Ant and I finally got to see the historic, groundbreaking revival of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway (www.cat2008onbroadway.com/), which closes on June 22nd after a most successful limited-engagement in which it has recouped its 2.1 million dollar investment and continues to bring a new audience. This, according to Producer Stephen Byrd who told us he’s happy that they are making history – cultural and economic – on this “great White way” but that he’s disappointed that The Tony’s (www.tonyawards.com/) didn’t acknowledge the revival where it could. Good for him that he’s looking ahead to his WHAT’S NEXT – which he offers may include Halle Berry and Terrence Howard in the first, all-Black Broadway revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” – another Tennessee Williams’ classic (Ant saw a regional version in Denver). In this Debbie-Allen-directed production, the theme of MENDACITY (UNTRUTHFULNESS) shows up in the hypocrisy, greed and secret passions of the characters that make up this wealthy but dysfunctional Mississippi family. Brick – normally played by Terrence Howard – was inhabited by the understudy, my last-namesake Robert Christopher Riley (www.playbill.com/celebritybuzz/whoswho/biography/17611). In addition to being quite attractive, this stage actor did an awesome job and those we stumbled into seemed to agree – like Travis, one of Ant’s life coaches in the authenticity-inspiring work at MOMENTUM EDUCATION (www.momentumeducation.com). We will still aim to see Terrence before the show wraps. The character Brick pronounces to Big Daddy (played impressively by the legendary James Earl Jones) that “mendacity” (untruthfulness) is the system in which men live. That’s the way in which the two characters talk around their respective issues (Brick’s homosexual desires and Daddy’s imminent death). And instead of looking at the quacking duck, everyone else aims to see Brick be anything but that (Sounds familiar – even in 2008). So, Brick’s mother (the amazing, Tony-award-winning Phylicia Rashad) wants to see him become a family man (via his wife “Maggie the Cat” as portrayed sensually and provokingly by my friend Anika Noni Rose, who is always such a joy to see – on and off stage. In all her “Dreamgirls” splendor, she always remembers Ant and me after meeting her with our good girlfriend Ledisi back in December on Ant’s and my 2nd anniversary. She’s very grounded and so sweet!). Brick’s brother, played by “Big Brother Almighty” (of “School Daze” fame) Giancarlo Esposito is clean and sober (as liquor goes) but corrupt enough to welcome Brick drinking his sorrows and repression away. His wife is played by the lovely and sweet – also on and off-screen - Lisa Arrindell Anderson, the uber-Southern belle who selfishly and obsessively keeps up all appearances at all costs for the greater gain of her husband, their kids, and herself. Though long in the tooth (two intermissions), Ant and I really enjoyed “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. We were happy to finally see it, though it was a long time coming. In the end, my good friend Lamar came through. He is responsible for hiring me to work on the video project for Remy Martin’s Limited Edition David LaChapelle bottle (www.remy.com/). My good girlfriend Marcia Pendelton manages the audience/marketing for many of the Broadway shows. She’s got deals for “Cat” that I want to share with you here:
For Group Discounts (15+)
Marcia Pendelton/Mydra Kelly
WTG Group Sales
For all other ticket purchases:
By Phone: 212.239.6200
In Person: Broadhurst Theater Box Office
235 W. 44th Street, NYC
Great seats available
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays!
ORDER YOUR TICKETS TODAY!
Ant and I say it’s worth the trip. Plus, just a few days before I saw now-7-time-Tony-nominated “Passing Strange” – Ant’s and my other favorite (www.passingstrangeonbroadway.com), Miss Ross was in the house. And two days prior to our “Cat” moment, she saw the show with her kids Rhonda, Tracee, Evan; and her sister Barbara. For all that Diana is to me as a muse, it’s no wonder she and I are tastemakers in common – loving our theater (same shows). Pop culture coincidences aside, Ant and I again found so much of our own lives were reflected in this honest expression of art that came to life before our eyes in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (www.cat2008onbroadway.com/).
