TV ONE’S “LIFE AFTER”
After filming three sets of pop culture commentary for TV ONE’s “LIFE AFTER” (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2013/6/3/those-were-the-daze.html), production company K2 Pictures and its execs invited me back to weigh in on TWO MORE of their “LIFE AFTER” subjects for TV ONE. Can’t tell who now, but stay tuned. They seemed to have ALL been pulled from my vision board of pop culture muses from the ‘70s-to-present – so it was FUN for me! I also ran into fellow pop culture expert friends: Klay Kane who has been in the pop-culture-expert mix of "Life After" since its inception… and SOULEO (curator of the MOTOWN TO DEF JAM event on which I was booked to be a tour guide last weekend: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2013/6/20/twenty-feet-from-stardom.html). I consider it a total honor to be folded into the mix. Stay tuned for more info on all of this. SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO JOJO for beating my face! LOL! The new season of “LIFE AFTER” starts mid-September – including what of my interviews they will excerpt and sprinkle throughout those episodes.
Shout out to filmmaker Lee Daniels for inviting a small group of us to an intimate screening of “The Butler” (a rough cut). Special shout out to NYC BFF Sidra Smith for including us in the number. In attendance: Academy-award nominee (“Precious”) Gabourey Sidibe; Chris Rock; and a host of our friends – from TV Personality and stylist Paul Wharton (“Real Housewives of DC”); fine artist Dianne Smith...; and many more! https://www.facebook.com/thebutlermovie. The AMAZING MOVIE has a SPECIAL SURPRISE in it – just for me (STAY TUNED)! AND A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO PERNELL WALKER: One moment in time, she was an ALL-STAR regular at the ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT we used to host at NATIVE RESTAURANT in HARLEM. Now, she’s landed a role in Lee Daniels’ upcoming film The Butler. Pernell is WONDERFUL! She plays a character named Lorraine in the movie... and primarily, she plays opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz. Additionally, the star-studded cast of actors includes Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Terence Howard, Jane Fonda, Nicole Kidman, Colman Domingo, and Jess Williams. America’s Next Top Model’s Ya-Ya is in it too. The Butler is a story of Eugene Allen, a black butler who worked at the White House from 1952 to 1986, serving under eight presidents. The film’s concept is based on an article written about Eugene’s life story by Wil Haygood. Allen gained employment at the White House at a time when black people were still discriminated against. Whitaker will play Allen and Winfrey will play his wife. FIRST WEEKEND: AUGUST 16, 2013!!!!
MAKEUP BY MERRELL
I promised my friend Merrell Hollis I’d pop by his make-up master class which Ant audited – getting in on the fun and craft of make-up artistry. As many of you know, Merrell is an award winning make-up artist and grooming expert who is the Head of the Makeup Department for The Wendy Williams Show and he is also responsible for the many faces of the “Queen of All Media”, Wendy Williams. He is the grooming consultant and make up person for all the artists at Sean Coombs’ Bad Boy Entertainment. Both these innovators have allowed their faces to be canvassed by this visionary who delivers them to the public with elegance and sincerity. GREAT JOB, MERRELL!
WENDY IN ‘CHICAGO’
Ant and his ‘Wendy Williams’ colleagues got to see their boss Wendy Williams’ debut on Broadway in “Chicago”. Meanwhile, I got the chance to catch up with my girlfriend Sidra on our respective latest… and we did Harlem like we used to! LOL! We went from her pad to Red Rooster to Chez Lucienne to Red Rooster – enjoying the company of our Harlem family along the way.
So glad to CELEBRATE PRIDE a little differently this year: As a LEGACY PIECE to Robin Lynn, FOUNDER of MOMENTUM EDUCATION, we attended Momentum Honors: Momentum Education's 10th Anniversary at SoHo House: https://www.sohohouseny.com/ contact - which honored two dear friends Amanda Jones and Michele Breir (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2006/10/25/love-is-in-the-air.html). side of the wonderful, life-changing work that MOMENTUM EDUCATION has brought to me, many in my life, and a wonderful sampling of those in the world (www.momentumeducation.com), I had the chance to sing at Amanda and her husband Peter – both colleagues in the awesome work of Momentum. Peter and Amanda also introduced me to shoe-maker John Ashford who makes custom-made shoes that are – in no uncertain terms – extraordinary: http://www.authenticbyjohnashford.com/. One of my key mentors in the work of Momentum is Curtis Dennis who delivered a wonderful donation from his client Beyonce - $10,000 that will help provide programming for teens through Momentum Teens for Leadership (www.momentumteens.org). And what a JOY to see several of the folks with whom I’ve done this course work: Renea, Peter, Michele, Vallori, and so many more friends. They have ALL have been a part of this experience that has helped me connect to how I can BE THE DIFFERENCE in the world and how POSSIBILITIES are INFINITE!
