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THE GAME - 1/11/11

So EVERYONE is ABUZZ about the PREMIERE of "The Game" on BET.

This entry was to be more of a P.S. But before its 1/11/11 DEBUT on BET, I stumbled into the opportunity to CONGRATULATE BET's President and CEO Debra Lee with tidings of high-ratings and quality entertainment. This, while I was on a quick shoot at BET's NYC headquarters in Times Square... and she just happened to be in the office.But also, I have to shout out creator of "The Game" (and "Girlfriends") - my friend Mara Brock-Akil and her husband and professional partner Salim (who is running this show which shot in Atlanta). They are actually in NYC for the big 1/11/11 PREMIERE... and I got to SHOUT THEM OUT in person as well. More acurately, Mara and Salim are friends of two dear friends (Nichole & Carl), but we all are quite fond of each other.

In fact, Nichole was gracious to ensure my face was in the place to watch "THE GAME" with everybody at Butter in Downtown Manhattan (just as the snow storm began). Nichole truly understands that this story is a GREAT EXAMPLE of where "POP CULTURE" and "POSSIBILITIES" meet at the pass in "... THE LIFE OF RILEY...". It's always a further pleasure to be able to communicate NOT INTO THIN AIR, but often to MARA and SALIM DIRECTLY, my praise and criticques of their AWESOME WORK. 

First things first, I got to meet all of the cast members. Each of them was so nice. And all of them are so happy that BET has picked up the show. At one point, Salim (whose Uncle Rick is a dear friend of mine) gave a speech that celebrated the "powerful women" in his professional world (and - of course - his personal world: MARA). Then, Mara took everybody to church as she "testified" on how she felt - as show-runner for the "The Game" that was canceled by CW - that she had let 'the team' down. And speaking through the emotions, the suddenly tear-filled cast (and me) assured her she did the best she could. And as Mara put it, inside the stillness and the crossroad, BET stepped up to the plate and reminded them all that they are loved and worthy. But it wasn't all crying. When we all sat down to watch the premiere of "The Game", it was like watching a movie in the theater. Our mouths dropped and our eyes were wide open during various parts. It was fun to see the cast-members watch themselves... and shout out to my friends Mara and Salim for their stellar script-writing. And it was so cute to see Wendy Raquel Robinson (Tasha Mack) trying on "The View"s Sherri Shephard's Donatella Versace heels. Also, a shout out to my friend Ron Donovan - shoe designer with the most. Coincidentally, the episode of "Mo'Nique" that came on after "The Game"s follow-up "Let's Stay Together" featured its host in Ron's shoes. GO RON! Afterwards, we all shared a car back to our respective snow digs. Mara and Salim - who say they respect my opinion about their shows in particular - asked what I really thought... no chaser! And in addition to celebrating them for how well they light "Black folks", I told them I was sick to my stomach as if I had been on a treacherous rollercoaster ride. "... and I loved it and want to go on the ride again!" LOL! I also "begged" Mara and Salim to consider a "Girlfriends" finale on "The Game" (perhaps if there's an additonal season on BET?). To remind you, "Joan" - Tracee Ellis Ross' character on "Girlfriends" - is Melanie Barnett's first cousin (as played by Tia Mowry-Hardrict).

So, my thought is Melanie could leave San Diego for a weekend to attend and participate in her cousin Joan's wedding in L.A. During the wedding, Toni and Joan reunite. VOILA, right? BUT FOR NOW, we'll all just bask in the UNPRECEDENTED EXCITEMENT of a show we LOVE getting resuscitated on an iconic network that will take care of it! WIN-WIN!!!

20-11 IS HERE!!!!!


Upon my return from Savannah and Atlanta, I stumbled into enough to keep me entertained – including a welcome reunion with my Chicago-based Morehouse brother Eddie. We went to Nectar Wine Bar in Harlem. Then, my buddies Jamar, Ryan, Mario (also a Morehouse brother), and I hung out. Ultimately, we all ended up at friend Nathan’s Wednesday SPLASH set.


The next night – as in the eve of the eve – was to simply be ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT. But as soon as I scooped Ant up from his Denver travels, I received a call from NBC’s TODAY SHOW – asking me to participate in a brief interview – excerpt of which would be included in a piece my friend Mara Schiavocampo, NBC News’ Digital Correspondent was filing for New Year’s Eve day on the ball drop in New York Times Square. Though a link (to share with you) has still evaded me, it ran all day – between two hours inside TODAY and several rounds on MSNBC. Though a brief sound-bite of my pop culture analysis was used, it counts as my "debut" on THE TODAY SHOW! I've been a recurring presence on NBC's air for a couple of years now   - including:


 * "NBC Nightly News w/Brian Williams" (on-line) - OBAMA'S POUND: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXc6x5JlJuw


* "NBC Nightly News w/Brian Williams" (on-line) - THE LAST DECADE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pYKZBjEx40


And I'm hoping to do more with MSNBC and NBC-owned WWW.THEGRIO.COM - which has expressed interest in re-purposing some of my content - here in 2011! STAY TUNED! The plan is to build on my TV personality work this year!



