Thanks to all of you for your WELL-WISHES & concern. Hopefully by the time you read this, I will have power. But for now, I am among the 2.6 milliion New Jersey households without it. And our town of Ridgefield Park flooded something terrible, though there's no damage to the interior of our home. Cabin fever is getting the best (or worst) of me, but neighbor BFF Ernest Maynor, Ant, and I are joining forces to stay fed and as comfy as possible. Dear friends Mara Schiavocampo & Tommie Porter opened up their home to us - so we got our hot food & water; cocktails; great chat; and Nina on! Just a few days prior, The Porters were The Carters (with Blue Ivy AKA Nina in tow) for a Halloween Party! Another day had me hanging out at a friend's office - for recharging; computer use (hence this note); etc. To all who have lost - property or loved ones, I'm CLEAR my situation could be a lot worse and I extend my PRAYERS of comfort and speedy recovery your way! One friend, publicist Rachel Noerdlinger, tweeted while we were at CAMP PORTER (@Mara Schiavocampo & Tommie Porter): “I'm in a house full of serious journalists stranded from #Sandy. Are we watching the news? Nope. @patarack wants to watch the Voice. SMH (NOTE FROM @PATARACK: I'M MISSING ALL MY SHOWS! "The Voice", "RuPaul", "X Factor", "Life After", Marvin Gaye's crime file on TV One, Toni Braxton's "Behind The Music", and SO MUCH MORE as the days go on I.E. “GLEE (GREASE episode)”; etc.! LOL! I'll catch it on demand or whenever... but IJS! LOL!)
The New York Association of Black Journalists, Essence Magazine and Black Employees @ Time Inc. came together to honor former WNBC anchor Sue Simmons in a special award ceremony. The spirited evening took place at the Time-Life Building and felt like a family reunion - between my best buddies from the current Board of the New York Association of Black Journalists - including NYABJ Prez Mike Feeney, Dwight Oestricher, and the evening's host Cheryl Wills (NY-1); my NYABJ friends-for-life - including Essence Editor-in-Chief Constance White; WABC 7's Sandra Bookman (Anchor/Reporter/Host, "Here & Now"); fashion writers Robin Givhan and Walter Greene; another NBC legend Al Roker who (like Sue) I produced in the late '90s via NBC 4's special projects division; and a couple of my friends and icons from the arts: well-known writer/producer/NYC socialite Susan Fales Hill (known for "A Different World"); writer/producer/NYC socialite Susan Fales Hill (known for "A Different World"); Tony-award-winning choreographer George Faison (Owner, Faison Firehouse Theater in Harlem) and Miss Valerie Simpson who serenaded Sue with a beautiful, self-accompanied rendition of one of the classics co-written by Valerie and her late, great husband and songwriting partner Nickolas Ashford, "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing". Sue was as happy to see me as I was to see her. In the words of the invite, she 'truly left an unforgettable mark during her more than 30 years on the New York City station," A host of other NABJ family members were in the house - including NABJ Executive Director Maurice Foster.
JUDGE LYNN TOLER
Before heading home from the Sue Simmons event, I went by M Bar in Mansfield hotel to catch up with another NABJ sister friend Nicole Childers. Her client, Divorce Court's Judge Lynn Toler is in town to promote her new book, "Making Marriage Work." http://www.agatepublishing.com/book/?GCOI=93284100848410. You may know that she's been the Divorce Court judge since 2006 and in the course of the past month has appeared on Dr. Drew's HLN show and MSNBC's "The Cycle." And while here, she was on some fun and familiar airwaves here in the city - including 'Wendy Williams' and her weekly HOT TALK panel. My Morehouse BFF Michael K. Watts, Ant, and others were in the mix - holding court with the very lovely, engaging, and funny Judge Lynn. Great night in NYC! (Good to see my Morehouse brother Mario Ephraim’s aunt back on the tube via an installment of “Life After” (Divorce Court) on TV One: www.tvone.tv/content/tvone_site1/en/shows/life_after.html! We ALSO LOVE Judge Mablean… and Judge Lynn Toler does too! I asked her!).
BRANDY was in town recently for a $32.00 concert at Best Buy Theater in Times Square (right across the street from my recurring client BET). Ant, BFF since 7th grade Ern, and I attended along with a sold-out crowd that included many of our friends - including Morehouse BFFs Mario and Michael K. Watts, who covered the event for his concert review and highlights site "LIVE! From Front Row" which shot Brandy's Whitney Tribute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQiQk6nOPdc and so much more that you can enjoy here: www.youtube.com/livefromfrontrow.
Courtesy of "LIVE! From Front Row":
FINAL Brandy set list;
Top of the world
Sitting up in my room
Medley: Best friend/Baby/I wanna be down
Whitney Houston Medley: I'm your baby tonight/How Will I Know/I wanna dance with somebody
Have you ever
Almost Doesn't count
Put It Down
FOR MORE INFO on BRANDY's NEW RELEASE: http://www.rcarecords.com/news/brandy-release-highly-anticipated-album-two-eleven-october-16thEarlier that day, it’s worth noting that one of my colleagues from Chicago-based Harpo, Caroline Ziv, popped into town on business. She’s one of the BEST producers I know in the business! Of course, between her meetings, she dedicated some time to catch-up and break-bread with me at Serafina! Great to see you, ZIV!
