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LA Stage Alliance Shuts Down For Good After Awards Show Misidentifies Asian American Actress

(Screenshot from LA Stage Alliance Website)

The LA Stage Alliance shut down today after serious mishaps at their awards show last week, which raised questions about racial equity and led dozens of theater groups in the city to withdraw support for the organization.

At last week's pre-recorded Ovation Awards, which the LA Stage Alliance puts on, the host mispronounced actor Jully Lee's name when her award was called. Producers then put up a photo of a different Asian actor.

The play Lee starred in,"Hannah and the Dread Gazebo," was also credited solely to the Fountain Theatre, with no mention of co-presenter East West Players, which is one of the country's top Asian American theater companies.

In a social media post, Lee said she “was not the only person misidentified with a wrong photo/name mispronunciation. I was just the 1st one of the night. #DoBetter doesn’t even scratch the surface.”

Snehal Desai is the artistic director of East West Players. He says while the LA Stage Alliance used to be a major advocate for the theater community, he doesn't feel too concerned about it shutting down:

"There was a time when this would have made a void or a significant impact, but not so much today. Now we have things like the Theatre Producers League of LA, we have Alternative Theatre LA. These are large cohorts that are picking up the mantle."

In a statement, L.A. Stage Alliance said:

"Our intention has always been to represent and promote the entire Los Angeles theatre community, but at this time we are unable to continue… We wish the entire community and it's stakeholders continued success."

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LA County: Vaccinated Travelers Can Now Skip 10-Day Quarantine

(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

L.A. County officially eased up on its pandemic travel advisory today, by allowing fully vaccinated travelers to skip the 10-day mandatory quarantine period upon arrival.

The revision mirrors CDC guidance issued last Friday, which says anyone who's fully vaccinated can safely travel within the U.S., though they must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Both the CDC and L.A. County guidelines still discourage any nonessential travel, regardless of vaccination status.

That's to keep potentially dangerous variants, like the ones first found in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, at bay, said County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer:

"While we have variants of concern here, we don't have them dominating, and we'd like to keep it that way ... because they're all three known to be more infectious viruses."

Those who aren't fully vaccinated will still have to adhere to the post-travel quarantine. But if they test negative for COVID-19 after their arrival, that quarantine period shrinks to just seven days.

L.A. County's original 10-day quarantine policy was implemented on Dec. 30 – it was a mandatory directive ordering anyone traveling from outside the Southern California region to self-isolate. Some critics have pointed out, however, that there was never a plan for enforcement.

You can read the full travel advisory here.


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The Family Of An Autistic And Deaf Cudahy Man Who Was Shot By An LA Sheriff's Deputy Plans To Sue

Yajaira Cervantes, one of Isaias' two sisters, calls for justice at Monday's rally. (Robert Garrova/LAist)

The family of an autistic and deaf man who was shot and wounded by an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy last week is planning to sue the county over the incident, according to the family’s attorney.

Relatives said 25-year-old Isaias Cervantes was unarmed and family attorney Austin Dove said he was "completely compliant when he was shot in the back" in his Cudahy home on March 31. Cervantes' mother and his sister, Yajaira, witnessed the incident, according to Judy Mark of Disability Voices United.

Cervantes is in the ICU, said his other sister, Yadira, who added that she's worried he won’t walk again.

"It breaks my heart," she said today at a rally outside the Hall of Justice. "We’re really hurt and we have a lot of anger. He was... really happy, so innocent."

The Sheriff’s department says a deputy shot Cervantes after deputies responded to a "family disturbance call" and Cervantes "attacked one of the deputies[,] gouging at his eyes while attempting to disarm him."

While saying he doesn't yet have enough information to confirm or deny the department’s version of events, Dove said what the family saw and what the deputy reported are very different.

He also criticized the deputies’ tactics.

"[The deputies] were told that he was autistic, told that he was deaf, told that he was unable to respond to cues like everyone else," Dove said. "They get there and within three minutes he's shot in the back on the floor of his living room."

The department’s Mental Evaluation Teams (MET), which consist of a specially-trained deputy and a clinical social worker, do respond to cases involving people with autism, said Lt. John Gannon, who headed up MET until April 1.

But MET was not called to respond in the Cervantes case, and it’s “unclear whether patrol actually knew about the developmental disability factor,” Gannon told us via email.

The Sheriff’s Department said body-worn cameras captured the incident on video and the agency promised in a statement to release the footage "as soon as possible."