Last night, Ant and I got a wonderful, 11th-hour invitation from my friend Charles Wallace who is Associate Artistic Director of the New Professional Theatre(www.newprofessionaltheatre.org/)/2008 Annual Writers Festival Producer. It was the New Professional Theatre’s annual gala 2008. My Spelman sister (a few years removed) Sheila Kay Davis is at the helm of the organization. My friend and Georgia homeboy/2-time Tony-award nominee Ken Roberson invited me to this event a few years ago as he was honored by this company, which empowers, advances, and sustains the work of minority theatre artists; develops new, diverse audiences through extensive education programs; promotes the work of minority artists to both mainstream and minority audiences; and cultivates partnerships with like-minded institutions from around the globe dedicated to developing and promoting minority work. Last night, Ant and I weren’t far from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” as our girl Anika Noni Rose was being honored with “The Shining Star Award”. My friend Ken Roberson, who also choreographed a wonderful trio of dancers who set the fun tone of the night, presented to Anika. The musical tribute was performed beautifully by my Broadway buddy Norm Lewis, who is currently starring in “The Little Mermaid”
(www.disney.go.com/theatre/thelittlemermaid/). He’s always great to be around as proven some months ago when he invited me backstage to hangout during his final weeks on “Les Miserables” (www.lesmis.com/). Also, Anika's “Cat” co-star (and – in the play – nemesis) Lisa Arrindell Anderson came to support. She brought her very handsome brother. Additionally, the legendary two-time Tony nominee Ms. Vivian Reed was there to sing to “The Trailblazer Award” recipient Mr. Reginald Van Lee (Senior Vice President , Booz Allen Hamilton - www.boozallen.com/). Reginald is ever the socialite and is known for his famously entertaining parties (Ant and I have attended a couple of them on the terrace of his east side penthouse apartment with one of the most prized views New York City has to offer). But he too is also very nice, humble, and so much fun! The evening also gave me the chance to reconnect to some good friends and associates, including caterer Norma Jean of “Spoonbread” fame (www.spoonbreadinc.com/); Marva Hicks; Ty Stephens; Randall; Chris; David Hinson (financial advisor); etc. I also got the chance to meet the man who plays “Tiny” Joe Dixon in “Dreamgirls” – the movie (www.dreamgirlsmovie.com/) Michael-Leon Wooley, who reunited with Anika for the first time since they shot the film. It was a GREAT time for all! CONGRATS REGINALD and ANIKA! And THANK YOU, CHARLES! Ant and I truly enjoyed ourselves!
Afterwards, Ant and I went to neighboring BBQ on 42nd Street (www.bbqnyc.com) for a post-dinner snack and chat with our girl Marcia who – by the way – still has deals around “Passing Strange” (www.passingstrangeonbroadway.com). She is offering a 40%-OFF Regular Ticket Prices to FRIENDS OF PATRICK AND ANT . See the details with special CODE:
All performances except Fri & Sat eves & Wed Mat
Orch/$59.50; Mezz/$48; Balc/$21.50
Fri & Sat Eves
Orch/$68.50; Mezz/$58; Balc/$30
Orch & Mezz/$48; Balc/$21.50
There Are Three Easy Ways To Purchase Tickets
Online: www.broadwayoffers.com and type in code PSWALK7
Phone: 212.947.8844 and mention code PSWALK7
In Person: Present this email at the Belasco Theater Box Office,
111 West 44th Street, NYC
And Marcia is also working on “SINGLE BLACK FEMALE”, which New Professional Theatre is presenting. The limited Off-Broadway return engagement by Lisa B. Thompson is a comedy about single black women and their search for love, dignity and clothes, directed by Colman Domingo, who's currently on Broadway in – of course - PASSING STRANGE. Previews begin June 10 prior to an official press opening of June 12 at The Duke on 42nd Street (229 West 42nd Street) in Manhattan.
New Professional Theatre
SINGLE BLACK FEMALE
A play by
Lisa B. Thompson
JUNE 10-29, 2008
THE DUKE ON 42ND STREET,
A NEW 42ND STREET PROJECT
229 West 42nd Street
(Between Broadway & 8th Avenue)
Group Tickets (10+)
$30 per person
Contact WTG Group Sales
Performances Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm;
Saturday & Sunday at 2pm
For Single Tickets
After our BBQ moment, we got the chance to hang out at No Parking in Washington Heights ( www.noparkingbar.blogspot.com/ ) - owned by my friend Brian, who always makes sure I don't wait in line and that I am taken care of once I get inside. There, we ran into Chris, Randall, and Ken Roberson again. But we were also pleasantly surprised to see my friend Carl Nelson (of “Drums Along The Hudson” fame - http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/11/the-third-eye-is-the-nexus-of-diverse-energy.html). You’ll recall, I hosted a portion of that event for Carl. He had just come back into town from Spain, but alerted me that the feedback was off the charts for how folks enjoyed my hosting duties. That was nice to hear. Carl was with our friend Raymond, who too is a Morehouse brother. Always good to see him and his great teeth (He’s a dentist! SMILE!).
