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January 22nd, 2010
10:32 AM ET

Dispatch from the Sundance Film Festival

Kay Jones
CNN Senior Editorial Producer

Before Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s interview with CNN’s Rick Sanchez from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, I had a chance to speak to these seasoned war journalists about what’s going on in Haiti.

Both were pretty shocked at the images they’ve seen, and Tim said it was kind of surreal that he is here in this beautiful location as opposed to being in Haiti. I got the sense that even though they are excited about their time in Utah promoting their movie, Restrepo, that the journalist side of them really wanted to be in Haiti.

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August 28th, 2009
01:26 PM ET

Outside the JFK Library

Mourners sign condolence books at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Massachusetts.

Mourners sign condolence books at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Massachusetts.

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

The lines outside the John F. Kennedy library are beginning to break up, after more than 30,000 people made their way to pay their respects to Sen. Edward Kennedy over the past 20 hours.

I arrived from Hyannis around noon today, and there has been a steady stream of Kennedy family members outside the library, greeting the public and thanking them for coming.

Sen. John Kerry is inside with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and while they were entering the building, Vicki Kennedy, Sen. Kennedy's widow, made her way through a throng a well wishers, thanking them for coming to pay their respects.

They have come from all over the globe, and every age appears to be represented here. Parents can be heard telling their children stories about the Kennedy family and locals have relished in memories of when they saw or met the Senator. It seems as if everyone has a story, and today is the best day to share it.

We have a few hours before the private memorial begins. I will try to bring you some behind the scenes stories from outside the library a little later on.


Filed under: Kay Jones • Sen. Ted Kennedy
August 27th, 2009
06:18 PM ET

Saying goodbye to a neighbor

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

The streets were starting to fill up around 11: 45a.m. this morning, as residents of the Cape Cod area came out to pay their respects to Sen. Ted Kennedy's family as they brought his body to Boston.

I've spoken to many of the locals over the past few days and very few were willing to go on camera, but they were all willing to talk about their lives on the Cape, and their experiences with the Senator.

One woman I met last night told me that she and her husband are one of a small number of people who live here year round. She gave me a history of the area, including the street where the Kennedy compound stands and how the property was designed.

She actually laughed at me when I asked about the compound because she said it's really just four houses on land that is adjacent. She went on to tell me who owned what house and when.

I wish I'd had a tape recorder to get it all down because it was so fascinating, but unfortunately the notes I took now look like chicken scratch and I cannot begin to tell you who bought what house when.

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Filed under: Kay Jones • Sen. Ted Kennedy
July 8th, 2009
09:43 AM ET

Covering the Jackson story: A personal reflection

Paris Jackson, 11, is consoled by her uncle Marlon Jackson after delivering a tearful tribute to her father.

Paris Jackson, 11, is consoled by her uncle Marlon Jackson after delivering a tearful tribute to her father.

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

It’s been a long couple of weeks since the moment we learned that Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest. From the immediate “that can’t be true” thought, to the rush of “what can we confirm,” then to my job: “who can we get?” I feel like I’ve been in Ludacris speed (note Spaceballs reference here!) since June 25.

But as the night nine of my time in Los Angeles and night 13 of our coverage winds down, I am sure the magnitude of the past two weeks will hit me soon.

Yesterday's memorial was more reverent, more respectful, more thoughtful and more appealing than I even thought possible. I knew early on in the planning process who might have been attending and performing, but even knowing who was on the preliminary list did not diminish what was on stage. And although it’s no secret that Michael Jackson was a controversial figure, the bottom line was the man was a great entertainer. It’s also obvious that he touched so many lives throughout his short life.

I spoke to my six-year-old nephew, Jackson, after the memorial. The first thing he asked was if I got to talk to Kobe Bryant. I find that funny because, although my family is a sports loving family, I do not remember ever watching any part of a NBA game with any of them.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Behind The Scenes • Kay Jones • Michael Jackson
July 7th, 2009
02:12 PM ET

Updates from inside the memorial service

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

12:41 p.m. PT

Paris is breaking my heart. Not a dry eye in the arena

12:37 p.m. PT

Touching moment: Paris hugging her little brother and making sure he is ok.

12:33 p.m. PT

Rev Jesse Jackson swaying along, next to Rev Al Sharpton.

12:32 p.m. PT

Spike Lee just jumped up on stage too. Paris is hugging Blanket. Just so cute

12:30 p.m. PT

Wait not her. Just a look alike
Lots of hugging on stage right now

12:29 p.m. PT

Britney on stage!!!

