Shout out to one of my NABJ "babies" (mentees) Olivia D. Sanders who is pursuing her Masters at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She invited me to weigh in - as on-cam pundit - on an El Debarge piece she produced for her Broadcast class. It’s her FINAL! Olivia? Your mentor Patrick L. Riley gives you an A+. Hopefully your professor will agree. Take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1sZjzjbXSo  You know, I’m a BIG El Debarge fan and have had the privilege of supporting TEAM EL in their efforts to strategize El’s SECOND CHANCE. I am so happy for him. He’s been nominated for two GRAMMYs. When our iconic artists fall off, comebacks are often hard to come by. It’s like an equation: a new record deal and/or concert tour have to meet the right marketing/publicity machine and the public interest at the pass. But the TALENT or some modicum of the talent must still be there. It seems that all the stars have aligned for El’s SECOND CHANCE – including that AMAZING VOICE which is back in full… and I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s on a major label – INTERSCOPE/GEFFEN (which is also Mary J. Blige’s label). That means he’s got the support and the team behind him. I’ve met his management team – KINGS OF LA – including legendary music executive Pete Farmer and his wife Pam. They are not only ensuring that he gets the bookings and the notices, but they are taking care of El: mind, body, and soul. The music on “Second Chance” is as CLASSIC DEBARGE as it is RELEVANT & RADIO-FRIENDLY! El has collaborated with only the best – from  Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis & Babyface in addition to collaborating with current hip-hoppers 50 Cent and Fabolous as well as a classic R&B duet with our beloved Faith Evans. His first TV appearance on the BET AWARDS was a surprise… and what a reveal! He not only sang the greatest hits (about six of them), but he also introduced the title track: “Second Chance” which offers up a dose of testimonial and humility that audiences LOVE! And let’s not forget: The DEBARGE Dynasty is ICONIC. Not necessarily prolific as their troubles unfortunately have dwarfed their ability to crank out lots of music over the years. But what EL and his older siblings and then his other siblings who became his DEBARGE group members have produced is music that underscores a nostalgic time in our lives… and those songs still hold up today via all radio formats. From “All This Love” to “ Time Will Reveal” to “ Stay With Me” and “A Dream” (which hip hop & R&B just took over in the way of samples), the music is timeless. EL DEBARGE is one of pop & soul music’s premiere vocalists. His falsetto not only still sounds great (which is a wonder considering his drug abuse issues), but in the grand scheme of the music industry’s great falsettos – from Eddie Kendrick to Michael Jackson to Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Phillip Bailey to Maxwell and others, EL DEBARGE is one of the best. And now, two Grammy nods - including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B song. Looks like TIME is REVEALING!


Last Saturday’s FELA! matinee was followed by my interview with Terry McMillan (and a few cast members from FELA – including current FELA Kevin Mambo).

We had a great chat about her new book “Getting to Happy”.

On my copy, she wrote: “I’m grateful to you & love your work & interest in what we do! YES!”.

 She told us that she’s currently working on a re-write of the book’s screenplay adaptation, which is a “Waiting to Exhale” sequel that is also waiting on Whitney who we hear is the hold-out for the film company’s efforts to reunite the cast for the follow-up film.

My NABJ folks Jacqualine, Chet, & Greg were in the mix for our program. Also friends Sidra, Ihmakus, Dawn, etc. Shout out to Marcia Pendelton (Walk Tall Girl Productions) and Marva Allen (Hue-Man Bookstore) for inviting me to host this special afternoon.



$87 Saturday Evenings

$77 All other performances

Three easy ways to purchase tickets when you use code FENAS1110. Online:  Visit www.broadwayoffers.com and enter code FENAS1110. By Phone:  Call 212.947.8844 and mention code FENAS1110. In Person: Take a print out of this offer to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Box Office, 230 West 49th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway. The price includes a $2 service charge and part of the proceeds will go to the National Association of Black Journalists. FELA! will play its final performance on Broadway January 2, 2011. The offer is based on availability and cannot be used in combination with other offers. All sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.  Visit Telecharge.com for Ms. LaBelle's performance schedule. Valid now through 1/2/11 for performances through 1/2/11. Blackout dates: 11/26, 11/28 and 1/2/11.  Limit 8 tickets per order/person/week. www.felaonbroadway.com


So ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT is still going strong. Though we’ll take a break on the THURSDAY before Christmas, we will – for sure – be back up and running on the THURSDAY before New Year’s (12/30). NATIVE RESTAURANT is the spot. It’s on Lenox Avenue and 118th Street from 9pm to MIDNIGHT. Based on our last two weeks, we’ve had some sparkle in the house: My friend Kevin-Anthony’s client B. Slade (formerly known as Tonex) whose electrifying performance I’d just seen earlier in the evening at Joe’s Pub (The FAB Kimberly Nichole opened with my friend Darius Booker on the best background ever). He performed Janet Jackson’s “I Get Lonely”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3GXUoj_Kak. B. Slade put his gift on Janet's "I Get Lonely" at his NYC Joe's Pub debut prior to our event. Then, the artist formerly known as TONEX graced ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT with the same a la karaoke.  On this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GkmtqR4fGI&feature=player_embedded# ) at 7:17, he (now B SLADE) and my girl Sid shout out my ALL-STAR KARAOKE and even my performance. B. Slade’s background singer Dawn – a Gospel/house diva in her own right – did a brilliant “Get Here”. And my Quan rolled in deep for the launch of her BDAY EXTRAVAGANZA… and she brought an awesome entourage of mutuals in the house – including many of my BET friends from earlier this year. And my buddy Greg Dunmore (from Detroit) was in the house. Also, my friends Sidra, Murphy, Kevin, Ed, and a host of others.Last Thursday, Kerisha Roi came by. She’s my friend Bariek’s cousin. She has sung with my fav ATL-iens – including India.Arie, Anthony David, and Donny. Last night, she sang with me at ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT at NATIVE. We continue to be grateful to all of our ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT regulars who are MY ALL-STARs!!!


I’ve told you about Ant, the artist, before:  http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/10/24/making-a-wave-or-is-it-way-when-you-can.html. Well, we got the chance to put a spotlight on that via our girl Cynthia Burgos who is an artist her own (who, too, I’ve spoken about here in the blog).

She hosted a holiday art sale at her home in Mount Vernon.

It doubled as her man Elijah’s birthday celebration

[Birthday boy doubled as chef. YUM!].

Cynthia invited Ant to showcase his artwork.


And ...he SOLD OUT!


Thanks to CYNTHIA, TATA, ET AL for your support!

More about his work:

AKHENATEN’S BLACK POP SERIES #1: includes a collection of popular images from African American culture that speak to iconic black impressions in popular media.  The first installment of this body of work is made up of a collection of 9 abstract expressionistic paintings created by thick textured brush strokes on miniature canvas.  These images can be juxtaposed with the work of artists such as Clementine Hunter and Jean Michelle Basquiat whose work has been coined as “Primitive Art” in the context of art history based on its free and relatively flat aesthetic and non-traditional use of surface.  The surfaces in which these images reside have been assembled in the form of refrigerator magnets which add to its pop appeal. 

·        OFF THE WALL - SOLD!          


·        EVANS FAMILY -  SOLD!

·        CONTROL - SOLD!


·        THE WIZ - SOLD!

·        HUXTABLES - SOLD!


“Good Times” is such a muse, we were so excited that our girl Sidra snagged those two. Plus, because of TV ONE, I’ve been watching a lot more of it of late. Shout out to my friend Stanley Bennett Clay (pictured left). His 1975 episode of "Good Times" was on recently.  He portrayed Jimmy Pearson - the new politician in town who got bested by incumbent crook Alderman Davis (the intro of a recurring character on the show). Fast forward to 2010: STANLEY is a WINNING WRITER EXTRAORDINAIRE! LUV U, STANLEY! And LOVE MY GOOD TIMES! Also, a recent installment "Good Times" highlighted Wilona (Ja’Net Dubois). I met her last year while working in L.A. for a stretch that also included the chance to be a guest of Miss Aretha Franklin at The Hollywood Bowl & The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Sending PRAYERS to THE QUEEN for a speedy recovery, by the way! And Debbie Allen was just in an episode as J.J.s girlfriend/fiance. She played a dope addict. It was a fierce two-parter.


I had the chance - in 1991 - to perform on the KENNEDY CENTER HONORS with the Morehouse College Glee Club. We were there to honor Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus Composer and Conductor Robert Shaw. I even got cast to speak: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZF2iK2VOY8 Miss Ross was honored in excellence a few years ago (PART 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u06d1ZSFAzc; PART 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx1iLxfVv-Q&feature=related; PART 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7sfWLuhFAE&feature=related). This year, she was back in the house with just her baby son, Evan, in tow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMiYXy6CX8c). Can't wait to watch this year's Kennedy Center Honors after Christmas. BY THE WAY: With Oscar buzz for our beloved Halle Berry and her "Frankie & Alice", I'm reminded of Miss Ross' Golden-Globe-nominated turn in "Out of Darkness" (in '94): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KPyQYukKDk&feature=related MISS ROSS HAS SOME MORE FEATURES IN HER, don't you think?


I met Dianne Smith (www.diannesmithart.com) recently when Sid did her swap party for “The Nate Berkus Show”.  She invited us to her home where she features 900 pieces of her work – from paintings to sculpture. What a talented artist and chef.  The Harlem-based artist surely knows her way around turkey pot pie & pound cake….  


