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"I FOUND A THRILL TO PRESS MY CHEEK TO..."

A few weeks ago, Ant and I were watching a “Living Single” reunion on “TV One” (www.tvoneonline.com/) in which Kim Coles and the rest of the cast (sans Queen Latifah) reflected on their hit show from the ‘90s. As it was one of our favorite shows that – to our estimation – had an early sign-off from the airwaves, we were happy to see on display the reverence the show deserved coupled with the levity it executed successfully for so many years. You’ll recall, there’s been some “Living Single” synergy in the “... the life of Riley...” as I met Kim Coles last year in Chicago via my good girlfriend Jakki (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/4/16/as-the-sun-has-its-place-up-in-the-sky.html). We bonded instantly. Kim informed me that her former co-stars T.C. Carson (‘Kyle Barker’) and Erika Alexander (‘Max’) share my November 19th birthday. Some months later, I approached T.C. at a New York City event at which he performed (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/11/12/the-great-black-way.html). He too was gracious and kind and loved the birthday synergy. And now, Ms. Kim Coles is back on the air with TBS’ “10 Items or Less” (www.tbs.com/shows/10itemsorless) as Mercy P. Jones. Imagine our excitement, when Kim called me to say she was coming to town for just a couple of days (to do press for her new show - http://weblogs.cw11.com/news/local/morningnews/blogs/), and though she wouldn’t be able to hang extensively (nor see everyone she knows in her native New York), she wanted to meet Ant and see me. She chose the flossy-yet-approachable “Four Seasons” in Manhattan as our social backdrop (www.fourseasons.com/newyorkfs/). She invited one more friend to join us for rounds of $22 cocktails and light appetites. It wasn’t iconic Tennis player Andre Agassi, though he was holding court next to us. Her friend from back in the day was brand media marketing consultant Michele Weston (WWW.MJWSTYLEMEDIA.COM) who was the Founding Fashion and Style Editor for full-figured MODE Magazine - on newsstands from 1996 to 2001... not to be confused with the fictional magazine title used in one of our favorite shows “Ugly Betty”

(www.abc.go.com/primetime/uglybetty/index). Kim was featured in one of its spreads at that time and Michele adorned her in only the best couture for the shoot. As always, Kim had me laughing from the moment we sat down (Kim’s reflections on Eartha Kitt’s guest starring role on the hit show truly brought a smile to Ant’s and my face... and begs Ant's own Kitt impersonation [singing the wry Etta James' "At Last"] the next time we all get together. It's a hoot. I know she'll LOVE it!). We unearthed how much we have in common including a mutual hankering to read magazines that were a hair ahead of our time - “Psychology Today” at 9 years old for me and “Glamour” at 14 for her. Kim loved Ant. And he loved her. We are all assured an encore gathering the next time we go West or the next time she comes back to New York City. She wants to join us for a round of karaoke as she’s never done it before. That will be a great time, won’t it?

 

HAVE YOU SEEN MY CHILDHOOD?

 

Speaking of childhood (and that era in which I was reading “Psychology Today” and “TIME” instead of “EBONY Jr.”), FACEBOOK continues to bring some blasts from the past back into my mix. My first best friend in Savannah, GA was Alan West. Via FACEBOOK, he found me as we've not spoken in any depth since elementary school as we went to different middle schools and high schools. Then, after I confirmed his FB FRIENDSHIP, he sent these pix from the 3rd grade and 5th grade. In 1978, after my family moved to Savannah, Georgia from San Bernadino, California as my dad was closing in on his 1980 retirement from the Air Force, I attended Largo Tibet Elementary School. In the 3rd grade picture (above), there’s a shot of another best friend Reggie Parker (front row - 4th from left holding sign. How cute, right?; I'm standing in the back. Far left. Ahhhhh...). I’d like to outreach a note of sympathy and love to Reggie as he just lost his loving mother. Reggie and I continued to be good friends through the years (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2006/11/3/options-image-of-the-future.html). We reconnected at our 20 year reunion back in June of last year (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/6/17/someday-well-be-together-we-still-together-kinda.html). Then, the 5th grade picture (back row - 3rd from the right) showcases my 'original amazing grace' Natalie's husband Dwayne (before they even met). And we're all dear friends until this day. SMALL WORLD - shrinking everyday... because of FACEBOOK! LOL!