12:28 p.m. PT

Blanket is on stage with his program. Prince and Paris are singing along. Just adorable

12:19 p.m. PT

Kid from Britain's Got Talent on stage now. Amazing!!!

12:10 p.m. PT

Usher is standing just a few steps from Jackson's kids and mother. Really touching song

11:52 a.m. PT

Ok, I admit it. Jermaine made me cry. So touching Now Dr Martin Luther King's children are speaking

11:45 a.m. PT

It is evident that Brooke Shields cared dearly about Jackson. She is so genuine in her words.

11:39 a.m. PT

Anyone else pick up on the brothers wearing glitter gloves?

Crowd cheering Brooke Shields on. She is trying to keep it together.

11:31 a.m. PT

Rev Al Sharpton is preaching on in here. He has the crowd responding with cheers and tears, and we know it's sincere. He told me Friday night that he wants us to remember the legacy.

11:24 a.m. PT

How the heck did Jennifer Hudson not win American Idol? She is truly amazing and sounds even better in person than on tv!

11:21 a.m. PT

Magic and Kobe just hugged Michael's children

11:09 a.m. PT

I think the entire arena is feeling Stevie Wonder. Tears are starting to flow all around, and I hate to admit, I even teared up.

11:04 a.m. PT

Huge roar, loudest so far, for Berry Gordy. You can feel the electricity in the arena.

The big screens are showing the arena what you are seeing on TV as well.

10:58 a.m. PT

I'm sitting next to 4 of the rudest people...Talking on the phone, to each other. I can barely hear Berry Gordy speak!!!

10:51 a.m. PT

Main message from Latoya: Keep the magic going!

10:46 a.m. PT

Some woman is wearing a mask and white gloves. Can't figure out if it's to be like Mike or if she's a germaphobe Queen Latifah has the crowd laughing. You can tell she is emotional and doing her best to hold it together.

10:43 a.m. PT

There is a group of about 50 people in all white. Really a mix of people and fashions, so to speak

10:33 a.m. PT

Lil Kim just walked by my section. Amazingly, the crowd just waved a little and showed her some respect. She is in all black

A choir is is on the stage now. The celebration is beginning

10:27 a.m. PT

Family got a standing ovation when they walked in. Was very nice, and not raukus at all.

People are still filing in. There are a smattering of empty seats but it's mostly full.

10:16 a.m. PT

Complete silence when Smokey Robinson spoke, now waiting for what's next. Someone just yelled "We love you Michael". Some hoots but mostly shhhhs.

10:10 a.m. PT

I'm in! Gold 8×10 programs handed to all ticket holders. Special message from Latoya inside as well as pics throughout his career. Starting soon.

10:04 a.m. PT

The motorcade just arrived, so I am heading into the Staples Center. We aren't allowed to take photos but hoping to sneak some.

Hearing from credible sources to expect surprises. The fact that his casket will be there was one, so wondering what else is in store.

9:14 a.m. PT
After a week and a half, we are here...

The public memorial service will begin in an hour or so, and everyone outside Staples Center is gearing up for this celebration of Michael Jackson's life.

I'll be inside, hoping to update you on what you can't see on CNN during the service. Will check in later!


Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Kay Jones • Michael Jackson
July 6th, 2009
05:26 PM ET

Behind the scenes: Setting up to cover Jackson's memorial

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

Set up is underway for tomorrow's coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial service. Standing outside the Staples Center, media crews from all over the world are setting up their cameras and figuring out the best shots from the platforms that have been designated to them.

We have a great position, high in the sky, for Anderson, Soledad and Don to anchor our coverage tomorrow.

The CNN crew is hard at work today figuring out lighting, since the first shot is at 3am local time, as well as camera positions, shading from the sun, and any other problems that always tend to pop up at these major events.

Officials are starting to cordon off the area so that only people with credentials can be allowed in designated locations, but there are still more than one hundred fans are signing a huge condolence card to Jackson's family. They were mostly here early, and a LAPD rep said that they will shut off the area soon, only allowing those of us with credentials in.

Now it's off to our bureau to work on tonight's program as well as finalizing interviews for tomorrow. Will check in later, and hopefully have some good pics for you soon.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Kay Jones
June 18th, 2009
10:00 AM ET

A travel nightmare

Anderson was supposed to interview Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an event for World Refugee Day but will unable to because of her fractured elbow.

Anderson was supposed to interview Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an event for World Refugee Day but will unable to because of her fractured elbow.

