To get a more comprehensive view of ‘… the life of Riley…’ over these last few weeks, you’ll have to check out these pictures: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=172479&id=662073736&l=697d432cda
AND these pictures:
Consider the rest of this entry as excerpts – POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, if you will. It’s been quite busy, but fruitful. ENJOY!
A few weeks back, my nephew graduated from ‘our’ alma mater Morehouse College in Atlanta. A few days after that, he and his roommate Harrison came up to find their new digs as they both have snagged post-college gigs in NYC. I pulled from my repository to help them secure options of which they went with one of them… in Harlem. We worked up an appetite on both days – going to Amy Ruth the first day and Dinosaur (also in Harlem) on the next day (with their fellow college mate Chris).
DIANA IN CHICAGO
DIANA ROSS led me back to Chicago. After I’d been there for four or so weeks on that special project, I wasn’t pining to be back there. But when friend Sally Lou snagged tix to take my girls Itika, Jakki, and me to the show, I made it my business to be there. I flew into Midway Chicago where – as I waited on Chicago Carl to pick me up – I ran into DC-based singer Easy Evans about whom I’ve written in my blog (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2010/3/24/nothing.html). We'd never met but knew each other’s faces via the blog. Chicago Carl took me to Leona's for a lunch of Italian (lasagna, pizza, wings, etc.). I then popped by Jessie Dean where Carl is a hairstylist to see all the ladies there. Then, Itika and Jakki scooped me up and we went to meet up with Sally Lou at The Wit's rooftop (for cocktails) before show time. In a nutshell, DIANA was FABULOUS (again). The show was SOLD OUT! CHICAGO LOVES DIANA! And DIANA SHOWS SHE LOVES CHICAGO! Afterwards Sally Lou, Itika, and I had a quick nightcap at Jbar which was hosting a “Sex & The City 2” party. From there, I went to Morehouse BFF Eddie's place for a good night's sleep. When I woke up the next morning (before he took me to the airport), Eddie performed a special send-off gift: a recital of the music he's been learning as he takes piano lessons. Keep doing it, Eddie!
BACK IN NYC: SILK ELECTRIC
Got the news that Gary Coleman had passed away before I got back to NYC. Sad to hear, especially the circumstances surrounding the troubled star’s life since he gained success in the late ‘70s, asking: "WHAT 'CHU TALKIN' BOUT, WILLIS?" R.I.P. GARY...! You brought LOTS of LAUGHTER our way. GREAT LEGACY! Once back in NYC, I met up with Ant, our buddy Theo, Ant's work friend Kemar for dinner at Vinyl (with fab album-cover menus - including Diana's "Silk Electric" (album with "Muscles") and another favorite Culture Club's "Colour By Numbers". They even had my DIANA’s “Bob Mackie original” doll in a display case on the stairway. Great to hang out with the fellows. And great to be back with Ant, though I'd only been gone for a day. From there, a nightcap at DESIRE in the Village... and a late-night bite at the Rt. 4 DINER in NJ.
SEX & THE CITY 2
Ern and I have been big "Sex & The City 2" fans since the beginning. We all went to see the first one a few years back. Of course, there was lots of blitz this go around! Some find that the sequel didn’t meet expectations. My line: “It was good enough, if just too much.” My NABJ sister friend (and proud mother of a Spelmanite Erin) Bonnie Newman Davis asked me to comment in her latest piece for The Grio (http://www.thegrio.com/entertainment/lack-of-diversity-doesnt-diminish-sex-and-the-city-appeal.php). I had more to say than was used in the piece – including these points when asked if I thought the “Sex & The City” franchises lack of diversity diminished its appeal – most pointedly to African American women. Some of my other thoughts include:
1.” Black women in pop culture have historically LOVED to dress up, get together, and enjoy something on the big or small screen that reflects their fantasies and sometimes their realities. If not "Mahogany", "Girlfriends", or "Waiting to Exhale" which - as Black pop vehicles - are few and far between, what else is there to fellowship around but a phenomenon like "Sex & The City" and its much-anticipated sequel? This, since the economic playing field between black women and white women has leveled off (if just a bit - even in this recession). So, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik aren't just for Carrie Bradshaw anymore.”
