I don't need to write this after tonight's Oscar ceremony as there will be many places you can go to find out if Jennifer Hudson won or not. "A Day In The Life of Riley: Pop Culture & Possibilities" is not necessarily designed to report hot-off-the-press scoops and entertainment. There are blogs and many other quick-key outlets out there that do that. Instead, through my prism, I write thoughtfully when I choose and when I'm inspired to share a musing or an observation.

dreamgirlsbwayfilm.jpgWith that, I write this about eleven hours before Jennifer Hudson will hopefully walk away with the Academy Award for "Best Supporting Actress" (YES! I am cheering for her WIN and have been since I interviewed her before the National Association of Black Journalists in Indianapolis last August!). patricksingstohudson.jpgI write this also just a few moments after seeing the original Effie White, Jennifer Holliday, on CBS Sunday's "Early Show" on which she got the opportunity to breakdown the history of "Dreamgirls" and "Effie White", something that's been dwarfed in the hype of the spectacular movie "Dreamgirls" (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/22/sunday/main2504573.shtml#ccmm). It's no secret that Holliday has not been happy at the fact that the movie's producers did NOT reach out to her for permission to use her voice on early trailers for the film nor did they offer her - even - a CAMEO in the film. (She says she would have liked to play Beyonce's charcter Deena's mother!). ChitaRivera_022006.jpgShe speaks of how Broadway original Chita Rivera got her moment in the big screen "Chicago". rickilake.jpgShe speaks of how Ricki Lake (who originated her role in the first fillm of "Hairspray") is going to be in the brighter and more flamboyant version that on the heels of the Broadway smash is going to be in theaters this summer starring John Travolta and Queen Latifah. But it shouldn't be lost on her that Hollywood's treatment or dismissal of its Broadway originals is also not new if you look at Julie Andrews being overlooked for Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady". julieandrews.jpgThen, we all remember Stephanie Mills' disappointment for not being used in the film "The Wiz" to play Dorothy for which she won a Tony Award. wizaddaperle.jpgInstead, My Diana Ross was cast and the role of the Kansas farm-girl was re-interpreted to a shy, 20-something kindegarten teacher from Harlem USA. That said, with this CBS blitz and a performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" that Holliday is scheduled to do this afternoon on E!s pre-Oscar telecast on Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's rooftoop (http://www.eonline.com/redcarpet/index.jsp) a few hours before Hudson will perform her Oscar-nominated song "I Love You (I Do)" on the stage of the Kodak theater, Holliday seems to be saying "I Am Changing" and - for sure - "... I'm not going...". hollidayandhudson.jpgThough still navigating her way back to the spotlight without a manager, agent, or publicist, there is still much to buzz about and she seems to be taking her moments very seriously as she's just recently launched a MY SPACE page and has accepted me as one of her friends. Also, she will reprise her role as Effie White for 10 NIGHTS ONLY in an Atlanta stage production of "Dreamgirls" as part of the National Black Arts Festival (July 20 - 29).  My love for Jennifer Holliday has never been dreamgirlsjenny.bmpdwarfed by what some would deem a modest-at-best recording career and fair-to-middling bookings since she vacated the role of Effie in the mid-'80s. I - however - have continued to monitor and celebrate whatever she has released, work which -- in large part -- has been absolutely stunning. With that, I understand that validation for a performer needs to come sometimes in the form of recognition, exposure, and the eyes of the masses. To that, I'm happy Jennifer Holliday is giving us a chance to see her magic again and I look forward to her continuing to let us "feel (her) soul" through the rest of the year and beyond. Too, I hope that Jennifer Hudson takes this huge step towards her WHAT'S NEXT with ingenuity, creativity, and joy as she's standing on the shoulders of a "true" original: Jennifer Holliday.

