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I’m sad to see “Ugly Betty” go in five more episodes, but Willy aka Wilhelmina aka Wanda helped me put it in perspective as she aimed to display her street credibility to an old boyfriend (Brian Stokes Mitchell) who knew her when she was just a regular girl. She assured him she was ‘…easy, breezy, George and Weezy!!!!’ – one of the last gut-wrenching laughs Ant and I will have from one of our favorite little shows.


That said, Miss Ross is hitting the road again.


And you know Ant & I will be there. She’ll return to her home away from home, the stage, this summer with a 17-city U-S tour titled “MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY”. When last she toured in 2007, Ant and I saw her several times between New York City and New Jersey. Then, in 2008, she headlined DIVAS WITH HEART. She closed out a charitable night featuring fellow DIVAS Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, and Chaka Khan. As many of us fans are excited about a new album, clearly we’re not moping about in the meantime because MISS ROSS LIVE is magical. So, greatest hits will do… and we hear she will be pulling out all the stops with breathtaking costumes and stage designs, along with a live string and horn section. The must see show kicks off in Boston, MA on May 15th, the tour runs thru June 12th. I know I will see her at RADIO CITY on May 19th… and I may pop back down to Red Bank, NJ or Atlantic City to check her out as well. As her bio reminds us, Diana Ross has had a profound influence on American popular culture and has become an icon in the entertainment industry. She is an Academy Award nominated actress for her unforgettable role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings The Blues, a Tony and Golden Globe winner, a bestselling author, winner of 8 American Music Awards and a recipient of The Kennedy Center Honors. Her reputation as a woman of great style and beauty has put her on the covers of hundreds of magazines. Ms. Ross has sold over 100 million records and recorded 18 #1 hits. Her music became the sound of young America in the ‘60s soon after she signed with Motown Records in 1961 with The Supremes. She embarked on her extraordinary solo career in 1970, and has not stopped since. Diana Ross sings the soundtrack of our lives, a true music legend. To get breaking news, latest tour information and exclusive content, become a fan of Diana Ross’ official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dianaross).


Though not a new album, it feels fresh. “WE LOVE DIANA ROSS” by Almighty Records is the new digital album featuring brand new remixes of ALL THINGS DANCEABLE… and DIANA! This project has been five years in the making. It was originally planned to be released by Universal. But now, it’s available on-line (http://www.almightyrecords.com/product/ALMYDD071/). This digital collection is overflowing with exclusives, such as the brand new mixes of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, 'Love Hangover' and ‘The Boss’, plus first time airings of ‘Remember Me’, ‘Reach Out And Touch’ and ‘I’m Still Waiting’, plus the sensational Almighty 'In The Mix' which includes classic titles: Love Hangover; Upside Down; I'm Coming Out; I'm Still Waiting; Ain't No Mountain High Enough; The Boss; Remember Me; I Thought It Took A Little Time; No-One Gets The Prize; Reach Out And Touch; Touch Me In The Morning; Lovin', Livin' And Givin.


Meanwhile, YOU HEARD? The original Dreamgirls - Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine, and Jennifer Holliday were in attendance at the L.A. premiere of the staged musical 'Dreamgirls' road tour that launched here in NYC at The Apollo. I hear they had their own special moment during the finale song. Jennifer Holliday reportedly reached out and grabbed the hands of Sheryl and Loretta... and it was one more moment for Deena, Lorrell, and Effie - 29 years later! DREAMGIRLS LIVES! I LIVE! WE ALL LIVE!

CAN WE TALK????????

I co-hosted a pilot "tvQ" a few years back. It was a 'queer eye' meets 'the view'. It had lots of promise and got lots of press, but after a year of being retained, we didn't get picked up. But it gave me the chance to meet Michael Musto who was one of the co-hosts along w/Simon Doonan and others (Go 9:00 in on this link for an excerpt: and I wrote something about it in a blog entry a couple of years ago: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/8/5/a-black-person.html). Well, my favorite Joan Rivers hosted a FAB fete at the 230 Fifth Avenue penthouse to toast Michael's 25 years at 'The Village Voice".  Ant, Nichole, Aleeka, and I had a ball. We ran into RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Sahara (in blue); Robert Verdi; and a host of others. REALLY GOOD NIGHT!


Marketing strategist & guru Jacquie Lee invited Ant and me to Phillipe Chow to meet her client, author Frank Matthews. His upcoming Simon & Schuster release is titled "Respect The Jux". This, after meeting a couple of new Aussie friends at Coppersmith's - Sue & Steve - for an aperitif.  Stay tuned for more on Frank as his book readies for the marketplace.


The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists invited me to sit on its "Monitoring Hollywood II - Precious: A Discussion on Hollywood's Image of The Black Woman" panel. It included moderator Patty Jackson; filmmaker Rel Dowdell; radio diva Golden Girl; columnist Annette John-Hall; 'Minority Reporter' Khalid Patterson; and fashion/beauty journalist (and my friend) Cheryl Wadlington. I also got to see my L.A. buddy-by-way-of-Philly Anthony Henderson. Happy to call him new friend (Mr. Jason too!).  We had lots of great times during my L.A. stint. Also, it was great to see so many of my NABJ sisters - including Amy Simmons. At about 5:43, you can see an excerpt of my commentary on the panel: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/video/video.php?v=106339826059527&ref=nf I LOVE PHILLY!