We got to escort Tichina Arnold – in town starring in LOVE, LOSS, & WHAT I WORE – to the Harlem Lanes. She graciously agreed to pop by and say HI to 43 young, Fairfax, Virginia, African American high school males from a Mount Vernon High School program called Men With Vision and Purpose (Our friend Jacquie Lee and Nardos Brown – the principal – created this test pilot program to close the achievement gap among African American males between the ages of 16 - 18. These young men get an incentive at the beginning of the school year to bring their grades up to a 2.5 and above average in order to experience an immersion to New York City to meet affluent African American male Executives of the corporate, entertainment and sport industries. Forty-three out of the sixty three young males met the challenge which was a major feat. CONGRATS, FELLAS!)


My boy Murphy invited us out for a tree-trimming in Harlem – well-appointed with food; drink; and cheer! Imagine Sid’s, Ant’s and my excitement when our friends Scott and Tony from L.A. called to say they were in town (Scott works alongside Sheryl Lee Ralph). We invited them on up to join in the fun….


Then, 2R’s Entertainment & Media PR “Holiday Appreciation Party” was a lot of fun! CONGRATS to Robbie, Ra-Fael, and their star clientele – including my favorite MIGUEL PERDOMO, Supermodel with the most. Great to see Robert, Kevin-Anthony, Bariek, and the rest of the gang.


One recent Saturday, HARLEM came a calling – from Native (with Ary, Rick, & Irie); then, another set w/a host of new friends – including Ron; Brandye; model Julian Sapp (featured in Beyonce’s current DVD); and others. Tata joined us there and continued on to Seitu’s tree trimming. And can I tell you he had the best friend chicken wings this side of The Hudson. Miss Nina Flowers and the gang were in the house too.


Friends Karen Good & Andy Diaz celebrated their birthdays on one SATURDAY night. Karen – in Brooklyn – is my Savannah homeboy Maurice’s fiancé. He choreographed an awesome surprise for her. In the house, some of my favorite Savannah home folks – including Joicelyn; and Rae. We were all close friends in Savannah and remain friends to this day while we are all in New York. Always a pleasure to see my homegirls. And now Karen is added to the Savannah posse. And DIAZ’s set was at NATIVE.


I joined my friend Nathan for the premiere of his “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys” (on the Sundance channel) at SPLASH. (My book project “Big Willies & Amazing Graces: gay men and their best girlfriends” still hasn’t been sold… but the green-lighting of the project gives me hope.) CONGRATS to Nathan and Crystal!!!! LOVE Y'ALL! Also, a shout out to my buddy Terrance Dean whose current book title may be a sign that the industry is yet ready for my project. Please check out his "Straight From Your Gay Best Friend - The Striaght Up Truth About Relationships, Work, and Having a Fabulous Life" (Agate Bolden - October 2010; $15).  



My friend Laurence Pinckney is promoting the Ultimate Halloween Caribbean Cruise.  The cabins on the ship are selling out fast… but are not all sold out. He wants to get the word out to our people. It’s considered the Ultimate cruise for LGBT & friends. And it takes place on the beautiful Carnival Victory. It departs from San Juan, Puerto Rico and there will be stops in St. Thomas,  USVI -  Barbados, West Indies – St. Lucia,West Indies St. Kitts, West Indies & St. Maarten. Highlights include: Pre-cruise package in Old San Juan*, 7 nights on ship, cruise ship entertainment, unlimited food, 5 ports of call, exciting people from USA and the Caribbean, Event Pass (optional) – includes: films, seminars, parties, entertainment and more in the tradition of Nubian Dreams Cruises. It’s scheduled for October 30th, 2011 – November 6th, 2011. The Pre-Cruise in San Juan is October 29th.


Remember I wrote that I met the Director of Tupac’s last video at a Jones Magazine party. Well, Marlene Rhein has completed her latest feature film, THE BIG SHOT-CALLER (an inspiring NYC story about a lonely outsider who rediscovers his self-esteem through Salsa dancing). It is about to have its DVD release on December 21st.  It is available for sale on Amazon and Best Buy.  She sent me a copy. It’s good… and perfect for family and friends to enjoy together during the holidays.  Check it out: www.thebigshotcaller.com.


So you may recall that my spring and summer in Atlanta gave me access to the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” – including Kandi. I just want to shout out her new album “Kandi Koated” on Asylum/Warner Bros. The Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, and television star has been busy as a bee of late. She recently shot a video for "Haven't Loved Right" in honor of her ex-fiancé, AJ, who senselessly died in Atlanta a little over a year ago. And she joined forces with Carol's Daughter – in NYC and ATL – to launch her project. "The album is about love, relationships. It's meeting someone.  Falling for them. Falling out with them. Breaking up with them. Thinking about them. Getting back together. Moving on. It's all there," she says of the self-penned project, except for "Me and You," written and produced by Ne-Yo, and sampling the Outkast classic "Elevators."




I was invited to a listening party for MJ's controversial-and-highly-anticipated new music this week. Didn't see the invite hit my inbox until the morning after. UGH! Also, didn't get my request to see Paul McCartney at the Apollo in in time. AARGH! COME ON HOLIDAYS. Time to unplug & refuel for 2011! LOL! SANTA? I NEED AN ASSISTANT! LMAO!

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