Thinking about “PASSING STRANGE” and “CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF” and the culture of theater overall, MENDACITY ties in quite symbiotically to my agenda this week. Truth told, right on the streets of New York City, the issue of ‘mendacity’ is being addressed everyday. There was a host of Sean Bell demonstrators, for example, as Ant and I went to the theater that evening. You’ll recall the Sean Bell shooting incident that took place in Queens on November 25, 2006. Three unarmed, African American men were shot at 50 times by plainclothes NYPD officers, killing one of the men, Sean Bell, on the morning of his wedding day, and severely wounding two of his friends. The incident sparked fierce criticism of the police from the public and drew comparisons to the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo.Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial on charges ranging from manslaughter to reckless endangerment, but were found not guilty. We even saw Ant’s barber Dave (Diamond Cut Salon and Barber Shop). Go Dave!
My friend Leo Preziosi and his colleague Aartie at one of my longstanding charities Live Out Loud (www.liveoutloud.info) asked me to speak at The Bushwick School for Social Justice’s LGBT PRIDE WEEK (www.bssj.net/). LIVE OUT LOUD is a nonprofit organization that connects Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning youth to out role models and leaders who provide positive examples of LGBT adults. I was there inside of a career-day posture. “What do you do? How did you get to do what you do? What are your secrets of success?” I’ve done it a million times and love to share my testimonial with young folks. They generally seem to respond and appreciate it. This day of speaking to these Brooklyn students was no different. They were engaged, despite the ‘rainy day & Monday’. But the more profound context about this visit is that I was used as a part of Live Out Loud’s repository of LGBT role models of color to be able to go deeper, if called for, and share information and experience about which pathway helped me to live an enriched and productive life. Well, Ant went with me and filled in my blanks a bit as some of the students’ questions left me speechless (just for a moment) as they were down to ask all the uncomfortable questions: “What did your mother say when you came out?”; “Did you keep your straight male friends after you came out?”; “Have you ever been discriminated against because you’re gay?”; “Is it double-hard for you in life – since you’re black and gay?”; "How much did that jacket cost?" (which freed me to share my less-controversial gay gene for fashion and how - like me - they could one day purchase their own couture directly from the designer's showroom, but until then - like me other times - they could right now get in on 'the sample sale'); Oh! And did I forget: "How much money do you make?" Well, I told them (loosely) as I figured honesty on that front is testimonial that you can be LGTBQ, African American (or of color), and successful. This, though on my journey, I continue to maintain it all as responsibly and flossily as possible. Baby, these kids were on it! And once I caught up with the reality that they were ready to hear these answers, I clearly gave the goods. Often, kids will tell me that I’m their hero for what I do, who I am, and how they feel it looks on me. But for moments like these, I always reply to them that they are my heroes for getting it early on. Whether gay or straight, these teens got it and were open and tolerant and compassionate and endearing. I’m thrilled to have been a part. (And I’m scheduled to speak at a Bronx high school next week for a Career Day).
So much of what makes me stand so confidently in my skin (even though I was not OUT in college) is MOREHOUSE College(www.morehouse.edu) and you need look no further than this blog to know how much that experience means to me: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/5/22/walking-in-strange-and-new-places.html and http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2006/12/11/this-house-is-built-on-a-foundation-of-love.html and http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/5/30/on-the-pulse-of-the-morning-and-beyond.html and http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/1/2/dear-god-im-here-im-here.html.
