" level, which reveals whether they are on a track that prepares them for college.

Sepuvelda acknowledges the problem but also cites campuses like the International High School of the Americas in San Antonio. Students enter it through a lottery and face rigorous course work, and some end up at Ivy League schools.

Can this happen elsewhere? Yes, but only if parents, students, schools — and the rest of us, too — make that happen.

You'd think we would when we consider one more fact: 25 percent of Americans under age 5 are Hispanic.
They are our destiny. Why would we neglect them?


Selena Gomez wins an Emmy!!!

 Check out Selena's reaction

Arreola to Make History against Klitschko

Unbeaten heavyweight Chris Arreola (27-0, 24 KO’s) will be looking to put the boxing world in a state of shock on September 26th, if he can pull off a major upset by beating WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (37-2, 36 KO’s) at the Staple Center, in Los Angeles. And in beating the 38-year-old Klitschko, Arreola would become the first Mexican to win the heavyweight title. Arreola, 28, has a much better chance than a lot of people are giving him credit for. Klitschko has fought only twice in the past four years, has a history of injuries, has stamina problems and hasn’t faced a fighter like Arreola since Klitschko’s 6th round TKO defeat at the hands of Lennox Lewis in 2003.


To Be Honored by Americans for the Arts

Americans for the Arts will honor Rosario Dawson and Robert Redford at the non-profit organization's annual dinner on Oct. 5 in Manhattan.

The 45-year-old organization, which seeks to advance the arts in America and produces events to raise arts awareness, will honor actor and director Redford with the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Dawson will be presented with the Young Artist Award, according to Variety.

Additional honors to be presented include the Kitty Carlisle Hart Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts to Salman Rushdie, the Artistic Excellence Award to artist Ed Ruscha, the Frederick R. Weisman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts to Sidney Harman and the Corporate Citizenship in the Arts Award to Bank of America executive Anne Finucane.

The Americans for the Arts presentations will take place at the Cipriani on Wall Street. Visit ArtsUSA.

Latino leaders meet at Somos conference

Hundreds of Latino leaders and advocates gathered Saturday for the fourth annual Somos conference, driving home the themes of uniting with the African-American community and protecting civil rights.
Converging at the Islandia Marriott hotel for the two-day conference, elected officials, business and labor leaders discussed everything from health care reform to reports of the rising number of hate crimes against Latinos.

Hosted by the Long Island Latino Elected Officials Association, State Assemb. Philip Ramos (D-Brentwood), chairman of the conference, said the conference is designed to help elected officials craft their legislative agenda.

By joining forces, Latino and African-American elected officials form a powerful coalition, Ramos said in his opening speech Saturday. "If we look at our communities, we live in the same neighborhoods. We drive down the same neglected streets," said Ramos. "We have issues in the same schools. We need to work together. Other then immigration, there is really no difference between the African-American agenda and the Latino agenda."

The rising influence of Latinos is evident by the draw of this year's event, Ramos said. Gov. David A. Paterson attended last night's gala, and state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli was the keynote speaker at the luncheon, receiving the 2009 legacy award from the group.

Referring to a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, DiNapoli, who is from Great Neck, stressed the urgency of battling the growing number of hate crimes against Latinos. "It hurts me deeply and it offends me deeply when I read of these incidents happening right here in our own community," DiNapoli said of hate crimes in Suffolk County. "I don't like that Long Island is part of that statistic."

Noting how many of the perpetrators of such crimes are young, DiNapoli emphasized the important role of education and nonprofit groups. "It means we need to do more in our schools and in our community organizations. We have a lot of work that still has to be done."

Sprinkling his speech with Spanish phrases, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi emphasized the importance of the event for young people. "Imagine what it's like for our young people when they see our leaders castigating, attacking Latinos in our community, when they hold people out as scapegoats," Suozzi said. "I want to say very clear . . . not everyone is that way."


Enrique Iglesias to be a Dad?

