EBONY FASHION FAIR
Was asked my thoughts on the cancellation of Ebony Fashion Fair's 4th quarter tour by my NABJ mentor Jackie Jones. Was quoted on Black America Web re: Ebony Fashion Fair cancellation: http://www.blackamericaweb.com/?q=articles/news/moving_america_news/12499 Thanks for calling for my weigh-in, Jackie!:
Patrick Riley, a New York-based independent television producer, pop culture analyst and blogger, said he, too, was mesmerized by the Fashion Fair since childhood.
"Like Ebony and Jet overall, the images of the models in the Ebony Fashion Fair made this little boy from Savannah, Georgia tingle on the inside, much like my icon Diana Ross and her movie 'Mahogany' made me feel," Riley told BlackAmericaWeb.com. "The images were haute couture, European, chic, yet no less African and what we all know our people can be about - from the high-end to the low-end: Dressing sharp and to the nines.”
Riley also said, however, that in addition to the changes in the economy, the audience for the Fashion Fair may be drifting away as well.
“This economy is screwing with more than my bottom line; now it is messing with my Ebony Fashion Fair. And though some may consider the concept 'a dinosaur' in the grand scheme of how people of color are slowly but surely folding into the mainstream, just look to Tyra's 'America's Next Top Model' as modern-day proof of a door that opened on the shoulder-pads of Ebony Fashion Fair," said Riley. "The Ebony Fashion Fair experience is an annual tradition that many of our people look forward to attending. Moreover, it raised lots of money for key charities that impact communities of color."
“WHY US? LEFT BEHIND & DYING”
For those who remember the late, great Kodjoe, the documentary he was working on, "Why Us? Left Behind & Dying", premiered in L.A. and NYC. Saw it and found it to be a palatable look at AIDS through the eyes & ears of inner-city youth. My college mate Danni went with me. And I got to see Kodjoe’s dear friend and the director of this project, Claudia Pryor (www.diversityfilms.com).IMDB FILM CLIP LINK:
YOU TUBE TRAILER LINK:
Afterwards, Danni and I went to watch a karaoke final at Oil Can Harry's in Studio City. My L.A. buddy (by way of South Carolina), Tony (who hosts the hip hop dance contest I’ve attended at Micky’s in West Hollywood) invited me to support a couple of his friends. I might have to get in the next contest as it’s for $1,000 but over 5 weeks of elimination rounds. The runner up sang my staple “This Woman’s Work”. Perhaps with me singing it, I’d win and take that much needed grand. Stay tuned.
My girl Sidra is heading back to NYC, which is a good thing for when I return. But not so good for the balance of my time here in L.A. because we have been hanging something tight this go around – especially as my weekly wages continue to fast deplete to the budget of a Der Wienerschnitzel patron (of which I’ve become a lifetime member. CHILI DOGS, anyone? LOL!). This, after many-a-long overdue bill gets paid. So, with the pennies that are left, Sid invites me over to her fly Downtown L.A. pad for many-a-wholesome meal (usually of pasta and great seasoning… and – of course - wine).And we watch whatever the appointment television of the evening is: WHITNEY, anyone? MARIAH in Central Park – an audience that I – in part – helped fill as word came down the pike that my friends and I should be in that audience to see MC sing her new single “I Want To Know What Love Is” (Remember my Diana did it at “Motown Returns to the Apollo”? Patti LaBelle - Motown Returns to the Apollo - 1985). There were must-see Michael Jackson reflections like Miss Jackson on the MTV VMA Awards. And on that same show, a self-indulgent moment of brilliance from Madonna (coupled with Kanye’s antics... and do-no-wrong Beyonce’s graciousness).
And if not being entertained by the folks on the small screen, we have had a cast of characters around who have provided just as much of a show, but in reality. Sidra & I did stumble into an Aussie couple at the Abbey who showed up as quite the sponsors and lovely people. One evening, she had a crew over to watch HBO’s “True Blood” season finale. My buddy Javier popped by on one of the nights as Sid hosted Chrystale (known as “Ronnie” in ‘Players’ Club’). She is currently working on several projects in several media. Stay tuned as I plan to shout her out more. She’s a lovely lady. And on another night, stumbled into Vaughn (KMart's Joe Boxer and now-owner of www.the360mag.com). We were born on the same day (Different years, I suspect. LOL!). ALSO, Jae Joseph was there and he is working with L.A.s Fashion Week. Always a new cast of characters at Sid's spot. Good networking! Good times!
DIANA ROSS HANGOVER
Last Saturday, I headed to North Hollywood for Diana Ross leftovers at friend Curtis' place. You recall, when Ant was here, Curtis (and his lovely brother Walter) threw a DIANA-themed party. Well, we couldn’t look at everything that night as he has quite the collection. So, Curtis provided a stellar DIANA 'hangover' set that was just for us (and a couple of folks who weren’t able to make it the week prior – including Wallace Butts who works side-by-side with Miss Jody Watley, one of my favorites. Wallace and I hit it off… and – of course – I look forward to my one-on-one time with Jody! SMILE!