Well, Morehouse (www.morehouse.edu) – known for producing “Renaissance Men” (like me) – is in the news for something historical and landmark. And the story got its first rung of attention by way of one of my National Association of Black Journalists’ protégées (NABJ babies, we call them) Errin Haines, Associated Press writer and NABJ Emerging Journalist of the Year 2006 (www.ap.org). She and I attended our good friend Deepthi’s wedding last September. Anyway! The story? Morehouse College ’s 2008 class valedictorian is Josh Packwood, of Kansas City , Mo. He stands out not only because of his grade point average (4.0), but he is the first White Valedictorian to graduate from the historically black college. The force behind the publicity machine is my other dear friend Elise Durham who is Media Relations Manager at my alma mater. She and I worked together years ago at Fox 5 in Atlanta (“Good Day Atlanta”). She made it possible for me to meet Josh and to greet again Dr. Robert Michael Franklin (I first met him in Las Vegas back in August – a reception Elise put together last year). They were scheduled to discuss this story on CBS’ “The Early Show” (www.cbs.com/earlyshow). I met with them in the greenroom where – as tends to happen – I stumbled across old friends Kitt and Debbie, who are producers there. Always good to see or talk to folks I like a lot that I haven’t seen in a long time. Dr. Franklin, Josh, and I got the chance to talk about this awesome legacy that must be acknowledged as what Morehouse’s most famous alum Dr. King had in mind. Fortunately, Harry Smith (who I love) did the interview (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/15/national/main4098548.shtml). Afterwards, we got the chance to talk to him further as he seemed to really be invested and intrigued at the story. Some cynics feel this somehow compromises Morehouse’s infrastructure as a historically BLACK college, but I don’t agree. White students have been going to Morehouse for decades. That’s not the issue. This particular moment highlights for the world that anyone, white or black, can receive a quality education at an HBCU and come out on top – in the world. So the options for all should be HARVARD? Or MOREHOUSE? And not just because of the skin they are in. Moreover, it was great to catch up with my Elise who just celebrated her big 4-0 and I didn’t get the chance to celebrate down in Atlanta with her (Her friends threw a surprise birthday party). With that, I brought her gift with me – a candle from Jo Malone (www.jomalone.com/). I LOVE JO MALONE! This, because Elise truly is a light to my life and apparently “a candle in the dark” to Morehouse as I observed her so ably and masterfully pull the media and press opportunities together for my alma mater.
I got the chance to reunite with many of my Morehouse brothers and my Spelman sister Adrianne C. Smith as she threw a wonderful 40 fete for her beau Eddie, a filmmaker and conscious social and civil activist/advocate. In her beautiful brownstone, we ate great food as prepared by my Morehouse brother (and Ant’s and my cupid) Mario. Michael K. Watts, Jeh, and a handful of our other Morehouse buddies attended. I even got to reconnect with a couple of classmates I hadn’t seen in a while – Nassir and Ed Blunt (www.edblunt.com) who is a life design specialist. He attended with another old friend I hadn’t seen in a minute (who I met through another Morehouse brother Terrance Johnson) Stacey L. Holman, who is Creative Director of Black Butterfly Productions (www.blackbutterflyproudctions.net). See her website. She’s working on some great projects. Thanks Adrianne for being such a great host and a good friend. STAY ENCOURAGED! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EDDIE!
Speaking of MOREHOUSE, my SPELMAN sister (www.spelman.edu) Tanika Ray (www.extratv.warnerbros.com/) who I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, but is also EXTRA-TV’s most-spirited host/correspondent, has agreed to be interviewed for “Big Sister, Little Sister” – the independent documentary I’m working on with Latina filmmaker Sue May ( www.bslsthedoc.com - in progress; www.myspace.com/bslsthedoc). You’ll recall, I’m booking a half dozen or so high profile women of color (that I too will support Sue in interviewing). They are sharing their experiences at their high school prom, graduation, and first post-high-school memories (likely college). Already, "America's Next Top Model" Cycle 4 Naima has committed to be the NARRATOR of "Big Sister, Little Sister" (and will additionally be interviewed for the companion PSA “The Girl Next Door”). Also, CNN's Soledad O'Brien and international journalist Lisa Ling are on board as we work out scheduling with those two ladies. A few more bookings (from a tall wish list of great names) and we’ll be ready to shoot. Feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you or your client might want more information to be considered for our cameos or if you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to this project which has many funding opportunities.
