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"YOU KEEP PRAYING, SAYING THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY..."

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA CONDOLENCES

 

While in Atlanta shooting "Frankie & Neffe", I went to a couple of "Real Housewives of Atlanta" events - including a birthday party for Kandi & Kim. Also, there was a Kandi performance. I haven't seen the show since its first episode (Hotel doesn't have BRAVO), but I'm getting emails, txts, and calls that I was seen a few times at the joint birthday set. I'm told the Kandi performance at Tongue & Groove ran as well.

Well, when I posted my pix of Kandi during current season's "Real Housewives of Atlanta" (per events I attended this past Spring), the news of her ex-fiance's passing had not broken. I extend my condolences to Kandi and AJ's children and family. AJ: RIP! And as Kandi and her daughter and AJs kids deal with all of this, she too is mourning the loss of her Uncle Ralph. Though I don’t know Kandi well, I do know that she has a brother named Patrick Riley who passed away in the early ‘90s. Whenever I would interview her when she was with XSCAPE, my name would always generate a surge from within. When my partner Anthony recently saw her (and mentioned me), he too experienced that. (Coincidentlly, I too have an Uncle Ralph who is dearly departed.).

But I do remember having a good time during those sets in Atlanta earlier this year. My chronicle at the time read like this: Of course, I couldn’t be in Atlanta without sniffing out “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” (www.bravotv.com/the-real-housewives-of-atlanta). My new buddy Lamoh was gracious to take me to as many of the sets as my schedule would allow. We went to AJA Asian Bistro near Lenox for 'Kim' and Deshawn-Snow-replacement 'Kandi Burris' (of Xscape fame and 'TLCs-No-Scrubs'-writer notoriety). It was a filming for second season. Sheree was in attendance but no Nene, Lisa, or Dwight to be found. Kim - sported a skintight, red haltermini thatunderscored her little pouch as well as her decorative, high-endredpumps (of glorious, over-the-top,ostrich feather garnish). She premiered her new single "Tardy for the Party" (Dallas-Austin-penned-and-produced "Tightrope" - debuted on the 1st season of the show - was not pro-tooled, nor re-presented, nor– Kim told me - made a part of her upcoming collection of dance music. Her actualvocals - as evidence by this new single -are washed down and into the mix/voice-altering machine. She may actually haves ome dance hits on her hands. Kandi - from my observation - seems apleasant, Deshawn-Snow-esqueaddition to the cast. She's sexy and sweet; doesn't drink; is letting her personality shine through (it seems) in a way differently and more engagingly perhaps than Deshawn Snow. It seems she and Kim get along and - per Kim's comments - that they maybe collabo-ing in the studio. Kandi was apparently privy (prior to Kim) to a huge rock that sets on Kim's finger now (a la engagement ring from 'big poppa', who seems back in the picture). Big Poppa and Kandi's fiance are buddies too, it seems. Also in attendance (and often on the blogs): hairstylist Derek J (sporting a kimono-style dress and pumps). He is in L.A. now competing on reality-tv's "Sheer Genius". Champagne and Patron were flowing. And overall, it was cool to see the inner-workings of the upcoming season, if just a snapshot from this one 'scene'. Then, however, Kandi (whose late brother’s name is Patrick Riley) invited me to her “Tongue and Groove” performance (www.tandgonline.com/). (Ironically, “Tongue and Groove” (the former Buckhead location) is where my platonic boo Carl Nelson threw my going-away party from Atlanta in 1995.) Kandi performed her old material from the days of Xscape. Also, she performed her new songs “Trade Him In”; “Fly Above”; and “Leroy Jones” (www.twitter.com/kandiconnection and www.myspace.com/kandionline). And “Real Housewife” Lisa was there! Still no photo ops with Nene and Dwight (who I know)… and though I did see her at Kim/Kandi’s party… Sheree (from whom I did get an invitation to preview her 'actual' fashions but I had a conflicting shoot scheduled that day. I hear it was FAB though.). There’s always my 5-week ATL run in June. Shout out to my girlfriend Lisa McCall who assured Lemoh and I got into the set. Sister 2 Sister’s Jamie Foster Brown was also in the house (www.s2smagazine.com/). She and I got to catch up as we had some business-in-common later that week (a la “Frankie & Neffe” and “Sister 2 Sister”).
 And there must always be a shout out to my friend Dwight Eubanks.He proved to be the host with the most during my stay in Atlanta. Also, we got to hang out recently in New York City where - after I left - he and Lamoh got to hang out with Ant. Plus, Ant attended Dwight's fashion show during Fashion Week.

 

 

STAR-STUDDED L.A.