DINNER & RAIN CHECKS
Had to cancel dinner plans with L.A. bud Nate Parker the other night as the midnight oil burned in the edit bay. But came out of the session with a THUMBS UP from the big bosses. So, good that my reason for being here is landing for now. But I was able to make good on a dinner invite from new L.A. friend Nick (who works for THE GRAMMYs). We met at Aretha Franklin’s post-Hollywood-Bowl-concert party at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills back in June. We hit it off on so many fronts as it relates to our DIVAS out there. So, over turkey burgers at HOME in Los Feliz, we talked all things divas - from our favorite track from Dionne Warwick's "Friends" album, 'Extravagant Gestures' to - this is exciting!: the coming-together of Tamia, Kelly Price, and Deborah Cox as a supergroup the likes of LSG (Levert/Sweat/Gill).
BOWLING WITH THE STARS
Then, since I was near best buds Tony and Scott, they graciously invited me to join them for KiKi Shepard's Bowling fundraiser. It was chockfull of Hollywood's finest - from Dawnn Lewis to Olivia Brown to DJ MC Lyte. Then, one of my "Half & Half" favorites, Chico Benymon (Spencer). Also, Grey's Anatomy star James Pickens, Jackee and her ex-husband Elgin Charles, Kristoff St. John, etc. And a friend Nik (someone to whom my buddy Pete introduced the amazing work of Momentum Education – www.momentumeducation.com - which Pete and I did together). Nick brought his students from Farmingdale State College (back in NYC) to L.A. to attend his friend Kiki’s event – so as to expose the students to their infinite possibilities. This event benefitted and raises awareness around Sickle Cell. And after that, Scott and Tony took me to Boy Trade at Dragonfly on Santa Monica Blvd – a hot, new spot (for Friday) where many of the ‘brothers’ hang out. THANKS GUYS for allowing me to third leg for the night. We also got some good time in at the Abbey on a Sunday I was called in unexpectedly to manage a quick edit. As my planned day to join Sid and Chrystale at Tischina Arnold's house had been distracted, the call from Scott and Tony to meet them (along with our Ed) at The Abbey was just the book end I needed to say I had a weekend. Again, THANKS GUYS! Hanging close to folks who are like family is key these days.
VH1s DIVAS ran this week with Paula Abdul as host and featuring young’ns like Jennifer Hudson; India.Arie; Kelly Clarkson; Jordin Sparks; Stevie Wonder; etc. A long way from the cache the franchise originally attracted - including DIVAS 2000: A TRIBUTE TO DIANA ROSS. But then again, these ladies are ALL in training - so perhaps this VH1s DIVAS was more like an AFFIRMATION or ASPIRATION. The first DIVAS (as branding goes) – however – is Sheryl Lee Ralph’s DIVAS: SIMPLY SINGING (www.divassimplysinging.com) which takes place Saturday, October 10th. And Ant is coming back to L.A. to attend this AIDS benefit with me (in its 19th year of raising awareness and funds for AIDS research and treatment). Yolanda Adams, Frenchie, and Brenda Russell are booked along with a host of usual suspects – like Loretta Devine and Jennifer Lewis. I asked Wallace on my Scott (and Sheryl Lee Ralph’s) behalf if Jody Watley is available. She participated before in 2005 but would be GREAT to see her again in the wake of seeing her in New York City in July. JUST LOVE HER! And a birdie tells me FAITH EVANS is coming aboard. LOVE HER too!
My Morehouse brother Redic about whom I’ve blogged many times is here in L.A. And we’ve rekindled our friendship and brother bond since I’ve been here as well. I’ve mentioned to you how proud I am of his art (all of his art). But most importantly, I’m impressed with his kindness, joyfulness, and humility, which he sprinkles throughout everything he does and to everyone with whom he comes into contact. Well, he’s asked me to host the Grass Roots Grand Opening of Redic
Eclectic Order gallery at 1514 Manchester Avenue. It’s Thursday, September 24th at 7:00 pm and will feature night one of a two-night event promising high energy inside a cultural extravaganza. On Thursday, there will be visual art, Spoken Word, Jazz & Neo-Soul. Proceeds go towards the Eclectic Order foundation, Morehouse College Fund & Save Africa Children. Check out HIS promotional video for this event below:
Well, I must say I am impressed with a young Cal State Fullerton student named Mario Davis. He attended the freelance panel on which I sat at NABJ in Tampa. As I coached many on how to network to your optimum, Mario used some of my advice on me. He has proven himself enterprising in remembering that I am temporarily in L.A. So, he’s invited me to be a guest on his radio show that beams out to his campus. Mario says they are the largest enrolled university in California (even more than UCLA). Mario thinks that students can gain valuable knowledge from me alongside being entertained by my unstoppable (often inappropriate) silliness. LOL! Samples of HIS show can be heard on HIS website: www.calldrmario.com
Just click show clips and there you will find a few small clips of the show. Also, check out: www.titanradio.org. The interview is scheduled for the top of October and – according to Mario – will revolve around my accomplishments, advice for upcoming students, and some fun stuff as well. GREAT JOB, MARIO! I look forward to coming to the show!