Of course, we did get to walk through what was left of the day’s PRIDE festivities – including a bump into Joan Rivers on Bleecker. We had to attend - Back by Popular Demand - “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real: A Sylvester Concert” which returned for another SOLD OUT Concert at New York City’s (le) Poisson Rouge. Starring Anthony Wayne (Broadway: Pippin, Priscilla Queen of The Desert; Anything Goes), this spectacular brings to life the 1970’s Disco singer Sylvester. Produced by awayne Productions, Inc., “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real: A Sylvester Concert” tells the life story of Sylvester through HIS music HIS way. Beyond all the trials, tribulations, glitz and glamour of his lifestyle, he was a symbol for being FABULOUS, but, also, a symbol for unapologetically being who he was. The Creative Director/Costume Designer is Wayne’s partner Celebrity Stylist Kendrell Bowman (Atlantic Recording Artists K. Michelle, Lauriana Mae, Dawn Richard, David Banner, Kanye West). Together they put together a memorable experience. The show features Anastacia McCleskey (Broadway: Priscilla Queen of the Desert; Hair) and Jacqueline B. Arnold (Broadway: Priscilla Queen of The Desert) as The Two Tons of Fun/Weather Girls. Backed by a FULL LIVE band led by Drummer JasonPatterson, this show had us dancing in the aisles. Was GREAT to see – in the house – key backer Reginald Van Lee; entertainment power-broker Lisa Bonner; Broadway producer and multi-format actress Tamara Tunie; screenwriter; director (film: “You Are Not Alone” and stage: “B Boy Blues”, and so much more) Stanley Bennett Clay; and many more. HAPPY PRIDE! INDEED, A NEW DAY!
Shout out to Marcia Pendleton for inviting us out to Manhattan Theatre Club's production of "Choir Boy" at New York City Center. IT’S OPEN and is a MUST-SEE: http://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/TheStudio.
This is award-winning playwright TARELL ALVIN McCRANEY’s work (“The Brother/Sister Plays” at The Public Theater and the critically acclaimed underground sensation, “Wig Out!”).
It's directed by TRIP CULLMAN (“Murder Ballad”).
The remarkable cast sings gospel and Negro spirituals --- coupled with some recorded Frank Ocean interludes --- as a thread to the story which is set at The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys.
Not too unlike all-male institutions, the school’s intention is dedicated to the creation of strong, ethical black men. Pharus wants nothing more than to take his rightful place as leader of the school's legendary gospel choir.
Can he find his way inside the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key? THESE ARE SOME OF THE QUESTIONS and – in 90 minutes – you get to explore issues of racism, religion, homosexuality, homophobia, and the growing pains of transitioning from teen to young adult.
Tony-award-winning actor Chuck Cooper is the Head Master. Side-note: this part that will be played in Atlanta at The Alliance Theater by my friend Charles Wallace who was in the house when we saw it.
WORTH NOTING: I just shared a stage with Mr. Cooper.
Last year, I was excited last year when my friend Erich McMillan invited me to be a narrator for the staged reading of James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner with a cast led by Tony-award-winners Lillias White, Chuck Cooper and Adriane Lenox. The event benefitted Project1Voice, a New York-based nonprofit service organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the legacies of African American theatres and playwrights: www.project1voice.org: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/6/29/impossible-inevitable.html.
The cast includes Nicholas L. Ashe,
Grantham Coleman, Austin Pendleton, Jeremy Pope and Wallace Smith.
"TARELL ALVIN McCRANEY IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE HOTTEST YOUNG PLAYWRIGHT IN AMERICA."