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A New Grant For Small California Restaurants Hit By The Pandemic Opens Next Week

Employees work in a Burbank restaurant that is only open for to-go or delivery orders on November 23, 2020. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Next week — and next week only — the California Restaurant Foundation is making grants available to small restaurants that took a hit during the pandemic.

Independent restaurants with 50 employees or less that lost 20% or more of their yearly revenue can apply for $3,500 grants to cover payroll or costs associated with retrofitting for outdoor dining.

Alycia Harshfield is the executive director of the California Restaurant Foundation. She says there will also be informational and insurance-based resources provided with the grant money, which are meant to help with long-term recovery:

"We understand that while restaurants are able to reopen now, we're not quite out of this pandemic yet, and it might take another year to two years for a full recovery."

The application process will be open from April 11 through April 18 at

Businesses owned by women and people of color will be prioritized for the grants.

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Our Rental Housing Investigation 'STUCK' Wins Prestigious Investigative Reporting Award

(Dan Carino for LAist)

Our investigation "STUCK: Inside California's Housing Crisis," led by reporter Aaron Mendelson, has won an Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Award in the print/online categories. These awards have been given for more than 40 years, recognizing the nation's best watchdog journalism.

The project featured video, photos, charts and other interactive features. The judges wrote:

"Aaron Mendelson left nothing untouched in the investigation of a sprawling $1.3 billion rental empire that virtually nobody had heard of before," the judges wrote in their comments. After analyzing extensive records and data, "he followed all this to the tenants living in substandard conditions and let them tell their stories in a sensitive and at times heartbreaking manner. What resulted was a beautifully well done investigation with incredible detail."

A one-hour radio special that aired on 89.3 KPCC, where our reporters work is also featured, was a finalist for the IRE Medal for audio.

The story was published weeks before shutdowns began in California due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic helped to further heighten many of the problems discussed in the original investigation.

We've continued to follow the stories of those covered in our original investigation, including these stories published in late March 2020:

As well as this story published in December:

The investigation was previously honored with two Online Journalism Awards from the Online News Association.

The team that worked on this investigation included Rina Palta, Chava Sanchez, Priska Neely, and editors Mike Kessler, Adriene Hill, Dana Amihere, and Mark Schoofs.

You can read six of the major takeaways from the investigation here.


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Streaming Platforms Dominate SAG Awards But Theater Owners See A Ray Of Hope

Chadwick Boseman (playing trumpet) and Viola Davis each won SAG Awards in the lead actor categories for their roles in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." (David Lee/Netflix)

Four non-white performers took home the top film acting prizes, while streaming services collected a lot of trophies at Sunday night's Screen Actors Guild Awards. But the weekend wasn't all bad for traditional major studios thanks to two giant beasts fighting it out at the multiplex.

Actors make up the biggest bloc among voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so the SAG Awards are often a harbinger of the Oscars. Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman won the lead actor and actress prizes for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

In fact, none of the acting winners were white: Daniel Kaluuya from Judas and the Black Messiah won for supporting actor, and Yuh-Jung Youn of Minari was best supporting actress.

The best ensemble award -- SAG’s equivalent of the best picture Oscar -- went to the Netflix film, The Trial of the Chicago 7.

The major studios took home just a single SAG honor, Kaluuya's win for the Warner Bros. movie Judas and the Black Messiah. Yet there was some very good news for studios elsewhere: Godzilla vs. Kong set a pandemic box-office record with an opening gross of more than $48 million.

That’s about triple the previous Covid-era best, sety by Wonder Woman 1984. Those returns came even though theater attendance, especially in major markets, is often capped at 25% of capacity. What’s more, Godzilla is also available for streaming. One analyst said that without the attendance limits and streaming option, Godzilla could have grossed nearly $100 million.

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Are You An LAUSD Parent? Need A COVID-19 Shot? The District Is Opening 25 Vaccination Sites

Workers prepare a vaccination station at LAUSD's Panorama High School during a media tour of the campus on March 10, 2021. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC/LAist)

Los Angeles Unified School District officials are planning to open two dozen additional on-campus locations for family members of LAUSD students to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Two weeks ago, the district announced plans for two on-campus vaccine clinics. On Monday, Beutner announced the program would expand to a total of 25 school sites, mostly in South L.A. and Eastside communities, plus a handful in the East San Fernando Valley.

