15 MINUTES OF ACCESS:
I was on "Access Hollywood"!!! I didn't see it though. My sister's friend Aquilla called her and told her that she saw me in a profile that my friend Shaun Robinson did while at the National Association of Black Journalists' convention in Vegas. She interviewed Samuel L. Jackson for his film "Resurrecting the Champ"' while there. Her crew also captured the screening at which I introduce Mr. Jackson and apparently used that excerpt in the edited piece. Thanks Shaun!
I guess THE SECRET really works. I said I would be on "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" or something like it on the heels of the convention. Now, if I can just get a permanent gig there. Like a SECRET??? Here it goes...
WORK THAT BODY!!!
Last night, Anthony and I did our hip hop dance class with Tweety at Alvin Ailey. It had been a couple of weeks since we'd been (due to scheduling conflicts and travel) and we were happy to get our workout on again. We invited our friends Robert, Eddie, and Frank to join us as well. This routine was to Swizz Beatz' "No Money in the Bank" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS37_PtDiYo). We had a lot of fun. And according to Tweety, there's more fun and getting in shape to be had. She is offering a high-energy, hip hop workshop at The Ailey Extension (www.alvinailey.org).
After our workout, Anthony, Tweety, and I got spruced up for a party downtown at Duvet ( www.duvetny.com/ ). We were celebrating AVENUE REPORT Magazine ( www.AVENUEREPORT.com ) and/or ( www.myspace.com/AVENUEREPORT ), which just released its second issue with Common gracing the cover. Tweety's publicist and adviser Ra-Fael Blanco (www.myspace.com/2rsentertainmentandmedia) also represents the mag and he invited us all to be in the mix. Created in June 2006 by Toyin Awesu, who I got to meet last night, this periodical is for African American males who encompass all aspects of the luxurious lifestyle. Anthony and I attempted to put some of Tweety's moves to work, since we'd just left class. I didn't land it so well. But we looked good trying. Ant in Ralph Lauren and me in American Chang ( americanchang.com/ ), the awesome designer I usually pick up from my favorite boutique N Harlem ( www.nharlemnewyork.com/ ).
You'll recall, American Chang nominated this blog "A Day in the Life of Riley: Pop Culture & Possibilities" as the "Best Way to Spend Your Time" this past Christmas. And our usual suspects, Mr. Raymond Green from UNeQ Magazine (www.uneqmagazine.com/) and hip hop dance expert and Tweety's contemporary Smoov (from MTV) were also in the house.
As the marketplace continues to be drowning in new magazines for various demos within the urban category, I was excited the night prior to see "Right On!" editor - during my era - Cynthia Horner. As a tween and teen, I LOVED this magazine. I'd always rush to see if Diana Ross was on the cover. Lots of times, she was. And this monthly brought me so much joy as a boy growing up. (So did and do celebrity bios). Though I don't endorse it per se, the once-biting biographer of "Call Her Miss Ross", J. Randy Taraborrelli, has just released a kinder-gentler volume on my diva's life-to-present and I couldn't resist reading it and seeing how this one shows up. It's simply called "Diana Ross: A Biography" and is reading well so far. My jury remains out - however - given what the tone and timbre of the previous bio did to 'public opinion' about Diana Ross).
But I digress, Ms. Horner from "Right On!" and I were attending yet another event to which we were invited by Ra-Fael Blanco (www.myspace.com/2rsentertainmentandmedia). It was a MTV VMA Viewing Party sponsored by Pepsi ( VMA.MTV.com ). I went with my "Amazing Grace" Nichole, Anthony, and Anthony's and my favorite new couple Mara (www.PepsiBlueCarpetBash.com/RSVP) and Tommie. Though we had a nice time, we were more entertained by each other's company at Mara and Tommie's gorgeous and roomy Harlem brownstone and our post-party dinner at Indochine (indochinenyc.com) than we were by Britney Spears' lackluster performance on the MTV VMA Awards ('Nuff said).
Plus, our Ti-Ti was in town. So, we all gathered and truly enjoyed a classic and hip New York City night!
(And you know we had to karaoke. What can I say? It's an addiction. www.karaoke17.com ). We too went Karaoke-ing earlier this week with our friend Delecia Sampson, who is responsible for the first set of pictures that Anthony and I took together (from New Year's Eve 2005). She was visiting from Boston with her new beau in tow. And we enjoyed lovely brunch at Cafeteria (www.cafeteria247.com) before going into the studio.
