AMERICAN STROKE ASSOCIATION
Shout out to Morehouse brother Kevin Walker for interviewing me at The Apollo the night I was red carpet reporter for the American Stroke Association's "You Are The Power" Concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4mlQSWYNCI&feature=share. For more info: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2011/5/15/nothing-ventured-nothing-gained.html The footage from the evening is going to be cut into a special on Gospel Music Channel this summer. Stay tuned.
MEANWHILE, I was on the Broadway stage recently. And Whoopi Goldberg saw me on it. Well, I wasn’t performing. I was actually interviewing “By The Way, Meet Vera Stark...'s Costume Designer Emilio Esosa who proved an AWESOME spirit and personality! Whoopi happened to attend the show that night. Emilio is also a Season 7 Finalist from “Project Runway” and is working on other great shows – including “Twist” with Debbie Allen. After my Q&A, the play's star Sanaa Lathan and other cast members took pix. Awesome performances! Thanks to my girlfriend Marcia Pendelton who booked me for this gig. This, before a roll by NYC's fearless firefighters! And then, BFF Carl Nelson & I met up with a couple of his friends visiting from Brussels for a quick Thai bite at Pongsri.
BUSHWICK SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Carl Nelson also joined me when I went to speak to the Gay Straight Alliance at his alma mater Bushwick: class of ____. LOL! It’s still a mystery but what a GREAT FRIEND for attending with me. As always, it was a great group of teenagers to whom I spoke. I do these career day speeches via LGBT-youth mentoring and scholarship organization Live Out Loud - www.liveoutloud.info). The kids always have the best questions for me on the good, bad, & sometimes ugly of being out as a gay man.
TERRANCE DEAN’S “MOGUL”
My dear friend Terrance Dean invited me to be a part of a panel discussion recently: “Young, Black, Gifted, and Gay...Powerful Men in the Entertainment Industry.” It was wonderful to wax philosophical --- in an affirming way --- about being out in the industry: http://www.centerforfiction.org/calendar/young-black-gifted-and-gay-powerful-men-in-the-entertainment-industry. I was honored to sit and chat with Kevin Anthony, DJ Baker, Marlynn Snyder, Stanley Bennett Clay, and Kevin E. Taylor! LUV U GUYS! We too celebrated Terrance's debut novel "Mogul". Go check it out now! Perfect summer read!
PROJECT 1 VOICE
Remember I told you about my friend Erich McMillan-McCall's PROJECT 1 VOICE and how I shot a small scene in one of the promos? Well, it's out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJCQI15tsGs&feature=youtu.be. See me around 1:45 on link. For more info on this nationwide 6.20.11 event at which theaters all over the US will run Alice Childress' "Trouble in Mind". The NYC cast includes three TONY-Award-winners Leslie Uggams, La Chanze, Bill Irwin, and Obie-Award-winning Andre De Shields with direction by the award-winning Charles Randolph-Wright. Each city is having June 20 proclaimed Alice Childress Day: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project1voice/158820437504381 or http://www.project1voice.org/.
BLACK 2: BROADWAY
I've had the luxury of scripting this special night for many years and my friends Kevin Anthony & Sean Hollingsworth always serve up the best moments at this signature BLACK 2 BROADWAY event! http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/6/13/from-black.html This year was no exception as I scribed tributes for honorees – including my friend George Faison (Adrian Bailey sang a brilliant "If You Believe" from "The Wiz" for which George won the Tony award for Choreorgraphy - first African American in that category); Donna Walker-Kuhne; and “Ain’t Misbehavin’”. The legendary Vivian Reed hosted and sang with Kevin-Anthony.
It was 2006 when I got to not only write the scripts for the annual BLACK 2: BROADWAY event, but I too got to celebrate my friend La Chanze’s TONY win for her portrayal of Celie in “The Color Purple” (the opening night of which is when I met Ant). Well, I was so excited when my publicist girlfriend Jackie Bazan invited me to see “The Help" (https://www.facebook.com/thehelpmovie). It reminded me that La Chanze is in it – playing opposite Cicely Tyson. This much-anticipated film adaptation of the best-selling novel "The Help" is wonderful! Strong performances - including Viola Davis, Miss Octavia Spencer (in a breakout role), Harlem buddy Aunjanue Ellis, and many more. And I got to enjoy it w/Morehouse brother (and “Dreamgirls” soul-mate) Devon. We too bumped into another Morehouse brother Isoul (now at UPTOWN Magazine) as well as another friend Derrick. GREAT NIGHT which we capped off with karaoke!
Shout out to L. Londell McMillan & Tracey M. Ferguson for including a variation of the above pic on page 28 of Jones Magazine's Winter 2010 issue. My BFF Carl Nelson saved his copy for me to see. GO JONES!
Shout out to my friend Bobby Roache who generously invited me (and some of his other friends) to join him at Cole Haan SOHO Store. Great guy! And great party! Saw my Spelman sister Tai Beauchamp; buddy Frank; etc. Look for Bobby on a TV or runway near you. Stay tuned for what & where. BRAVO, Bobby! He’s the model with the most.
