"... COLORED PEOPLE ON!!!!!!!"

My buddy Greg Dunmore sent me this tid-bit from fellow NABJ member Richard Prince’s column (http://www.mije.org/richardprince/tapestry-modern-america-praises-kennedy). It chronicles how the Diana Ross-led trio, biggest American musical act of the ‘60s, faced a color barrier few today would imagine: getting on the cover of Detroit’s Sunday magazine of TV listings. This, while their fans were at home on their linoleum kitchen floors exclaiming to anyone within the sound of their voices: “…. COLORED PEOPLE ON!!!!!” How far we’ve come… and yet some things are poised for improvement. STILL! THANKS GREG!


Meanwhile, I’m STILL in L.A. – home of many things TELEVISION and I’m still working in the business. Ant and I are brainstorming ideas to have my own show and some other projects green light --- one day at a time, sweet Jesus. This, as we contribute at high frequencies to our respective clients – from ‘Monica’ to ‘Frankie & Neffe’ to “The Wendy Williams Show” and beyond…

Until I need to be camera ready, I’ve been sporting a new look that kinda' happened from a space of laziness and depression: a goatee (of sorts). As I manage the latter (and took in the positive feedback), I decided to play around with it a little bit more.

Work is going fine here in L.A. as we post-produce Monica's episodes for BET. Admittedly, I'm a little down and isolated from being so far from home for so long... and I'm having a hard time shaking that blues. But the checks are catching us up... but not completely just yet as I manage East Coast expenses and have to put myself up here on the West Coast (hotel & car rental, EH!). But one day at a time, I'm somehow doing it (with lots of support).

Now, on to some of the social snapshots that have kept me entertained here in L.A.:

This past Sunday, I got an invite to see a cool play with music "Naked Boys Singing!" featuring new friend Eric B. Anthony. Also featured is my NYC friend-of-friend Tony Melson.  I met Tony five or so years ago in New York City through my actor/singer/dancer friends Erich McMillan and Kimberly Jajuan. I really enjoyed the piece which has a production in New York City that I never got to see – in part because I found the cast a bit homogenized. With this company, I’m happy to say that there is diversity… and Eric B. and Tony rise to the top in their roles. I was even more excited to see that the writers (in addition to DIVA wordsmith Bruce Vilanch) are also diverse, including songwriter/arranger (and performer in his own right) Trance Thompson, who did the big ‘The Entertainer’ number that brings the crowd to its feet – especially the way Eric B. Anthony performs it.


After the play, Eric, his friend Andre (another new-to-L.A. actor), and I decided to grab a bite at Bossa Nova. We hooked up with our mutual friend Delandis there. Then, we did a roll by The Abbey where many folks were out including my buddy Jensen Atwood of "Noah's Arc" fame. I had the chance to interview him four or so years ago in Indianapolis. He told me that he loved my interviewing style and found it to be one of his most enjoyable. Imagine my surprise when – after all these years – he came up to me, remembered me, and agreed to another photo op. My buddy Tony who hosts a fun dance contest every Tuesday night at Micky's in West Hollywood was also there. Our heads didn’t get cut off this time. SMILE!

It’s been bittersweet of late as my girlfriend Sidra has packed up her L.A. bags and headed back to New York City. Though I’ll see her upon completion of my work, she’s been such the saving grace for me here in L.A. We made the best of it by hanging  out every single day until her departure. On one night, though, she was to take me to R&B LIVE in Hollywood (I hear it's great entertainment). But her schedule didn't allow. It freed me to hang with my college mate Danni. She took me to Mani's Bakery (Hearty, organic cuisine!). Sid made up for it another night when - after I woke up on the wrong side of the bed (and subsequently got back in - fetal position - for what getting up created), she came to the rescue: Her friend Marilyn invited us to the birthday party of her cousin, L.A. Anchor Marc Brown. His place in The Valley is absolutely gorgeous and chockfull of details that made for a fun night. Perfect backdrop for uplift.

Another highlight from the week came with a PART 1 and a PART 2. My Morehouse brother Redic asked me to host his art gallery opening at his Eclectic Order Gallery Manchester (www.eclecticorder.com). Its proceeds partially benefited our alma mater Morehouse College’s Scholarship Fund.  Eclectic Order Gallery Manchester is located at 1514 W. Manchester Blvd., L.A. And Redic opened up shop with an awesome combo of spoken word, jazz, neo-soul music, rock, etc. And I just anchored the night as I do because so much of it was organic and divine. My buddy Ed Roebuck came out to support along with a number of fellows from MOCITI: MEN OF COLOR IN THE INDUSTRY. On this night, Redic - an artist; singer; songwriter; fashion designer; etc. gave the audience a sneak-peek of what was to come the following night.

"Redic Unveiled" popped off the next night… and I just had to see what he had in store. I also enrolled Morehouse brother Steven Foley, a filmmaker his own, to come and check it out.Great to see Steven and catch up on all he's working on. Stay tuned for those updates. And new buddy Derrick Garcia, dancer and choreographer, also came. And I bumped into Morehouse brother Charles Reese who is still starring in an "WHO...", an original web comedy series (WWW.AJAKWETV.COM). On this night, Redic let it all show. And the audience and the community of folks in attendance just loved it! And I love Redic and am so PROUD of him! Stay encouraged, my friend!

And one of my new L.A. ride-or-dies Javier was supposed to come on the opening night. However, he stumbled into a gig with KTLA: http://www.ktla.com/news/local/alliemackay/ 

It’s Christmas in September (at least for a good cause: TOYS FOR TOTS). And Javier was SANTA – making many of the folks in attendance at this benefit – held at THE ABBEY – happy to share their Christmas wish list with SANTA! He’s been in town just a few months and in addition to acting courses and auditions, he’s booking a lot of modeling work. KEEP DOIN’ IT, J!