 

VINTAGE FASHION AND FRIENDSHIPS

 

Another FACEBOOK buddy and dear friend Itika got a mention in my last entry but her trip to New York City allowed us some more time to hang. Her former Chicago buddy Tiffany Nicole is now a New York City girl and showcased her vintage wears from her company “The Garment Room” (www.thegarmentroom.com/) at Chelsea’s Metropolitan Pavilion for a vintage show (www.manhattanvintage.com). I’ve shouted her out before but here am officially welcoming her to New York. Stay tuned for more on Manhattan’s latest IT GIRL. Afterwards, Itika and I joined other friends Muffin, Kitania, and Tamika at Stone Creek Lounge for some cocktails and appetizers (www.stonecreeknyc.com). Then, some dancing at Chill (www.chillloungenyc.com). As we were on the eve of Fashion Week (www.mbfashionweek.com/newyork/), it’s no wonder I stumbled into the FABULOUS Bevy Smith – stylist/fashion personality with THE MOST – as we compared notes on the days of couture ahead.

 

LOVE PROJECT: AN ENCORE PRESENTATION

 

Before we segued to FASHION, there was still some THEATER to address and THE GRAMMYS to watch. Ant and I had such a good time at “The Love Project” the week prior (http://www.culturalodyssey.org/v2/season/loveproject/video.php), we invited a fun group to accompany us for its final show. Our buddy Ike and Kristina; Ant’s industry sister Candice; our Charlie T, her partner Danielle; and others came out and really enjoyed the organic show which combined the best that cabaret, talk shows, slide presentations, and cooking segments have to offer. It’s on its way to Tampa and – soon after – Atlanta. So, please check out “The Love Project” when it comes to town.

 

CALLING ALL GOOD NEGROES!!!

 

Another great show Ant and I got the chance to get excited about: “THE GOOD NEGRO”. We attended an open house event at The Public Theater (www.publictheater.org).

The excerpt from the play pleased the packed house. Playwright Tracey Scott Wilson and director Liesl Tommy followed that half-hour up with some illuminating discussion around the piece which looks at the Civil Rights Movement through a more complex and human filter. The play is selling well and is now extended through April 19 because of high ticket demand.

My girl, Marcia Pendelton, who makes sure all the tastemakers are in the house for such events, can be contacted for tickets via her site: http://www.walktallgirlproductions.com. Also, in the house, my friends – from Morehouse buddy Michael K. Watts ("LIVE! From Front Row by Michael K. Watts") to publicists Marlynn Snyder and Theo Perry; and a host of others I hadn’t seen in a minute and some I was excited to meet for the first time. Joyous and oh-so-kind Randall Isaac’s was also in the house.

He’s been promoting a Thursday night set “CONSTELLATION” for the last few months. I’ve yet to make it out but want to shout it out here as the weather will soon thaw out; the economy will turn around; and we’ll be excited to take in his special evening at Chelsea Hotel’s Star Lounge (www.starhotelny.com) that he co-presents with our other friend Nathan Hale Williams who is co-executive producing several installments of "Inside: BlackCulture" for BET-J (www.bet.com/OnTV/BETJShows/).

 

GOT GRAMMY????? MAYBE A COMEBACK??????

 

Meanwhile, the GRAMMYs (www.grammy.com) had everyone abuzz for a multitude of reasons – some of which were scandalous. But my muses came in the form of ‘possibilities’.