Enrique Iglesias is set to be a daddy — his girlfriend, Anna Kournikova, is reportedly pregnant with his child.

Kournikova, 28, was apparently absent from Sunday’s Malibu Triathlon due to the fact she is two months into her pregnancy, according to a brief report in the New York Daily News.

The baby could prompt the couple — who have dated for several years — to finally marry.

Enrique, 34, recently revealed he wouldn’t get married — unless there was a child involved.

“I’m in a place right now where I don’t want to get married,” he said in June this year. “I don’t think in this day and age you need to.

“If there are children involved that’s a different story.”

Latin Grammy nominations announced

Hip-hop duo Calle 13 look set to rule the 10th annual Latin Grammy Awards in November after landing five nominations on Thursday.

The group has already won a number of Latin Grammys and now they're fighting for Album of the year and Best Urban Album of The Year prizes for Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo, Record of The Year and Best Alternative Song for No Hay Nadie Como Tu, and Best Short Form Music Video for La Perla, which featured actor Ruben Blades.

Ivan Lins & The Metropole Orchestra, Jose Lugo, Jorge Luis Piloto, Ivete Sangalo, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Caetano Veloso, and Wisin y Yandel are all tied with three nods apiece.

Ricardo Arjona, Bebe, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Luis Enrique and Luis Fonsi are among the acts with two nominations.

The Latin Grammys will be held in Las Vegas on November 5th.


Dont forget Alma Awards tomorrow

On Friday, September 18, some of the biggest names in entertainment will meet for the 2009 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) ALMA Awards®, a one-of-a-kind tribute to the spirit of pioneering Latinos in television, music, and sports. This is our annual opportunity to applaud their incredible, enriching contributions to American culture and celebrate our shared Latino heritage.  more

Alma Awards will air on CBS @ 8/7 C.  visit for details.

Mexican American makes immigration stand

NASA went ballistic when Jose Hernandez advocated legalization of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. shortly after his return to Earth. The California-born son of migrants isn't backing down.

Reporting from Mexico City - He may have soared a gazillion miles in outer space, but back here on Earth, U.S. astronaut Jose Hernandez has stepped knee-deep in controversy.

Hernandez, the California-born son of Mexican immigrants, is a full-fledged media star in Mexico. Fans here followed his every floating, gravity-free move during his two-week journey in space as he Twittered from the shuttle Discovery and gave live interviews to local TV programs.

After the shuttle returned Friday, Hernandez told Mexican television that he thought the U.S. should legalize the millions of undocumented immigrants living there so that they can work openly because they are important to the American economy.

Officials at NASA flipped. They hastened to announce that Hernandez was speaking for himself and only for himself.

"It all became a big scandal," Hernandez later told television viewers. "Even the lawyers were speaking to me."

Hernandez was back this week on Mexican network Televisa's popular morning chat show, where he has seemingly been a fixture, to update host Carlos Loret de Mola on how he was adapting to life back on Earth.

Loret de Mola asked Hernandez, 47, about the controversy, and the astronaut said he stood by what he had said earlier on the same program, advocating comprehensive immigration reform -- a keenly divisive issue in the United States.

"I work for the U.S. government, but as an individual I have a right to my personal opinions," he said in a video hookup from a Mexican restaurant owned by his wife, Adela, near NASA headquarters in Houston. "Having 12 million undocumented people here means there's something wrong with the system, and the system needs to be fixed."

He added that it seemed impractical to try to deport 12 million people. In the earlier conversation, he spoke of circling the globe in 90 minutes and marveling at a world without borders.

Hernandez, whose first language was Spanish, grew up picking cucumbers and tomatoes in the fields of California's San Joaquin Valley. His parents, Salvador and Julia, had migrated from Mexico to Northern California in the 1950s in search of work. They eventually became U.S. citizens and raised four children, including Jose, the youngest.