By the way, have you seen Alicia Keys’ "School Daze"-inspired video?:
See what she’s spoofing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biu555Djtm4
Alicia Keys’song “If I Ain’t Got You” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1sLrRlCobY) got spotlight on “American Idol” ( www.americanidol.com/ ) last week with Syesha’s judge’s choice a la Randy Jackson (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8He0ScuRAiE). She did a brilliant job – a point I laid out on my friend and popular radio personality Shelley Wade’s Z100 Idol Diva Chat, which I’ve been doing this season. To hear, click on: http://z100.com/cc-common/common-nyc/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=americanidol6chats or
http://zzone.z100.com/shelley/blog/2008/04/30/idol_diva_chat or http://zzone.z100.com/shelley/blog/2008/05/14/jason_castro__idol_chat
Former American Idol contestant and current FUSE host (www.fuse.tv/) Jarred Cotter was in the mix for this roundtable and we got along splendidly. You may recall, I wrote about him from a modeling gig he did with my favorite designer “American Chang” (www.americanchang.com/) and ( www.rscottfrench.com/ ): http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/2/5/a-few-good-men.html. Plus, he’s also still recording – even got a duet working in the U-K. For all info about Jarred, check out his myspace: http://www.myspace.com/jlcotter. He is a multi-hyphenate like me and we plan to stay in touch as symbiosis is inevitable. And by the time I write my next entry, we will know who of the two DAVIDs is the American Idol. I'll comment at that time...
Keeping the MENDACITY theme going, I could still be some of what my friend and fellow journalist Terrance Dean chronicles in his riveting memoir Hiding In Hip Hop: On The Down Low In The Entertainment Industry – From Music To Hollywood. It uncovers a hidden and well-known, unspoken secret to which I relate as I struggled with my own sexuality in my early ‘20s. The thought is there’s no platform to be ‘out and proud’ and – from that – come self-hating and self-deprecating choices that keep us stimulated by a fleeting feeling and experience. The thought is it wouldn’t be practical to choose this publicly because society isnt’ ready and our friends, families, and lovers won’t understand. With that, an open and telling-it-all Terrance Dean writes this book and we proudly celebrated with him last week at SPLASH ( www.splashbar.com ). CONGRATS TERRANCE! Order your copy today: http://www.amazon.com/Hiding-Hip-Hop-Entertainment-Industry . He too is featured in NEWSWEEK:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/137380 And you can go to his blog:
www.terrancedean.blogspot.com And he will be celebrating further this week at my favorite boutique N (www.nharlemnewyork.com).
One of my favorite Harlem buddies Terry Wynn (known as “The Texas Socialite” - http://texastigerofnewyork.blogspot.com) surely kept us busy this past weekend. Before we got into festivity one, I got some more, long-overdue, one-on-one time with my Amazing Grace Nichole at Cafeteria (www.cafeteria247.com). Afterwards, she dropped me off in her new convertible to meet up with Ant. He and I were scheduled to hang out at one of Terry’s big birthday parties. Ant hand-selected our gift, which Terry was excited to sport immediately. It was a Fusingcolors glass jewelry creation (www.fusingcolors.com) The first took place at Frank White NYC (http://www.frankwhitenyc.com). Named for Biggie Smalls, partners and owners William Collick and Muhammida El Muhajir opened this eclectic and vintage-looking space as a canvas for bringing folks together for coffee, drinks, socializing, culture, debate, etc. (http://www.myspace.com/frankwhitenyc). With that, Terry decided to throw a classic French salon with a contemporary twist. Donning a top hat, he booked Carmen "The Black Betty" for a Burlesque number (http://www.youtube.com/Barika3000). Then, Opera singer Adero DeHoniesto performed a gorgeous “Summertime”. "The Pastry Chef" – Eric is his name – provided great treats. And Curtis Jackson was "The Drummer" (http://www.curtiswatts.com), whose pounding, percussive accompaniment on Rebbie Jackson's "Centipede" and Diana Ross' "The Boss" made those dance classics groove like never before. We met so many wonderful people that night, I can’t even remember how to place all their names here. But in traditional Terry fashion, he gathered a room full of great energy for the night. A couple of standouts: multi-media personality/performer Reginald L. Barnes (www.reginaldlbarnes.com or www.myspace.com/reggieonthemove) was in the house. And he has a show of comedy and entertainment planned for certain Wednesdays throughout the summer at Solomon’s Porch in Brooklyn (www.myspace.com/solomonsporchcafe). Also, Robin Laverne Wilson presented herself as such an exemplar of joy and possibilities. She was hanging out on the eve of her graduation from Rutgers (www.rutgers.edu/). She’s poised to be a filmmaker and an all-around renaissance woman (www.NewGrowthMediaInc.com). At this party, she had one look. At Terry’s next party, she had another look (wig in tow). Both gorgeous. At the 2nd set – held in Harlem – Morehouse brother and friend Mario, Melvin, and many of our other buddies were in the house. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TERRY! MUCH LOVE!