Please be sure to come by and join us this Thursday January 13th for ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT at NATIVE Restaurant (LENOX AVENUE & 118th Street). On the eve of the eve, we had such a GREAT TIME! I mentioned my Morehouse BFF Eddie was in town. So, after my TODAY taping, I rushed up to Harlem’s new restaurant THE RED ROOSTER to join him and his friends. Then, our ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT was the place to be – including many friends… and even family… in the house – including my Marcia Pendelton (Walk Tall Girl Productions); Marva Hill (Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem); my nephew; his Spelman sister Evelyn; Sidra; Ern; Tata; and others. This past Thursday was also a great FIRST ALL-STAR KARAOKE for 2011. In fact, we even had a surprise guest, but I have to wait to tell you who. STAY TUNED. I'll hip you after she gives me permission to say... HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT THURSDAY! We never know who will drop by...!!!!! WILL IT BE YOU????? Can anybody bring MISS HILSON by...? Keri Hilson's latest muse (a la ROSS) is proving a distraction these days. I CAN'T KEEP MY EYES OFF OF HER! GO KERI! LOL! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAuBulJ1bTk

 HAPPY 2011

Ant, Ern, Kimberly, and I came into 2011 together by way of Cindy and her fiance John’s NEW YEAR'S BASH… on the Jersey side! The event was well-appointed w/good people; food; and - of course - a cocktail or two! NO HANGOVERS though! There's work to do in 20-11!!!! ALRIGHT!!!!!!!? And Kimberly hosted a lovely dinner to set the year off right! In fact, Leonard Joseph who I've known for years (through Kim) hipped me to something I never knew about him. He plays the piano in Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H-jLOoz-YY. So while at Kimberly's place, she led me to an article that was inside a beautifully-bound family history book that Kimberly's family put together. Since some of her family members are/were members of the United House of Prayer for All People - the church in which both of my parents' families reared them, she thought I'd get a kick out of one particular article. It was from 'The Washington Afro American" (a Black paper during the day). The dateline was May 22, 1962. And what I would go onto read kinda' spooked me out. In bold, my mother's name: QUEEN B. RILEY and also in the article, the names of many near and dear - including my Aunt Goldie (Dad's sister who hosted our Christmas dinner 2010); my cousin who is much like an Aunt Mamie Haines Prescott (Haines as in the maiden name of my mother's mother Saphronia whose brother Ned is Mamie's father); Willie Mae McCoy (dear family friend); Richard Williams (whose father was my dad's father's first cousin); and others. See the excerpt here:  
The Washington Afro-American
May 22, 1962
McCollough Bares Three Million $ Building Plan


"...When Bishop McCollough arrived at the House of Prayer, he was thonged by friends and well-wishers. The Grace Band played a march as the religious leader marched smiling down the aisles of the House of Prayer. Savannah's Grace Soldiers and Grace WACS performed marching routines, high - lighted by the mass information of a large "V" to signify Daddy McCollough's lop-sided victory. Bishop McCollough was then presented with an illuminating cape by Richard Williams, representing the Grace Soldiers, a crown by Beatrice Mars, representing the Grace Jubilaires and a staff by Willie Mae McCoy, representing the Grace WACS. Sister Queen B. Riley officially welcomed Bishop McCollough to Savannah by reciting an inspiring welcome address. Mamie Haines Prescott was mistress of ceremony. She presented a complete gospel and spiritual program for Bishop McCollough..."



So recurring client BET has asked me back to produce tribute videos for the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies. Suzanne DePasse is one of honorees. You’ll recall, my Savannah homeboy Maurice Marable – a VP of Creative Services at BET (and an AWESOME film/TV director in his own right) - hooked me up with this relationship which has had me in BET’s mix several times last year.

I co-produced BET’s Black History Month campaign in 2010. I was booked to conduct backstage celeb interviews at BET Honors and SOS: Haiti telethon. And via DUBOSE ENTERTAINMENT (in 2009), I was field and story producer on two of BET’s big hits: “Monica: Still Standing” and “Frankie & Neffe”.

And as developments go, it seems each of those journeys was worth the trip as ‘Frankie’ is focusing on getting clean and sober via "Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab" on VH-1 – a steady prayer of mine while working on the show. And Monica – after all the work she put into her comeback as chronicled by our team – deserves CONGRATULATIONS as the recipient of two GRAMMY NOMINATIONS!!!!! GO MO!!!!! And THANKS MO (as in Maurice)!




See The Global Africa Project @ The Museum of Arts & Design in NYC! 100 Artists From Around the World! Open Late Thursdays, Special Admission http://bit.ly/9uFXjN
For more information, click here: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2011/1/5/your-invitation-to-experience-the-global-africa-project-in-n.html.


