News & Press

Kenan Thompson on “Saturday Night Live”
in the age of Trump


Kenan Thompson has been a series regular on “Saturday Night Live” for over a decade now.

The comedian has myriad hilarious impersonations to his name since joining the show 14 seasons ago. His most memorable impressions include those of public figures such as Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley and Steve Harvey.

There have been few moments in recent years in which the talents of the “SNL” cast members were watched more closely than during the recent presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Week after week, viewers tuned in to the show for some much-needed comic relief, but it wasn’t all laughs behind the scenes, as Thompson explained to CBS News.

“It was interesting for us because, you know, we tried to play the middle and not play favorites or whatever. It was tough holding up the mirror to people who we actually do admire in the same facet, but we did have to be fair to both sides,” Thompson said.

He made the comments at a recent event for the Cristian Rivera Foundation, a group working to help find the cure for the Pontine Glioma brain stem tumor. Thompson, who is on the foundation’s board, spoke more about the election after presenting an award onstage.

“You know, I guess the outcome of the election wasn’t necessarily what I wanted, but we all respect democracy and are just going to go with the flow and keep doing what we do. I do think it’s funny Trump and Alec Baldwin keep going back and forth on Twitter.”

When asked which “SNL” sketch resonated most with him throughout the campaign, he quickly shared his response.

“Black Jeopardy. The sketch was an awesome representation of people’s personalities, which I think was why it went viral the way it did,” he said. “People kind of went, ‘Oh yeah, exactly,’ you know what I mean? Which I thought was awesome. We were holding up the mirror of the climate — as far as black people are concerned and also to those who voted for Trump.”

As far as the president-elect’s war of words with Baldwin, Thompson noted, “I don’t think there is much rationalizing Trump’s thoughts. He kind of just thinks and does what he wants to do. I do think it’s an interesting time we are living in where we can actually see the president of the United States literally arguing with someone on Twitter. It’s really crazy.”


Remembering Cristian Rivera Foundation
Honorary Committee Member
The Late & Great Anthony Mason
on what would have been his
50th Birthday


Today, December 14th, the Cristian Rivera Foundation would like to take a moment and wish our Honorary Committee Member, the Late and Great Anthony Mason a very Happy Birthday in Heaven.

Anthony Mason was an amazing committee member and was so dedicated to the foundation and to our mission of never to relenting in our fight until we find a cure for DIPG. Anthony Mason’s work ethic and dedication still resonates with  The Cristian Rivera Foundation, we have made remarkable progress in finding a cure because of Anthony’s vision.

“Being on the Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee means a lot to me,” Mason stated proudly. “I know what it’s like with my own kids and though you can never know what it’s like for someone to lose a child, I can only imagine since I know how I feel when my kids only get hurt. I want people to get involved and start doing the research to cure this disease because we as parents should not have to bury our children.”

Anthony Mason is a legend, and will forever be missed.

Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Kenan Thompson on All That, Kenan & Kel and Using Fame For a Cause — Wetpaint Exclusive


While Kenan Thompson has spent the last 13 years making us laugh on SNL, many also know him as one of the original cast members of the Nickelodeon sketch-comedy classic All That.

Characters like Pierre Escargot, Superdude, and Miss Piddlin made kids of all ages burst into fits of laughter, eventually leading him and fellow cast member Kel Mitchell to their own show, Kenan & Kel.

Here, Kenan takes a stroll down memory lane back to his earliest of glory days.

Wetpaint: You’ve been doing sketch and improv seemingly your whole life. When did you know comedy was something you seriously wanted to pursue?

 Kenan Thompson: I didn’t take it seriously until I got on Nickelodeon and saw that it was a real business. Before that, I just wanted to be on TV because I liked watching TV as a kid, like Double Dare and stuff like that, as opposed to becoming a writer and crafting my own sitcom and having that whole business aspect of the whole thing. I was unaware of that whole process.