L.A. publicist Lauren Tobin – daughter of my late, great NABJ buddy Pat Tobin - invited me out to Oz and Lynne Scott's Sherman Oaks estate which is home to the Jackie Robinson's Foundation's annual Jazz on the Green (www.jackierobinson.org). Ran into many of my favorite celebs and enjoyed an awesome round-up of musical talent. I tried to maintain my cool but I was really excited to meet them all. Sitcom actors Richard Gant (“Night Court”) and Harold Sylvester (Dwayne Wayne’s father from “A Different World”) were there. Too, legendary publicist Ken Reynolds (who has worked with everyone from Whitney Houston to Stephanie Mills over the years) was in the house. And believe me, I was as excited to meet him as those folks I knew by name like TV legend Hattie Winston and her husband Harold Wheeler (who is the composer and music director with the most – current credit including “Dancing With The Stars”). “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” co-star Tatyana Ali was there. (And I got a glimpse of Uncle Phil too: James Avery).My girl Shaun Robinson (from Access Hollywood) was there and bid on a big Michael Jackson collage. Salli Richardson and Dondre Whitfield – husband and wife, and new parents – presented and enjoyed their time away from the kids. Ran into my Dubose co-worker MC Lyte again. She even got on the mic after Sheila E called her up for a ‘freestyle’ moment. Lauren’s client is James Pickens of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame (His colleague Reggie Jackson was also in the house). And James’ wife Gina (who was in the disco group Musique as Gina Taylor – just before she married her “fine” husband) broke out in an impromptu “Dr. Feelgood” at the end of which James himself made sure that everyone knew she belonged to him. My New York City, saaaangin’ girlfriend Marva Hicks performed a brilliant set for the group – including Etta James’ “At Last”. She is good friends with actress Vanessa Bell Calloway with whom I chatted about her daughter Ashley who is a student at Spelman (Freshman) as my nephew prepares to leave the AUC at Morehouse (He’s a Senior). Favorites Brenda Russell, Patrice Rushen, and James Ingram also sang their big hits for the enthusiastic crowd which also got to bid on great silent auction items like ELLEN underwear. Also, another of Lauren’s clients Carmen Lundy, who is a world-renowned jazz vocal stylist, auctioned off some of her artwork. She commanded silence, wind, and standing ovations for her performances – including a song titled “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” (www.carmenlundy.com). Also in attendance: Chris Spencer, Kym Whitley, George Duke, Dave Koz, Marcus Miller, Stephen Bishop, Kiki Shepard, Atallah Shabazz, Greg Phillanganes, and that’s about all I can remember (but I’m certain there were more). Great day!

THE SILENCE IS BROKEN

Then, I went to "The Silence Is Broken" (www.thesilenceisbroken.com/SIB_PRESS_2_web.pdf) - a benefit concert underscoring AIDS awareness. The Saban Theater housed the event which featured my friend Eric B. Anthony (of “Naked Boys Singing” fame) who I met at my buddy Delandis' birthday party some weeks ago. Last week, we all hung out after I went to see Eric in "Naked Boys Singing". Eric's buddy Andre who was in the mix last week was also there at this performance. Delandis accompanied me to this concert which founder, composer, conductor Patrick Gandy made possible for me to attend. And what a treat it was to see Loretta Devine on stage singing in the lights. She's such a talent as is TC Carson who sang on a whole new level than I'm used to hearing. He was wonderful! And Laurnea, my good girlfriend Camille’s buddy, performed the stunning theme song to perfection. TC Carson, by the way, works sometimes with Lauren’s husband, bassist J.V. Collier who often plays with The Pointer Sisters and The 5th Dimension. He’s now on the road with Bruce Hornsby. All of the vocalists were in EXCELLENT voice – singing compositions on which they collaborated – as writers – with Patrick Gandy’s lush arrangements! And Patrick conducted as well. And I was excited to experience it all with my friend Delandis who will soon be taping his DVD for kids. Stay tuned for more on that. Please check out the website and all that THE SILENCE IS BROKEN is creating under the context of music, art, literature, and public service. It’s a wonderful movement that welcomes your support.

KIM COLES

My girl Kim Coles hosted an event in Culver City called “Jazz In The Village 2009”. It took place at Veterans Memorial Complex. I wasn’t so sure what the event would entail but knew if Kim was inviting me that I wanted to go and support her. I invited my girl Danni but she wasn’t able to make it. Thank goodness Kim had a plan in mind: for me to sit with her good friend Ceci who is renowned for having dressed Ms. Coles and the cast of “Living Single” for all of its seasons. She is a great lady (also an AKA) who entertained and inspired me from the beginning of this function comprised of table rounds; heavy appetizers; and spectacular jazz music from Samantha Nicole and Talita Long – both of whom are managed by Burke Management (www.BurkeManagement.net), which also represents singer/socialite/eccentric personality Norwood. When I heard Talita Long sing, I immediately texted Anthony that she gives me “womanchild”. She has a beautiful, unique voice that puts you in the mind of Michele (“Nicety” and “Something In My Heart”) in its high-pitch but a little Teena Marie and Deneice Williams in its soulfulness. And perhaps a little Latoya Jackson in her whimsy way.  What further set her apart is she is award-winning actress Nia Long’s mother. And must have had Nia when she was 12 as she reads so young and childlike with a Marilyn-Monroe-esque sexiness that is most charming. She is such a free spirit and as she sang her own material and covers like Minnie Ripperton’s “Lovin’ You” and Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful”, I believed her and thought she’d be a great addition to Sheryl Lee Ralph’s “DIVAS: SIMPLY SINGING” – if not this year (since it’s next week), perhaps next year (Talita Long @ The Jazz Bakery). And the headliner Dwight Trible too was awesome. Mostly, it was just exciting to see Kim who wowed the crowd. She and I have both been so busy (though sometimes in the same cities i.e. Atlanta, New York, and L.A. – at the same time), we’ve not been able to hang out in a minute. She’s soon to go back to New York City before I go and do “The Wendy Williams Show” to promote her BET game show “Pay It Off”. She reached out to Ant to support her for this awesome appearance… and he’s been supporting the best he can with her concerns.  I LOVE SYNERGY… and as she pointed out to me this week: She loves her some ANT! LOL!

