MOTOWN THE MUSICAL IS OPEN!
UPDATE: The video I host on Motown: The Musical's Opening Night Celebration is edited and here. Please feel free to VIEW/FWD/SHARE...and - most of all - to come and see MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL on BROADWAY):
After I did my “Blacks and Broadway” segment on COZI-TV (http://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Pop-Culture-Expert-Patrick-Riley-on-Black-Broadway_New-York.html), the “Motown: The Musical” ad folks hired me as its host for the show's OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION – including interviewing all the guests as they walked the red carpet! Stay tuned for that clip...
You see me interviewing my life-time idol Diana Ross and Motown Founder Berry Gordy along with many other greats!!!
The client also serviced my interviews to REUTERS and others.
SEE MISS Diana Ross; Berry Gordy; and a little of me (along with reax from Jane Fonda) also here in this piece: http://www.reuters.com/video/2013/04/16/motown-memorialized-in-new-musical?videoId=242278913&videoChannel=3.
And in this BROADWAY CHANNEL clip, you'll see glimpses of my footage and me as I interview the great Debbie Allen, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Williams, Sting, his wife Trudie Styler, and more excerpts from my Ross and Gordy chat (not all of the soundbites are mine as Broadway Channel had someone on-site as well): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=An_r_D2HM5Q. WHAT A MAGICAL NIGHT! 45th Street shook like an earthquake when Miss Ross arrived in the same limo as Mr. Gordy for the highly
anticipated world premiere at The Lunt Fontanne Theatre, followed by party at Roseland Ballroom.
I reminded Miss Ross and Mr. Gordy that Motown nor Diana were strangers to Broadway (1. Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations' follow-up TV special to their debut TCB was GIT: Getting It Together on Broadway;
2. "Pippin'" with Tony-award-winning Ben Vereen was a Motown soundtrack and Diana and the Jackson 5 both covered the show's hit track "Corner of the Sky";
3. Miss Ross won a Tony for her Broadway-staged one-woman show which broke box office records: "An Evening with Diana Ross").
Diana said to Berry: "He has a great memory! Always!" (Miss Ross referencing my memory of steel on all things Ross & Motown from a three-day set of interviews I got to do with her in 2005 at the "Legends" ball + she's called me on the stage to dance on "Upside Down" a couple of times over the years, too).
Worth also noting that Miss Ross, her original supreme mate Mary Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and many of the other Motown LEGENDS joined the cast on stage at the end --- embracing and celebrating the performers who were playing them (I also interviewed them all on the red carpet).
SOMEDAY WE’LL BE TOGETHER, INDEED!
These pictures and video were taken by my friend Brandon Bain – singer/personality/karaoke host – who got to sing with ‘Diana Ross’ [Valisia Lekae (formerly of “The Book of Mormon”)] on “Reach Out & Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” – preview night one. He too attended the opening night after party.
While I was on duty, he shot some of this behind-the-scenes footage of MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL’s after party
(including the great still shot of Diana, Berry, and Mary (and Jesse Jackson)! INDEED, Miss Ross and Mary Wilson BACK TOGETHER AGAIN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lYDMm04esk);
Afterwards, Miss Ross - as promised (with Berry Gordy still in tow) – came to talk to me again.
She exclaimed she LOVED Valisia in the leading role of Diana Ross ("I'm CUTE," Miss Ross shared before giggling, sharp contrast to the many tears of joy and nostalgia she'd expressed from her seat during the show).