I guess I was just a young, fun-loving kid! Me and my older brother was always quoting Coming to America, Spies like Us, 48 Hours, and all those movies, just having fun amongst ourselves.

When I started acting, doing theater stuff at a young age I was always the comic relief type roles, so I knew I had a funny bone and could make groups of people laugh, but I didn’t really take it seriously until I started getting paid on a weekly basis, then I was like, “Oh, well, this could be a lifestyle [laughs].”

Do you keep in touch with your old All That cast mates?

Yeah, me and Josh [Server] have always been really close and me and Kel [Mitchell] are really close. We had a reunion with everybody else recently, and it was nice to see everybody I haven’t seen in some years. Me and Danny Tamberelli played the guitar, he’s teaching me the guitar all the time. So yeah, there’s a little pocket of friends that I still kick it with.

What was the dynamic between you and Kel like coming up as a comedy duo?

It was awesome, because we were that close in real life. We spent a lot of time together and our families are very, very similar, with the only difference being he’s from Chicago and me being from Atlanta. Both of our mothers are very short, strict women. We’re both very family-bonded and we recognized that the first day, and we just started kicking it from there.

How did you initially link up with The Cristian Rivera Foundation?

The organization is dedicated to finding a cure for a horrible, horrible disease. It’s a brain tumor kids are getting on their brain stem. The survival rate is very, very low. I knew Cristian, I know his father. His father used to actually host a couple of the clubs I used to go to. He was always really nice to me and I lost touch with him for some years and ran back into him and he told me what happened.

What made you decide to become a board member?

When I ran back into him he invited me to be on the board and I was like, ‘yeah, sure!’ Cancer is a close issue for me; I’ve lost a few family members to it. Just to hear that this particular disease is targeting children is a horrible thing. It seemed like a no-brainer, it’s not like I have to do much.You know, show up and try to raise awareness is the least I could do.

How important is it for celebs and those with a platform to support meaningful causes like this?

I think it’s of the utmost importance. What else are you going to use your platform for than what you’re already putting out into the world? If you can use it for some other kind of positive thing, it should be almost mandatory.

To learn more about the organization or to make a donation, please visit
The Cristian Rivera Foundation.

Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Louie Vega Nominated For Grammy Award 2017

Best Dance / Electronic Album – Starring…XXVIII
Released February 2016 on Vega Records

BillboardAnother opportunity to impact the dancefloors of the future”

i-D Magazine “A testament to Louie’s knowledge, ability and friendships in the world of music”

Resident Advisor One of dance music’s most important figures”

Mixmag “Few people in this game can truly be called a master, but Louie Vega is certainly one of them”

Louie Vega’s emblematic 2016 album Starring… XXVIII has been nominated for a Grammy in under the award for Best Dance / Electronic Album.

With a career that spans over 30 years, including heavyweight projects including Masters At Work, Elements Of Life and Nuyorican Soul, Vega’s Starring… is unbelievably his first solo album and features over twenty-five artists on twenty-eight different songs.

The esteemed group of collaborators on the album include Kendrick Lamar, Funkadelic & George Clinton, Jocelyn Brown, Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul, Byron Stingily, Tony Mumrelle and Nick Monaco & Soul Clap and the collection spans the genres of afro, house, funk, latin, jazz, soul and gospel.

Vega previously was awarded a Grammy in 2006 for his remix of Curtis Mayfield Superfly and he was sampled by Kanye West this year in Fade. He explains of Starring…, “My inspirations came from various visits around the world and experiences in life. The album came together naturally, it was like planting a tree, each branch represented an artist, a sound, a groove. The entire process happened within a few years. The experience with the artists on the album was magical; they are all so talented and very unique and have their own special quality. This body of work is a masterpiece that will be party of my legacy.”