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

The morning started off with a bang, as my cell phone rang at 1 AM with a question: have you gotten an email from Sec. Clinton's people?

In my still half-sleep stage, I think I mumbled "wha?" And then checked my email. I had, in fact, received an urgent email from Sec. Clinton's press person stating that she had broken her elbow in a fall and would not be able to do an interview with Anderson today. After alerting the people on our staff who needed to know, I finally went to sleep around 2 AM.

Fast forward 2 1/2 hours to my alarm going off. I took a shower, managed to get on a decent looking outfit and walked downstairs to get into the car to get to LaGuardia airport. Except: no car. I called the dispatch operator and learned it was stuck in traffic, to which I replied: "Really? At 5:30?" So I hopped a cab.

Relieved that I made it to the airport on time, and even more relieved that Anderson had as well, I boarded the plane alongside his publicist, Shimrit Sheetrit.

FULL POST

May 8th, 2009
01:12 PM ET

Afternoon Buzz: Strife at home – and abroad

Martrell Stevens survived being hit by a stray bullet as he slept in a car in Chicago, but he was partially paralyzed.

Martrell Stevens survived being hit by a stray bullet as he slept in a car in Chicago, but he was partially paralyzed.

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

President Obama has met with the presidents of both Afghanistan and Pakistan this week, as the growing threat from militants has made both countries top headaches for the White House. We’ll have a report from the region tonight on the latest. How will Richard Holbrooke - the White House special envoy to the region Ambassador known for his tough diplomacy under President Clinton - handle these two international hairballs?

And speaking of strife, what about Chicago? And no, I’m not talking about Drew Peterson’s arrest on charges that he killed his third wife. (And his fourth wife, you know, is still missing.) But here's what we're wondering: Why are more and more school age kids are getting killed in the Chicago area - at least 36 so far this year. And it seems no one has figured out a way to stop it.

FULL POST


Filed under: Kay Jones • The Buzz
May 6th, 2009
09:27 AM ET

Celebrate this: sleeves are bad!

AC360° staffers Ella Perlis, Chuck Hadad, Mary Anne Fox and Kay Jones at the Time 100

AC360° staffers Ella Perlis, Chuck Hadad, Mary Anne Fox and Kay Jones at the Time 100

Kay Jones
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer

It was a night of celebration. Hundreds of journalists, publicists, authors and celebrities turned out last night to recognize those who made the TIME 100 Most Influential list.

First Lady Michelle Obama gave a moving speech. And for those of you who pay attention to this kind of thing, she had on a floor length sleeveless black dress with a lot of long necklaces and her hair was in an updo. Bottom line: she looked awesome.

Oprah Winfrey was there, talking to fellow honoree Suze Orman. When our own Dr Sanjay Gupta walked in, Oprah stopped, gave him a hug and said loud enough for most of us to hear, "Look, it's Sanjay"!

Moments later, The View's Whoopi Goldberg practically ran over people to get to Dr. Gupta. It was a great to see the response to him. Unfortunately he had to run, so he could make his live appearance on No Bias, No Bull.

FULL POST


Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Kay Jones
May 1st, 2009
05:58 PM ET

I deserve the month of May off!

Kay Jones
Coordinating Editorial Producer

I got the assignment in early January, not realizing how difficult it would be.  CNN, and specifically the 360 staff, would be working on a TV special about the TIME 100 list that comes out today.  At the time, we had an idea of how we wanted to produce this, so all I was waiting on was the list.

As we got names on the list from the TIME editors and PR team, I started making calls and sending emails to various publicists, assistants, managers, and whatever other contacts I could get my hands on.  The idea for our special was to get those who wrote the profiles of the honorees to actually do an on camera interview.  It sounds so simple, but we decided to make it that much harder:  we wanted the honorees and those who wrote about them to be in the same location for the interviews.  That was not going to be easy.

After a few weeks of calling and sending emails, I finally got my first “yes”.  CNN founder Ted Turner was thrilled to be included in the special, but he only had a few days available to go on camera.  After several calls to T. Boone Pickens’ office, I finally got a “yes” from them as well.  Success!  Right?  Not so fast, my friend.  This is TV and it’s just not that easy.  After much back and forth, they were not going to be in the same city on the same day with the same time available.  We finally came up with a compromise and had Ted at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta, and T. Boone at CNN’s studios in NY.  Not the ideal way to do an interview, but it definitely worked.

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Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Kay Jones
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