She too said that Berry Gordy is a 'great storyteller'!!! MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL features music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue and a book by Berry Gordy. It is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright stars - in addition to 'Diana Ross' - Tony Award® nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple) and and features Charl Brown (Jersey Boys) as Smokey Robinson, Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye and an ensemble cast of 40. I spoke to many of them. Others in the house - many of whom I too spoke: THE COMMODORES, BONO, GAYLE KING, STING, JANE FONDA, JULIE CHEN from "The Talk"; LES MOONVES;
CLIVE DAVIS, LA REID, JIMMY IOVINE, VALERIE SIMPSON, SPIKE LEE, JESSE JACKSON, ANTHONY MASON, VANESSA WILLIAMS, CUBA GOODING JR., JUDY CRAYMER, SUZANNE DEPASSE, KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, HODA KOTB, ANDY COHEN, BRUCE RESNIKOFF, BENNY MEDINA, DAVID GEFFEN, TOMMY MOTTOLA, LMFAO's RED FOO, CLAUDETTE ROBINSON, CINDY ADAMS, STAR JONES, BARRY MANILOW, MELBA MOORE, ROSANNA ARQUETTE,
DEBBIE ALLEN, TRACEE ELLIS ROSS,
MARY HART, BOB MARTIN, GEORGE SCHLATTER, SHELLY BERGER, MICKEY STEVENSON, RHONDA ROSS, COURTNEY B. VANCE,LAMONT DOZIER, EDWARD HOLLAND JR., MICKEY STEVENSON, Songwriting team KENNETH GAMBLE & LEON HUFF, EPIC Records recording artist JADA GRACE, WOLFGANG PUCK, LUCIAN GRAINGE, Congresswoman MAXINE WATERS, EVANDER HOLYFIELD, PRODUCERS KEVIN MCCOLLUM, DOUG MORRIS,NORM LEWIS, BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL,
NONA HENDRYX, etc.
MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever.
This exhilarating show charts Motown Founder Berry Gordy's incredible journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross,
Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and many more.
Featuring all the classics you love, MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America.
The music that shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat finally comes to Broadway in the season's most anticipated show.
It's playing at The Lunt Fontanne Theatre - 205 West 46th Street (Btwn Broadway & 8th Ave - North sid Roseland Ballroom 239 West 52nd Street (Between Broadway & 8th Avenue). www.motownthemusical.com. Special shout out to Marcia Pendelton, Marketing Outreach for the Motown: The Muiscal. She was THE key player in ensuring I was a part of this historic night!
THANKS MARCIA! ENDLESS LOVE TO MOTOWN, MR. GORDY, AND DIANA ROSS!
LA CHANZE’S DIANA ROSS HANGOVER
Motown and Diana Ross' collective and respective LEGACIES LIVE alongside their LIVING FABULOUSNESS (a la Broadways’s ‘Motown: The Musical’ and Miss Ross' still-busy-and-impressive itinerary (She hosted 'Christmas in Washington' for The Obamas this past December: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIb3eDIOrMY - cast in tow from injury sustained at a reported $1,000,000 one-nighter to serenade supermodel Naomi Campbell's billionaire boyfriend's birthday party in India): My friend, TONY AWARD WINNING STAR OF 'THE COLOR PURPLE' AND "RAGTIME' LACHANZE's three-date, one-woman-show LOVE HANGOVER, which runs again Thursday, April 18 & Monday, April 22: www.54Below.com. LaChanze presented "Love Hangover" - her mostly re-conceived arrangements of Miss Ross' repertoire (or as she put it "...the soundtrack of my life..."). In attendance, a room full of LaChanze's friends and fans - many our own: our friend, Director Ken Roberson (GREAT JOB!), jazz singer Greg Generet (who performs three sets every Thursday in NYC at SMOKE); one of my favorite actresses on TV, film, stage, daytime, nighttime, Broadway, off-Broadway, cabaret: Tamara Tunie; Broadway's best Norm Lewis (also in 'Scandal'); all my other favorites: siblings Sapp (and Bree); Rita Wilson (singer, actress, film/TV producer; and wife of Tom Hanks) who was performing a later set at the same venue [I got the chance to shoot a pic with her outside the preview press event 54 Below hosted with LaChanze, Wilson, and some of the other stars performing there in the next month.]; film/TV producer Angelique Francis; my homeboy, Richmond Hill's own Algernon Campbell: dancer (and dance instructor) EXTRAORDINNAIRE: and many more!!!