Though not televised, at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party, Miss Whitney Houston stood inside of a Dolce & Gabbana dress (www.dolcegabbana.com/) (that Miss Ross sported a couple of years ago for one of her pre-buzz comebacks). How appropriate because Miss Houston let the industry know she can carry a tune again (if not hit all of the high notes). Regardless, the audience was happy to have her back in seemingly good health and diva-tude. LISTEN FOR YOURSELF: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hah1PzH-tY0) and (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC3i_78ywZ4). WE LOVE YOU, WHITNEY! On this night, Jennifer Hudson came back in the wake of her horrible family tragedy. And perhaps Whitney passed all the high notes to her as she provided the most stellar vocals at the party, then the GRAMMYs (where Whitney presented J-Hud with her 1st Grammy). This moment happened before Jennifer sang an emotional “You Pulled Me Through” to a happy-to-have-her-back audience (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGZaSOV_zco). She also performed for Neil Diamond’s Grammy MUSICARES event and – days later – did a rousing rendition of “The Impossible Dream” for Muhammad Ali at the NAACP Image Awards (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AfH7NwVhns). Too, she’s released her new video for her “Spotlight” follow-up “If This Isn’t Love” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEfgW6i1a8A). And she’s announced her spring tour with Robin Thicke (www.jenniferhudsononline.com/). Ant and I had such a good time with girlfriends Charlie T and Danielle at the Superbowl the week prior, they invited us (Ern in tow) back for a Grammy party. As they did for Thanksgiving and then the big game, they laid it out again for our viewing set. THANKS CHARLIE T and DANIELLE! Oh! I was excited to see my Spelman sister Jocelyn Coleman in the audience. She and I were student journalists in the National Association of Black Journalists as well. She’s now a Hollywood publicist for the stars. Jocelyn was seated next to her client, an upcoming artist Qui who is football great Jerry Rice’s daughter who has a song out now with David Banner. It’s called “Rev It Up” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwJEMJNdnwc)

CONGRATS JOCELYN! (www.tridestined.com).

 

NABJ BABIES KEEP-A-COMIN' ON STRONG!!!!!

 

Speaking of the NAACP Image Awards, I wanted to congratulate TV One and Roland Martin for their second successive NAACP Image Awards (www.naacpimageawards.net/). They won again in the very tough category "Outstanding News/Information" (Series or Special) against a very accomplished field of entrants, including an opposing team of which I had the opportunity to be a small part. Last year, they won for an interview conducted with then Senator Barack Obama. Roland and I go back via the National Association of Black Journalists’ Student Representative when I was a student. Just a few months ago, NABJ commissioned me to script a message for Roland Martin that is now on its website (www.nabj.org). It promotes the association’s “On The Move” campaign as it prepares to move into a new headquarters. CONGRATS ROLAND! Also, quick shout out to Tracee Ellis Ross who won the prize as “Best Actress” in a sitcom for “Girlfriends”, which still holds up as one of my favorite shows of all time (despite its premature ending a la “Living Single”).

 

AMEN... TO THE FASHION GODS AND GODDESSES!!!!!

 