2. “Black women DID carry "Sex & The City". It's called "Girlfriends". And though Joan Carol Clayton may have borrowed some of her Christian Louboutins from her portraying actress Tracee Ellis Ross' closet (or perhaps Tracee's mom Diana), this show was as much appointment television for many Black women (and men) as "Sex & The City”".
3. "The premise of "Sex & The City" is a group of white woman dealing with the shortage of men in New York City. Black women have been experiencing this drought of Black men for years. So, misery loves company, especially when it is sporting haute couture and sipping on a Cosmopolitan."
4. ""Let's Talk About Pep" explored the "Sex & The City" dynamic with women of color. And it did well in the reality genre which is popular right now. So, it's a universal epidemic with which most women identify."
5. "I do find it fascinating that Black women - for the most part - haven't been turned off by the lack of diversity and its weak attempts at incorporating color into the mix i.e. Blair Underwood (the show); Jennifer Hudson (the movie); etc. (but likely no etc.)"
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND AND MCCAFES
FUN TIMES at our girlfriend Danielle and her husband Bernard's place in Metutchen, NJ. We karaoke’d all day long. Then, all night long. I performed Debarge’s “All This Love”. Also, the Kate Bush version of “This Woman’s Work”. Ant and I did our favorites. Ern even joined me on "Fame". A few days later, I popped by one of NYC's new McCafes. Not just to grab a #1. But I was invited by host and friend Bevy Smith (and buddies Tracy Anderson & Iman Jefferson). This was an event to promote McDonald's remix on its menu and select locations. Industry friends Karu Daniels & Marcia Cole were also in the house as well as BET talent Alesha Renee. 3 McFrappes, 1 McSmoothy, and a 3-way sampling of McAngus Wraps later, I joined Ant & his Denver buddy Justin for sushi. We ran into American Idol's Andrew Garcia. You'll recall, he did the unplugged version of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up". He'll be on the tour this summer. NICE GUY!
Beyond the spot revenue projects, I just wrapped shooting a pilot over two days - one in Philly; the other in NYC. The Philadelphia shoot took place at Aci Nae Boutique (http://acinae.com/). What gratitude for some great friends (all of whom donated their services i.e. James, Andrea, Max, Valee, Ant, et al.). It was a long, fulfilling day of making (something) happen. Then, we shot phase two a few days later. BIG THANKS to my friends Ted Gibson; Jason Backe; Dr. Shirley Madhere; and the host of many - including my friends who donated their time/resources and/or double'd as our production crew; models; stylists/make-up artists; etc. to make Day 2 of this pilot I'm hosting a REALITY. ALSO, CONGRATS to Ted on his new partnership with The American Association of Cosmetology School: 'Beauty Changes Lives'. (STAY TUNED for more on that and 'REAL HOUSEWIVES OF DC's Mary Amons - who was in the house with her BFF on the show, our Jason Backe, celebrity colorist for the stars.)Now, we are identifying a pro bono editor before we begin taking pitch meetings and also going viral to see what synergies we can create. Stay tuned.And afterwards, we celebrated. Cocktails. Food. Karaoke. And more karaoke. And more karaoke.
Last weekend, Ant & I joined my boy Caleb at The Hudson Hotel in the city. We were joined by CC; Ant's girlfriend Manivone; and her cousin Vilay. We did some more dancing downtown before going to Cafeteria for breakfast. The sun was up and at 'em when we got home on this particular day. But it didn’t stop us from heading out to New Rochelle for a lovely summer dinner gathering at my Amazing Grace Nichole’s home. Great to hang with Cynthia, cousin Jeffrey, Seattle friend Patrick, Danielle, Melony, and more (missed CJ). This, before Ant & I went to see "The Lion King" on Broadway (again). Then, we went to Stone Rose Lounge in the Time Warner Center. It is there where we celebrated our girlfriend Katrina's birthday. Happy Birthday, Kat! Caleb joined us here as well. Then, Bar Sepia in Brooklyn to connect to former journalism buddy Errol followed by L.A. and Denver's own Pablo at another BK spot or two in Williamsburgh.