Set list: starting from back of the house onto the stage:
Them There Eyes (from "Lady Sings the Blues")
Touch Me in the Morning
Last Time I Saw Him
Good Morning Heartache (from "Lady...Blues")
You Can't Hurry Love
I Hear A Symphony
Reach Out & Touch prelude (featuring LaChanze's first leading man Jerry Dixon - "Once on this Island")
You're All I Need To Get By (w/Jerry)
Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (w/Jerry)
You Keep Me Hangin' On w/hints of Sting's "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free" w/two gentlemen background singers
Be A Lion (from 'The Wiz')
I'm Coming Out (w/two gentlemen background singers)
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
The Boss (encore)
WATCHING IDOL WITH PEPA
Then, my friend Jamar Dunn asked Ant and me to pop by his place for an. 'American Idol' screening party with a fun group including the legendary Pepa of 'Salt & Pepa' fame; her hairdresser Troy Turner (Also Lil' Kim's hair stylist); another celebrity hairstylist Octavio (Mary, Mary; Serena Williams; and more); and a host of others. A-I-wise, we're all Team Candice!!!! But we are also Team Pepa! She engaged us so about the history of hip hop and her place in the landscape. And though I've enjoyed several moments in which I was an audience with Pepa, none quite this intimate and open - Pep and I even uncovering we share an astrological sign in common: Scorpio! What a pop cultural blessing! #moreloot
BET UP FRONT 2013
What a week! "Motown: The Musical" on Broadway was a blast on Sunday. But Monday had me dotting Is and crossing Ts to ready the video for BET's Up Front, a project on which I have been working with recurring client BET Creative Services for the last few months. Always nice to see my labor of love on an EPIC screen in the front of Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall where BET pulled out... all the stops in addition to the video programming sizzles I had a hand in producing: performances by Chaka Khan ("Tell Me Something Good" for CENTRIC section); Kierra Sheard and brother John Drew Sheard II (who performed a Gospel tribute to Boston); also, appearances by Boris Kodjoe; Kevin Hart; Nelly; Selita Ebanks; and others from "Real Husbands of Hollywood"; Chris Tucker (just-announced host of the BET Awards which go down during the unprecedented BET Experience at LA LIVE, a three-day music-and-more festival at the end of June); Comedians Sommore and Tony Rock; star of BET's 1st Original Movie & 1st weekly, one-hour drama "Being Mary Jane", Gabrielle Union; Boris' beautiful wife, actress Nicole Ari Parker; legendary Gladys Knight; and a performance by Miguel. Several mingled and posed for pix with the many advertising folks in the audience - there to determine if they will buy into BET. From the feedback and various ovations, it looks good. Great to work with such an AWESOME TEAM at BET. Happy my nephew Herman L. Riley III was in attendance and I got to hang out with him a little - a rare treat.
So happy to attend the New York City PREMIERE of SEEIt Film THE DIVORCE COUNSELOR – written, produced, and directed by my friend and often-fellow-collaborator (at recurring client BET): THEMBISA S. MSHAKA. It took place recently at the New York Film Academy. And now you can get in on the session: THE DIVORCE COUNSELOR can be seen on-line --- EXCLUSIVELY on WWW.FREESWORLD.COM (FREE hosted the festivities!). Please feel free to REFER “The Divorce Counselor”. CONGRATS, THEMBISA! BEAUTIFUL NIGHT! Shout out to Chasity, Loren, Kris, Deangelo, Rachel, et al. #TheDivorceCounselor
DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM
You know I love the Dance Theatre of Harlem! You may recall I recently attended DTH's Vision Gala as a guest of friends Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil who weren't able to attend (Vanessa Williams - now in Broadway's "The Trip To Bountiful" - was honored): http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2013/3/7/mercury-in-retrograde.html. You may also recall I hosted DTH's Annual Street Fair in Harlem a few years ago: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/8/15/masters-mentors.html. Recently, many of us gathered to see the DTH Company at Jazz at Lincoln Center - a beautiful series of performance in the Rose Theater.In the house: SO MANY FRIENDS - including my 'Amazing Grace' Nichole; friend (and producer of "Drums Along The Hudson") Carl Nelson; BFF Sidra Smith (Producer, "Free Angela" documentary); Stacie J ('Apprentice' star - Season 2); Ed Roebuck (clients including Diana Ross, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Nancy Wilson); Miss Dawn Riley (performer as well as TV production credits that include "Third Watch" and "Lipstick Jungle" among many others); and my SURPRISE BLAST FROM THE PAST (who happened to be seated next to me): CNBC Business News talent Sharon Epperson, my former co-worker (I worked at CNBC with Geraldo Rivera in the mid-'90s) and forever NABJ sister!! It was her birthday but the treat was all mine to chat she and her sister up during scene pauses and intermissions. And to those I'm not listing due to space, GREAT TO SEE YOU AS WELL and as ALWAYS! http://www.dancetheatreofharlem.org/company/ny-season Center Charge: 212.721.6500 www.JALC.org. Afterwards, we grabbed a bite in the area (Rosa Mexicana) before turning in. FUN FRIDAY!!!