SPARKLE: LUNCH AND LIFE
Anthony and I got to enjoy a lovely lunch recently with our good girlfriends Lonni and Marcia Pendelton. We went to Joe Allen Restaurant (www.joeallenrestaurant.com) in the heart of Restaurant Row, just across from where I used to perform lots of cabarets, "Don't Tell Mama". I thought this would be a cool spot as I once did a story on Rosie O'Donnell, who chose this spot as one of her favorites in the city (for before or after a Broadway show as it's right in the theater district). I want to shout out Marcia, who - as I've told you - does amazing work - from marketing and audience development to actual producing - in the realm of theater and arts. She is working with the 10th Anniversary of the "Reel Sisters Film Festival", which is honoring a good girlfriend of mine, Nicole Franklin with whom I've worked in NYC-TV-capacities (she as editor; me as producer), but she too carries extra-hyphenates - like I do - and is a "filmmaker" (director, producer, renaissance woman) whose stunning debut "Double Dutch Divas" received many industry prizes a few years back. She's been here in New York City for ten years and has been making things happen since I met her ten years ago at a Morehouse Manhattan Alumni Association Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at which I sang and at which I found out that she is a great or greater-than-great granddaughter to Kemper Harold, who wrote my alma mater Morehouse's college song "Dear Old Morehouse" (www.morehouse.edu) and served for 42 years as the chair of the music department. Harreld officially established the Morehouse College Glee Club of which I was a part during my days at Morehouse and in 1911, he served as the organization's first director. Also being screened is “Sparkle,” featuring Academy Award-winning songwriter/actress Irene Cara. Cara will receive the Reel Sisters Trailblazer’s Awards at Sunday’s award ceremony. And I LOVE me some Irene Cara. From "Sparkle" to "Roots: The Next Generations" to "Fame" to her singing on "Flashdance" and the repertoire of material that followed that, I have been a fan. And I even watched her "comeback" on "Hit Me Baby One More Time" which she won last summer, besting a number of 'has-beens' who came back to compete (in the name of their favorite charity) with their old hits and their take on a new hit. Great midsummer replacement TV last year!!! For more info on the film festival, which will take place at The Kumble Theater of the Performing Arts at Long Island University in Brooklyn, click on www.reelsisters.org .
If I'm in town, second Saturdays in New York City usually means that I am going to hook up with my boyz at PLUM (www.myspace.com/sensualhealingny) and enjoy libations and go-go dancers to boot.
This past second Saturday was no exception. Anthony and I attended and had a blast. In that we've not been in a minute, we were pleased to see friends - old and new. From our Mario, Michael, Melvin, Carl, etc. to an 'old friend' Jason, who I've not seen in a minute.
He and I attended Morehouse together and it's always a pleasure to reconnect with him.
Truth be told, Ant and I have been hanging out a lot lately with the fellas. On the night prior, we saw our friends Theo, Trevor, Roderick, Carl at REMOTE (www.remoteloungenyc.com) which hosted a VOYEUR party of sorts.
Basically, the venue is chockful of video monitors, two-way phones, and other mechanisms that allow you to see via the 50-or-more cameras what's going on throughout the club. Additionally, you can talk to people in different parts of the club as well via the phone component. We had a lot of fun here.
And last Thursday, we got the chance to attend the last of SPRUNG at "Luke & Leroy" (after we rolled by "The Ritz", also a Thursday night set for us men). SPRUNG will now be at "The Shelter" ( www.clubshelter.com/ ), a bigger venue which boasts two floors with two DJs and three bars with over seven bartenders. Something for everyone. Check out www.nathanhalewilliams.com for more information.
LEDISI: LOST & FOUND!
