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Harlem Sparkle

AMAZING GRACEs

Thanks to ALL OF YOU who had such kind things to say about my CNN.com article in which I explore the relationship between gay men and their best girlfriends: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/07/living/gay-best-friend/index.html... and the companion blog entry: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/8/7/my-girls.html. Coincidentally, I got to see a few of them I don’t get to see often this week. I got to toast one of the muses for the ‘gay men/best female friend’ project this past Friday at The Empire Hotel (www.empirehotelnyc.com). A host of us of who LOVE us some Nichole were in the house… and to make it even more special, two of my additional BFF LADY FRIENDS Mara Schiavocampo and Itika Oldwine joined me to toast their ‘fellow Amazing Grace’ as well. I also got the chance to see two of my lady friends last weekend in DC: Latecia Engram invited BFF-since-7th-grade Ern and me to her Baptism which took place this morning at Shiloh Baptist Church. Her brother Bill with whom we got to enjoy a great dinner at Cheesecake Factory. Then, after the beautiful service today, Tish and her many guests (including several of our Spelman sisters) went to Woodmont Grill (AKA Houston’s) in Bethesda, MD. Another BFF of the “Amazing Grace” kind, Lisa Goodnight, came to join us for our repast. I’ve missed her so since leaving NJ/NYC in 2004. So, being able to catch up with her was a special treat and quite a BLESSING!

EAGLE ROCK RESORT

This past weekend, childhood BFF Ernest Maynor joined Ant & me for an overnight stay at The Eagle Rock Resort in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania (www.eaglerockresort.com). This was a gift from my Godchild Owen Angelo’s parents, my friends Owen and Sandy! There was lots of home-cooking (a lot of GREAT FILIPINO FARE); ping pong; karaoke; spa treatments;  the beach; AND SO MUCH MORE, The Eagle Rock Resort may be an investment in our near future. Just the getaway we all needed before a new work week. Plus, so good to spend FUN TIME with Owen Angelo who I got the chance to serenade. After my first viral serenade to MISS NINA went over so well (She's the daughter of my BFFs Mara Schiavocampo and Tommie Porter: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4360775780176), Ant captured this performance - more of a lullaby - as Ern picked Taylor Dayne's "Love Will Lead You Back" for us to sing: https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?v=10151031254953737; Owen climbed up near me for a front-row seat; then he began to fall asleep (LOL!). Ant captured it all. And with a little help from the karaoke machine and Ern on when-to-come-in support, we knew clearly that WE ARE A FAMILY...and LOVE LEADS US BACK EVERYTIME! XO

UBC-TV NETWORKS

Shout out to Peggy Dodson and her UBCTV NETWORKS! She recently booked me to host her red carpet which had me interviewing America’s Next Top Model ALL-STARs ISIS (Remember her?); and Prince Malik Records’ Prince Malik (His new single “So Bad” is now available for fans on iTunes following an overwhelming response from listeners on radio favorites KTUs iHeartRadio and Z100 (executive produced by Tony Dofat, the GRAMMY-award-winning producer for The Notorious B.I.G.; Heavy D; Mary J. Blige; and Soul For Real). The pointed occasion (beyond the launch of this new, multi-cultural, inclusive, and diverse network) was a media event taping, introducing one of its new shows THE UBC MIX (THINK: multi-cultural American Bandstand or Soul Train. Stay tuned for more details on UBC-TV; its programming; and where I may be popping up! UBC-TV will begin its national roll-out this fall, so check out www.UBCTVNETWORK.com  or UBCTV Networks Facebook page and Twitter page @UBCTV Networks for more information about UBC-TV programs, cities, and platform updates and channel listings. AND THANKS to my many FAB FRIENDS who came out to support! Special shout out to Seven Christopher and Ra-Fael Blanco – two key parts of the UBC-TV TEAM!

BLACKATLAS.COM

American Airlines, through BlackAtlas.com, announced actor Laz Alonso as the new travel ambassador of BlackAtlas.com…and what an announcement it was. The private launch party and press conference took place at the Studio Museum in Harlem. My nephew Herman Riley joined me as Alonso introduced several travel videos in which he is (and will be) featured on BlackAtlas.com, representing American Airlines and BlackAtlas.com at select events. The Rakiem Walker Band performed; celebrity mixer DJ Cosi waxed great tracks; and – the highlight of the evening – a live musical performance featuring Melanie Fiona. Celebrity chef and Harlem staple Marcus Samuelsson catered by way of his hot-spot restaurant, Red Rooster Harlem. And so many of my friends were in the house: publicists extraordinaire BJ Coleman and Katrina Boswell; stylist with the most Phillip Bloch; JET’s S. Tia Brown; my Spelman sister/TV personality Tanika Ray; the award-winning “UNSUNG” producer and more, P. Frank Williams; designer Harriette Cole (www.108STICHES.BIZ) [CONGRATS on your new line of awesome jewelry, Harriette!]; UPTOWN Magazine’s dream-team Angela Bronner Helm and my Morehouse brother Isoul Harris; other THE-HOUSE brothers Brook Stephenson; and Sekou; ABFFs Jeff Friday and Ghana Wilson; Chastity Saunders; Carlton Jarrett Lockett; Amanda DIVA; NYABJ’s President Mike Feeney; ESSENCE’s Wendy Wilson; “Rolling Out” Publisher (and Morehouse big brother) Munson Steed; multi-platform producer and artist SOULEO; journalist/stand-up comic Chloe Hilliard; and many more. Also in the mix: “Basketball Wives” Jennifer Williams; Al Reynolds; Robert Townsend; and a host of many more. BlackAtlas.com is the first-of-its-kind social travel networking site combining the best features of a travel site with the power of an online social network for travelers to share experiences unique to the black community. Through video, commentary, photos and blogs, BlackAtlas.com registered users can share content across social networks, save content to Favorites, gain access to BlackAtlas.com specials, and link to promotional fares on AA.com. Content is categorized into destination-, city- and category-specific information, including travel tips, restaurants, nightlife, culture, arts and museums, and historic sites (www.BlackAtlas.com).