OF COURSE, I’m missing Ant as I try to keep my days in L.A. interesting without him. But like me, he too is getting the chance to be out and about – including Serena Williams’ book launch party. There, he got to strike a pose with Kelly Rowland and others (By the way, have you heard her new song "When Love Takes Over"? I like it: YouTube - David Guetta feat. Kelly Rowland - When Love Takes Over ...

And on “Wendy”, he got the chance to hang out with and support our girl Sheryl Lee Ralph whose ‘right hand’ Scott (not in attendance) is a dear friend of ours. In fact, Ant is coming to L.A. next week to see me and Sheryl’s DIVAS: SIMPLY SINGING (www.divassimplysinging.com) which she promoted on the show along with some fab new wig looks.

And our good girlfriend Mara (as Schiavocampo from NBC) just celebrated her 30th BDAY at a New York City space I recommended to her, Taj (www.tajlounge.com). My Itika even flew in from Chicago for the occasion… and Ern and NABJ girlfriend Sia also attended along with Mara's handsome hubby Tommie. The only thing missing - I'm told - was me! LOL! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARA!

Ant’s and my buddies Troy and Darryl founded Bangin’ Ass Artists (www.banginassartists.com). I’ve blogged about them before. Well, they have a show coming up on October 10th that you don’t want to miss: TRINA BROUSSARD/RA-RE VALVERDE/RUSSELL TAYLOR. Check out the website for more info. These brothers are doing the thing to promote unheralded, independent artists with HUGE talent.

I’m always so proud of my friends when they are doing amazing things. On top of an already demanding career and family of husband and two-in-tow, my dear girlfriend (from way back in the day) Candi Carter is the creator of “It’s Hip Hop, Baby!” (www.itshiphopbaby.com/). I had the privilege of introducing her kid-focused, educational DVDs to star of my current project, Monica and her two sons. Lil Rocko and Romelo LOVED them, Monica says – so much so – that she’s agreed to say so. As Christmas nears, you may want to follow suit with Miss Monica… and pick up one or all in the special series which keeps the kids grooving while they learn their ABCs and 123s and more. Meanwhile (and I'm not saying this because I'm working on her reality project), I am SO EXCITED for Monica's new music to hit the airwaves and to see her fans (and perhaps even her doubters) FALL BACK IN LOVE with her!!! GO MONICA, GO!

As my return to NYC is still to be determined (October? November? December? Even January?): NYC CULTURE rules. Daughter of my late, great friend Pat Tobin, Lauren, continues to operate inside the excellence and professionalism of her mother (and the standard she had already begun to incorporate into her own PR brand). She reached out to me regarding her client Colman Domingo’s new stage piece “A Boy and His Soul” – which happens to be choreographed by dear friend of Ant’s and mine, Ken Roberson. Colman starred in Ant’s and my favorite Broadway musical last year, “Passing Strange”. Ant will check it out soon. I’ll hopefully get to catch it when I get back (if it’s still running). But if you are in NYC or going, make sure you check it out at the Vineyard Theater (www.vineyardtheatre.org/show-a-boy-and-his-soul.html).

So, it’s no secret that I love Tony Award winning actress Anika Noni Rose, who recently made history by being cast as the first-ever African-American princess in Disney's The Princess and the Frog. And can we say DREAMGIRLS?????? Well, she takes another dimension of step in the direction of TV as she has signed on to host the new season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange. It’s an innovative documentary series on contemporary life, art and pop culture in the African Diaspora, AfroPoP’s second season comes to public television in October 2009. The series is produced by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) with which I have a little link through one of my National Association of Black Journalists Arts & Entertainment Task Force members (one of the dedicated, hard-working ones) Jacqualine Williams. She introduced them to NABJ – so NBPC could participate in our Tampa convention. Turns out that one of its programming execs Christian is an old “student” of mine from the days when I taught the New York Association of Black Journalists’ High School Journalism Workshop. So, the synergies here are really good. As the series host, Anika will introduce audiences to powerful stories about African boxers who journey across the Atlantic to match their skills against the best in global contests; a teenage girl who travels to Ghana and a Sierra Leone ex-patriate who returns to his homeland, each hoping to dispel prevailing myths about the two continents; and, Hurricane Katrina victims who find themselves refugees in their own country. CONGRATS ANIKA!


And though I’ve been behind the mic in the medium of radio before, I'm putting on a new pair of headphones as a guest on The Dr. Mario Show this week. (You’ll recall, an impression I made on XM Satellite Radio after I appeared on MILLION DOLLAR PASSWORD last year ("AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH!!!"):  Well, I’m as excited to have been invited to be a guest on The Dr. Mario Show (“Your Prescription to a Better Life!”)). As I’ve blogged before, Mario is a student at Cal State Fullerton. We’ll be on the Titan Radio Station’s airwaves at 7pm on Thursday and you can find out more (including how you can listen in) via www.calldrmario.com and Dr. Mario says the show will be about me and my journey from Tokyo to Savannah and beyond – underscoring my insights that are applicable to upcoming college students and college students getting ready to step into the rest of their lives. Plus, he's got questions around networking and convention programming much like he got to witness as we met at the National Association  of Black Journalists Convention where Mario saw me in super-active pose. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and reminding myself some of the tips that I may have taken for granted along the way. This, towards getting my CENTER back. My CHI is still off, though I'm carrying on... 

Well, as my former colleague Frankie offers: “… the morale of the story is…” (just that part. The rest attributes Donnie McClurkin…): "...After you've done all you can, you just STAND..."

And GOD continues to work it out via his many earth angels like Ant, Mario, Audrey, Paul, Sidra, Jav, etc. AMEN! <not out of the woods but breathing better, hear?>

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