THANKS AND FELLOWSHIP
So, Manivone invited us to her Brooklyn digs to enjoy some amazing FOH (broth, noodles, thinly-sliced beef, shrimp, etc.) as prepared by her Denver-based cousin Villay (who has been helping us shoot this pilot). The Denver BK gang was in the house! And then, we returned the favor to Villay who has been itching for some soul food since she got here. So, Amy Ruth it was (even though we wanted to all try out The Famous - NEW - Pink Tea Cup, which opened this week). Afterwards we joined buddy Brian at Native where we ran into many interesting folks - including DJ Malcolm Jackson; my NABJ friend/Great great granddaughter of Madame CJ Walker, A'Lelia Bundles (who had some good info to share with Ant and me about Miss Jessie's Original (http://www.missjessies.com/) and a great period fashion exhibit at the Museum of the City of NY (www.mcny.org)); Winter Antiques Show's Eula C. Johnson who shared awesome tales of her long friendship with Civil Rights Activist Bayard Rustin who took a backseat as he orchestrated much of the movement on behalf of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and so many more (He organized The March on Washington, for example). This, because he was gay. Always out and unapologetic. But smart enough to know that - at that time - his orientation may have confused the efforts that were being made to gain civil rights for Black people. I've studied Bayard Rustin and consider him a personal hero. Luis Andrade; and more. Then, buddy Candice Harper threw a summer soiree at her new Harlem digs. I took the time to pose with the Fiercee Award that she designed (She's now prop stylist for 'Wendy'). Good times with friends - old and new, eating well; great conversation; and 'Mahogany' in the background (on TV ONE).
TONY AWARDS & BLACK 2: BROADWAY
Tony Awards splendor in NYC... and Alyson Williams was among the singers who performed at the Black 2: Broadway Tony Awards viewing party program which I had the privilege to script!!! In the 11th hour, I got an invite to go to the Tony Awards at Radio City (Thanks Carl), but I stuck to my plans to attend the Black 2:Broadway viewing party at G Uptown in Harlem including tributes (that I wrote) to: Broadway classic "Sophisticated Ladies"; my friend Ken Roberson (choreographer-director extraordinaire); and AUDELCO. Hosts included "Passing Strange" star Coleman Domingo. Also, friend/Broadway star Adrian Bailey co-hosted. And it was good to see L.A. girlfriend Lauren Tobin who - you'll recall - was one of my hosts last year in Los Angeles while I was there on an extended project ("Monica: Still Standing"). She is in town with client Coleman Domingo, who Ant and I just LOVE from our Broadway favorite "Passing Strange". And one of his castmates, Tony-nominated De'Adre Aziza joined him on this special night.Also, Lauren was there with another client The National Newspaper Publishers Association - an event to which she'd invite me that was scheduled later in the week. More on that later. NYC publicist Gwen Quinn; my Karu Daniels and Bridget Bland; Stephen Beasley (Vocalist in The sbP - a group that's doing great things this summer: www.sonicbids.com/thesbp and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4BSCV-DEWw&feature=youtube_gdata); and many more. Miss Kimberly Nichole performed as well. Love her (www.kimberlynichole.com). She is managed by my friend Anshia who made possible an opportunity for me to work with Mary J. Blige. Stay tuned for those details later in this writing. But also: Kimberly Nichole got to perform for "Ashford & Simpson" back in November. And so did I. Earlier, good to hang out with Theo and Victoria at VINYL for brunch. Victoria does brows and more in Beverly Hills at Anastasia… and hosted Ant and me a time or two last summer when I was working in L.A. Always good to see her!
