I had to leave town late last week (as you see me being driven to my destination with my Godson Owen Angelou in tow. He is the son of my friend and often driver Owen. Sometimes, he will bring Owen Angelou to see his "Godfather" (that's me) and we will hang out in the back of the sedan - playing Mario Brothers 3 or just chatting as he repeats everything I say when I'm on a conference call or what have you). We have lots of fun and I want to shout he and his parents Owen and Sandy out! THANKS GUYS for everything. That said, I am behind on and have had to miss a number of things I want to reference. So, here goes:
* WORLD AIDS DAY was DECEMBER 1st. Though I have been holding him high and supporting his efforts to get the word out on his project, I’ve not had the chance to shout out my dear friend and fellow journalist Gil Robertson, who is the editor of “ Not in My Family: AIDS in the Black Community”, a landmark collection of personal essays, stories, brief memoirs, and polemics from a broad swath of black Americans that will galvanize public attention and support around this issue. Not in My Family breaks through the cultural inhibitions that have prevented us from dealing with HIV/AIDS head on. And it’s quite profound. Contributors include: Reverend Calvin Butts, Jocelyn Elders, Jasmine Guy, Hill Harper, Tramaine Hawkins, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Patti Labelle, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mo’Nique, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Randal Robinson, Al Sharpton, Omar Tyree, and Phil Wilson. PLUS: There’s a companion CD that arrives in stores TODAY (December 5th). “Not in My Family: Songs of Healing and Inspiration” is a collection of music designed to echo and inspire those in and out of the African American community as it continues to battle the devastating effects of AIDS. The CD presents songs from powerful voices in Gospel music including Yolanda Adams, Byron Cage, Kirk Franklin, Natalie Wilson, Walter & Tramaine Hawkins and New Direction. New Direction’s “You Can Make It” was recorded specifically for this project and is an impassioned love offering to those personally affected by this disease. For more information: http://www.amazon.com/Not-My-Family-American-Community/dp/1932841245/sr=8-1/qid=1164339495/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-6176081-8054231?ie=UTF8&s=books
My friend Alicia Evans is President Emeritus of a group I hold dear, the Black Public Relations Society (and in this picture with John Legend). During her reign, she has invited me to moderate a series of industry panels and to even perform for one of BPRS Holiday parties a few years back. Over the years, Alicia has brought to life countless marketing programs for major corporations in America. This year, she is responsible for conceptualizing and presenting a beautiful art show that opened this past weekend while I was out of town on assignment. It’s The Morrow family hair care/African American beauty exhibit--housed quietly for years in San Diego. Now, brought to the national scenes by my friend Alicia, you can see it in New York. It features stunning, rare artifacts, memorabilia, and advertising – all around 100 years of African American Beauty in America. And it runs through January 31, 2007. I can’t wait to see it. So, get on over to Casa Frela Gallery at 47 West 119th Street (New York, NY). 212/722-8577.
Another place I wish I was yesterday is the premiere of “DREAMGIRLS” in New York City. Scheduling around a big project that will actually give me some shine this week on the airwaves required I be away from my home base. And though I’ve seen “DREAMGIRLS” three times over (and am already committed to see it five more times towards my 12 times before the end of the year), I also missed out on another chance to see the movie “DREAMGIRLS” again as my friend Shaun Robinson (from “Access Hollywood” and who filled-in on “The View” today. YOU WERE GREAT!!!) invited me to join her for a last-Friday screening, after she and I got to bond amidst that love fest at Gerald Boyd’s Memorial service (Shaun is Robin’s cousin and by the time I got her message, I was too far from where the screening was taking place and had committed to join my friend Kimberly Jajuan and our friends Ern and Deepthi for Kimberly’s birthday celebration at “Teek on the Hudson”, an awesome Hoboken restaurant that I highly recommend). By the way, Kimberly, an actress, singer, real estate mogul, has performed in the road tour of “DREAMGIRLS”, portraying Michelle some years ago to brilliant effect. That said, I continue to be excited about the movie. And look forward to my next screenings of the special film (still before it comes out) on December 15th and 16th at the Ziegfeld Theater for the “DREAMGIRLS” ROAD TOUR, where in NYC, L.A., and San Francisco, audiences can see the film for $25 in just one theater (from December 15th through the 25th) and receive a souvenir program booklet and a glimpse of a “DREAMGIRLS” display in the lobby. The CD Soundtrack(s) for the film come(s) out today and a special edition of the original soundtrack (of the Broadway musical) came out last week with extra songs that were not included on the original cast album along with an additional CD of instrumentals (CAN YOU SAY: KARAOKE?) and a remix of Jennifer Holliday’s classic “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”. And Beyonce performed beautifully on TODAY yesterday while I await some more of Jennifer Hudson’s press, so the world can get a glimpse of her magic. America has gotten the chance to see the "magic" of my fellow National Association of Black Journalists member Rene Syler every morning on CBS "Early Show". It was announced this week that she is leaving the show. Word has it that CBS wants to take the show in another direction sans the diversity that she brought to the table. She - ever the class act - wants no one to fret for her. She's already got a book in the works due to be released March of 2007. It's titled "Good Enough Mother" (Simon & Schuster) and she will tour with it in the Spring. At closer inspection, I see she is an Air Force Brat who was based in Sacramento, where my family's friends The Betheas were stationed (Remember I mentioned them in my Thanksgiving reflection?). I knew Rene came from good stock as I have had the opportunity to produce her as host of NABJ's Salute to Excellence Awards (see picture). When we worked together on this special evening in October of 2004, her flight from New York to DC was running late and she managed to leave her pressed powder. After she landed in D.C., she called from the car to see if we could quickly get her some (as she had a half-hour window to get to the hotel, changed, and behind the podium). Since no department store was available for me to secure MAC for her, I went all over asking NABJ's lady Board members if they had something even close to the texture and tone that Rene requested of me. In the end, I gathered several compacts. And in this picture, as my childhood friend Tish looks on, I am handing them over to her for quick perusal, application... and present! She was so easy, breezy, beautiful, and funny through this scenario and as she anchored us through the night. I can't imagine where CBS is coming from in letting her go. But I'm clear she's standing in God's favor and will turn the page (literally and figuratively) to a wonderful next chapter. We're CHEERING for you, RENE!!!!