diana-ross-actors-studio-300jn020207.jpgAnother misunderstood diva linked to "Dreamgirls" has had a stunning platform on which to "remind" the masses that she TOO WILL SURVIVE! It's "the original Dreamgirl" DIANA ROSS, who appeared this week on James Lipton's "INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO", which runs on BRAVO. When I heard (and shared) that they were doing a two-hour special with her, many naysayers wondered why so much time for three feature films ("Lady Sings The Blues"; "Mahogany"; and "The Wiz") and two TV movies ("Out of Darkness" and "Double Platinum"). But as DIANA has done in her overall career, she redefined - through this two hours - what ACTING really is and has been since she ACTED her way out of the Brewster Projects in Detroit, Michigan. And it's this creative license that James Lipton took to show that ACTING is not just what's on the stage nor is it defined by a prolific filmography of credits. For whatever reason (and there are many) that Miss Ross only starred in her handful of filmworks, one need look no further than those five projects (and the rest of her career) to know that she is truly a woman who takes her craft very seriously. And now, with this special program, she was able to break through the glamour and glitz to show it.

Off the top, for those who've forgotten, James Lipton quickly reminds us why Diana is so great. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNZ7EQme-Sw):

dianarossandthesupremes.jpg* She and the Supremes took 12 songs to #1.

* Her career as a solo artist prompted Billboard to name her "Female Artist of the Century".

* "Guinness Book of World Records" named her most successful female musical artist of all time.

ladysings.jpg* As an actor, she's been nominated for the Academy and British Academy Award for her turn as Billie Holliday in "Lady Sings The Blues".

* She won the Golden Globe for "Lady Sings The Blues".

* Her critically-acclaimed performance in "Out of Darkness" earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a TV Movie or Mini-series. 

aneveningwith.bmp* Her one-woman show on Broadway earned her a special Tony Award.

* In a career spanning four decades, she has received 12 Grammy nominations.

* She became the first female solo artist to place six singles at #1 on the Billboard hot 100.

* She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Supremes and solo).

But more than all of that, she shared vulnerably. Singing her mother's favorite spiritual "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" (initially a capella from her seat) as her younger sister Margarita looked on (singing as well). This as they reflected on their loving mom who passed away in 1984 when they had one of Diana's background singers perform the song at her funeral. And when she stepped away from the seating two-shot to join her band for highlighted songs from her career, she seemed relaxed, joyful, and in fine voice for "Baby Love", "The Look of Love", and "More Today Than Yesterday". And she seemed mystically haunted and moved by numbers like "God Bless The Child", "(Theme From 'Mahogany') Do You Know Where You're Going To?", and "It's My Turn". She shared the tricks of the trade - from working under directors and their different styles to what she did in "Out of Darkness" to effectively play a homeless woman (placing an orange between her crotch and holding it there while no one knew). She got emotional and connected as she introduced her family: her sisters, brother, nephew (son of T-Boy Ross who wrote "I Want You" for Marvin Gaye, who Diana covers on her current project "I Love You"), her ex-husband Bob Ellis (Tracee & Chudney's dad), and her children Rhonda and Evan, who were in the audience. RuPaul and Academy-award winning Ellen Burstyn were also in the audience (She too went to Cass Tech High School, Diana's high school alma mater). She spoke - with tears - about being a veteran artist who isn't always respected by the record industry and how that - on one level - hurts and how - on another level - she feels blessed to still be able to record (despite the struggle). On and on, Diana showed up authentically and never more beautiful! Please check out (www.bravotv.com) for when they will repeat this program. As Diana points out with the first and last song on her "I Love You" CD, it's important that we all "Remember". It didn't just start today. It was yesterday. And it's those yesterdays that are - in tandem to what's NOW - creating our TOMORROWs!!!!! dianailoveyoucd.jpgIt seems we are beginning to get it as Diana's AMAZON numbers skyrocketed from 570-range to 100 just moments after her "Inside The Actor's Studio" aired. Moreover, she jumped to the #1 Mover and Shaker on that night into the next day. Next week's BILLBOARD should show her new project more prominently near the top of the TOP 200 ALBUMS. Meanwhile, in addition to an appearance on "American Idol" and a scheduled "Jay Leno" stop, she's going on the road again - including the New York City area. And I'm poised to see her twice. Once at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on April 6th and Red Bank, New Jersey's Count Basie Theater on April 9th. For more information, go to: (http://www.dianarossfanclub.net/TOUR2007.html)  



Posted on Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 10:21AM by Registered CommenterTHE LIFE OF RILEY in | CommentsPost a Comment | References7 References

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