The Third Annual Women Of Excellence Awards luncheon will take place Saturday, April 1st 11am at the Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia, 201 North 17th Street. Our honorees will be First Lady Of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church Dr. Ellyn Jo Waller; City Councilwoman Janie Blackwell; FOX29 Reporter and Weather Anchor Sue Serio; President & CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau Julie Coker Graham; Vice President & Assistant GM, Harrah’s Philadelphia Jacqueline Grace and our Trailblazer Award Recipient is Author/Motivational Speaker/Educator and former Essence Magazine Editor-In-Chief Susan Taylor. Our musical performers will be Joe, Leela James and Eric Benet. Tickets are available right now from our homepage at WDASFM.com.
There’s some drama on the set of Dancing With The Stars and accusations of playing favorites. The dancing reality show is back and is bringing The A-Team's Mr. T., Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles, Legendary Singer/Musician Charo, Singer Normani Kordei (Fifth Harmony) and the NFL's Rashad Jennings (The NY Jets). But, Actress Brittany S. Pierce of Glee is also competing this year. Problem is she got her start in show business as a professional dancer. She was even on Beyonce’s world tour in 2007 and performed on Ellen and Saturday Night Live. That’s quite a resume, and it’s causing people to call out the show. Dancing With The Stars premieres Monday, March 20th at 8pm on ABC.
Auntie Fee is on life support, and her family has a very difficult decision to make. Fee, whose real name is Felicia O’Dell, has become an internet sensation when her “good a** chicken” and “sweet treats for the kids” recipes became viral gold, and she even appeared in the big screen’s Barbershop III. She’s also known as Chef Sista Girl. The 59-year old suffered a massive heart attack. There was much talk about her condition, but very little of it was accurate. At press time, Fee was confirmed to be on life support and surrounded by family. The prognosis from there hasn’t been confirmed, and we’re awaiting more word from the family.
HBO’s hit Insecure is back. Show star and Creator Issa Rae put a clip on her social media announcing the show’s return. Rae didn’t comment on the cliffhanger involving her character and Lawrence, or where the two go from there. But, she acknowledged Co-star Jay Ellis will be back. Insecure returns to HBO on Sunday, July 23rd.
Is Cynthia Bailey out on RHOA while NeNe negotiates a raise? The Real Housewives Of Atlanta became the most popular of the many Housewives franchises, and in the process NeNe Leakes reportedly joined the millionaire’s club with her raise. Leakes is currently negotiating her return for the new season, but it’s possible that Cynthia Bailey won’t be joining her. Bailey and a couple of cast members are being possibly being dropped. It could be about cost cutting, or this could be negotiations with the other Housewives just getting ugly. Who will, and won’t be back for RHOA’s 10th season?!!!!
Dave Chapelle's two stand ups comedy specials are coming to Netflix. They will be two separate hour long shows. Chapelle’s been building a slow return since abandoning his super popular Comedy Central program Chappelle’s Show. The return began this season with an incredible appearance on Saturday Night Live. Now his two specials, Deep In The Heart Of Texas and The Age Of Spin, will stream exclusively through Netflix. The first will begin on March 21st.
With the success of BET’s New Edition Story, a slew of bio-pics already planned are picking up steam. First, there’s All Eyez On Me, which is the Tupac Shakur bio pic set to hit the big screen. The film went through two directors, Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua and Boyz In The Hood’s John Singleton, before settling with famed hip hop music video directing legend Benny Boom. The movie stars Demetrius Shipp, Jr. (Tupac Shakur), Kat Graham (Jada Pinkett Smith), Grace Gibson (Faith Evans), Danai Gurira (Afeni Shakur), Annie Ilonzeh, Dominic L. Santana and Jamal Woolard reprising his role as The Notorious B.I.G. from the Notorious film. All Eyez On Me, which takes its name from Tupac’s last studio album that sold 10 million copies worldwide, opens in theaters on what would have been the late rappers 46th birthday, June 16th.
Next, SWV is also in the bio-pic business. Cheryl “Coko” Gamble-Clemons, Leanne “Lelee” Lyons and Tamara “Taj” George comprised one of the hottest groups of the 90’s. Their string of hits, including Right Here/Human Nature, Weak, I’m So Into You and Rain, helped them to hit 25 million records sold before they broke up in 1998. After taking time off, they reunited and began touring then released a pair of albums entitled I Missed Us and Still. Now Coko confirms the bio talks are currently on going. Lelee also confirmed that there’s huge interest in the project. Stay tuned.
Samuel L. Jackson vs. The Get Out and British film invasion. Jackson, who has been quite outspoken about the movie industry, was asked about the trend of Black British actors making American based movies. Jackson was not too complimentary. He claimed that the British actors are cheaper and the assumption is they’re classically trained. Jackson, an Oscar nominee, also talked about the recent success of Get Out and its star Daniel Kaluuya. Jackson insinuated there may be something missing because the actor doesn’t have an African American experience, but a black experience from England. Kaluuya responded by giving Jackson his props for breaking barriers as an actor. But, then Kaluuya explained he’s heard the not being black enough before and resents having to prove himself. He also says at the same time, he’s hit with being too black in England.
Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson is not hurting Daniel Kaluuya at the box office. Kaluuya’s movie Get Out has now grossed $113 million at the box office. That’s marks the first time an African American writer-director’s debut film grossed over $100 million at the box office. Jordan Peele, best known from Mad TV and Key & Peele, wrote and directed this movie, and turned away from a comedy expectation to the big screen thriller. Get Out has also launched the viral #GETOUTCHALLENGE based on a running scene in the movie.
Speaking of history, Hidden Figures has made history as well. Oscar and Emmy Nominee Taraji P. Henson Actress/Singer Janelle Monae and Oscar Winners Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner star in the true story of three brilliant mathematicians who became the brains behind NASA’s launching John Glenn’s trip into orbit by cracking the toughest formula codes that largely left the existing NASA staff scrambling. Because the mathematicians were women and African American, their contributions never received their just due. Music Mogul Pharrell Williams serves as one of the film’s producers. Hidden Figures has grossed $163.1 million, and that marks the first time a film lead by African American women broke the $100 million mark at the box office.
TLC’s T-Boz is a mom again. Tionne Watkins is one third of the powerful record-breaking supergroup. TLC has been back in the spotlight again with their successful TV bio-pic and resurrecting their touring act. The 46-year old Watkins had previously discussed adoption, possibly a child from Haiti. She didn’t share those details yet, but T-Boz did take to social media for the initial announcement. Her son’s name is Chance. He’s two-years old, and he was adopted at birth. T-Boz also has a teenage daughter, Chase Anele Rolison, by her ex-husband Rapper Mack 10.
TV Personality RuPaul is married. He kept it quiet, but the outrageous star of RuPaul’s Drag Race married Georges LeBar in January. The 56-year old singer/reality star/Emmy winner actually picked the 23rd anniversary of the day he and LeBar met to be married.
Michael B. Jordan is on a roll. First, there was the Oscar-nominated box office smash Creed, the latest entry into the Rocky film series. Now, Jordan is a top contender to take over The Matrix movie franchise. The Matrix began in 1999 and starred Keanu Reeves who also appeared in two sequels that grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. Super Producer Joel Silver, who was on board for the original movies, is looking at Jordan to introduce The Matrix to a new generation as well as bring the established fans back. Currently, Jordan is filming in the role of villain Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, the big budget Marvel Comics movie, which stars Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira.
Lawrence Fishburne's daughter Montana has not been having the best of times. First, she became estranged from her family. Then she entered the world of pornography, which seem to cause her more embarrassment then stardom. Now, the daughter of the Oscar nominated star of What’s Love Got To Do With It and School Daze, caught a D.U.I. charge. Montana was arrested in Broward County, Florida and was charged with three misdemeanors. It’s alleged she rear-ended a Land Rover with her Toyota. She was released from police custody the next morning after posting bond.
Sanaa Lathan leads an all-star cast in the TV series Shots Fired. The drama is part thriller and examines the aftermath of two racially charged shootings in a small southern town. Stephan James and Oscars Winners Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets) and Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws; The Goodbye Girl) also star. Shots Fired, produced by Lathan’s producers/writers/directors from the big screen’s Love And Basketball, debuts on FOX Wednesday, March 22nd at 8pm.
Tracy Morgan is coming back to TV. The comedian, who has appearing on both the TV and silver screens and is back to touring, has a new show in the works. Jordan Peele (Get Out; Key & Peele) will serve as executive producer, and Allen Maldonado of Black-ish will co-star. Morgan and Maldonado will play cousins with Morgan’s character trying to adjust to life after prison. The untitled sitcom got the green light at CBS after FX passed on it.
Meanwhile, Actress Sharon Leal is headed back to TV. The co-star of the big screen’s Addicted, Why Did I Get Married and This Christmas returned to TV with recurring roles in Supergirl and Grimm. Now, she’ll be the leader of a hate crimes task force unit as Lt. Naomi Barr in a new drama slated for CBS. Katie Couric is one of the executive producers.
Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey remembered they’re parents at The Kids Choice Awards. The two now officially divorced exes took their 5-year old twins, Monroe and Moroccan, for a night on the town to The Kids Choice Awards. They even matched up their wardrobe in a basketball uniform inspired black and orange. Despite divorcing and moving on with other relationships and children (Nick just had a son in February), Cannon and Carey tried to show the public they can put their kids first. The two unfortunately had to take to social media days later to deny they had a big blow up backstage at the awards with the kids in tow.
Speaking of Nick Cannon, his America’s Got Talent replacement has been named. It’s Supermodel/TV Personality Tyra Banks! What? Yes! It may have come out of left field, but Banks closed the deal with NBC and she’ll take over. Less than a week ago, Marlon Wayans, who has already has an NBC midseason replacement deal with a new family sitcom, Comedian Tone Bell, who already had two series on NBC and TV Actor Brandon Mychal Smith (Dirty Grandpa, Get On Up as Little Richard; TV’s So Random) we’re all cited as frontrunners for Cannon’s hosting job. Then came Tyra! America’s Got Talent Judges Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel took to social media to congratulate Banks on joining the show. America’s Got Talent is scheduled to return to NBC this summer.