ARETHA RETURNS TO THE APOLLO
Apollo Theater's charity benefit and after-party was a blast. Jamie Foxx hosted. Angela Bassett & Leslie Uggams did a great tribute to Lena Horne (w/'Lena' music director Linda Twine); Chris Tucker and Floetry's Marsha Ambrosia ("Butterflies") on MJ Tribute; Danny Glover; Estelle; & Sharon Jones; and Donnie McClurkin. And so many great friends after - including NBC 4's David Ushery ("The Debrief"); his wife Isabel; VH1 senior news correspondent Janell Snowden; Malik Yoba; and a host of others. FUN NIGHT! The next day proved a social whirlwind. There was the NYC Pride event at City Hall (hosted by Wendy Williams). We attended with Charlie T; friend Andrea; and others. Afterwards, Mary J. Blige/Catherine Malandrino fashion show at MoMA. Great to see many friends there -including stylists Tai Beauchamp and June Ambrose; Then, debut of Richard Harris Inc. and re-launch of American Chang - all by my favorite designer R. Scott French who I have known for a few years now. American Chang – in fact – gave my blog “A Day in the Life of Riley: pop culture & possibilities” its “Golden Poodle Award” as “The Best Way To Spend A Lazy Afternoon” (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2006/12/22/wake-up-and-dream.html).And Ant has continued to pull from their respective collections over the years - for my TV/public appearances and for everyday looks. I LOVE R. Scott French and now the new line Richard Harris. Plus, my friend Mykel C. Smith of Mykel C. Smith Creative created the night while other friend Ron Smith ensured I was in the house (After set at Hotel AKA). And Ant made sure to pull some pieces from the new line for me to try on as we will soon be securing updates to my wardrobe.
KELLY ROWLAND AND A PARADE OF STARS
Another fun night (after a hard day of work): KELLY ROWLAND listening set at HUDSON Hotel (www.kellyrowland.com). Ant couldn't make it as he had a quick trip to Denver to make. But my girl Andrea joined me. Plus, the burden of proof was mine as Ant has a pic with Beyonce (from when he took me to Manila for my birthday to see her); Kelly (from an event he attended last year in NYC while I was in LA); and Michelle (from her opening night in Broadway's "Chicago").And he has Letoya Luckett. I - on the other hand - have Beyonce (of course); Michelle (of course); and Letoya (from the pre-DC3 line-up). Now, I love Ms. Luckett, but I knew I wasn't going to stop until I got my KELLY pic. And now, I'm complete (unless I'm going to go on a search for LaTavia (though it's worth noting that I've yet to get my PIX with DIANA, MARY, nor CINDY nor LYNDA nor SHERRI and the other rotating SUPREMES memebers. MARY? MISS ROSS? LOL!).GAYLE KING interviewed her on the new UNIVERSAL-MOTOWN project of which we heard 5 tunes. Also in the house: my Bevy Smith, Marlynn Snyder; Shia; Star Jones; Patrik-Ian Polk; etc. After, Andrea and I joined Jacque Reid at Time Warner Center for NABJ event. Great to see my NABJ peeps – including President Kathy Times; my mentor Darius Walker; and many more. It is an EXCITING time for NABJ (www.nabj.org) as San Diego is being decked out as the backdrop for our upcoming convention at the end of July. I Chair the NABJ A&E Task Force and we have some exciting programming ahead - from professional development panels, like "Reality TV: Is This Where The Jobs Are?" to "Writing Scripts for TV - Primetime Sitcoms and Dramas" to a special reception; TV & film previews; etc. And Morehouse BFF Michael K. Watts and I are co-producing an opening event for the convention that includes an opening plenary featuring DR. OZ. Stay tuned for more info on that... or click on www.nabj.org. From the NABJ mixer(s), Andrea and I transitioned to Tori Spelling book party. She’s so SWEET! I chatted her up a little about her ‘gay icon’ status. She talked to me about her new book "Uncharted TerriTORI," her third book, which is outselling her second book after just two days. GO TORI! And in the house: Village People’s first cowboy Randy Jones; and Little House on the Prairie’s Alison Arngrim who too has a memoir that includes tales of her days as Nellie Oleson. It’s titled “Confessions Of A Prairie Bitch”.