Speaking of Tai Beauchamp, she has an update. In addition to continuing her work as an entrepreneur, consultant, and freelance fashion/beauty/lifestyle expert & TV host, she has joined In Style Magazine (the #1 Women's Fashion Magazine) as National Correspondent. YOU GO GIRL! SO PROUD OF YOU! MUCH LOVE!
Only for J-Hud! After a full-day of work at BET and a series of late-night social events, I woke up before dawn to see her again (You recall that I first bonded with her a few years back. I got to interview her at the National Association of Black Journalists' Convention in Indy. And we even sang together when I didn't serenade her myself.). She's still a JOY as she rehearsed and then performed for GMA’s Concert Series. My friend Carl Nelson snagged the passes. And what a fun morning it was! I got to hang out with Sam Champion; Robin Roberts; Lara Spencer; and more! Shout out to George Huff, J-Hud and Fantasia's fellow American Idol finalist and now-J-Hud's background singer! J-Hud and I just had our reunion! I got to chat and do a quick photo-op. Our eyes caught and she walked right through those handlers to hug and say HI!
Of course, my friendship with Savannah homeboy Maurice Marable is well documented in my blog: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/3/4/-weve-come-a-long-way-baby.html. Certainly he is a key player in “… the life of Riley…” and has been since we started high school in the mid-‘80s. I am still honored to have been among those loved ones who got to attend his wedding to the too-fierce and most-friendly Karen Good. Those in the mix included his nuclear & extended family (who I’ve known these years as well). And what an AWESOME and ROMANTIC weekend it was. Air jaunts from NYC to Kingston, then Kingston to Montego Bay presented us with a less-than-two-hour ride from Montego Bay to Negril. The Rock House was the backdrop for the wedding and all associated festivities. And wherever I turned my head, LOVE WAS IN THE AIR! Add in the mix: our beloved mutual friends – including one of our adolescent buddies Rae D. Mack (now a Brooklyn-based personal shopper and bridal concierge extraordinaire). And the presence of many of my fellow/sister journalists (of the highest order [READ: Kierna Mayo, dream Hampton, etc.].I was missing me some Joicelyn Dingle. Still, it was enjoyable to see (and spend time with) literary agent Marie Brown; filmmaker Charles Stone III – another Mo BFF – who showed his mic-side manner as excellent as his commercial appeal (Remember the “WHASSUP?”-Budweiser commercials?); BET blast from the black-don’t-crack past Brett Walker (who is so nice and humble); and including Maurice’s kids; his niece; and his nephew, several superstars-in-training (Mo’s son Myles, who proved ever the showman as he shut the house down in song, spoken tribute, and rap!; his stepdaughter Radiance gave a well-articulated, heartfelt tribute as well). A highlight for me (in addition to just getting some long-overdue and much-deserved paradise-like R&R with the one I love): The couple’s use of the Luther Vandross/Ashford & Simpson-penned “Brand New Day” (from “The Wiz”) in the immediate wake of the bridge/groom kiss. Karen-style, the party was officially turned ON with the perfect song: mission was complete and Miss Dorothy (ahem, Karen) eased (with Mo in tow) on down the road that was the aisle that split their seated guests who sat beneath the Yoga gazebo which faced the reflection pool in front of which the couple pledged their love. But none of us sat for long (I instantly jumped up out of my seat and began dancing! In fact, we all did! What a CELEBRATION OF LOVE!). Shout out to Hershelle Burton who produced the special wedding experience that none of us will soon forget… if ever! And CONGRATS to Mo and Karen! LOVE YOU BOTH!
So my Savannah home girl Bernie - who I haven’t seen in a few years – saved the day! Ant and I missed our flight coming back from Montego Bay to NYC – so we had to re-route to Charlotte airport… and then, connect to get home the following morning. She scooped us up and gave us food & shelter. She made the snafu FABU – including a listening session of George Michael’s “Kissing A Fool” and all things FAITH! We enjoyed the basketball game and a lovely meal at Hickory Tavern. Love some Jamaican cuisine, but a sports bar & grill with chicken tenders, quesadillas, and Caesar salad made me feel that my simple-palette knows what it's talking about. I'm just sayin'... And our comfy night in her beautiful home (+ a fun & heartfelt walk down memory lane) had me feeling so LOVED and GRATEFUL to have life-long friends like Bernie!
I also got to hang out with other Savannah BFFs (since 7th grade) Tish (Cookiehead Jenkins) & Ernest Maynor! We had great meals and a long-overdue gathering with our favorite couple Mara Schiavocampo and Tommie Porter. We even got to see my buddy Will with whom I sometimes do field shoots (He’s a Director of Photography). Our well-appointed brunch menu turned into a day-long marathon of food and fun. Also, our dear friends Danielle Andrea Simone Knight & Bernard Jablonka did their annual event. They hosted a sequel to last year’s Memorial Day Weekend blast. Highlights included seeing my dearest Adrene Clarke Williams; her hubby Paul; other BFFs Linda Gadsby; Pam; Ernest Maynor; etc. NICE EXHALE after a busy last few months. And shout out to Harlem buddy Jamar Dunn. He made sure we were in the house for other friend Ryan Hall’s Super Last Minute Birthday Bash. Wasn’t a late night, but a FUN ONE at which time I got to sport my new MISS ROSS T-shirt that Ant bought for me!