Parents or family members hoping to schedule vaccine appointments can call the school district at (213) 328-3958.

The first two clinics will open Tuesday at Washington Preparatory High School — near the 110 and 105 Freeways — and at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights.

Another clinic is scheduled to open on Friday at Gage Middle School in Huntington Park.


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Majority Of LA County School Districts Will Soon Have At Least Some Campuses Open

An example of what a reopened classroom could look like. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

With this week’s campus reopenings, a majority of Los Angeles County school districts will have resumed in-person instruction for at least some students.

We've been tracking these reopenings with the assistance of the L.A. County Office of Education, which now lists 49 of the county’s 80 districts as having reopened at least some campuses.

This week, the following school districts will be added to the list:

  • In San Dimas, Bonita Unified welcomes all elementary students back to campuses on Monday.
  • Duarte Unified will reopen classrooms to preschool, transitional kindergarten (TK) and kindergarten students on Monday. Students in the remaining elementary grades will return gradually over the next two weeks.
  • The Lancaster School District, which serves elementary and middle school students, will reopen for Grades TK and K this week. In-person early childhood education will also resume.
  • Temple City Unified officials have said their district will reopen classrooms for Grades TK-3 plus one high school grade on Monday.
  • The Whittier Union High School District is scheduled to begin welcoming students back to campuses “one day a week on designated days.”
  • In Covina, Charter Oak Unified will reopen elementary classrooms for Grades TK, K and 1 starting Tuesday.
  • San Gabriel Unified will reopen classrooms for students from Grades TK-2 starting Tuesday. Third- through fifth graders will return on April 19.
  • The South Whitter School District will reopen all elementary classrooms to students beginning on Tuesday.
  • Outside of Palmdale, the Keppel Union School District will bring students in Grades TK-2 back to campuses on Thursday. The district’s remaining elementary and middle schoolers will return next week.

In Orange County, most school districts have been offering at least some in-person instruction for weeks. But one of the few districts that has kept its campuses closed just announced plans to reopen them: the Anaheim Elementary School District will invite its youngest grades and special education students back on April 12.


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A Look Behind The Scenes At Preparations To Reopen LAUSD Campuses

Disposable masks sit in boxes stacked at LAUSD's 390,000-square-foot procurement warehouse in Pico Rivera. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC/LAist)

Across L.A. County, more public schools are inviting students back to classrooms: this week, districts from Duarte to Whittier to San Dimas will resume some in-person teaching.

The biggest district reopening in our area begins next week. That's when Los Angeles Unified reopens a handful of elementary campuses. After that first batch reopens, most LAUSD elementaries will welcome students back the week of April 19. Middle and high schools will follow the week of April 26.

Some district employees are working around the clock — literally — to ensure schools have the masks, protective equipment and cleaning supplies they need to reopen. Most of these goods flow through LAUSD's warehouse in Pico Rivera, where workers like Danny Vasquez load them onto trucks that roll out as early as 3 a.m.

As campus reopening looms, Vasquez is bracing himself:

“It’s going to get extremely busy … All of these schools have to be sanitized, or we’re not going to open.”

For all these preparations, LAUSD expects most parents to keep their kids home this month. In areas where COVID-19 hit hardest, like South Gate or East L.A., early numbers suggest only a quarter of students will return. Even in well-off Venice, the data suggest parents are torn.


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LA’s Vietnamese American Catholics Mark 45th Anniversary Of First Community Ministry

Phuong Ma of Simi Valley, left, and Mai Nguyen of Monterey Park mark the 45th anniversary of the Vietnamese American Catholic ministry at the San Gabriel Mission. (Josie Huang/LAist)

Among those observing Easter Sunday at San Gabriel Mission Church were more than 200 Vietnamese American parishioners with something extra to celebrate.

Forty-five years ago, the first Vietnamese American ministry in Los Angeles County was established at the historic mission. Members chose Easter as their anniversary date.

Bryan Nguyen, a respiratory therapist from Alhambra who chairs the Vietnamese ministry, said it pushed to have sermons in their native tongue.

“For some elderly people, they can go to English mass but the Bible reading, they do not 100% understand,” Nguyen said. “If we have Vietnamese language, they participate 100%.”

The first large wave of Vietnamese to arrive in Southern California came after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Many found community in Catholic churches.