DR. MARIO

I was invited to be a guest on the Cal State-Fullerton campus radio show of "Dr. Mario" (one of the new NABJ mentees I met during our convention in Tampa - www.calldrmario.com). He was quite the professional and I really enjoyed offering up advice to the many curious student callers & just hanging out with Dr. Mario, a promising journalist on the rise after he graduates next year or so.

FRANKIE & NEFFE WRAP & KARAOKE!!!!

Afterwards, I joined my fellow producers and editors for a karaoke celebration at Brass Monkey where we toasted the wrap of post-production on "Frankie & Neffe" - a ride we weren't all sure we'd survive but feel stronger for having done it - in excellence - together!

Beer and shots of yager (sp?) all around. We upgraded to Patron after this college-frat round. LOL!

But the activity was my favorite pass-time KARAOKE, which everyone knows I do day and night and night and day and wherever I can - from New York City to Manila! LOL! I dedicated my show stopper "This Woman's Work" (Maxwell) to Frankie and Neffe. But most importantly, it was important to shout out Ev, Shareen, Maia, Nichole, Liz, and all the great women without whom this project would not have happened.One of our stellar editors Barrett gives us some ol' time rock & roll! He was really good! And Shareen gets her groove on! WORK IT, GIRL. Here editor Steve and I pose for a pic. He and I collaborated on some “Frankie & Neffe” post and are now back in the edit bay together – working on “Monica: Still Standing”.

Maia was TEAM NEFFE (along with Shareen). I was TEAM FRANKIE (along with my Amazing Grace Nichole). And somehow – against many odds – my fellow field/story producer and I managed to shoot and cut 10 episodes on our challenging subjects. It was an all-hands-on-deck prospect and it took a village and a kingdom to get on the air.

I encored with an ambitious “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from my favorite “Dreamgirls”. With feedback as my indicator, I hit the mark. WHEW! Could’ve been disastrous. LOL!

And let me tell you: without our show runner and co-executive producer Evolyn Brooks – to whom I dedicated Diana Ross’ “The Boss” - FORGET ABOUT IT! THANKS EV! And now to our next level: MONICA: STILL STANDING!

Near the end of the night, Maia, Liz, Steve, me, Shareen,  and Ev backed up Steve Carr on "The Love Boat". ALL ABOUT LOVE!

PAUL’S PARTY & MAINCHAIN

Ant and I have been representing our household independent of each other as our friends celebrate BDAYs on respective coasts. Our girlfriend Mara just had the BIG 3-0 in NYC (Ant went). And earlier this week, I went out to celebrate Ant's best friend Paul at Downtown L.A. STANDARD's rooftop to toast.  Glad I went to represent! He and Ant love each other so and consider themselves ‘brothers from other mothers’. So, to be representing on Ant’s behalf (and now benefitting from Paul’s love directly) is a warming feeling. Other Denver native buddies (of Paul and Ant) were also in the house and equally nice, including Elia Mountjoy, one-half of the duo Mainchain which will be performing Friday night when Ant comes to town to visit (and for DIVAS: SIMPLY SINGING – www.divassimplysinging.com). So, we are excited to check them out. You should come out. For more information:

www.themainchain.com

www.myspace/mainchain

http://www.facebook.com/TheMainChain

www.twitter.com/mainchain

http://www.youtube.com/TheMainChain

 

BREAK A LEG!

RANDOM THOUGHT

 As I was listening to the track on Madonna’s 1984 “Lucky Star” (Madonna-Lucky Star), it came to me how much it sounds like Gladys Knight & The Pips’ “Save The Overtime For Me”  from 1983 (GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS - SAVE THE OVERTIME FOR ME).MADONNA? You’re standing on our GLADYS’ shoulders! HOLLA!

P.S. NYC, TY STEPHENS, and DONNY HATHAWAY

My friend Terrance Russ reminds me to tell you - especially if you are in New York City to go see Ty Stephens' celebration of all things Donny Hathaway at The Triad (www.triadnyc.com). Ty is such a great vocalist and that voice atop Donny's catalogue can mean nothing but nirvana. It's Sunday, October 11th - 5:30 and 8:00 - so get your tickets now. 


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