Purchase “Starring XXVII” at:

Kenan Thompson spills on ‘SNL’s best guest hosts



Kenan Thompson — who joined “Saturday Night Live” 13 years ago — told Page Six, “The best hosts have been Tom Hanks and Dave Chappelle.”

And, “It’s kind of scary to see how cool Tom Hanks is . . . He is such an icon and people-person at the same time. He gives me hope that if I ever become insanely successful, I can maintain who I am as a person.”

He says of fame on NBC, “I never had groupies . . . It’s not like I’m Usher or something . . . I do not respond well to random women grinding up on me on the dance floor. Marriage definitely showed me another way. It taught me to live for somebody else and not just myself.”

He’s currently using his celebrity to raise funds for the Cristian Rivera Foundation for pediatric cancer research.



Daily News EXCLUSIVE: Father continues crusade to find cure for rare cancer that killed his son years ago with city fund-raiser

John "Gungie" Rivera's son Cristian died from a rare brain cancer, and the dad turned the tragedy into a crusade for a cure for the fatal disease.
John “Gungie” Rivera’s son Cristian died from a rare brain cancer, and the dad turned the tragedy into a crusade for a cure for the fatal disease.

Nearly a decade ago, John Rivera turned the worst crisis a parent can face — the terminal cancer diagnosis of his young son — into a lifelong quest to help save other children’s lives.

In 2007, Rivera’s 4-year-old son, Cristian, was diagnosed with a very rare form of brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG.

An extremely rare but devastating disease, DIPG affects less than 300 kids each year but has an extremely high mortality rate — less than 1% live five years after being diagnosed.

Cristian died in 2009 at 6, but his brave, two-year battle with the disease spurred Rivera to dedicate his own life to raising money and awareness to fight DIPG.


“It’s still very difficult,” Rivera said about losing his son. “But I have to be one of the people — one of the tools — that helps find a cure.”

Rivera, 52, a music producer and promoter known in the industry as “Gungie,” in 2009 created the Cristian Rivera Foundation, a nonprofit that donates all monies raised to hospitals and foundations researching cures for DIPG.

On Wednesday, the foundation will host its eighth annual celebrity fund-raising gala at the Broad Street Ballroom in Manhattan.

The event, hosted by NBC’s Darlene Rodriguez, will honor Dr. Mark Souweidane, director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center and the physician behind a new treatment trial partly funded by the foundation and its supporters.


Cristian died almost a decade ago, and has since created the Cristian Rovera Foundation that donates all monies raise to research for a cure.
Cristian died almost a decade ago, and has since created the Cristian Rovera Foundation that donates all monies raise to research for a cure.

“When my son was diagnosed, there was no hope for a cure and very little information,” Rivera said. “Now almost 10 years later, there has been so much progress.”

DIPG tumors are found in the brainstem, making the cancer incredibly difficult to treat with chemotherapy. Dr. Soudweidane’s new trial uses a technique known as convection-enhanced delivery, or CED.

This method treats the tumor by inserting hairline fibers laced with a chemo agent through the difficult-to-penetrate blood-brain barrier and directly into the tumor on the brainstem.

There are still no confirmed survivors of the disease, but Rivera is hopeful that this new trial is a major step towards a cure.

“We’ve been able to treat approximately 31 children,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, most of them have passed. But there is one little girl that has tolerated the treatment very well. She’s 11, the oldest child I know with the disease.

“It’s wonderful to see the foundation grow every year,” Rivera adds. “Even if I can’t get everyone to donate, I know that I’ve planted a seed of information and spread awareness about a disease that so few people know about.”


To Ready More, visit

Cristian Rivera Foundation November 2016 Newsletter



Cristian Rivera Foundation 2016
November Newsletter

November is always an exciting month for The Cristian Rivera Foundation. First, there is Thanksgiving and who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? We love being able to take the time out of our busy schedules and spend time with our family and friends to reflect on the past year and express gratitude. However, it is around our dining room tables, surrounded by those who love us, we take a moment to remember the unfortunate reality that many families are incomplete at the dinner table. Many families are missing their daughters and sons, they are missing their brothers and sisters. All because of this terrible reality of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG). The Cristian Rivera Foundation exists to fight so that no more families are incomplete on Thanksgiving-or any other day of the year.