SPRUNG, by the way, is doing an album release party for Ledisi's new album "Lost & Found", which debuted at #10 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop charts this week. Anthony and I have had a chance to get to know Ledisi and her publicist J'ai St. Laurent over the last few months. As you recall, we spent time with her after her performance at NABJ in Vegas. We joined a number of her fans - including actress Lynn Whitfield - last week at Highline Ballroom ( highlineballroom.com/ ) where she gave all she got to the sold-out audience. And after my friend Scott, who works with Sheryl Lee Ralph, called me from his office to inquire how to get in touch with Ledisi (as he read my last blog entry), Ledisi is now booked to join Sheryl Lee Ralph and a host of divas (in October) for Sheryl's annual AIDS benefit "DIVAS! SIMPLY SINGING" where Ralph is scheduled to reunite with her original "Dreamgirls" castmates Loretta Devine and Jennifer Holliday... in song! Continuing to love LEDISI, please go CHECK HER NEW ALBUM OUT: (http://www.vervemusicgroup.com/product.aspx?pid=11745&fp=qt) By the way, that night I met three other singers who I'm told are ones to watch. I'd like to shout them out here: Russell Taylor (www.russelltaylor.net); Abby Dobson (www.myspace.com/abbydobsonmusic); and Kendra Ross ( www.myspace.com/kendrarossmusic ).
SPEAKING OF LOST AND FOUND
My good girlfriend Camille who came into New York City to plant some roots... has left the building. We all got to celebrate before she left at The Den in Harlem ( www.TheDenHarlem.com ).
Ern and Tina joined Anthony and me. Camille's friend Cynthia came too. I am excited at what's next for Camille. Plus, she'll be back to go through the ADVANCE course of Momentum Education (www.momentumeducation.com). You'll recall, she and my good friend Mario are recent BASIC grads of this life work. Speaking of Mario, his cousin Tajamika Paxton (daughter of "Divorce Court" judge Mablein Ephriam), is a producer on the film project "A Fat Girl's Guide to Yoga" ( www.fatgirlsguidetoyoga.com/ ). It screened (and actually was a finalist) in the New York Television/Video Festival (newyorktelevisionfestival.com ) which took place at the New World Stages Theater complex ( www.newworldstages.com/ ). In the 11th hour, Mario invited us to join he, his cousin, and her cast and crew. On-hand, the cast of "30 Rock" (NBC) came to introduce eight independent short comedy films (possible development deals). We loved "Bitch", a twisted story of love under the guise of a bitchy girl who goes after a serial shoplifting hustler. We too dug "Color Me Blind" in which a college diversity group gets its first non-white member, but things don't go quite as planned at their Diversity Rally. These liberal-guilters try to do the right thing, but don't even come close. Also, "El Chisme (The Gossip)" is also a great tale of how gossips feed malicious misinformation to a naive young man about the woman he plans to marry. But our favorite happened to be the film we were there to support "A Fat Girl's Guide to Yoga", a larger, African American woman shares her too-funny struggles with yoga, which is my Anthony's favorite workout.
Ironically, in lieu of accompanying Anthony to yoga class, we just met up with his yoga guru, Russell Simmons, who when I originally interviewed him a year ago, continued to reach out to me - saying "Yoga today!!!". I would learn it was a line he uses on - literally - EVERYONE. Yoga is RUSSELL and RUSSELL is yoga. Last night, he wasn't in the house to promote YOGA per se, though one of his new lines of clothing, Atman, is filled with iconography from that lifestyle. When talking about Russell Simmons-Argyleculture, he alerted me that his new gear reflects the "oldest younger guy" vs. "the youngest older guy" his designs used to serve. Held at Phat Farm flagship in SOHO, this party brought out filmmaker/author Nelson George; Harlem-based flutist Bobbi Humphries; KWAME from THE APPRENTICE; and EBONY Creative Director Harriett Cole. This will be Russell's new focus as the 15-year-old Phat Farm stays afloat under Kimora.
GIRLS! YOU ARE FASHION
Speaking of Kimora, Anthony and I got several invites during this Fashion Week. We excitedly attended the KLS Fashion Show (http://www.kimoraleesimmons.com/). Our friend Adrienne Stewart is on "Team Kimora" and invited us along with her friend Galen (who is a good industry friend of mine); my fellow Pentavaurate (dinner group family member) Stephanie Elam and her man Jeff. And the stars came out, too. From Ivana Trump to Evan Ross to Stacie J... my fellow journalists Harriette Cole (now at EBONY) and Walter Greene (of "Sister 2 Sister" fame) were in the house as well.