Shout out to Bridgit Evans (pictured left) for inviting me to participate in LOVE/YOUTH - a charitable theater project that explores the roots of bullying and harassment of LGBT youth. Stay tuned for an April performance of LOVE/YOUTH. She plucked me from ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT and invited me (along with Pernell, pictured above right - another ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT SUPERSTAR) and a number of performing artists together to workshop the content that will make up this charity benefit event. Bridgit assigned me to sing Antony & The Johnsons' "Hope There's Someone": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loNU4fVpO8E. Other great exploratory included: Keith Josef Adkins' play 'The Cycle of Infliction'. STAY TUNED for more on that, but I consider it a TOTAL HONOR to be using my singing (and a bit of my acting) talents alongside some AWESOME folks – including Bridgit; Keith Josef Adkins; Chandra Thomas; Daniel Carlton; director Tyrone Brown; and more! Bridgit wrote:”…The Lab day for the LOVE/YOUTH charity benefit event exploring LGBT bullying brought me to tears a number of times. Too much beauty to name everyone. But let's just say that Patrick L. Riley's rendition of Antony And The Johnsons 'Hope There's Someone' had the entire room sniffling. Thank you thank you to everyone who lent your time. I love you….” Just so you know (per Bridgit's words), this project arose out of the concern and heartbreak expressed by a group of high-profile and emerging theater and music artists who desired to leverage the incredible resources of the arts community to address bullying in our schools and to help build a world where all children and youth are free to be who they are without fear of persecution. Earlier this week, the LOVE/YOUTH planning team had the amazing opportunity to review the dozens of 'creative artifacts' contributed by writers ranging from Grammy-winner Sinead O'Connor to OBIE winners David Henry Hwang and Kia Corthron. Grammy nominated reggae artist Matisyahu contributed a powerful rally cry of a song, while playwright Keith Josef Adkins contributed a breathtaking monologue about a man who discovers his capacity to inflict harm at the very moment he realizes his overwhelming capacity to love another person (My song is inside this scene). From 16 year old poet Elaina Crockett came a poem offering comfort and home to teen who took his life, while Olivier Award nominee Tarell Alvin McCraney offered up a harrowing tale of a family unable to act in the wake of a son's brutal beating. The pieces are complex, gorgeous and extremely exciting, and we cannot thank the writers enough for sharing them with us. STAY TUNED! Oh! And how about that Marsha Ambrosius' "Far Away" which is a cry out to the world. It's STUNNING: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofsib2eu02o. The song and accompanying video are for the second release from her debut solo album, Late Nights & Early Mornings, due out in February 2011 (J Records). It truly makes a bold social commentary by tackling issues surrounding homosexuality and suicide. Near the close of the piece, Ambrosius discloses that she recently lost a friend to suicide, personalizing the emotion in the song.  


It’s clear that Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def have chemistry along with the genius of theater George C. Wolf. Well, compliments of my friend Ike, Ant and I got to see their latest tour de force “A Free Man of Color” which is running at the Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater. Ike is our theater buddy. We always go to great shows together or - in this case - not together, but when we connect, we have lots to talk about. (Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice bite with Sidra and Murphy at another new Harlem spot “Chocolat”). Another piece that Ike, the gang, and I recently enjoyed was Daniel Beaty's "THROUGH THE NIGHT". Well THIS JUST IN: "Through The Night" is going to be at the Westside Theatre for a Monday night run beginning January 24, 2011. Please be sure to check it out inside this limited run: http://www.darylrothproductions.com/throughthenight2011/full/.


You folks know how much MOMENTUM (www.momentumeducation.com) means to me. It’s some awesome work! Well, one of my friends from Momentum has just written a New York Times’ Best Seller (or – at least – with your help, it will be). Her tome: “CONSIDER IT DONE” – a how-to on accomplishing 228 of life’s trickiest tasks. February 1st is when it comes out! Please check it out. http://consideritdonebook.com and http://consideritdone.com and http://facebook.com/consideritdonebook and http://twitter.com/juliesubotky 


So, I write all the time about our good friend Charlie T and all of her amazing photography. She and her partner Danielle often host us for special occasions i.e. Thanksgiving; The Grammys; The Oscars; etc. I've also told you about her "Just As We Are" Project - a traveling photo exhibit and campaign that highlights the positivity and diversity inside LGBT culture. She shot Ant and me for it (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/12/3/i-have-a-dream-today.html). Well, Just As We Are is on fire in 2011. They've launched a new and improved website that is more interactive and user-friendly. Also, it showcases the subjects (www.justaswearetour.org). And Charlie T is hosting the first fundraiser for "Just As We Are" 2011 in conjunction with the first out NBA former player John Amaechi. Please come, if you can. We'll be at The National Arts Club, January 18, 2011.... and SPREAD THE WORD! It's gonna be FUN & FULFILLING! 


My girlfriend Sidra knew Teena Marie well. She's personally heartbroken from her passing. She generously shared this with me... for you: "...Teena was the sweetest, most gentle, sensitive, loving, caring soul I've ever encountered. Everything about her was so sincere. I’m so happy to have called her my friend and I’m gonna miss her dearly...."


My friend Terrance Russ was to set up a dinner with RuPaul Drag Race winner BeBe Zahara Benet this week. This, as RUPAUL's DRAG RACE: CYCLE 3 is getting ready to take off (later this month - featuring guest judges like Vanessa L. Williams and Latoya Jackson). Due to the weather, we had to postpone. But in the words of MISS ROSS, I'M STILL WAITING... What a treat BeBe was when we met last summer. I will look forward to learning more... STAY TUNED! 


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