As a kid, Hernandez continued to visit his parents' home state of Michoacan (his cousins and aunts and uncles have been featured repeatedly in interviews in the Mexican media) and lived what he has called the typical life of a migrant worker, moving constantly with his family to follow the crops.

It was a second-grade teacher who persuaded Hernandez's parents to set down roots near Stockton to give their children a better education and more stable life. Young Jose excelled in math and today traces his dream of becoming an astronaut to the Apollo spacewalks he watched on TV.

After earning bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering, Hernandez applied every year for 12 years to enter the space program, finally being chosen in 2004.

Mexicans were over the moon when they learned that someone with such close ties to their country would be reaching such heights. Normally, space travel is not a popular topic here, perhaps because it is such an other-world experience.

Hernandez has tweeted in English and Spanish, with the moniker Astro_Jose. His orbit-trotting on the Discovery mission included a salsa demo and mini-science lessons for viewers. He made taquitos for his fellow fliers and fielded questions from YouTube users.

TV host Loret de Mola said viewers were flooding him with one question above all: How does a humble son of peasant immigrants manage to become an astronaut?

Hernandez, a father of five, cited two crucial factors: a good education and parents who forced him to study, who checked his homework and stayed involved in his schooling.

"What I always say to Mexican parents, Latino parents, is that we shouldn't spend so much time going out with friends drinking beer and watching telenovelas, and should spend more time with our families and kids . . . challenging our kids to pursue dreams that may seem unreachable," he said.

Hernandez said he planned to visit Mexico soon to take up President Felipe Calderon on an invitation to the presidential residence for a meal. Calderon extended the invite during a nationally televised videoconference with the astronaut before the Discovery voyage. Calderon also hails from Michoacan, and the president has called the astronaut his paisano.

In his most recent tweet, Hernandez wished Mexicans a happy Independence Day on Wednesday, adding, "Now time to rest!"


Obama praises Sotomayor at Hispanic gala

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, trying to calm critics and rally allies on his top domestic priority, told a Hispanic gathering on Wednesday that no one in the United States illegally would receive benefits under plans for a health care overhaul.

Speaking to a black-tie gala for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the president also promised action on immigration, although he left unspoken a timeline. During a star-studded night that included Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, he also reminded the caucus that he successfully nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the nation's first Latina member of the Supreme Court.

"Our own royalty, somebody who we have become so extraordinarily proud of, somebody who I've just come to adore, and who is somebody who's going to make us proud for many, many years to come, because she's not term-limited, the newest justice of the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor," Obama said, bringing the room to its feet to applaud Sotomayor, who attended the dinner.

He said the proudest moment of his presidency was when Sotomayor took the bench.

"As she lifted her right hand to take the oath, our nation took one step closer to fully realizing the founding ideals that the court itself was established to defend. And across America, millions of children's sights are now set higher; their dreams are a little bigger. That benefits all of us."
But implicit in his message: Have patience with me.

Part rally for his agenda and part reminder to a key constituency, Obama's speech to a packed ballroom promised help for the Hispanic community and the nation more broadly. He said the problems Hispanics face cut across all communities, from crumbling schools to a devastated economy.

"Todos somos Americanos," Obama said. "We are all Americans."

The president — himself the first-generation son of an immigrant father — challenged the audience to work with him to deliver on campaign promises. It will take time, though.

"The American people did not send us to Washington to ignore problems just because they're tough," said Obama, whose campaign slogan of "Yes, We Can" borrowed from Cesar Chavez's "Si, Se Puede."

Echoing that pledge, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a cheering crowd that immigration overhaul and improvements in education would come.

"All of you have made America more American," she said.

And before the president spoke, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told the crowd: "I know he's going to help us with comprehensive immigration reform."

Yet that priority — changing the nation's immigration system — is not yet the top priority of either the White House or the Democratic-led Congress.

To a quiet crowd, Obama told the audience that his health care plan would specifically exclude illegal immigrants. He ticked through the familiar talking points on health care, then added: "Even though I do not believe we should extend health coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken."

