Well, I’m taking more and more meetings. So, something is bound to pop up as my WHAT'S NEXT goes. Meanwhile, I'm treading lightly in the spending department but no less enjoying what life has to offer.
Sometimes spot work pops up that’s less about revenue and more about using my talents (as gifts) or building and/or maintaining relationships.
I am contributing my gift for writing the scripted word to the “6th Annual Black 2: Broadway Celebrates the Tony Awards”. My boy Kevin-Anthony puts it on every year and I’ve scripted it before (in years gone by): http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/6/13/from-black.html. This is an EXCITING year in which many folks of color are nominated for The Tony Award– including Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (for “Fences”); Lillias White, one of 11 nominations for “Fela”; and David Alan Grier for “RACE”. Along with these nominations for the 64th Annual Tony Awards, this year’s special Black 2: Broadway event is co-hosted by Adrian Bailey & Coleman Domingo who Ant and I got to know during his run in Broadway’s “Passing Strange”.
The event I’m working on with Kevin-Anthony is honoring the Broadway Production of “Sophisticated Ladies” along with my friend, Choreographer Kenneth Roberson & “The AUDELCO Organization”. Both will be receiving our Vanguard Award for their contributions & excellence in uplifting & supporting our theater community of color and beyond. The night will round out with the outstanding talents of Ty Stephens, Alyson Williams, Kimberly Nicole just to name a few.
There will be hors d’oeuvres, great dinner buffet, dessert, amazing musical selections and whole lot of fun. For more information, www.black2broadway.com and www.b2productins.xbuild.com. The last time Kevin-Anthony reached out to me, it was November last year… and the request was for me to sing Diana Ross’ “The Boss” to its composers Ashford & Simpson (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbI1qEM_k8k). Though not my shining moment (as a singer: http://18.104.22.168/rileyshowforkodjoe.wmv and http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/video/video.php?v=390384328736&ref=mf, it was a lot of FUN to sing for them at GOSPEL UPTOWN where this special Tony-viewing event is held as well.
Speaking of MISS ROSS, she performed this past week at a SOLD OUT Radio City Music Hall. And as you know, I’d been COUNTING DOWN to the moment. And what a MAGICAL MOMENT it was. The day started at Bard High School Early College where I spoke at an assembly that LIVE OUT LOUD organized (www.liveoutloud.info). You recall, I speak to kids all over the New York City area for LIVE OUT LOUD which mentors, provides scholarships, and promotes awareness around LGBT issues for all students. This auditorium - filled with spirited students - had great comments and questions. After I shared one particular anecdote re: one of my late, great mentors Tom Morgan (for whom I got to sing "Wind Beneath My Wings" before his passing), a student asked me to sing it to them (They gave me a standing ovation). I dedicated it not only to the memory of Tom but to these teenagers who seem to really have a grasp on what they are (more courageously than me...at their age). And I mean the gay teens AND the straight teens. GREAT GROUP OF YOUNG FOLKS!
Then, I had a quick, pre-show drink at THERAPY.
Mario and Derrick invited Ant and me to pop by as Mario was preparing to see 'RACE' on Broadway.
RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL for MISS ROSS' SOLD-OUT show is where we were going!
She was FABULOUS!
Two of her three daughters Rhonda & Chudney were in the house along with one of her two sons Ross.
I got a pic with Chudney.
Of course, I've gotten shots with Rhonda before.
I’ve known Ern since 7th grade (1982) and he’s known my Miss Ross-jones since that time. But of my 25 times seeing Miss Ross, he’s never been. So, for his February birthday, I promised him a ticket (This, before I even knew Ross was – for sure – going on tour).
Then, Ant – of course – had to be there. And so many other friends I know through our collective love of DIANA - including my Frankie. Scott.
Just too many to name here.
But I must acknowledge my Morehouse BFF Michael K. Watts accompanied me (also my birthday gift to him). He reviewed the show VIA his new Facebook page for his concert reviews... “LIVE! from Front Row”!!! Please join his Facebook page... and you don't have to be ON Facebook to see the Diana Ross review!!!
To read the review of Diana Ross' Radio City Music Hall show: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=393390688541
To read past reviews and get the latest concert tour news, check out and join our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LIVEfromFrontRow
And of course, YOU TUBE (www.youtube.com) can show you an excerpt here or there. But MISS ROSS has proven again that there’s nothing like seeing her LIVE. She TRULY REIGNS SUPREME!
Have you picked up your JUNE issue of ESSENCE Magazine (www.essence.com) with Taraji P. Henson on the cover? I’d mentioned this before, but a friend just called to say they saw the resource guide for Black fathers I wrote and compiled for ESSENCE, my 2nd by-line since November (when I did a series of interviews with top thinkers on the shifting image of African American men in the era of Obama). It’s on p. 160...just below an awesome piece my NABJ sister Katti Gray wrote.
This past weekend, I put on my media consulting hat. I supervised a session to help a friend navigate some new career decisions. Then, my friend Ron Smith invited me to meet fab Chicago-based designer Borris Powell (www.borrispowell.com) at The Bryant Park Hotel. He does amazing dresses and coats/jackets. And in the house - at his suite - were many old industry friends like Dynelle as well as a round of new buddies - including model Cole who Ant and I remembered seeing in a few shows - including Miquel Antoinne and R. Scott French. Also, not intentionally, there was a host of SCORPIOS in the house (go figure). And that number included fashion photographer Antonio Anobile. Ant and his 'Wendy' co-worker Jaz came by too.