MICHAEL JACKSON: LEGACY LIVES VIA MKW
In the weeks after Michael Jackson died, my Morehouse brother (and dearest of dear friends) Michael K. Watts received an opportunity to pay tribute to the King of Pop in a way he never dreamed. The producers of Tavis Smiley's America I AM: The African American Imprint touring exhibition asked him to loan items from his personal music and memorabilia collection for a memorial display. The exhibition recently installed items from his collection in an elaborate display at the exhibition's current home, the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, helping re-launch the exhibit for the remainder of its run through September 27. Now, to know Michael K. Watts is to know that he has been collecting music and memorabilia of Michael Jackson and countless other recording artists since he was a child. He always dreamed he would build a big gallery (read: shrine) to exhibit these items in his home for friends and family. But he never dreamed this level of display and honor to a public audience. He is (and we all are) ecstatic for him. America I AM: The African American Imprint is presented by Tavis Smiley and celebrates nearly 500 years of African American contributions to America. It is a nearly 15,000 square-foot presentation of pivotal moments in courage, conviction and creativity that celebrate the undeniable imprint of African Americans across the nation and around the world. Featuring more than 200 extraordinary artifacts, documents, photographs and multimedia, America I AM: The African American Imprint highlights how African Americans have shaped American culture from the nation's beginnings through the present.
This is exhibit is not to be missed! The Michael Jackson display is located in the lobby-waiting area just outside the exhibit entrance. The items on display include: a career-spanning wall of vinyl albums, including a limited edition E.T. Storybook Album; a collector's edition first prining pop-up display of the Dangerous CD; classic magazine covers including EBONY and People; collectible buttons and stickers; tour programs and concert ticket stubs from the three live performances Michael K. Watts himself attended; and many other collectibles.
Anyone in the Atlanta area or who will be passing through Atlanta in the next few weeks to go see this exhibit. It runs through Sunday, September 27 at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, 395 Piedmont Avenue, N.E. in Midtown Atlanta. For ticket information, directions, or parking information, visit www.americaiam.org.
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday - 12 noon to 5 p.m.
If you're not in the Atlanta area, the exhibit is traveling the country for the next four years. But the Michael Jackson display, for now, is only a part of the Atlanta run. GO MICHAEL!!!!!
As I’ve mentioned here, I Chair the National Association of Black Journalists Arts & Entertainment Task Force. My dear friend Zabrina (PR at BET) called me to see if our NABJ folks could support a couple of events coming up around actress and comedienne Mo’Nique’s new, late night BET show. Though I’m not in NYC or Atlanta (where she’ll be taping), I put a great group together for events in both cities. My Ant attended the New York City “Meet & Greet” at Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar... and he took some of his "Wendy Williams Show" folks as well as our girlfriend Charlie T who took all of the pix you see in this "Mo'Nique" section. THANK YOU, CHARLIE T (Remember? She did these pix of Ant and me: "I HAVE A DREAM TODAY..." ) Too, Ant got to attend our friend Dwight Eubanks’ fashion show. We look forward to seeing Mo’Nique’s show and further exploring ways that we can continue to support her – especially as she is being ‘buzzed’ about for her performance in “Precious” which the NABJ A&E Task Force will also be co-presenting in Chicago, Atlanta, and Baltimore next month. We’ll be hearing a lot about Mo’Nique in the months to come and through 2010. And a CONGRATS to MO'NIQUE (and my girlfriend Denise who is producing on that show now)!
DREAMGIRLS AT THE APOLLO
Everyone knows I’m a “fool” for DREAMGIRLS! Remember when I saw it 5 times before it came out and 16 times before January wrapped when it first came out? And how excited was I to interview Jennifer Hudson before any of the buzz started when she came to NABJ in Indianapolis with DREAMGIRLS clips, a few songs, and her fun personality in tow. Well, Ant has begun to organize my WELCOME HOME/BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA which he says MUST include us seeing the limited engagement of DREAMGIRLS that is running at the APOLLO – beginning November 7th. My birthday is November 19th. Not sure when I get back home (if November and not December). But regardless, I look forward to seeing the show and sharing it with all my loved ones back home. Dreamgirls will introduce Moya Angela as Effie White and feature, as The Dreams, Syesha Mercado (“American Idol”) as Deena Jones; and Adrienne Warren as Lorrell Robinson. Please visit the Dreamgirls website at www.dreamgirlsonstage.com for more information as I hear they are incorporating the new movie music into this staged version. www.ticketmaster.com/venue/6 Truly something to look forward to as I put one foot in front of the other to wrap up this project and plant my feet on the ground of my home and my arms around my Ant and my family and friends back East.
Oh, by the way: Could I have a nephew who is 21 years old today???? A Senior at my alma mater Morehouse who is about to embark on a promising career and life of abundance, creativity, and sophistication????? Is it possible????? Time to shave the salt-and-peppers away from my chin... and moisturize my smooth and youthful skin... just so no one gets it twisted! LOL! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NOOT! I LOVE YOU!
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