PRECIOUS: ROUND 1 & ROUND 2
At the top of the week, I got to hear the final notes of a FEFE DOBSON show at UNIVERSAL CITYWALK's Hard Rock Cafe, but what resounds within my spirit is the preview screening of PRECIOUS I saw prior. WOW! HAUNTING! BONE CHILLING! DISTURBING even! STRONG PERFORMANCES all around!
FAST FORWARD a week or so to: AFI's L.A. premiere of "Precious" to which I got an invite. This night brought out the whole star-studded cast and its star executive producers and Sidney Poitier with whom I got the chance to reacquaint myself after interviewing him a few years ago in Santa Barbara. Like last time, he was GRACIOUS and PRESENT and so VALIDATING: BLACK MAN to BLACK MAN! Too, he endorsed Oscar-buzz-worthy Mo’Nique whose performance – as we’ve all heard – is spine-tingling and gutt-wrenching. Mo’Nique introduced Sidney to her husband Sidney as Sidney introduced his daughter Sydney to Sidney and Mo’Nique. Got it? Also in the house: Downtown Julie Brown and a host of others from the entertainment world – including "Precious" castmember Chyna Layne; Robi Reed, Kenya Moore, Lisa Raye, Saw VI/Scream girl Tanedra Howard; Andre Harrell, Forrest Whitaker & wife Keisha Whitaker, Mary J. Blige who performed at the after set which took place at Chateau Marmont. But DJ Mr. Best’s remix of Diana Ross' "My Old Piano" had everybody on the dance floor. Ran into my Yoga buddy Russell Simmons and MISS Paula Abdul at this set. And with my Spelman sister/publicist extraordinaire Jocelyn Coleman on my arm, she made care to ensure we were at the after-after party at Tyler Perry's L.A. home in the hills. What a GREAT NIGHT!
FRIENDS, LOVERS, and DIRTY LAUNDRY (MAURICE JAMAL)
My boy Derek with whom I've been hanging a bit over the last couple of weeks here in L.A. reconnected me to industry friend Maurice Jamal with whom I had the chance to bond during his New York City run a year or so back - promoting the feature "Dirty Laundry" (starring Rockmond Dunbar, Loretta Devine, and Jenifer Lewis). Maurice directed and starred in it. Prior to that, we'd auditioned alongside each other for a couple of hosting opportunities... and we hit it off! Good to see him on the West Coast (his neck of the woods). Last night, he preview screened exclusively (with cast, crew, and friends) his new film/proposed series "Friends and Lovers" at John Casablanca's modeling agency. From my "A Day in the Life of Riley: Pop Culture & Possibilities" vaults, see an interview I did with him a couple of years ago:"DOING LAUNDRY WITH MAURICE JAMAL".
I LOVE MAURICE! HE'S JUST JOY AND LIGHT! But he was dark at his HALLOWEEN party! Halloween is a big deal in L.A. I went to a "scary" Maurice Jamal's Halloween party (pictured). I went as a Cal State-Fullerton Freshman-turned-Psycho-during-Finals! LOL! Ran into great friends Robin Hood (Lloyd Boston); Basketballer a la DIVAS 2000: TRIBUTE TO DIANA ROSS-hair (Patrik Ian Polk); Run (a la Run DMC AKA Derek Lafayette); and new ...buddies Jason (as Cliff Huxtable in his famous pajamas) & his partner Anthony (as a FLIRT). Thanks to friend - a "slinky" Herndon Davis - for the invite. Also, great to see where new Diana soul-mate Dale Guy Madison seemingly combines a couple of Rock royals: Prince and Little Richard to regal effect. Lots of FUN!
COCKTAILS & KARAOKE
My girlfriend Ev had a get together at her home in L.A. Good to hang out with my colleagues on "Monica" (and "Frankie & Neffe"). And that, of course, includes my Shareen, my soul mate in managing long-distance love (Her Kenny was in town for a visit.). What a lovely night with good people and GREAT food! Everything was well-appointed and just so elegant like the hostess. She entertained the troops with the sounds of MISS ROSS and Michael Jackson... and we danced, shouted, and shook our bodies down to the ground... where approriate. My buddy Brian joined me. A good time was had by all. And afterwards, we joined Brian's friend LiLing and her friends at Backstage Bar & Grill in Culver City. We were right across the street from Sony Studios. For what? My favorite: karaoke, which always excites me!!! I did an ensemble number with the ladies: "Material Girl" by Madonna. Of course, it wouldn't be long before I took over (some gospel ad-libs to boot. Sorry Madge! LOL!).