Later in the weekend, Ant and I accepted an invite to New Rochelle from my Amazing Grace Nichole and her New Ro buddies. They were throwing a garage sale. FUN TIMES! Afterwards, we went to Chat 19 American Grill for some delicious cuisine before turning in.
Then, Sunday, we did DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON. This is an event my Carl Nelson produces every year (www.drumsalongthehudson.org/). He even booking me to host portions of the program in years gone by. This year, Ant – who has worked for the event before – and I were simply guests. Refreshing! The over-riding host is Sandra Bookman. Always a JOY! And my co-host from last year is Tetiana Anderson and she held down the fort brilliantly – including her tribute to Melky Jean, Wyclef's sister (www.carmafoundation.org). BFF Brian's girl Kelli and her son Jonathan joined us - after which we grabbed a lovely bite with her homegirl Emily at El Paso Restaurante Mexicano in Harlem. Then, an early evening back at home... getting ready for the week which includes my nephew coming up to NYC to find his permanent digs (The recent graduate from Morehouse College has a 1st gig awaiting him here in Manhattan). Last week, Ant and I enjoyed a marathon-of-a-weekend in Atlanta – all centered around my nephew’s graduation. It was so great to see the family. And many of us were in the house. But before Ant and I got around to family time, we got to hang out with our friend Lamoh. He's the buddy with whom I hung out all last summer. Many of his friends were shooting "Real Housewives of Atlanta". I was field and story producing "Monica: Still Standing". And he and I actually met while I was shooting "Frankie & Neffe". He works alongside Dwight Eubanks... and manages all of his appearances.
He took Ant & me to "Blakes on the Park" (Piedmont) where we stumbled into Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty's older sister on the now-canceled show). She is shooting a movie in ATL and was so SWEET - even remembering a recent story she read in The Huffington Post that named Morehouse one of the most grueling (academically challenging) colleges in the nation (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/12/the-most-grueling-college_n_574120.html); ALSO, Lamoh - my first call when I hit ATL - took Ant and me out later... to MIXX (in Ansley Mall).Then, we had to get our Taco Cabana on.
This is Latisha, who served us l-l-l-lovely cocktails during our drive by Blakes.
Ant and I also got some down-time at my sister Janice’s place with her husband Vincent, my cousin Felecia, and her husband Skip. My "original Amazing Grace" (BFF) Natalie stopped by my sister Janice's place to say HI with her gorgeous and smart girls Hannah and Lydia in tow. Though I'd left their Christmas presents with my sister, she and Nat hadn't connected yet. So, they got CHRISTMAS IN MAY! LOL! Since I hosted a "The Princess & The Frog" event for NABJ back in August (http://22.214.171.124/PRiley/NABJDisneyMagic.wmv), I received a lot of SWAG from Disney that I just knew the girls would enjoy! "Uncle" Ant threw in some stuff as well. His paternal energies were shining through. We also had to make time to meet BABY GAVIN, another of my BFF Chandra's 'baby love'! Everyone thought Ant was the father! FUTURE MOREHOUSE MAN? So, GREAT to spend time with our Chandra.
Ant and I also got to hang out with our friend Aaron and a buddy of his at my once-Atlanta-home-away-from-home "The TWELVE Hotel - Atlantic Station". We enjoyed some BBQ Pizza and special cocktails - including my kir royale which the servers knew to prepare for me from my time there last summer while shooting "Monica: Still Standing" and "Frankie & Neffe".
My nephew Herman L. Riley III (Noot, I call him) is now a MOREHOUSE MAN (c/o 2010). And since MOREHOUSE, too, is my ALMA MATER, I saw many ‘brothers’ - including Mike Bryant and Kevin Ross. I even got the chance to sing along with the rest of the Morehouse College Glee Club (on our annual tradition: "Prayer" from Lohengrin and "Dear Old Morehouse"). And to that, I saw many of my professors – including Dr. David Morrow who directs The Morehouse College Glee Club of which I was a member.
Pappadeux was the backdrop for our post-graduation brunch. There, I actually got to see my Dad and reflect a little on 1992 when I became a Morehouse Man... and many of these same players were in attendance for me. And Ant and I got to talk to the many who came to celebrate my nephew - including my cousins Felecia and Sylathea who've known me since I was a baby. They shared all the tid-bits with him. The food was great! The cake was awesome (my sister's brainchild)! And what a blessing to all be together again... for such an OPTIMISTIC gathering! I LOVE YOU ALL!
MEANWHILE, CONRATS to aforementioned Morehouse brother Michael K. Watts on raising $7,000 (of $5.7 million overall) for AIDS Walk. WHAT A HUGE SUCCESS! He reports that over 45,000 people walked the 6.2 mile route which began in Central Park then circled around the Upper West Side and back into the park. Thanks to the funds raised, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and over 30 other tri-state area AIDS service organizations can continue helping thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS and their families year after year. GO, MIKE GO!
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