The Cristian Rivera Foundation is also very excited about our 8th Annual Celebrity Fundraising Gala, which is on November 30th! We are thrilled with the Gala this year. We have been working hard to make this the best event to date.  We’re honoring Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York as our 2016 Humanitarian Award winner because of his work on increasing awareness about DIPG. We are so proud to also honor Dr. Mark Souweidane of Weill Cornell Medicine with the Vision of Hope Award for his seemingly endless dedication and hope to finding a cure for DIPG. We are proud to honor Board of Director, Craig Serra with the 2016 Service & Dedication Award for his commitment to the Crisitan Rivera Foundation. We are honored to bestow the 2016 Golden Wings onto Juliana Donnelly; her parents Brian and Doris will be addressing us at the Gala. As you probably already know, the 8th Celebrity Fundraising Gala is SOLD OUT! This is the third year in a row that the Celebrity Fundraising Gala has been sold out and this year- one month before the Gala!  We still have more exciting news to come about this year’s Gala, so stay tuned as we up to date!

Our Platinum Sponsors Our Gold Sponsor Our Silver Sponsors Our Bronze Sponsors

We look forward to seeing you at the 8th Annual Celebrity Fundraising Gala! If you did not get a ticket in time, there are still ways to be involved with the Gala. You can purchase a sponsorship or an ad to be featured in our program. You can make a donation. You can volunteer the night of the Gala. All monetary contributions are tax-deductible. All support is appreciated. We are excited to see our Board of Directors, Committee Members, and Committee Friends at the Gala! We are thrilled to welcome new- and returning- guests to the Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation’s Celebrity Fundraising Gala! See you on November 30th!

We’re proud to feature Committee Member,
Carlos Yepez

Carlos is the November featured Committee Member. Carlos is the Business Relationship Manager and Vice President of PNC Bank in West Windsor, New Jersey and President of the PNC Bank Latino Employee Resource Group in the Central NJ Market. He has two children and is married to Brenda. He has been part of the Cristian Rivera Foundation since 2015. We are glad to have him on our side!

We interviewed Carlos recently and asked him some questions about his involvement with the Cristian Rivera Foundation. Interview below:

1. What does it mean to you to be a part of the Cristian Rivera Foundation? I love being part of a great organization. I love being a soldier in the fight against DIPG. This is an important fight and I’m proud to be a part of this organization to find a cure.

2. What is your favorite part of the Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation’s Celebrity Fundraising Gala?

The part that is my favorite is also really the saddest part of the night, but it is my favorite because it is the most impactful. When the video featuring Cristian and all the other children who suffered from DIPG is played the entire room gets quiet, emotional, and contemplative. The other guests and me sit there and think about what we just watched. It inspires me to work harder and to do everything I can to help find a cure.

3. What do you enjoy the most about the Cristian Rivera Foundation?

I really like that the Cristian Rivera Foundation Board of Directors, Committee Members, and Committee Friends are all volunteers. All the proceeds we raise go to research, which means your donation goes to finding a cure. The people receiving your donations are real people. Dr. Mark Souweidane is a very sincere guy. We have the right people involved in this organization. It is about getting people to understand the cause and to donate. We’ve made huge strides in such a short amount of time-imagine what we can accomplish in the long run!

