It’s been busy y’all… but I’m blessed for it. Gonna crank out a quick entry for you as “…the life of Riley…” is moving at warp speed! LOL! Let’s go!
THE LINKS, INCORPORATED
CONGRATS to THE LINKS, INCORPORATED! I got the chance produce (via BET) all of the video and design elements that will be presented at the 65th Anniversary GALA of The Links. Ant and I are going. It’s this weekend. Big THANKS to my BET fam and to Miss Lynn Whitfield who graciously allowed me to book her as the narrator of all the videos. SHE'S GREAT!
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
From recurring client in Chi-town to 'Anderson Cooper' to THE VIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYcbwpTXbWU, the talk world (and often integrated marketing content) has - among other clientele - kept this freelancer afloat in 2011. With that, shout out to “The Wendy Williams Show”. The execs there brought me on board to field produce Wendy in the British Virgin Islands. We had a BLAST! And there’s a big trip giveaway. You better go check it out right now: www.wendyshow.com.
As my old Chicago client uses me anew for some of her new fare, I also got an invitation to celebrate “Welcome to Sweetie Pies” which is my favorite new OWN show. In fact, I accepted my Spelman sister Tosha Whitten-Griggs' invite to STK Downtown in NYC’s Meatpacking district to meet Miss Robbie Montgomery and her son Tim Norman. Before Robbie opened their popular St. Louis soul food dynasty, she was once an Ikette (as in Tina Turner with whom she chanted. Remember Vanessa Bell Calloway in the bio-pic?). Among others, Mary Wilson & Cindy Birdsong lip sync’d sometimes to Robbie’s actual recording vocals. She sang behind Miss Ross’ lead vocal on “Someday We’ll Be Together”, their last #1 as Diana Ross & The Supremes. AWESOME MOTHER & SON!
Afterwards, we ran into publicist friend Michelle Huff and her friends Kiki; Neil; and Chris. They convinced us to join them at The Double 7 for some fun cocktails and rosemary fries. They served me a strawberry pepper fix with Bianco tequila, lemon, strawberries, black pepper...and a little chocolate. COOL SPOT! Michelle is the publicist for one of my favorite singers Tamia!
THURGOOD MARSHALL FOUNDATION
Shout out to Hallema Sharif and Sidra Smith for inviting me to The Thurgood Marshall College Fund's 24th Anniversary Dinner (www.tmcfund.org) at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers. Many friends were in the house - including Nathan Hale Williams. Also: Melyssa Ford; Jamie Foster Brown; Rebecca Crews; Blair Underwood; Russell Simmons; Cuba Gooding Jr.; my Morehouse brother Rockmond Dunbar; and Lamman Rucker (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/tag/lamman-rucker). Ant and I got to see his Off-Broadway play "Black Angels over Tuskegee". GREAT SHOW that you should - for sure - check out. It's Broadway bound, too! This, as the New York Association of Black Journalists hosted a big Schomburg event in Harlem where companion to the upcoming “Red Tails” film, “Double Victory” was screened. And a few Tuskegee Airmen were in the house – interviewed by Ed Gordon. We first introduced this project to the National Association of Black Journalists in Philadelphia at our annual convention.
REED BETWEEN THE LINES
Speaking of NABJ: CONGRATS to Tracee Ellis Ross; Malcolm-Jamal Warner; & BET Networks on a strong debut with "REED BETWEEN THE LINES"! http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/bet-hip-hop-awards-ratings-247427 We had the chance to introduce the cast at NABJ in Philly back in August as well.
I went to Rush Arts Gallery recently to toast artist/philanthropist Danny Simmons. Co-founder of Def Poetry Jam (along with brothers Russell and Joey [Rev. Run]), his book “Deep in Your Best Reflection: Poems” brought many out to celebrate. My girl Loren Lillian (now L.A. actress) performed. It’s a book of erotic poetry.
I was so excited to support my friends Ivonne & Matt’s special event at Nectar Wine Bar. Nectar turned over the kitchen to Chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson. We experienced why he won Rocco’s Dinner Party with his flair at turning the ordinary into extraordinary. We were delighted with four pairs of food & wine from Napa’s handcrafted Joseph Carr Winery. Chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson & Joseph Carr engaged guests with their insights on the autumnal menu of culinary delights. DJ Amanda Diva rocked the after party.
