Well, everyone is a buzz about Miss Janet Jackson (www.janetjackson.com/) whose new album “Discipline” hit the streets this past Tuesday. From MTV and her cute spoofs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukucdCl7vQM) to showing Larry King the “Feedback” dance on “Larry King LIVE!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8Zgc-TFOT8), she’s been making waves. Ant and I even chose to be a part of the festivities. As I mentioned last week, we secured VIP tix to see her “Good Morning America” concert (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnmc8tcJawA), etc. Ant and I still had to wait in line, but had fun with it as a street promotions team made sure we continued to be amused at the event (before we realized we were violating our rule of not waiting in lines. Then, of course, those “rules” are all EGO, but I won’t go there just yet as Ant and I are learning more and more about our selves through our latest literary inspiration). Once we got in, we were seated and got to truly enjoy Miss Jackson unveil her live performance tracks and choreography on “Feedback” and “Rock With U”… and the throwback “That’s The Way Love Goes” (one of our favorites). It was a great morning and worth the trip. Oh yeah! Ant and I got a kick out of some more Janet/Diana synergy as some respective fans feel Janet’s VIBE Magazine cover (www.vibe.com/) conjures images of Diana’s cover shot from her memoir “Secrets of a Sparrow”.
Afterwards, Ant and I had a plentiful breakfast at the new “Brooklyn Diner” (in Times Square) - www.brooklyndiner.com/contact.htm , we took in a couple of matinees “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins” ( www.welcomehomeroscoejenkins.com/ ) and “Cloverfield” ( www.cloverfieldmovie.com/ ) – good afternoon nap fare. Then, we came home and enjoyed our new “Discipline” CD. Plus, I had some homework – to watch “American Idol” (The guys) as I needed to be prepared for my debut on friend Z100 Shelley Wade’s chat fest the following day. It was at Janet’s listening party a few weeks back when Shelley invited me to sit in on this weekly roundtable during which we talk all things "American Idol". (this season). Please take a listen:
http://z100.com/cc-common/common-nyc/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=americanidol6chats With her colleague Jonathan Gallagher in tow, we had a hoot of a good time. THANKS SHELLEY and JONATHAN! I look forward to sitting in again really soon! (And Janet also references Diana in her Shelley Wade interview, after Shelley asks Janet to weigh-in on “QUEEN”-gate from the Grammys with Beyonce, Tina Turner, and Aretha Franklin. You can check that out via the Z100 – www.z100.com - site as well).
On Thursday, Ant and I got to support our buddy Diaz, who did some publicity and provided some accessories for a non-profit event that benefits BUILD (Building Up Individual Lifelong Dreams) - www.build-nyc.com. “Community Hues” was organized in celebration of Black History Month. It featured an awards reception, dance performance, and a fashion show. The 2008 Honorees are Jeffrey Gurian (Entertainer and Comedy Writer), Mary Jaeger (Fashion Designer), Norman Messiah (Artist), Edward Morgan (The MorganScott Ballet) and featured collaborator Dorian Webb (Jewelry Designer); Danny Simmons (Artist and Philanthropist) and Way Zen (Fashion Designer). And our usual suspects – from Mario to Kareem and many others were in the house. Always nice to support our folks doing positive things. Thanks Diaz!
Did you see the Oscars ( www.oscars.org/ )? Not many did. Though there are so few African Americans (in the grand scheme) to remember, the producers managed to exclude four-time host Whoopi Goldberg from a retrospective reel (80 years) that
featured its many less-hued hosts many times. Seen in the segment that showed supporting actress winners, Whoopi carries a distinction as the first sole African American host of the much-celebrated, annual broadcast. My Diana – however (also a nominee for “Best Actress” for “Lady Sings The Blues” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls2g1ec_qyU - carries the distinction as the first African American host of the event (but in a multi-host format). She too has performed on the show many times (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMHel_AUbpE), but all of those impressions were also left out.