http://dysonshow.org/?p=1721 So if you click on this link (and listen between 13:46 - 31:27), you’ll hear my contribution to Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson’s MEN’S SUMMIT – an interesting, introspective, and critical look at MANHOOD as we segue into a FATHER’S DAY weekend. I enjoyed being at the roundtable (held my own, I think), and I am assured a return invite.
FFAWN: BEING THE DIFFERENCE
My work in helping produce the script and evening for Mary J. Blige’s FFAWN went very well – to the tune of $150,000 (approximately). The prior picture shows me with FFAWN's Anshia (who too manages the aforementioned Kimberly Nichole). Cipriani was the elegant, well-appointed backdrop. And according to guest and social networking buddy Lynn Whitfield, “This event ran smoothly… and was well-paced! GREAT JOB!” Her words. THANKS LYNN! Others in the house: Mary J (though the pic above is a file pic from a listening party she hosted a year and change ago); hosts Deborah Roberts; Taraji P. Henson; and Idris Elba (and presenters Queen Latifah, etc.) – all of whom married their talents to my words and created a really fun night. Plus, I got to see many old friends and associates – including Chemene (‘Today’); Quon (BET); Tai; Eunice; and many others. I got to meet Melanie Fiona as well. Special shout out to: Madeline Nelson-Small, Executive Director of FFAWN. Here, she, my friend ELEW (who performed), and I pose for my final pic of the night. CONGRATS, MADELINE! GREAT TO WORK WITH YOU! THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY!
LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE
I got some great chat time with Berry Gordy.
He was honored at the first annual Legacy of Excellence awards per the National Newspaper Publishers Association of which former Savannah mayor (first Black)/publisher of Black paper The Herald Floyd Adams is a member.
I also went to middle and high school with his daugther Khristi. And former Mayor Adams was in my father's wedding back in 1996 (while Mayor).
It was really cool to see a Savannah icon in NYC. When we posed for this picture, he was wrapping up a chat with former NYC Mayor David Dinkens (The Big Apple's First Black Mayor... and only to date, I think).
My Sidra accompanied me to the dinner which was put on – in varying roles – by my L.A. friend Lauren Tobin; “Monica: Still Standing” AD and buddy Shannon Love; and host/journalist Michelle Miller.
Afterwards, friend of mutual friends Tichina Arnold – a total joy – invited Sid and me to join she and friends at Woo Lae Oak Restaurant (creative Korean cuisine) in SOHO.
We then invited her to join us at my girl Anshia’s client Kimberly Nichole’s Joe’s Pub show.
Our Kevin-Anthony (from Black 2: Broadway was - of course - in the house).
Kimberly Nichole gave full-out DRAMA! But she followed her fab entrance and extremely intense, opening songs with some awesome material from her project: "The Yellow Brick Journey” (Now re-released and expanded as “YBJ Reloaded”).
She too covered MJ’s “Dirty Diana” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Ashford & Simpson were in the house. And Tichina truly enjoyed Kimberly Nichole which means a lot since Tichina can blow the roof off of any and every venue in which I've seen her. Actually, she is going to be doing more singing in L.A. - so stay tuned. Then, Tichina asked us to join her at Griffin Lounge in the Meatpacking District. And VOILA! Another GREAT NIGHT!
Oh! And you know that Spicy Chick-Fil-A sandwich is out! Ant, Ern, and I tried it out! I love ALL THINGS CHICK-FIL-A! Though I am SPICY intolerant, I may have to suffer periodically as it's quite tasty! BON APPETIT!
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