Earlier in the week, we went out to support my friend Joy Doss and her clients Jedda-Kahn and Zonkiri, two cutting-edge designers here in New York City. I had a good time learning what goes on in the mind behind Chief Executive Designer of Zonkiri John Lee. And it's always a pleasure to attend a JOY DOSS event which - in this case - was housed at "Te Casan" ( www.tecasan.com/ ), SOHO-based women's shoe boutique, featuring hand-crafted, limited edition footwear. And I ran into Yvette Hayward, founder of the African American Literary Awards Show at which I presented last year and have been asked to return this year (http://www.literaryawardshow.com/).
"... THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW..."
Anthony's good friend Marcos, who does an open mic at VOYAGE Restaurant every Monday (http://www.myspace.com/onemicnite). "American Idol" finalist Anwar Robinson came out to collaborate and celebrate his mother's birthday. Quite an entertaining crew of folks, including my fellow Diana Ross fan Phil Eggleston, whose brilliant version of "Ordinary People" got the crowd warmed up (and maybe even moist! He's good... and cute too!). And every Monday, Marcos is happy to present the best, raw talent around NYC. Calling all actors, musicians, singers, poets to Voyage, which is recommened by Time Out New York magazine ( www.timeout.com/newyork/ ).
Afterwards, Anthony and I popped by my friend Scott Nevins' event ( www.scottnevins.com/ ) at SPLASH ( www.splashbar.com ). Known for booking the divas, Scott got Melba Moore to come and perform for the "kids". She was also promoting her new DVD: "Live in Concert" (http://www.amazon.com/Melba-Moore-Live-Concert/dp/B000PMLIWC). She can still hit and hold those notes!!!
With all that I have going on, I must multi-task. One day as Anthony and I were here at home and planning our evening's agenda, I was reading my Diana Ross book, working both landline and cell phone while showing him something on YOUTUBE and while he was on the laptop, working on his own business along with whatever we were watching on TV. It was truly overload - so much so - Anthony got the camera and wanted to capture a bit of the frenzy-of-it-all. We are aiming to slow down a bit.
We've found a cute little mid-eastern spot La Kabbr (http://lighthousenews.us/restaurants/lakabbr/index.html) where we partook of that cuisine's delicacies (not exactly my favorite cuisine, but Anthony loves it!) and even partook of a "hookah", a single or multi-stemmed, often glass-based, water pipe device for smoking. Its gained fame in the Arab World, hence the offering in this restaurant, and it operates by water-filtration and indirect heat. It can be used for smoking many substances, such as herbal fruits. And we had mango. It was a lovely, easy night... until trouble came a knocking. My "Theo" called and decided to come join us. Of course, I'm joking. We love our time with "our" Theo. And he loves his time with "his Patrick", but most importantly, "his Anthony".
Getting grounded and maintaining our center are key as we both are inside of many stresses and energy within this industry. Still, with our love for each other and our unstoppable connection to this journey of life (and some more attention on home), we know we will be alright.
"EFFIE AND MAGIC ARE WORKING"
As I am getting into ABC Family's "Lincoln Heights" (abcfamily.go.com/lincolnheights/), I observe that the young lady who plays Effie's daughter Magic in "Dreamgirls" (Mariah L. Wilson) has a small part in the wholesome, but real and gritty, one-hour drama chronicling a large family's challenges around race, crime, death, and other real-life situations. It's kinda' like a "Black" "7th Heaven". Meanwhile, Miss Jennifer Hudson has been named to co-star as Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie Bradshaw's assistant/secretary in the feature film "Sex & The City". I think this is a good look as it promises to be a commercial release with lots of attention. Here's hoping the part and her performance make it worth the trip. By the way, do I have Jennifer Hudson to thank for my using one of these pictures AGAIN!!!????
THIS JUST IN
At BLOG time, it's just been announced that Kennedy Center Honors (http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/specialevents/honors/) has selected Diana Ross to be among
this year's Kennedy Center Honorees. http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/index.cfm?fuseaction=showIndividual&entitY_id=18315&source_type=A
This is GREAT and significant to me on a couple of fronts. ROSS is the BEST! But I too got to appear on this annual special in which legends are honored for their career achievements in the arts. It was 1991 and I performed with the Morehouse College Glee Club. I was selected as the spokesperson to pay tribute to Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Composer and Conductor Robert Shaw ( www.atlantasymphony.org/abouttheaso/legacyofrobertshaw.aspx ). CONGRATS MISS ROSS!!!!!
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