ATL HOUSEWIVES MARATHON ON BRAVO
Since my extended stay doesn't have BRAVO, I was WAY EXCITED that my day of R&R (napping and doing nothing) could be scored by the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" marathon - repurposed on OXYGEN, one of the few channels the hotel has. I'm still not caught up with the whole season, but got to see a ...handful of 'em:
CALLING ALL ALTER EGOS
Spelman College Museum of Fine Art has partnered with my blog "A Day in the Life of Riley: Pop Culture & Possibilities" in the promotion of “Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities,” an original exhibition on view through December 5, 2009. PLEASE CHECK IT OUT:
“Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities” @ Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
And I’m still taking responses to the question: WHO IS YOUR ALTER EGO? WHY? Hit me up and I’ll share it in my next installment in the coming week or two.
MONICA: STILL STANDING
Well, the proof is in the pudding! MONICA: STILL STANDING is a BIG HIT! Highest rated debut on BET this season! 2nd highest debut in history of network (just a little behind "Tiny & Toya" which premiered after post-Michael-Jackson-death BET Awards). Tangible evidence that my sacrifice to do this great gig... (a la cross-country displacement/money woes/etc.) was not IN VAIN. People are actually watching! THANKS ALL! And PLEASE keep tuning in. 11 more episodes to go... And to put it in perspective, 3.2 million viewers watched the Premiere and Encore of "Monica: Still Standing" - #1 debut this season and #2 series launch in BET history. 11 more episodes to go (every Tuesday night at 10pm). THANKS TO ALL! GO TEAM MONICA!
MICHAEL JACKSON: CHILDHOOD/THRILLER!!!
Being at "The Farmer's Market" for the first time since childhood walked me down memory lane as fellow producers/friends Shareen (pictured); Evolyn; and I eased on down the road to The Grove. A run into newlyweds Lamar Odom & Khloe Kardashian turned our heads, it was MJ's "This Is It" that knocked us out! WOW! The Genius of Michael Jackson on the big screen is a MUST SEE! And Shareen was first in line... just to make sure we didn't have any worries with seating. And we didn't. But I was right behind her... just in case. LOL! Ev's beau Gary even joined us just before the film started... and we were able to save him a seat. But don't get it twisted: the place was packed! I must go back!
ANT IS RADIO RAHEEM
Michael Jackson's "This Is It" is a THRILLER but look who's BAD in this photo. My phone voice/text mailbox and FB message box were overflowing with those of you who saw Ant on "The Wendy Williams Show" today. She invited Ant and his fellow colleagues to showcase their 'alter egos'. Ant is RADIO RAHEEM from "Do The Right Thing". AWESOME, right?
ED ROEBUCK GOODBYE PARTY (OR SEE YOU IN A-T-L)
My friend Ed Roebuck invited me to his going-away party in Beverly Hills. He's leaving L.A. for Atlanta. Lots of good folks were in the house - including Norwood who I finally got to meet and with whom I got to engage in an awesome conversation - about Michael Jackson (Norwood and I have many mutual friends). Everybody was sad to see Ed go, but so happy for him as he takes this big step into his WHAT'S NEXT? Also in the house: new friend, "Eyebrow King" Damone Roberts. He reported to me - HOT OFF THE PRESSES - that he's partnering with Disney which will install his franchise into its parks - so he can makeover little girls into Princess Tiana, the first African American, animated lead in Disney film, "The Princess and The Frog". Love the synergy of this since I had the luxury of hosting the event that unveiled the voice of Anika Noni-Rose and her alter-ego Princess Tiana - the incarnation that will actually greet little girls and boys in the Disney parks:
. CONGRATS DAMONE! WILL MISS YOU, EDWARD!
R.I.P. SOUPY SALES
By the way, R.I.P. SOUPY SALES. Brought my family many laughs and I had the chance to interview him and produce an award-winning-feature on him with Al Roker in the late '90s at NYC's Friar's Club. His passing triggered that long-forgotten, but treasured, moment.