Poised for her own Oscar success (in the wake of her dual Grammy nods), our girlfriend Ledisi ( www.ledisi.com/ ) apparently brought down the house at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in Los Angeles with her stirring performance of the Beatles’ classic “Yesterday” (Gets me everytime!!!! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxoZr_PuFps). Accompanied on piano by music producer/composer Rex Rideout, she received a standing ovation and was considered one of the many highlights as the Black Hollywood film community was out in force for one of Oscar week’s hottest invites in support of honorees actress/musician Jada Pinkett Smith (accompanied by her husband superstar Will Smith), legendary actress Ms. Ruby Dee, director/producer extraordinaire Suzanne DePasse, and rising young actress Jurnee Smollett. Also in attendance - Quincy Jones, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Kerry Washington, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Paula Patton, Pauletta Washington, Holly Robinson Peete, Raven-Symone, Gabrielle Union, Lynn Whitfield, Nia Long, Tracey Edmonds, Taraji Henson, LisaRaye, Tracee Ellis Ross, Vivica A. Fox, Sharon Leal, Salli Richardson and so many more! Next up for Ms. Ledisi – her first film role where she portrays a jazz singer (of course!) in the upcoming George Clooney movie - LEATHERHEADS which also stars Renee Zellweger – in theaters on April 4th.
A recent dispatch to the windy city of Chicago has me longing for something warm – like Los Angeles (when not longing to simply be back home (where it’s not much warmer)). Moreover, on this leg of my Chi-town visit, my social ambassador Chicago Carl is nursing a bad bout of the flu (so we didn’t hit the beat this go around). Still, I got to spend lots of quality time with him as he relaxed and got the care that he needs to get back into the mix. Still, I got some catch-up time with Eddie, my best friend from Morehouse, who I didn’t get to see on my last trip. He took me to see Chicago Carl. Then, we enjoyed wings and fries at “Hooters” (www.hooters.com). Prior to our visit, we went to “Plush” (www.plushinchicago.com) as Eddie wanted me to meet a new friend of his. There - as in places I don’t even live – I ran into some folks I know (which always amuses Eddie as this is his home turf). It was my good girlfriend Jala with whom I’ve served on the National Association of Black Journalists [www.nabj.org] Board (years ago). In this pic (on the right), she's seen with her pal Shaniqua, a DC-based anchor. But on this night in Chicago, she was hanging with another good girlfriend (who it turns out went to Whitney Young High School with Eddie, though I’m not sure they knew each other) Tonya Francisco, anchor at CLTV (www.cltv.com). We enjoyed a cocktail with the ladies and caught up. Get well soon, Chicago Carl… and Always good to see you (but mostly when it’s not so COLD), Chicago!!!
My other Carl (formerly known as ‘platonic boo’) Carl Nelson is working on a project I want to make sure I shout out now – in ADVANCE – and later when it happens. It’s Drums Along The Hudson ( www.drumsalongthehudson.org). I went last year (and have gone over the years) and it’s a wonderful outdoor festival that promotes culture, eco- friendliness, and fellowship. Check the site out… and make sure to put it on your calendar.
You’ll recall, I met a performer Malachi at the Janet Jackson party the other week (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/2/12/luv.html). Well, as promised, I have more information on his work. Known as “The Hip Hop Poet”, he has been chosen as one of the top 25 spoken word artists in the nation, according to FAMECAST. He has also been chosen to represent New York City in the competition. And you can vote for him in that regard by clicking on: WWW.FAMECAST.COM/MALACHIRIVERS
Additionally, “The Communication Specialist”, his hip hop album is coming soon! It’s produced by Daniel Jose Older and there’s a collabo with a Grammy-award-winning hip hop pioneer! For more information on that, check out Malachi Rivers on MYSPACE at http://www.myspace.com/MALACHIWORLD. And get ready for the evolution of Malachi as “The Hip Hop Page” too will make its premiere next month.
Once the “fledgling” literary agent (an inside joke between friends), my dear friend Wanda Akin, who truly is and has always been a seasoned player in legal and literary circles the world over, just represented a book that has been reviewed in “The Los Angeles Times” (http://www.latimes.com/features/books/la-bk-randall24feb24,0,4142690.story). It’s “Gentleman Jigger”, a belatedly published roman a clef about the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance by Richard Bruce Nugent. You must pick it up and CELEBRATE one of the most stylized and substantive times in American history. CONGRATS WANDA! LOVE YOU!
In closing, CHECK THIS OUT! My good friend/artist & brand manager Jelani Bandele – says she was sorting through some photographs for a presentation and came across this gem. We have no idea where we were (surely somewhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn), but it shows we've know each other for a very long time (LOOK AT MY HAIR! But that black is not cracking... still!)......and yes that is Diddy in the background. “I’ve been so many places in my life and time…”
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