First, though, he has to win passage of a health care overhaul. In the interim, Obama highlighted early accomplishments since taking office in January.

He claimed he had hired more Hispanics in his administration than any other and pointed to senior members of his Cabinet, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.


Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony: Leaders

All glammed up for their big night on the town, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were spotted stepping out of their hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday evening (September 16). Making their way to an awaiting car, the superstar couple was on their way to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the Latinos Leading summit. During the course of the event, Anthony, who happens to be celebrating his birthday, will receive the CHCI Chair’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama. Earlier in the day, J. Lo and Marc paid a visit to the Speaker’s balcony, helping to promote Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as education initiatives for Latino children. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the appearance by the couple was “thrilling because they are so loved by the young people in America.” source

Leguizamo plays Twins in 'The Ministers'

John Leguizamo's new film called The Ministers is set to hit the big screen in October. John plays twin brothers that go on a urban vigilante cruisade after their parents are found dead in a fire.  He tells that they worked really hard to make his characters like Jeremy Irons twins in Dead Ringers and not like Lindsay Lohan twins in The Parent Trap. We will be the judge of that! lol

Watch trailer and tell us what you think.

David Archuleta Performs At US Open

David Archuleta belts his heart out to “America The Beautiful” as he performs at the 2009 U.S. Open held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City on Sunday afternoon (September 13).

The 18-year-old singer was joined by United States Marine Corps, 6th Communications Battalion, Brooklyn NY in the anthem.

David tweeted from the world-class tennis match, “Got done singing ‘America the Beautiful!’ So neat especially with the marines! Gonna watch some of the game now! Feeling really tired for some reason, but what a great day! Thanks so much you guys for watching tonight and your comments! Good night!”


Cypress Hill Prepare to Host Smokeout

When Cypress Hill released Black Sunday on July 30, 1993, the album catapulted the Los Angeles rappers to hip-hop stardom and anointed frontman B-Real and his boys, Sen Dog and D.J. Muggs, as marijuana champions. Mind-bending songs like “I Wanna Get High,” “Hits from the Bong” and “Legalize It” sparked a reefer revolution that would’ve made stoners Cheech & Chong proud. And while pot has made its way into the mainstream since those heady days, its use continues to be illegal under federal law.

You can still get high (um, naturally, of course) at the Cypress Hill Smokeout on October 23 and 24 at the San Manuel Amphitheatre in San Bernardino, California. The multi-stage event will feature performances by Sublime, Geto Boys, Goodie Mob, Method Man & Redman, Afrika Bambaataa, Slipknot and other acts—all in the name of cannibis legalization. But the highlight of the show will arguably be headliners Cypress Hill, who will perform all 14 tracks from Black Sunday and plan to unveil material from their upcoming album, Rise Up, which Sen Dog has described as “definitely hard-core hip-hop.” Needless to say, prepare to go “insane in the brain.”

For more info, go to 


Penelope Cruz: ‘I am not pregnant’

Penelope Cruz has finally spoken out about the spiralling pregnancy rumours, telling the world that she will not be a mother any time soon.

The Spanish actress has officially denied the speculation that she is expecting a baby with her boyfriend actor Javier Bardem, after getting fed up of the mounting gossip.

Speaking at the Toronto Film Festival where Penelope looked stunning in a one-shoulder sky blue dress for the premiere of her upcoming movie Broken Embraces, the actress spoke out saying: ‘I start getting some presents from friends saying, 'Congratulations, you're pregnant.' And I say, 'No, I'm not, so return the presents'.’

Last week the Volver actress was photographed smoking with fellow actress Salma Hayek at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont hotel, prompting criticism if she was indeed expecting.

However, now Penelope has officially silenced the gossips.


Shakira laughs off VMA dress double-up

Shakira is laughing off her dress dilemma at the MTV Video Music Awards after realizing she and Pink showed up in the same Valmont outfit.

Both wore identical shimmering black mini-dresses, but the Colombian insists there was no catfight -- just a lot of giggles.