WILD WITH HAPPY
Shout out to Marcia Pendelton and Lauren Tobin - both of whom have been asking me to come out to see "WILD WITH HAPPY", a world premiere written by and featuring Colman Domingo ( http://www.newstimes.com/entertainment/article/Who-s-a-busy-boy-Actor-playwright-Colman-Domingo-3915439.php). I've sung his praises from his tour de force performance in Broadway's "Passing Strange" (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/3/15/twas-passing-strange.html). Then, I penned his hosting words at one of Black 2 Broadway's Tony Awards events (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2010/6/19/postcards-from-the-edge.html). Now, Colman is in previews at the Public Theater and what a wonderful piece. And this time, it's a work that also features my Morehouse brother Maurice McRae in a BRILLIANT performance. Maurice is my MOREHOUSE BIG BROTHER; he directed me in several staged productions at Morehouse; we were in the glee club together; etc. GREAT FRIEND!!!
Here is a description of the work:
WILD WITH HAPPY
By Colman Domingo
Directed by Robert O'Hara
Featuring Colman Domingo, Korey Jackson, Maurice McRae,
and Sharon Washington
October 9 - November 11
From Colman Domingo (a Tony Award® nominee for The Scottsboro Boys and an Obie Award winner for Passing Strange) comes a deeply imaginative and utterly outrageous new work that explores the bizarre comedy that lies within death and healing. Gil, an actor who's struggling to carve out his own new life, finds his worlds colliding when his mother dies and he decides to have her cremated. But where should he scatter the ashes? And can he make a fairytale ending for her in the one place that made her WILD WITH HAPPY? Domingo leads a cast of four. And directing is Obie winner Robert O'Hara.
Our friend Michelle Sanchez Boyce inspired an ENERGY OF LOVE – ALL FOR HER – at a birthday party she and her husband, our buddy Nelson Boyce hosted. It was a fun set at their New Rochelle home which features a back-deck patio – ripe for poet Mums and Grammy-award winning Anthony Hamilton to wax poetical; philosophical; political; psychological (and everything else). And also, a house full of GREAT FOOD and our New Rochelle (and Bergen County) favorites – including my Amazing Grace Nichole and a host of other festive folks!
Shout out to Ant’s cousin Taricq! We celebrated his birthday last night at ReCoup and Fat Buddha Bar! Taricq and his Multi Vision team performed at the first set (www.multivisionent.com) and what a FAMILY REUNION it was!
Ant’s Denver BFF and art soul-mate Manivone’s birthday was yesterday. We toasted my Scorpio sister at Clinton Hill’s Speedy Romeo. Then, we continued our hang in Brooklyn. Always good to be in the BK with our peeps!
We’ve still been getting some casual karaoke in when we can. Popped over to Astoria to join Ant’s cuz Shantay for some fun! While at One 7 Karaoke recently, I stumbled into one of my karaoke buddies Javier Millan. He excited me with the news that he is a contestant on "IDOLOS de la cancion" - an "American Idol" for the Latin audience in which participants impersonate a Latin music icon or current superstar (http://tv.univision.com/sabado-gigante/article/2007-08-03/idolos-de-la-cancion). Check him out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=necxEyG6p9s. Congrats, Javier!
NEW MUSIC: TAVARES STEPHENS & KENNY CARR
You all read about my ‘Amazing Grace’ Natalie in my CNN piece a few months ago (http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/07/living/gay-best-friend/index.html). Well, she’s family! Her brother-in-law Tavares is family too…and I’m excited to tell you about something this Atlanta-based artist is doing. It’s all here on his webite: www.tavaresstephens.com. But let me wax proud for a moment. He’s been working on a praise and worship music project/CD titled “The Ascension Project”... and it is something to behold. Again, you can find it at www.tavaresstephens.com.
It is a five track EP that is a fusion of contemporary praise and worship and spoken word poetry. Tavares wrote, executive produced, and co-produced the CD. He says it's truly a unique offering that can make a difference in the way it will minister to people's hearts. The project is an independent project; so, please check it out; buy it; share it; spread the word! In addition to being able to hear the music on his site, you can also watch video clips of live performances (like this one: http://youtu.be/vq9qqwMJ1eI). MEANWHILE, a pop into Hillstone to use the restroom and to then have a glass of iced tea turned into a quick bite with my friend Shareen (Uber-Producer at “The Bill Cunningham Show”) and her husband, the most awesome musician Kenny Carr who has some new music coming out soon. I can’t wait to share! (You’ll recall, Shareen and I worked alongside each other in 2009 while producing reality shows “Monica: Still Standing” and “Frankie & Neffe”. LOVE THAT COUPLE & THOSE TWO INDIVIDUALS!). But back to Kenny: He is a Composer, Producer, Singer, and Musician. I know his trombone playing from the United House of Prayer for All People - my family church. He and I still have many mutual peeps from that common ground. But Kenny is now internationally renowned as one of the world’s premier soulful jazz trombonists and shout band recording artists. He's apepared on Grammy nominated recordings, Dove award winning projects, and has been named the Best of North Carolina Music Artist. The Charlotte native has performed with and shared the stage with the likes of Ramsey Lewis, Wycliffe Gordon, Jonathan Butler, Al Green, Gladys Knight, and the late Ray Charles. His talents extend across genres, allowing Kenny to share his talents with gospel greats Vickie Winans, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Bishop Ronald Brown, and John P Kee. Kenny has toured and shared his musical expertise internationally with his solo project “Sound the Alarm” (2003). He has also broadened his repertoire to include Executive Producer of the amazing masterpiece, “The Seal Breakers” (2011). And Kenny’s latest gift, “Amazing Love” (2012) will certainly secure him as one of the best musicians of all times. That's the one I'm excited to share with you when it's time! CONGRATS, TAVARES & KENNY: pop culture and possibilities at their BEST!
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