Ant and I attended that prior set after attending the civil union of one of Anthony’s MOMENTUM buddies (www.momentumeducation.com) Carlos and his partner David. It was Ant’s and my first ‘gay wedding’. They got married about two hours outside of the city in beautiful Woodbourne , New York . Everything was elegantly appointed – from the ceremony to the decorations inside the tent to the vows. They put a poem from Walt Whitman on the program: “we two boys together clinging, one on the other never leaning, up and down the roads going, north and south excursions making. power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching armed and fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving. No law less than ourselves owning, sailing, soldiering, thieving, threatening. misers, menials, priests alarming, air breathing, water drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach dancing. Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statues mocking, feebleness chasing, fulfilling our foray.” Most profound to Ant and me was hearing Carlos and David’s fathers give the toast. It was something Ant nor I had ever experienced before. POWERFUL! It also turns out that Ted - another of Ant’s buddies from MOMENTUM (who attended with Anya – also from Ant’s leadership team) – used to work for Diana’s youngest boys’ father Arne Naess in Norway. As we were basking in the love of Carlos and David, this straight man knew the tidbit to share with this gay couple. Of course, I had lots of questions for him – answering some of the questions more quickly than he could remember them as my obsession with Diana moves much more quickly than his middle-age memory of having worked with this man for a couple of years back in the mid-‘80s. But it made for great dinner conversation and he spoke endearingly and lovingly of Ross and Naess from his outside-looking-in-but-closer-than-any-of-us perspective. THANKS TED!
Ant and I also got the chance to return to some of our physical commitments this week. He’s inside of a multitude of regimens towards optimum health. If I’m not ripping and running professionally or socially, I’m rarely going to the gym or some type of physical fitness class, except for when we’re able to reconnect to our Tweetie and her hip hop dance class at Alvin Ailey. It’s always a blast as – this time – she played all of Madonna’s new album for warm-up and our routine (www.madonna.com/). Of course, we were hoping for a little Janet to inspire the energy and excitement around Miss Jackson’s upcoming tour (scheduled to launch September 10th - www.janetjackson.com/). Tweetie has been really busy doing what she does… and well. She’s been traveling a lot. In February, she was in Poland for about 2 weeks on a choreography assignment. And she just got back from Beijing , China (in the nick of time with that 7.8 earthquake that recently hit there). She was there for the Asian Fitness Education Expo (AFEEX – www.afeex.org/) where she taught five classes. She also is about to work with Artistic Director Sevin Akbar aka Summerhill of “Platanos and Collard Greens” fame (www.platanosandcollardgreens.com/) on his next Off Broadway Theater show “Auction Book”. She too is getting into artist development. Her current project is working with four men who take hip hop dance class with Ant and me. They are THA HEIGHTS (a pop/R&B quartet of Dominican dudes). They sing Motown, latin, new, and classic music. And they recently got an offer for their own reality series. So, in Tweetie’s words, “it’s about to be on and poppin’”. CONGRATS TWEETIE! We will see you soon!
Fit in her own right, my friend Bethany (also knows as ‘Peanut’) referred a friend of hers to me. Basheerah has been chosen to grace the cover of “Max Sports and Fitness Magazine”. This cover will be historical because it will be the first time an African American fitness couple has been featured on this magazine’s cover. She’s also in the process of negotiating a Fitness reality show that focuses on health and the black church.
