Against the backdrop of Roman ruins, who can forget when a 1975 Diana, portraying Chicago-native "Mahogany" in the so-named movie, tells Billy Dee Williams' Brian "I'm Winner, baby!!!!!"???? Well, more than 30 years later (with rights to that declaration many times over), a 62-year-old (knockin' on 63) Miss Ross can proclaim that mantra ONE MORE TIME. Her new Manhattan/EMI album, "I LOVE YOU" debuts on Billboard's Top 200 at #32, making it the highest debut of the week and her highest chart debut in the SoundScan era. No doubt, the product speaks for itself. But since Ross came out to play on "Good Morning America", "Regis and Kelly", and "Late Night with David Letterman", she improved her chances to be bought and recognized as a contender. No doubt, her appearance this week on "Martha Stewart" and upcoming appearances on "Inside the Actor's Studio" and "American Idol" will keep "I LOVE YOU" on our tongues for months to come. CONGRATS D!!!!!
Diana too referenced last week that she was honored to have - in some way - inspired "DREAMGIRLS", though she admitted not to have seen it and that - when she would see it - perhaps she would take her lawyer. I hear - since those comments on GMA and Letterman - she has seen it and is generally pleased (though concerned that people will walk away thinking that is the real story - play-by-play, which for those of us in the know, we know is not the case). Still, as Miss Ross seems to also be benefitting from the buzz and hype around "DREAMGIRLS" (and rightfully so as the whole operation's muse), Jennifer Hudson is showing up a WINNER as she joins her fellow Chicagoan Bears (who - with their black coach Lovie Smith in tow - make history as he and competing Indianapolis Colts coach/friend Tony Dungy - also black - make their way to the 41st NFL Superbowl, a first time that one & two blacks have headed up their teams at the main event of football). I ironically was in Chicago amidst all of this midwest pop and circumstance. Hudson's touchdown comes from her Golden Globe win for Supporting Actress in a Musical or Comedy. In her speech, she dedicates her prize to Original Supreme Florence Ballard, whose the loose archetype of Effie White. But I'm not sure that was necessary. If the film is - in fact - loosely-based (and much creative license has been taken around beefing up the real story), perhaps the shout out should have gone to Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie on Broadway and is responsible for "breathing" life into the character (and having her trajectory in the fictional piece arc towards a successful comeback). In original readings and writings of "DREAMGIRLS", the character Effie was to serve the same fate as Florence Ballard, who - at 32 - died of cardiac arrest on welfare. A week after the Golden Globe honor, Hudson was nominated for the top prize, Oscar, as Best Supporting Actress. And last night, she also won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress. I had the chance to see her - face-to-face - recently as we reflected on our time together back in August 2006 when I told her "Your performance has Oscar written all over it!!!!". Surely, many said that to her, but as I interviewed her in front of an audience of 500 or more journalists for a preview screening of "Dreamgirls" and a post-screening chat with Hudson, I have 'proof'! SMILE! Additionally, "DREAMGIRLS" is nominated for seven other nods - including three of the original songs that were written for the film, including "I Love You (I Do)", written for Hudson's Effie; "Listen", written for Beyonce's Deena; and "Patience" as sung by Keith Robinson (C.C.), Eddie Murphy (James Thunder Early); and Anika Noni Rose (Lorell). SHOUT OUT to Henry Krieger, composer of all "DREAMGIRLS" music, though he had collaborators - like Siedah Garrett (on "I Love You (I Do)" and Beyonce (on "Listen"), though the Academy is only acknowledging the primary three writers on that record which Beyonce apparently was not (Surely, Matthew Knowles is not happy about that). [You'll recall, I had the chance to omeet Henry Krieger in mid-December as my boo Anthony came into town to interview him... and I got to tag along!]. Murphy too gets his nod for supporting actor against an impressive handful, including Djimon Honsou (for "Blood Diamond"). And the heir apparent to the throne of the Best Actor Oscar is Golden Globe winner Forest Whitaker (for "Last King of Scotland") - something I predicted some months ago here in "A Day in the Life of Riley". Also, Will Smith gets a second time up to bat for Best Actor for his dramatic turn in "Pursuit of Happyness". Like ROSS - Academy nominee for "Lady Sings The Blues" (and Golden Globe winner for same) on whose shoulders all of these actors stand, they are ALL WINNERS!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
Click this link to watch Ms. Ross' January 16 interviews and performances on "Good Morning America," "Live With Regis & Kelly," and "The Late Show With David Letterman":
Click this link to watch release week TV coverage from "Inside Edition," "Extra," BET's "Black Carpet," "Inside Edition Weekend," and WFAA's "Metro" (Dallas, TX): http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia/emicat/diana_ross/dianaross_appearances_002_300.wvx