The Vietnamese American ministry at the San Gabriel Mission is proud of its high rate of volunteering and has been particularly active in fundraising for the mission, which was ravaged by a fire last July.

Nguyen didn’t mention it, but mission spokeswoman Terri Heurta said the Vietnamese American ministry is responsible for about a third of the $300,000 raised so far by the community for the mission’s restoration.

The funds will cover what insurance doesn’t. Work crews are to begin installing a permanent roof on the mission on Monday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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LA Gets A 4.0 Jolt Before Dawn; Quake Near Inglewood Came After 2 Smaller Quakes

USGS map shows the epicenter of an earthquake that hit at about 4:45 a.m. Monday. (Courtesy USGS)

A predawn earthquake jolted some Angelenos awake just before 4:45 this morning.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 4.0, has an epicenter at Hollywood Park, a few blocks from the intersection of W. Century and Crenshaw boulevards. There were no immediate reports of damage.

According to the United States Geological Survey, about half an hour prior to the 4.0 temblor, two smaller quakes struck in the same area — a 3.3 and a 2.5.

In addition, there have been a number of smaller aftershocks.

Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center, says aftershocks are common with a 4.0 quake.

"Or it could just be what we call a swarm — just a number of small quakes — not exactly a main shock aftershock situation," Blakeman told us. "There's also a very, very, very tiny possibility there could be a much larger quake. And that's just in general, anytime we have quakes somewhere in a seismically active area, there's always the possibility of a much larger quake."

The Southern California Seismic Network at Caltech puts the chance of a larger quake happening — larger than a magnitude 4.0 — at 5%.

If you felt the quake, you can let the USGS know about what you experienced at: Did you feel it?

USGS officials said that they did issue an alert, but because the quake was under 4.5 magnitude it was not sent to mobile phones.


We don't want to scare you, but the Big One is coming. We don't know when, but we know it'll be at least 44 times stronger than Northridge and 11 times stronger than the Ridgecrest quakes in 2019. To help you get prepared, we've compiled a handy reading list

Morning Brief: Welcome To The Orange Tier, TikTok For Mental Health, And Black Lives Matter Imagery Gains Recognition

Food trucks parked in the parking lot of the Lakewood Center Mall on a Friday evening. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Good morning, L.A. It’s April 5.

As we reported last week, today marks the first day that L.A. County businesses, restaurants and public spaces can expand operations under the orange tier of reopening.

The move allows for higher capacity limits at businesses, churches, gyms and restaurants. Bars can begin outdoor service again, with a 90-minute limit on customer stays and no counter service.

With coronavirus case numbers plummeting and vaccinations steadily increasing, L.A. passed from the purple tier (the most restrictive) and through the red tier (the second most restrictive) in only two weeks. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate is now 1.4%, down from around 20% in January. Deaths and hospitalizations are significantly down as well.

Notably, California health officials announced that indoor concerts and performances can start back up on April 15, although they are still urging caution. Ticketholders will need to have proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

It’s not clear whether L.A. County will adopt these guidelines.

"There's still some outstanding questions or clarifications that we're waiting to hear from [county supervisors] as well," county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said on Friday. "We want to get the final details to see exactly what's being required."

Meanwhile, the state has released updated guidelines on what can reopen, and in what capacity, under the orange tier. The list is highly detailed, with information on businesses ranging from appliance repair shops to body waxing studios to swap meets. If you have a question about a specific business, check here.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

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What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Fewer than 20% of COVID-19 vaccines administered in California have gone to Latinos, with even fewer going to people who are undocumented.
  • The federal government may house unaccompanied migrant children on an Army National Guard base in California.
  • Many teens who have suffered emotionally during the pandemic are turning to social media apps such as Twitter and TikTok in search of support and community.
  • The L.A. County library system will reopen 30 of its 85 locations at 50% capacity for some in-person services later this month.
  • Work begins today on a new roof for the San Gabriel Mission, which was damaged by a fire last year.

Before You Go … Black Lives Matter LA Protest Images Recognized By Smithsonian Magazine

A Black Lives Matter protest. (Matt Stasi)

A West L.A. photographer is among the winners of the prestigious Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest, for photos he took documenting the Black Lives Matter protests across L.A. in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Matt Stasi said he could feel the urgency of the community coming through the lens as he captured the images on the streets last summer.

"Everyone wanted justice for what was going on, what is going on," he said. "It was just powerful to see everyone coming together — that was the one thing that really really stood out."

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