Ant and I saw Sweet Honey In The Rock this evening at The Met. Awesome show. Afterwards, Ant and I ran into the great KiKi Shepard. You should remember her from “Showtime Returns To The Apollo”. It was good to see her again as I got to hang out with her at her Sickle Cell bowling benefit in L.A. where my friends Scott and Tony took me one night. She is a friend – dating back to  their Howard University time – of group member Carol Maillar. KiKi talked Marcia, Ant, and me into going to Carol’s birthday party at Harlem's MOJO (www.mojo-harlem.com). And what a hoot she was - putting Ant up for judging as if at The Apollo. I got the chance to interview Carol when I was producing the BET Black History Month campaign. She said some wonderful things during our sit-down chat. Its owner Mounir Jabrane proved ever the host. You may recognize him from an American Express commercial with Epatha Merkerson (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b2_hNNVe88). And also in the house: Also in the house: My Marcia Pendelton. And my own Ki-Ki, Jackie Williams who is looking sexy and slinky these days. She's in production and featured as an actor in a commercial for a tooth pain product.


My Godson Owen Angelo's birthday party was SO MUCH FUN! And he had a BLAST! Ant & I enjoyed spending time with him, his parents - our friends Owen & Sandy, and their friends & family! And I karaoke'd all night long! LOL! Happy Birthday, Owen Angelo!!!!


Ant, Ern, & I attended a couple of Oscar viewing parties (Brooklyn & Harlem).    Word had it LA ROSS was gonna appear on the show, which would have been a welcome return given her many appearances on the Academy Awards. BEFORE B (or HALLE B), THERE WAS D... and after her nomination for Best Actress in "Lady Sings The Blues" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFstpIKW7A4), she became quite the Oscar darling - from her "Theme From Mahogany ('Do You Know...')" performance via satellite from Amsterdam a couple of years later. Then, co-hosting and presenting in '78 and '79 to performing several more times in the '80s and '90s (even co-hosting in '85, the year that she sang Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" from "The Woman In Red"). Some selects that are currently on YOU TUBE - including this one where Ross reflects on that heavy and exhilarating time (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YA22pXIf1I):

1980/MJ & DR -




1985/SINGING STEVIE'S OSCAR NOM'd "I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_aUPf-Rdk0

1992/SINGING "OVER THE RAINBOW" – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N69rO3fRitc

Well, it turns out Miss Ross wasn’t in the Oscar house after all. But that didn’t stop the party.  Ant, Ern, and I did two sets: Jacque Reid's intimate set at Rustik in Brooklyn featured karaoke during commercials (I serenaded the room with Maxwell's "This Woman's Work", dedicating it to Jacque and Mo'Nique who'd just ...snagged her prize in the previous segment). After my performance, the fellas and I high-tailed it to Harlem for an Oscar party hosted by our best girlfriend Mara Schiavocampo and our best girlfriend's hubby Tommie.


For those of you who don't have CUNY-TV, here's a link of "Independent Sources" on which I am featured in a Johnson Publishing profile (EBONY/JET money woes). The piece starts at 2:33 and I am excerpted a couple of times between 4:08 & 5:28. This, before it was reported that Ebony Fashion Fair will continue its hiatus (citing the recent death of its founder Eunice Johnson Rice). http://www.cuny.tv/series/sources/listen.lasso?-database=CUNYPROG&-response=detail2.lasso&-table=webprogdetail2&-sortField=TapeDate&-sortOrder=descending&-op=eq&SeriesTitle=Independent%20Sources&-op=neq&Real_av=%3d%3d&-op=lte&TapeDate=12%2f31%2f2010&-op=gte&TapeDate=1%2f1%2f2010&-maxRecords=1&-skipRecords=1&-search


Ant and I just had a lovely weekend of connection and rejuvenation – in part because it was his pay day and furthermore because a long-standing check from services already rendered FINALLY came, all of this despite the rain. From a Friday night tasting hosted by Ant’s friend Nova ("Saucy Solutions by Nova") - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saucy-Solutions/272235603144?v=info. And what a tasty inventory – from hot to mild to sweet AND savory, Nova offered up cheesy dips; succulent BBQ sauces; and other special recipes including Bad Girl Bolognese and Fabulous Formaggio. Check her out. Afterwards, Ant and I went to have a light meal at Heartland Brewery with Manivone. This, before going to Club 57 to see Kelis perform: http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=k-K_bKQtUsI&feature=player_ embedded#.  We also hung out in Brookllyn and did a round of lite bites from Red Hook/Brooklyn's Sugar Lounge along with more karaoke at One 7 in Chelsea.


Ant & I honored our girlfriend LaChanze and friend Gregory Generet's invite to see them perform at Joe's Pub  (SOLD OUT). It was a GREAT show that highlighted these two stellar vocalists’ chemistry when sharing a stage.

Dear friend LaChanze walked her six-inch Valentino pumps off the stage and up to me to sing.

Yes, she did hand me that microphone for the chorus of The Temptations' "Just My Imagination".

I got a roar of approval from the sold-out audience - including Greg's wife Tamara Tunie (HAPPY BDAY!);

Star Jones; Lynn Whitfield; 'The Wiz' Tony-award-winning legend George Faison; and a host of others.

 Several of the folks joined LaChanze's sister Michelle, Ant, and I at Indochine for an after set. And we always have such a good time. This time was no exception.

The set list was as follows:

“It Takes Two” – duet

“One Less Bell To Answer” – LaChanze

“Nature Boy” – Greg

“Once I Fall in Love” – Greg

“Route 66” – duet

“To Sir With Love” – LaChanze

“Happy birthday” – duet

“Imagination” – Greg

“Just My Imagination” – duet*

“All of Me” – duet

Encore: BLUES FINALE – duet

LaChanze excited me with the news she’d be returning to her role as Aunt Em and Glenda The Good Witch in the soon-Broadway-run of “The Wiz”. Since I was in L.A. and missed the short run of it last summer, I am EXCITED to see the show again. By the way, check out LaChanze’s new children’s book “Little Diva” which will soon have a companion video with the title song that LaChanze penned. Stay tuned…


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