My friends and brothers in the biz Nathan Hale Williams and Lloyd Boston are producing "An Evening with Rodney Chester" on June 22nd. Come and enjoy what promises to be an awesome night at the Faison Firehouse Theatre. Rodney is a hoot! The after party will be at our beloved Native Restaurant and then, we'll move it to Splash. Click following link for more details. It's going to be a BLAST! https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=10150214362328737&set=a.10150214261483737.316970.662073736&
Shout out to my girl Keli Goff - a blogger and political analyst with whom I've had a chance to share a roundtable or two ( http://188.8.131.52/PRiley/TheTruth.wmv). She sent me her first novel “The GQ Candidate”. It’s about what happens to a group of friends when one of them runs for PREZ. It’s kinda’ where “The West Wing” meets “The Game” with a little “Entourage” to boot!
So our beloved ALL STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT is officially on summer break from our favorite Harlem restaurant Native Restaurant. But one summer hiatus can't stop my KARAOKE! LOL! In the meantime, I have been supporting my buddy Mario's KARAOKE MONDAY. It's at NO PARKING - 4168 Broadway (btw 176TH and 177th Streets). Big shout out to my ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT regulars Dayne Brett, Laron 'Howard', Harlem Anthony, Carl Nelson, and others who came out recently. WE HAD A BLAST! While we are researching some other spots, feel free to join me on Monday’s and support NO PARKING'S MONDAY NIGHT KARAOKE.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBFhlhKQFEU Did y'all see Frenchie Davis last week? She SLAYED THEM with Kelly Rowland’s hit tune “When Love Takes Over”! GO FRENCHIE! But don't cry for Kelly. She's got a #1 R&B song on and popping out there. CONGRATS, KELLY!
Shout out to my NABJ BFF Greg Dunmore for hipping me to some good news. His client & mom Jo Thompson's upcoming performance of "THANK YOU LENA" in Philly at The Clef Club (2 shows on Fri. 7/1 & another on Sat. 7/2). If you're in Philly, PLEASE DON'T MISS IT! Her NYC show was nothing short of SPECTACULAR!
I interviewed SNL alum Ana Gasteyer a couple of months ago. We hit it off. And now she has just invited me to check out her show at FEINSTEIN'S AT LOEWS REGENCY: "ELEGANT SONGS FROM A HANDSOME WOMAN" on June 13th & 27th. $30 COVER* | $50 PREMIUM SEATING* | $25 FOOD & BEVERAGE MINIMUM* DINING AT 6PM | BOOK EARLY FOR BEST SEATING FOR INFORMATION, CALL 212.339.4095 |*FEES AND TAXES APPLY
DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON
We got to continue some belated birthday LOVE for Tata & Ant recently. Our friend Carl Nelson’s “Drums Along The Hudson” was a chilly blast. But our girlfriend Tetiana Anderson warmed our hearts with her stellar hosting skills! She and I have co-hosted at past 'Drums'. Then, catfish fingers & fries at Moca in Harlem (It was games night and I ran into some friends – including Itika’s buddy Muffin). From there, long-overdue karaoke at One 7 where I stumbled into buddies Jamar, Eric, Ern, and others. FUN WEEKEND! Heavyweight icon Evander Holyfield's son is far left.
Shout out to our Harlem friend, artist Dianne Smith. Her “Syllogisms” opened recently and runs until this month. Plus, I got to host my Atlanta homegirl Condace Pressley (in town for the Peabody Awards). Even BFF Michael K. Watts; Sidra Smith; and Saundra Booker came out to play – from gallery to our beloved Native to Red Rooster for dancing!
For a working weekend, I still managed to get a little fun in. Dear friend Carla was in town from ATL – so a little BBQ & Red Robin kept us entertained as comfort food goes; my NEW ROs had a Garage Sale (Shout out to Nelson Boyce, Michelle Sanchez-Boyce, Tracey Smith, Erika Munro Kennerly, Fairoza Allie, etc.); My friend DJ Stormin Norman gets us all out to Sundae Sermon (www.sundaesermon.com/) in Harlem’s Morningside Park. Was so good to see friends Sidra Smith, Stacie J, Bevy Smith (with whom I got my groove on); Kiwan Anderson, Murphy, and a host of others. This house party in the park is nothing short of FABULOUS! Norm also jumped on the ONE-TWOs in Jamaica.
CLARICE TAYLOR R.I.P.
So glad to have met her... and enjoyed her talents over the years! As a child, I just loved her in an episode of "Sanford & Son" on which she stole the show. Then, as Grandmother Huxtable, she reigned supreme on "Cosby". Her staging of Moms Mabley's life was a recent thumbs up! JOB WELL DONE, MISS TAYLOR! XO
Next time, buddy...
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