Kim Coles isn’t the only sitcom royalty I happened upon this week. Remember “Amen” with Sherman Hemsley? And “The Wayans Brothers”? Well, if you do... you remember the Pastor’s wife “Thelma” and security guard “Dee”. As the Fashion Week festivities unfolded, I had the chance to meet Ms. Anna Marie Horsford at The Plaza Hotel (www.fairmont.com/ThePlaza). Right at the elegant corner of Central Park South and 5th Avenue, we got the chance to experience the debut of 2M damorJon Natural Nail Care System at swanky Caudalie Spa (www.caudalie.com) on the hotel’s 4th floor (www.m2mdamorejon.com). My friends Seven (who is Grooming & Beauty Director at Blue Magazine – www.thebleumag.com) and fab designer Kevin Andre Dickens (with KD Studio) invited me to this event. They were so gracious to invite me and kept me entertained throughout the evening. I also ran into my buddy Walter Greene who is a Fashion Editor/Producer (You see his column in Sister 2 Sister Magazine - www.s2smagazine.com/). He introduced me to some lovely folks, including Sherice Major, a model from The Bahamas; Miss Antigua Athina James, who competed in Miss World and Miss Universe contests; and professional clothier Sebastian Marshall (Tom James of New York). The owners Monica and Myrdith were the ever-gracious hosts as they offered up free manicures. As a line-item I’ve eliminated from my shrinking-of-late budget, I was happy to get a free one care of aesthetician Ummil. There were special cocktails of cognac, chambord, and champagne (called a “Pour Moi” – www.mypourmoi.com) and we were able to enjoy the most delectable bites of Chef Love Jones (“Bill Jones Epicure”) – including Red Velvet cupcakes. And Miss Deborah Gregory (www.cheetahrama.com/) was in the house – making sure to show me her Black Russian Hello Kitty jewelry by Tarina Tarantino. ALWAYS PURR-FECT!

 

Afterwards Ant met me at The Regency Hotel (www.loewshotels.com) for the launch of our friend Miguel Antoinne’s men’s line (www.miguelantoinne.com).

I want every single piece that his models displayed. Against the backdrop of the SOHO Penthouse Suite, each ensemble (and the models inside) just popped.

 And the unique detailing of each item was just so inspired.

All of our buddies were in the house – from Ryan...

to Jamar and Natasha.

It was great to see Rick who I’ve not seen socially in a minute.

My buddy and Morehouse brother Lloyd Boston was in attendance with Jonathan Sandville.

Lloyd has a new show “Closet Cases with Lloyd Boston” on the Fine Living Network (www.fineliving.com/).

Ant and I were telling him how we could use his expertise for our “closets”. And Ant would love to pull some style expertise from Lloyd. Soon, a long-overdue dinner at “Houston’s” (www.hillstone.com) will allow us some catch-up time. LOVE YOU, LLOYD!

Another style businessman Kwame Jackson shared some more information about how his ties Krimson by Kwame are doing (www.krimsonbykwame.com) in stores like MACY's and my childhood department store BELK.

We too met some great new folks including Dr. Lewis Feder (Dermatologist and Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon – www.federmd.com);

Henry J. Amoroso;

Harry A. Kritzer with “Twin Blonde Media” (www.twinblonde.com);

stylist Eya with “Be Good To You” Consulting; and Jordan Potter at “Details” Magazine (www.DETAILS.com).

 

VALENTINE'S BIRTHDAYS

 

Before we could wrap FASHION WEEK up, Ant and I had to come up with a creative way to celebrate our Ern (best friend since 7th grade) who was celebrating his “28th” birthday on Valentine’s Day. The catch? We had little in the way of disposable funds. But we do have invitations to fun, A-list affairs. So, Ant backed out of being my standing date for all-things festive [as the party planners for this particular event didn’t allow me to bring them both (even though Ant normally shoots the pix for the blog)]. Once Ern and I got to this TARGET set, we didn’t see the concern. It was a festive time but surely there was room for Ant as well (Everyone asked where he was). Though she was not responsible for the upset, I ran into old friend Maggie Mahler who is now the Senior Manager of Events and Publicity at Target (I knew her from her days at Nike). Hopefully there won’t be this ilk of problem again because TARGET does throw a great set (Ant and I attended the last Fashion Week event they threw back in September – featuring Mr. and Mrs. Seinfeld!). Tonight was no exception in the way of name-dropping. Firstly, TARGET was debuting and selling its new Alexander McQueen looks-for-less (www.alexandermcqueen.com/). The haute couturier is the one who Andre Leon Tally introduced to Mariah Carey (during their style collabo days) and Melania Trump. Like Whitney, Ms. Canon sported a McQueen number that Miss Ross first sported (a la haute couture) some years prior. Most of the big names in the house would be more interesting to my 20-year-old nephew and his college-age peers – including Amanda Bynes (okay, I was excited to see her). Also in the house (which I reported to my nephew via text as he was attending my alma mater and his college Morehouse College’s Founders Day concert headlined by Fantasia [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9RW1RCY0Cs] – www.morehouse.edu): Whitney from “The City” (www.mtv.com); She's working for Diane Von Furstenburg (www.dvf.com) and Miss Ross just attended her Fashion Week show yesterday. Diana and Diane (who reportedly scored her finale with Diana's "Upside Down") are old friends. Also, “Gossip Girl" Amanda Setton ('Penelope') was there. Then, more from my category of people I am excited to see: MY FASHION INSPIRATIONS like: Miss J (from “America’s Next Top Model” - www.cwtv.com/shows/americas-next-top-model12); Emil Wilbekin from GIANT Magainze (www.GIANTmag.com); Phillip Bloch (www.phillipbloch.com); and Robert Verdi (www.robertverdi.com). Ern had a GREAT TIME. To take our appreciation for Ern a step further, Ant prepared a fabulous spaghetti dinner for him that we could all enjoy along with what was left of Ern’s shrinking open bar (Disposable funds have dried up, hear?). With TIVO on tap for entertainment, it made for a fun Valentine’s Day/Ern’s birthday. He seemed to have a good time. SMILE!