TYRONE BEVERLY: YOGA TODAY?

Ant’s fellow high school football team buddy Tyrone Beverly came to town, his first time in New York City. He is now a Master Yoga Instructor. His base is Denver but he came to NYC for a few days to spread his YOGA magic all over the island. I had to work through most of it on a special project for BET, but they popped by to say HI as his Central Park session was a stone’s throw from me in Times Square. On and on, I could go about Tyrone. But he is an incredibly spiritual teacher and an overall amazing and inspiring person. Last summer in Denver, he gave Ant, Manivone, Taha, and me a private class on the rooftop of a friend’s condo. It was amazing! (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2011/7/13/best-thing.html). Much like Russell Simmons, Tyrone is aiming to have yoga appeal and be accessible to a younger and more urban community. During class, Tyrone plays a mix of meditation music and neo soul. He is also a master yogi in the since that he can hold some pretty amazing and difficult poses. He jokingly reminds us of a modern Bruce LeRoy (Taimak from “The Last Dragon”). Fortunately, several friends have partaken of this awesome experience – including Carl Nelson; Manivone; and several others. We also made time for fun. We all met in Brooklyn as Tyrone led an intimate session with Ant’s cousin Shantay Wilson and friend Sky. We enjoyed Thai cuisine at TEEDA before heading to Astoria to share our love of karaoke with Tyrone. Stay tuned as Tyrone will be back to teach as many FREE classes as possible while he is in town. So, those of you who practice and/or may be interested in hosting a free class for a small group of your friends, say HI to Tyrone Beverly on FACEBOOK… and LIKE HIM! BTW: 9 News KUSA out of Denver has been featuring Tyrone’s FREE yoga tour. He’s considered the NEW FACE OF YOGA: http://www.9news.com/news/article/273025/222/Yoga-Tour-aims-to-set-record.

FORTRESS OF EVIL

Shout out to friend and one of my favorite editors MICHAEL KARDIS who invited me out to his post-production shop FORTRESS OF EVIL’s rooftop mixer at Tavern 29 in NYC (www.fortressofevil.tv).  We hit it off last year as he was assigned to work with me – in edit - on a few pieces I field produced and wrote for "THE VIEW" - http://theview.abc.go.com/video/sherri-visits-chevy-auto-show. Also, he produced this piece for which I was featured in a behind-the-scenes companion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYcbwpTXbWU --- all of this after I was assigned to co-field-produce the behind-the-scenes of "THE VIEW" for 'OPRAH': http://abc.go.com/watch/the-view/SH559080/VD55109414/the-view-22 (Whoopi acknowledged our being there that day - around 2:27 - 2:38 on the clip... if it's still hot).

HARLEM REDs

As I wrapped working on a project that gives me a giggle because it’s kinda’ full circle – pop culturally – as it links me to my “Frankie & Neffe” roots (But more on that another time…. LOL!), I popped by Yuki 55 for some karaoke with Ant, Carl Nelson, and a buddy Larry. From there, we popped by Red Rooster in Harlem for reggae and to say HI to my girlfriend Sidra Smith (ALOHA!) and my favorite journalist friend Jamie Foster Brown of “Sister 2 Sister” fame. Also in the house: my boy Jamar Dunn; my girl Marva Hicks; her beau; one of her BFFs Jackee; and friend Dianne Smith, Harlem artist who just got her MFA (Congrats, Dianne!); Miss Beverly and Mr. Matt Morgan, a pair of BFFs who – after my CNN.com piece ran last week: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/07/living/gay-best-friend – say they were reminded they missed the deadline for my initial book proposal (circa 2006), but now have re-committed to be in the mix as I explore the next phase of that effort. CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR & SHARE THEIR STORY! I promised myself a helping of Sylvia’s banana pudding…and after the optional fried chicken, collard greens, and potato salad, I made good on that promise. RIP SYLVIA!

SPARKLE

Ant & I saw a midnight “Sparkle” the day it came out! Congrats to our friends Mara & Salim Akil on a beautiful career bow for Miss Whitney Houston, the singer and actress (To my “DREAMGIRLS” peeps, I’ll be doing a screen-a-thon on this one as well: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/1/15/-but-i-need-a-friend.html; well, maybe I won’t see it as many times as “DREAMGIRLS”! LOL!). SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO: My friend and former co-worker, FOX 5’s Amanda Davis whose daughter  Melora Rivera is featured in the film. She also is the assistant of Salim Akil, the film’s director. Seems like just yesterday ('95-ish), I was working for Amanda and after we wrapped "Good Day ...Atlanta", I was sometimes driving you to school (but not before stopping at the nearby - GASP! - Chick-fil-A [BEFORE WE KNEW! LOL!]). After your hearty breakfast-to-go, I dropped you off...and went back to work! LMAO! Now, you are a WOMAN! So glad you reintroduced yourself to me at the red carpet 2nd-season premiere of THE GAME, also created by your bosses The Akils. I'M SO PROUD OF YOU: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/1/10/staying-together.html.

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