She says, "My stylist told me, 'Oh my God, this is one of a kind! Nobody has this.'

"I'm pretty proud to wear it, but I'm even prouder to see it on Pink. ... She has good taste, I like her."

The pop pair met up on the red carpet to chuckle about the designer double-up.

Danny Rivera to join Juanes in Cuba

Puerto Rican popular music icon Danny Rivera is the latest 'boricua' in a string of international entertainers who'll team up Sep. 20 to perform in Juanes' controversial concert at Havana's historic Plaza de la Revolución in Cuba.
“I'm honored and thrilled to take part in this event,” said in a statement released by the artist's management, Ariel Rivas Entertainment, this week.

Rivera, one of the island's premiere popular music voices, joins Puerto Rican tropical music singer and Grammy-winning artist Olga Tañón, who last month announced in an open letter that she would take part in the second “Paz Sin Fronteras” concert despite the heated debate that surrounds the show.

Widely known for his social activism, the interpreter of “La camisa negra” has been under fire from a group of Miami-based Cuban exiles who contend that the event is nothing but a move in support of Cuba's communist government.

Still, Juanes has insisted the show will have no political overtones despite being staged in the plaza that pays homage to revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Earlier this year, the Colombian rocker also invited Puerto Rican artists Ricky Martin and Luis Fonsi, but they turned down the offer.

To date, confirmed headliners include legendary Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez and the swinging Cuban salsa ensemble Los Van Van, among others.

“She confirmed her participation last month in an open letter and she hasn't changed her mind. She's ready to go,” television producer and Tañón's husband Billy Denizard told the Latin Music Examiner this week.

“She continues to support him [Juanes] 100 percent,” he added.

In her letter, Tañón lamented that some blasted her for having backed Juanes' initiative.  “Juanes and I, like many other artists, have shared the gift of our voices and our music across all the countries that have invited us to perform. Our commitment has always been with those cultures, not with their ideologies nor the political systems that rule them. Our commitment has been to share our talent and never exclude a country that opens up its arms to us. Cuba can't be the exception,” she said.

“La Mujer de Fuego” added that she can tolerate criticism, but contended: “What's categorically impermissible for me, is to accept those based on lies and are only filled with rage and hate for the mere reason of not sharing the same political vision. I can't also tolerate critique over Juanes' honest intention to hold a a concert of love and compassion through what we know to do with our hearts, music.”
In addition, she said she's aware that Cuba's political situation is a hot topic, but stressed that her goal isn't to become part of the controversy.

“I recognize that Cuba's political theme throughout history has been a delicate, complex subject, full of feelings and different visions. That's why I have always respected it and never have gotten involved in it. And for that same respect is why I backed my friend Juanes in this daring proposal. My aim has never been, nor will ever be, to intervene in this matter, but to create ties with Cubans thorugh music,” she concluded.

In mid-August, Juanes— who now calls Florida home — told Miami police that he had received death threats via his Twitter account and said he was going to cancel the show for concerns about his family’s safety. The message said, among other things, "I hate what you are saying but you will die for defending your right to say it."  However, a few days later Juanes' publicist announced the show would go on as planned.


Toby Love new release "Muchacha Loca"

Toby Love releasing a new song "Muchacha Loca".  It's getting alot of good reviews in the streets.  check it out and let me know your thoughts.

That 70s Show actor turns director

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Miami-born actor Wilmer Valderrama, who is probably best known as Fez on the long-running Fox sitcom "That '70s Show," is adding the role of director to his portfolio.

Valderrama, 29, is the former host of the MTV series "Yo Momma" and the voice of Manny in the animated children's show "Handy Manny." But this month, Valderrama got behind the camera to direct the filming of an episode of Disney's "The Imagination Movers" children's TV show in New Orleans.

Though Valderrama has directed some music videos and a public service announcement for Latino Get Out the Vote, this was his first time directing for a television series.