 

Some RE-CAPS and FOLLOW-Ups...and RANDOM NOTES:

  • My platonic boo Carl Nelson is co-producing an awesome event in Bermuda (benefiting Project Change Bermuda) along with Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia – a personal friend of Carl’s. The fun-filled weekend will be April 16-19, 2009. SAVE THE DATE... and look forward to more info and particulars in upcoming blog entries.
  • Remember I told you about BET’s “Harlem Heights”? Well, it’s poised to debut March 2nd (www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows/harlemheights/). You too recall when I attended the particular luxury bag debut (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2009/2/2/we-will-find-a-way.html)? I ran into several Atlanta University Center sisters – alums from Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. CAU alum Shavonne Reel is the publicist for her Spelman sister Brandi Russell whose designs are included in the Bleu Magazine I mentioned in that same blog entry. Her line is “Sacred Heart”. Check her out (www.sacredheartcollections.com/site/index.html)
  • My friend, Tony Award®-winner LaChanze is coming back to The Great White Way. The play is “Inked Baby” and it runs March 5 through April 5. To purchase on-line with a discount code (KBWT), you can go to www.ticketcentral.com or call 1-212-279-4200.
  • Remember I hosted an event at THE HIGH in Atlanta back in August for the premiere of HBO’s “The Blacklist” (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/8/26/its-good-to-be-black.html). Well, HBO’s “The Blacklist 2” premieres February 26th (www.hbo.com/docs/programs/blacklistv2/index.html).
  • I had Melinda Doolittle first (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2009/2/2/we-will-find-a-way.html). Well, ELLEN (www.ellen.warnerbros.com/) had her this week... and she was GREAT – as singer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPYPm9UxgIk) and guest (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HFfEBw8feo). ELLEN wants her back!
  • Remember my Hillary Clinton from my CN8 “Your Morning” First Lady Fashion Show? http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/11/26/accept-me-flaws-and-all-and-thats-why-i-love-all-of-you.html. Well, Valerie Gay is also a singer and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is presenting her fine vocals on March 1 in Philadelphia (www.paga.org). CONGRATS VALERIE! SING PRETTY!!!!
  • My girlfriend Nina Flowers heads up Publicity at the Legendary Apollo Theater (www.apollotheater.org) and is getting ready for a lot of activity around the theater’s 75h Anniversary – including a recent announcement where Miss Dionne Warwick came out to help announce all of the fun – including a revival of “Dreamgirls” and discounts on Amateur Night. Check out the site and don’t miss out!
  • Speaking of Nina Flowers, one of Rupaul’s drag queens competing in “Rupaul’s Drag Race” is named “Nina Flowers”. Have you checked the show out yet? Not exactly “A Night of 1,000 Diana’s” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BSBe42Fb48). But it’s entertaining (www.logoonline.com/shows/dyn/rupauls_drag_race/videos.jhtml).
  • Mocha Moms out there! Check out my girlfriend Kimberly Seals Allers’ website: http://mochamanual.com/mochamanual/. She has a new book and lots of great things happening inside of her brand that promotes moms who need some support to be able to do it all.