Tickets are just
for all performances
through July 21 with code 11249
Call CITYTIX at 212.581.1212
Or Visit The CITY CENTER BOX OFFICE
131 West 55th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenues
Box Office Hours: Mon-Sat Noon-8pm, Sun Noon-7:30pm
June 18 - July 21 | City Center Stage II
131 West 55th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenues | NYC
THANKS to those of you who took LIFE OF RILEY up on my recommendation to attend the Renaissance Brunch put on by my friends Artie Thompson, Nathan Hale Williams, and their special guest host/BFF Sidra Smith (Producer, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners). The event took place at The Hudson Bond for the 2nd installment of The Renaissance Brunch Series! I told you how much of a blast it was the last time with MISS Bevy Smith as guest host (BRAVO, Fashion Queens & 'Dinner with Bevy'). This Pride Week Kick-Off Event was as spectacular! From a fun cocktail hour that got us all acquainted to a well-appointed brunch of corn bread, scrambled eggs, sausage links, cheddar jalapeno grits, home fries; shrimp w/spicy Cajun gravy; seafood cake with side of hollandaise sauce; grilled chicken and vegetables w/ chicken gravy; Caesar salad; etc. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Album Listening Party & Signing for my Grammy-award-winning friend Gordon Chambers who not only shared info from his latest CD “Sincere” (www.gordonchambers.com), he sang a stripped-down, but super-spirited, version of his composition “Missing You”. He originally wrote this hit for the “Set It Off” Soundtrack – featuring Tamia, Brandy, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight. Here, Gordon dedicates it to his idol Whitney Houston with whom he collaborated in the studio and who inspired him to have a recording career in addition to the amazing songwriter he is. I LOVE YOU, GORDON! DJ Poison Ivy kept us all entertained with her great mixes, selects, and response to the many recommendations for Miss Ross, Miss Jackson, and Whitney! “NO ONE GETS THE PRIZE” and “THE BOSS” got us all on our feet! Then, great times at Chorus Karaoke with friend Bariek Robinson and his family – all celebrating his birthday! WE HAD A BLAST! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BARIEK!
My AMAZING GRACE Natalie about whom I’ve shared a lot in THE LIFE OF RILEY (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/8/7/my-girls.html) asked me to look out for her little sister – much like my own little sister Nicole (now a WOMAN, WIFE, MOTHER OF TWO, and CAREER WOMAN: PUBLIC RELATIONS and BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS). Well, while my BFF since 9th grade is vacationing with her family, Nicole is here in NYC on business… and Nat asked me to provide Nicole a ‘plus-1'- evening-event for Nicole. THANK GOODNESS something was going on! OH YES! It’s NYC! LOL! She escorted me to a PRIVATE SCREENING to which I was invited by author, producer, director Crystal Mcrary whose lens and vision followed four young athletes as they go through the AAU youth league, which has trained many of America’s GREATS – like NBA pro Russell Westbrook and veteran icon Walt Frazier (in attendance tonight). Crystal and her team include: Executive Producers Amar’e Stoudemire and rapper Lupe Fiasco whose music is the score and soundtrack of LITTLE BALLERS, which tells the story of 4 diverse eleven-year old boys and their legendary coach as they set out to win an AAU National Championship. For these young men, basketball is more than a game. It is a deep passion that holds a special meaning for each of them: escaping poverty, getting an education, living the American dream and bonding with a father, but more than anything, basketball offers them hope. LITTLE BALLERS features interviews with NBA players Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Joakim Noah, Walt Frazier, Tyson Chandler and includes perspectives from NY Times columnist William C. Rhoden, Award-Winning journalist Roland Martin, Black Enterprise President and CEO Butch Graves, Rogue Sports agent Travis King, ESPN senior writer Pablo Torre and HBO Sports Senior VP Kery Davis among others. IN THE MIX at The Times Center where the screening took place: many of my friends and industry buddies – including Bevy Smith, Michelle Sanchez-Boyce, Priya Scoggins, BJ Coleman, Artie Thompson (Chef Roble & Co. and the Renaissance Brunch); and LITTLE BALLERS producers Lisa Bonner and Adrienne Lopez; etc. Stoudemire set up his own production company, STATosphere. His agent, Happy Walters, now heads Relativity Media’s sports division. “Little Ballers” is slated for release this year."FUN NIGHT! CONGRATS, CRYSTAL ET AL!!!! AWESOME JOB!
BEING MARY JANE
As you all know, Black Entertainment Television (BET) is one of my many freelance clients. Via its creative services division, I've had a big hand or two in producing some great projects, sizzles, and spots for all types of platforms and occasions around the much-anticipated original TV movie and first-original-weekly-drama for the network, Being Mary Jane which is the latest from The Game on BET and Girlfriends creator: my friend Mara Brock Akil whose village includes - of course - her husband - also my friend - Salim and TEAM Akil Productions - including Melora Rivera. GREAT SUPPORTING CAST TOO - including Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, and many more! With that, Mara asks me to remind you to watch and SHARE/TELL ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS that BET is premiering BEING MARY JANE July 2nd at 10:30am/eastern. YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS IT! IT IS MUST-SEE!
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