But Bethany ’s fierceness should not go unrecognized. She is a noted choreographer and dancer – seen in “yellow” in Beyonce’s “Freak ‘em dress” video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLkmmCjnc-8). Well, she is working on Broadway’s return of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf”. Singer-songwriter India.Arie has been tapped to star and contribute songs to this once-choreo-poem (now play with music). The aforementioned Marcia Pendelton is too going to be a part of the audience/marketing effort on this highly-anticipated production with Whoopi Goldberg at the helm of producers along with DreamTeam Entertainment. The Ntozake Shange play presents the interwoven stories of seven women of color from the African Diaspora. The original play opened its two-year run on Broadway in the summer of 1976, earning a Best Play Tony nomination and winning the Best Featured Actress in a Play Tony for Trazana Beverley. So far, Arie is the only cast member set for the revival, which has scheduled a mid-July preview and early-August opening. A theater has yet to be named. Shirley Jo Finney will direct, and Tony winner Hinton Battle will handle choreography.
Speaking of India.Arie, I’m weeks away from my 20-year-high-school reunion from Windsor Forest High School (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/4/7/if-a-robin-can-say-thank-you-you-can-do-it-too.html). And I wanted to shout out another WFHS alum – one year my junior: Anthony David, a name you may all know as he’s played and collaborated with India.Arie for years (as this Electronic Urban Report tells: http://www.eurweb.com/story/eur43404.cfm). To find out more about Anthony David, hit up his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/anthonydavid or go to www.anthonydavidmusic.com. We were in “Pippin’” together and a number of other stage productions at Windsor Forest . So glad to know he’s doing so well.
Speaking of my fellow alums, remember my friend Reggie? I wrote about him here: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2006/11/3/options-image-of-the-future.html Well, he saw Ant’s picture with Captain Planet last week (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/11/the-third-eye-is-the-nexus-of-diverse-energy.html). It turns out during his matriculation at MIT (www.web.mit.edu/), he was a part of the team that helped develop this character. LOVE IT! Good stock comes out of Savannah, I tell 'ya...
I mentioned Miki Howard in a prior post (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/2/just-like-little-children-know-how-they-have-fun.html). Well, Miki's new CD “Private Collection” is coming out. Her reps at Araca Entertainment reached out to me to see what synergy we might stir up to support her comeback. CONGRATS MIKI! I love the tracks your folks have shared with me!
On Sunday, Ant and I got the chance to show his friend Aria around town. She was visiting from Denver . We went to N (www.nharlemnewyork.com) and saw our folks – Natasha, Jamar, and Gail, who too is an artist ( at Fuse Gallery (www.fusegallerynyc.com). I wrote about her last week: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/2/just-like-little-children-know-how-they-have-fun.html. Then, we took Aria to Amy Ruth for soul food (www.amyruthsharlem.com/). Well, after we enjoyed our day with her, we went to Brooklyn to see Ant’s best friend Manivone at her new lounge/restaurant spot in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). It’s called “Velvet Lounge” (www.velvetbrooklyn.com/). We enjoyed it a lot. It’s got a very warm and soothing interior with smooth music playing as folks come in to enjoy one of Manivone’s cocktails and some nice bites of spinach and artichoke dip; hummus; etc. Then, we hooked up with Gail about whom I wrote last week: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/2/just-like-little-children-know-how-they-have-fun.html. She had us meet her at Art Land (also in Williamsburg ) – a dive bar full of character and charm (www.11211.info/artland.htm). It’s where Gail guest DJs from time to time. She wanted us to come in and hear her friend DJ Starchilde. Gail, too, is making it possible for Ant to try his magic behind the turntables very soon. Stay tuned. I have an “in” with the DJ. SMILE! And we'll dance all night long (or as long as his slot allows). He's already promised to mix in some Diana. Just a little... and it will "melange" just so...
Many of you are calling me as you watch CBS promos for “Million Dollar Password” with Regis Philbin (www.cbs.com/primetime/million_dollar_password/). You are seeing me and excited to know when, where, what, and how much. SMILE! Well, I am totally gagged to say what happened and you’ll have to wait and see. Though the commercial says June 1st is the premiere, I don’t know exactly when I will be on. But stay tuned. And though I can’t tell anything now, I can share some things after it airs. Meanwhile, I want to shout out a friend from that ‘bubble’ Erin Wilk, who is doing public relations for several New York City spas and restaurants/sake bars in town. Check out her clients: www.erinwilk.com and www.spasally.com (it's an early launch version- still a few bugs!). GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU, ERIN!
And as always, THANKS TO EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU for keeping up with “… THE LIFE OF RILEY…” (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/).