DEBORAH COX IN “JEKYLL & HYDE”
Date DAY & NIGHT: Ant & I got a quality-time Saturday in, compliments of friend, publicist Gwendolyn Quinn. We saw one of my TOTAL FAVs, GRAMMY® nominated recording artist Deborah Cox (as Lucy) in JEKYLL & HYDE THE MUSICAL alongside another American Idol FAV, Constantine Maroulis (Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde). Deborah's return to Broadway is a 13-week limited engagement at Broadway's Marquis Theatre in New York City. It's a great show-Deborah is AMAZING!!! The review I text some close friends: "Deborah Cox (AND Constantine) are singing for the gODZ in "Jekyll & Hyde" on Broadway! Sexy! Sultry! Beautiful, BELTING & nuanced vocals!!!" JEKYLL & HYDE is based on the acclaimed novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, about a London doctor who accidentally unleashes an evil alternate personality in his quest to cure his father's mental illness.
HUMAN SPIRIT AWARDS
On June 4, 2013, Brooklyn Community Services will host its annual BCS Human Spirit Awards at the Grand Hyatt-Manhattan Ballroom. I’ve been asked to join its host committee and to invite as many of you to get in on this wonderful cause as possible. This year BCS will honor two cultural leaders who call Brooklyn their home. My friend, National image activist, Michaela angela Davis, and award-winning artist, Danny Simmons, will join other honorees in a ceremony that celebrates individuals who through their vision, leadership, service and generosity have built a lasting impression on both culture and community. The Human Spirit Awards is the annual fundraising dinner for BCS that highlights individuals, groups and programs that have made lifting up the lives of Brooklynites their call to action. Last year's gala raised $500,000 and provided vital resources to support BCS's mission to strengthen families, help children and youth reach their full potential, and support adults in leading productive, fulfilling lives. Proceeds from this year's online and silent auction will support efforts to provide continued relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy in Coney Island. This year's gala is already shaping up as a Who's Who of local and national notables, including international DJ and Black Girls Rock Founder and Executive Director, Beverly Bond, who will present the award to Ms. Davis. Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, who has long been a strong supporter of BCS, will present the award to Danny Simmons. Other confirmed guests to date include: filmmaker and hip hop journalist, dream hampton; writer, musician and producer, Greg Tate; R&B recording artist and model, Maiysha Kai and playwright, radio host and political commentator, Esther Armah. I just recently had a chance to work with Michaela angela Davis on one of my last freelance projects (the aforementioned BET Up Front 2013). She has already made an indelible mark on culture, style and image activism. As the former fashion, beauty, and culture executive editor for Essence magazine and founding fashion director of Vibe, Ms. Davis helped expand the narrow narratives of what is considered beautiful for millions of readers. As a leading image/style maven, she has worked with the likes of Oprah, Beyoncé, and Prince. Currently she leads MAD Free, a multi-platform, multi-generational critical community conversation project focusing on image. Danny Simmons has been a leading figure in the New York art scene for over 30 years. Danny is a noted abstract expressionist painter and the older brother of hip hop impresario Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph Simmons ("Reverend Run" of Run–D.M.C.). He is the co-founder and Chairman of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (since 1995), which provides disadvantaged urban youth with arts access and education. As a former social worker, Danny understands the impact early intervention can have on a child's life, believing that arts and creativity are a way out of a particular circumstance through the power of imagination. Through their courage, determination and creative drive, Ms. Davis and Mr. Simmons have inspired and uplifted the many young people, struggling families and adults with challenges, who are served by BCS. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW YOU CAN BUY TICKETS FOR THIS AWESOME GALA OR MAKE A DONATION: Click on http://www.wearebcs.org/.
Though the night got a little long in the tooth, glad we got to support our friend Nathan Hale Williams’ Ocean Thursdays party at Splash recently! Special guest Kenya Moore performed “Gone With The Wind” fabulous! and was most gracious to show the kids how to pose – on stage and at the step & repeat. Was also EXTRA special to see some dear friends – including face-beater-par-excellence (makeup artist to the stars) Sam Fine; Editor-in-Chief at Uptown Magazine, Isoul Harris (my Morehouse brother whose book “NICKI MINAJ: HIP POP MOMENTS 4 LIFE” just came out this week) ------ ALL OF THIS after enjoying a nice family meal with my nephew and his mom (visiting from our hometown Savannah) at Billie’s Black. #GoneWithTheWindFabulous!!!!
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