MOREHOUSE COLLEGE GLEE CLUB
Thanks to my CAU sister Audrey Irvine for assigning me my debut piece for CNN.com on Morehouse College Glee Club & King's LEGACY! It published the weekend of the Martin Luther King monument unveiling. If you missed it, please check it out here: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/14/us/mlk-memorial-morehouse-glee-club/index.html.
My friend Carl Nelson invited us to the reading for a play he’s poised to produce for Broadway or somewhere near. The National Black Theater tonight. The amazing play is called "The Contract". It was written by James Webb (pictured here with Carl). His play won the 2010 Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. LOOK OUT FOR IT! IT’S GOOD!
My Morehouse brother Kenyatta Lyles hipped me to a project on which he’s working. WebStar Presents provides a central location for talent, becoming the premier venue for talent scouts to find the stars of tomorrow. These global citizens will become the WebStar Presents family by creating memberships on our website. Members will be allowed to win cash prizes each week by uploading their videos for FREE! PLEASE CHECK IT OUT: www.webstarpresents.com. It’s the WHAT’S NEXT & WHAT’S NOW!
FROM FATHERLESS TO FATHERHOOD
Shout out to my Morehouse brother Kobie Brown who is making things happen via his ground-breaking documentary "From Fatherless to Fatherhood": http://www.fromfatherlesstofatherhood.com/ecards/fundraiser/ It explores the importance of Fatherhood and will begin to screen in NYC and nationwide soon. For more information: http://youtu.be/5AUuE25hpyM
“…the life of Riley…” is always singing the praises of my Savannah homeboy Maurice Marable – literally and in the blogosphere (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/3/4/-weve-come-a-long-way-baby.html). Non-profit media arts organization “Project SET” honored Mo. Also honored: several other friends – including Erika Munro Kennerly (TRUTV). And Rashad Robinson (COLOROFCHANGE.ORG). And MTV icon Sway also got a nod. Each provided words of acceptance that moved not only the young people, but all of us. TESTIMONY is POWER! The well-appointed evening (c/o Hershelle Burton’s Velvet Rope Ink event management) featured the fabulous DJ Illah (my BET buddy Keyon Williams). And Plum Photography’s Kelli Malcolm (project manager on my current BET project for The Links, Incorporated’s 65th Anniversary). And MANY of my favorites were in the house – from filmmaker Andre Wilkins to Mo’s wife Karen Good Marable to my favorite lady Bevy Smith to diva songstress KJ Rose and so many more – including my BET fam. As a mentor of many via the National Association of Black Journalists and Live Out Loud (LGBT-youth mentoring organization), I LOVE that Project SET is doing what it does (and EXCITED to have gotten an invitation to speak to the kids someday soon). CONGRATS TO ALL! www.projectset.org
Go ELEW, GO! Shout out to my friend and his team (Nancy Hirsch) on his world take-over! The ROCKJAZZ pianist is conquering stage, screen, & stadium this month - including a tour he's been on with Josh Groban that wraps at the Garden here in NYC November 14th: Tickets available at: http://bit.ly/qSjqEb. FOLLOW ELEW ON TWITTER: @ELEWROCKJAZZ. VISIT THE OFFICIAL ELEW HOMEPAGE AT www.ELEWROCKJAZZ.com. See his 'America's Got Talent' audition as reminder of his GENIUS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwnVgOJE3dk. He had to drop once Josh's invite to join him on tour came to be.
AMERICA’S GOT TALENT
I shared with you how a scout from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” came up to me after I sang at a karaoke bar in NYC and scheduled an appointment for me to audition for the show (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2010/12/1/i-recall-the-scenes-that-never-die.html). Though the audition went well, I didn’t hear from them for what would have been last season. Well, read on. I didn't get the following email (from a senior casting director at "America's Got Talent") until I got back from the BVI... and it was too late (for now... at least). I was away when the call-back of sorts came: "Hi Patrick, You auditioned with us in New York last season with an amazing singing talent. We are holding auditions for season 7 in New York this weekend. I'd like you to meet us again. Can you audition today? I can set you up for an appointment so you don't have to wait in line. If so, let me know what time you can come in." Next time...