  • While we await our next “American Idol” winner, did you folks see “X Factor” – out of London – and its new winner Alexandra Burke do a duet on “Listen” with Beyonce for her finale? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV-ERgAHqXo Well, she’s poised to achieve the success that past “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis has received from America. Already, she's got a 5 CD deal from EPIC here in America. Look out LISTEN UP!
  • My friend David Nathan (www.soulmusic.com and www.soulmusicstore.com) worked on a project he wants me to share with all of you. He is co-producer of this great album with some amazing artists: http://www.youtube.com/v/-nZUM6XdWWE&hl=en&fs=1 and http://www.gospelcity.com/news/headlines/1635 It’s the release of Songs 4 Worship-Soul CD!!! David is the Secretary for the R&B Foundation (www.rhythmblues.org) and continues to be U.S. Senior Contributing Writer for Blues & Soul (www.bluesandsoul.com)
  • My friend Moon Stillwater announces the opening of ISES HAIRCARE PRODUCTS (www.acceptthehealing.com). They had such an overwhelming demand for their products over the last 6 years, they decided to offer these products on a broader scale.
  • My friend Greg recommends I go see Broadway’s “Billy Elliot” (www.billyelliotbroadway.com) – Elton John’s latest production. Anybody else seen it?
  • You watching “Gone Country” on CMT (www.cmt.com/shows/dyn/gone-country/series.jhtml)? Ant and I are. We’re rooting for Sheila E; Justin Guarini, and George Clinton. Nothing against Taylor Dane and the others.
  • CONGRATS to Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis for their Supporting Actress OSCAR nods!!!!! Ant and I just saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" this weekend and know why Taraji's up. Her participation in Fantasia's LIFETIME movie (as the IDOLs mother) nothwithstanding, I'm sure Viola did a great job too!
  • Lena Horne’s granddaughter and daughter of “THE WIZ” director Sidney Lumet, Jenny Lumet, is the mastermind behind movie “Rachel Getting Married” (www.sonyclassics.com/rachelgettingmarried/) which has gotten many a nod and recognition in the industry. I had the chance to do a story on her a few years back just after Janet Jackson was pulled from portraying her grandmother in the ABC bio-pic that has yet to happen. She told me she didn’t quite understand what the hoopla inside that “wardrobe malfunction” was all about. Well, it’s good to see her doing so well as she takes her career to the next level. CONGRATS JENNY!
  • TV-ONE featured Diana Ross’ Golden-Globe- nominated tour-de-force in “Out of Darkness” the other week. Always good to see Diana on the screen: EXCERPT FROM BEGINNING OF FILM: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBkDUln85-A) and EXCERPT FROM END OF FILM: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic3tdXynEf0) And just as "Madea Goes To Jail" prepares to hit the theater, Tyler Perry has gone on record saying he wants Diana Ross for one of his films. It would be great to see her back on the silver screen.
  • An AALIYAH bio-pic is reportedly forthcoming starring Canadian pop star Keisha Chante (http://www.keshiachante.org/). I look forward to it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFkAC3CAHqM
  • I love YOU TUBE! And I miss PICKLES who puts the best Diana videos on there! SHOUT OUT TO PICKLES!
  • SIGNOFF (FOR NOW)!

References (5)

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    Response: Outdoor Store
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    Response: VQDkchkk
    A Day In "The Life Of Riley" - Blog - "I FOUND A THRILL TO PRESS MY CHEEK TO..."
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