Happy Birthday To Our Committee Member

Manuel Morán
November 29

Remembering DIPG Angel Birthdays
Remembering DIPG Angel Anniversaries

The Cristian Rivera FoundationJohn “Gungie” Rivera
(Founder of The Cristian Rivera Foundation & “Forever Cristian’s Daddy”)Board of Directors of the Cristian Rivera Foundation:
Andy Epstein, Darlene Rodriguez and Craig Serra.Committee Members of the Cristian Rivera Foundation:
Aldo Marin, Alex Garcia, Carlos Colon, Carlos Yepez, Dennis Rodriguez,
Dr. Manuel A. Moran, Elis Pacheco, Fernando Ferrer, Kenan Thompson, Louie Vega,
Luis Guzman, Meiling Macias Toro, Miriam Colon, Nirav Patel, Robert Vazquez,
Rafael Toro, Ramon E. Javier, Steve Cox, Teddy “DJ Tedsmooth” Mendez,
Tony Ferrara and Vito Bruno

Committee Friends of the Cristian Rivera Foundation:
Ben Velazquez, Dean Feratovic, Edward Caban, Jerry Chaparro,
Mark Rosner, Modesto Lacen, Pablo Diaz, Paul Pristavec, Robert Dominguez,
Steven Rodas, Victor Martinez, and William Pla

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Breaking CRF News: Brandon Stanton, of Humans of New York, to receive 2016 Humanitarian Award at the 8th Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation’s Celebrity Fundraising Gala



The Cristian Rivera Foundation has amazing news to share! This years’ Cristian Rivera Foundation’s Humanitarian Award recipient is Brandon Stanton. Brandon is the founder of the incredibly popular Humans of New York! Earlier this year, Brandon ran a story and a subsequent fundraising campaign to benefit Dr. Mark Souweidane. We were impressed with Brandon’s dedication to humanity. We are honored that Brandon accepted the award and we look forward to hearing him speak at the Gala.

Local Charity Aims To Cure Deadly Pediatric Cancer With Star Power


We love great non-for-profit work, for the eighth year in a row, New York City-based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) The Cristian Rivera Foundation is gathering celebrities, supporters and donors to raise money toward a groundbreaking clinical trial aimed at curing Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

The eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will be held at Broad Street Ballroom in Manhattan on Wednesday, November 30. The foundation namesake Cristian Rivera was only 4 years old when he was diagnosed with the rare pediatric brain stem tumor, which generally affects children between the ages of 1 and 9. Approximately 200 children are diagnosed with DIPG each year in the United States and most only survive for 3 to 18 months after diagnosis.

Through auction items, ticket sales and more, the eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will raise money in support of a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College that officially got underway on May 1, 2012, thanks to the more than $700,000 in donations from the

Cristian Rivera Foundation to date. Spearheaded by Dr. Mark Souweidane, the Director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center, this trial is the first of its kind to use convection-enhanced delivery to administer radio immunotherapy to children with an otherwise incurable tumor.Dr. Souweidane has found a way to operate on a tumor that had, until now, been deemed inoperable. Dr. Souweidane has developed a safe method for drug delivery to these tumors by a highly innovative surgical procedure. Up until this time surgery has played no role in the treatment plan for these children with DIPG. This procedure involves implanting a small hair-like device into the center of the tumor and then using a slow constant flow of drug directly into the involved brain stem. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is proud to support Dr. Souweidane’s important research.

The eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will be hosted by Cristian Rivera Foundation Board of Director and Anchor of the award winning NBC’s “Today in New York”, Darlene Rodriguez. The event kicks off at 6pm with red carpet arrivals from esteemed guests and foundation committee members. Tickets are sold out and include passed hors d’oeuvres, five hours of open bar, and dinner provided by Celebrity Chefs Alex Garcia, a committee member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation. There will also be live and silent auctions offering one-of-a-kind items and experiences.

The eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will begin at 6 PM and end at 11 PM on Wednesday, November 30th. The Broad Street Ballroom is located at 41 Broad Street in the Financial District. Sponsorship packages and ads to be displayed in the program are still available for purchase. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is accepting donations in the fight against DIPG. All contributions are tax-deductible and critical to finding a cure for this disease and assisting children and families in their ongoing fight against DIPG.

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