ALL STAR KARAOKE
As I continue to miss ALL-STAR KARAOKE (and am looking at ways to bring it back to you), shout out to my friend Brandon Bain who hosts LIVE BAND KARAOKE at Rock 'n Rose (formerly Top Tunes). After a long day of edit, I got the chance recently to pop by and do a few songs with the band. We ROCKED on Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield"!!!! GOOD TIMES! I'm missing karaoke. Have yet to firm up the return of ALL-STAR KARAOKE, but it's still on my list of TO-DOs!
Always great to support friend (Ant’s BFF) Manivone Nonthaveth – THE ARTIST! Her exhibition CONSUMED is up and running at bOb bar (www.bobbarnyc.com). All of Ant’s Denver peeps were in the house. I got my BFF Carl Nelson and Luigi to pop by as well. We too celebrated my fellow Scorpio Manivone’s birthday. And she got the best BIRTHDAY gift of all: SHE SOLD OUT! CONGRATS, MANIVONE (www.elleFANTart.com)!
While our friend Ashley’s mom Rita and cousin Christine were in town, we got to take them to see Broadway’s “Sister Act”.
Whoopi has a hit on her hands (she's a producer). This spectacular co-stars our buddy Chester Gregory.
It was GREAT.
While out, we ran into La La (of “La La’s Full Court” fame).
She was with her son and our girlfriend Po Johnson who too is featured on the show.
Just before Halloween, we went out for TRICK OR TREAT. We got both! LOL! Actually, it was ALL TREAT: a LIVE musical performance by our friend PO JOHNSON who is a new, up-and-coming recording artist represented by our friend Michelle Sanchez-Boyce and Phillana Williams. You can purchase her latest single "Super Kinda Psycho Sexy Love" on itunes at: http://itun.es/iBp3LG#iTunes. This was another James-Kinney-produced set (www.kinneygroupcreative.com), which also featured the song stylings of TESS (@TheNameIsTess). The Stone Rose Lounge was the intimate backdrop – overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle which sparkled as the residue of Saturday’s wintry mix met with the moonlight. Michelle, of course, brought many of our favorite New Ro’s & Mount Vernon’s into the mix – including my ‘Amazing Grace’ Nichole and artist Cynthia Burgos. And we invited our girlfriend Ashley to join in on the fun of seeing Po rock it out. Also in the house: singer extraordinaire KJ Rose; BRAVO's "Fashion Show" winner Jeffrey Williams; and Kevin "Moochie" Freeman ("Real Housewives of Atlanta"). Shout out to www.AE3Sixty.com
Speaking of FASHION check out my dear friend Cole McDonagh on the front page of www.barneys.com. As today's model's go, he is one to watch! CONGRATS, COLE!
Nippy in "Sparkle" - collaborating with my friends Mara Brock Akil & Salim Akil! GIVE US SOMETHING WE CAN FEEL, Y'ALL! XO I’m excited…and can’t wait to see WHITNEY HOUSTON return to the big screen in the remake of the 1976 film classic (www.whitneyhouston.com). The movie began principal photography a couple of weeks ago in Detroit, Michigan. It’s the story of the title character Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), the youngest of three sisters and a music prodigy who struggles to become a star.
I just ran into my buddy Warrington Hudlin recently. In addition to always shouting out and acknowledging how he reads my blog "A Day in the Life of Riley: pop culture & possibilities" (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/7/22/in-a-world-of-fading-treasures-love-is-the-greatest-pleasure.html), he invited me (and NOW YOU) to join him for the 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE NEW WAVE OF BLACK CINEMA! WOW! And we talked about more than his event on Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=172397769516886. I told him I myself have been thinking of his AWESOME legacy in pop culture via my Spelman sister AJ Johnson’s “Life After” episode that ran on TV ONE this past week: http://tvoneonline.com/about-life-after/episodes/season-3/aj-johnson. As a Morehouse Man, I knew her story…but what a LIFE CLASS she brought me. INSPIRING and TOUCHING testimonial of AMBITION, LOSS, & PURPOSE! Warrington and I then spoke of losing HEAVY D and how he and his brother Reginald produced/directed the first video for HEAVY D & THE BOYZ! ALL OF THIS IN MY LIFETIME…and the aforementioned: just today!
RAY AGHAYAN - Oscar-nominated costume designer ("Lady Sings The Blues")/partner of Bob Mackie
SID MELTON - Miss Ross co-star in "Lady Sings The Blues"
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