We remember Joni Sledge. The native Philadelphian shot to superstardom when she and her three sisters formed the group Sister Sledge. Their first two albums and few singles established the sisters as singers who could hold their own. Then in 1979, they teamed with the red hot writing/producing/performing team of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic. That hookup turned Sister Sledge to platinum and gold with two massive disco era hits He’s The Greatest Dancer and the title track to their 1979 album, We Are Family. The group even performed We Are Family for Pope Francis’ Philadelphia visit. In the years that followed, the sisters experienced tension when Kathy left for a solo career but was legally barred from using the Sister Sledge name while performing. Joni continued performing with sisters Debbie and Kim. The surviving sisters put aside show business differences to thank the fans for their support in the loss of Joni, who died at her home in Arizona. At press time, no cause of death has been confirmed. Joni Sledge was 60-years old.
Oscar nominee and Empire Co-star Gabourey Sidibe is telling all. Sidibe is now adding author to her resume and has written the new book This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare. The woman who gave an iconic performance in the Academy Award winning Lee Daniels movie Precious details the struggles she deals with despite being a star. Sidibe talks about her very personal decision to have lap band surgery, her type 2 diabetes diagnosis and her teenage battle with bulimia and self-esteem issues. Despite these challenges, Sidibe is feeling pretty good these days. She reunited with Lee Daniels for the number one drama series Empire. Her weight is coming down quite a bit. The actress says she’s ready to receive her gentleman caller. Empire returns to FOX on Wednesday, March 22nd at 9pm, and her new book, This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare, will be available in May.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama covers a special Ebony magazine collector’s issue. Ladies First: 100 + Of The Most Powerful Women Of All Time is now available and was designed for Women’s History Month. Meanwhile, Former President Barack and the former FLOTUS have closed their first post White House book deal rumored to have a $65 million price tag. Penguin/Random House won the bidding war, but isn't confirming if the books are memoirs or not. As for the hefty pay, The Obamas are choosing to donate a great deal of that money to charity, including The Obama Foundation. Expect new books from both the former POTUS and FLOTUS in 2018.
Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson will return to their number one rated TV drama Empire on FOX Wednesday, March 22nd. They’ll have plenty of company as Actress Demi Moore makes her debut on the series. Moore will play a nurse with a mysterious past at the end of this season and will return in season four as well. Moore’s daughter, with ex-husband Bruce Willis, Rumer Willis had already been cast as well as Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) Taye Diggs (The Best Man); Nia Long (Love Jones) and Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show). Empire returns to FOX on Wednesday, March 22nd at 9pm.
Paris Jackson is on the cover of the 150th anniversary issue of Harper's Bazaar.
Congrats again to Actor Mahershala Ali. The actor is on a roll this year. First, he became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar for his supporting role in Oscar's Best Picture Moonlight. Now he and his wife, Amatus-Sami-Karim, welcomed their brand new baby daughter Bari Najma. All are doing well. Meanwhile, Ali and his Moonlight co-stars Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert have all made a big splash as underwear models. The cast members appear in the Calvin Klein Spring 2017 campaign in print ads everywhere.
Golden Globe award winning Actress Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) covers the April edition of Health magazine.
The cast of Underground (Aldis Hodge, Alano Miller, Amirah Vann and Aisha Hinds) cover the latest Upscale magazine. The TV series Underground, co-executive produced by Singer/Songwriter John Legend, is currently in its second season on WGN America and airs Wednesdays at 10pm.
Oscar nominated Filmmaker Ava DuVernay is on the cover of Essence magazine’s March 2017 issue.
Actress Jurnee Smollett (Underground) covers Ebony’s March 2017 issue.
Essence Magazine has released a commemorative collector’s book on the former First Family. The Obamas: The White House Years is available now.
Essence Magazine is gearing up for its 23rd Annual Essence Fest and The Hip Hop Queen Of Soul, A Legend and The Boss will be in the house! Yes! Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Motown Legend Miss Diana Ross will headline the now legendary festival. Chaka Khan, Philly’s own Jazmine Sullivan, India.Arie, Solange, Shirley Jones of The Jones Girls, Ro James, Tweet, Shaggy, Michel’le, Yuna and Lalah Hathaway will also be performing with more acts to come. The 2017 Essence Fest will be June 29th through July 2nd in New Orleans.
Check out who’s coming to town:
Friday, March 31st – The In It To Win It Tour starring Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Johnny Gill and Solero at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Tickets are on sale now and for more information log onto boardwalkhall.com.
Friday, March 31st – Back To The Eighties Show starring Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Al B. Sure, Jalil & Ecstasy of Whodini, Force MD’s, Cherelle, Hi-Five and More at The Liacouras Center, Broad and Montgomery. For tickets and information 1-800-298-4200.
Saturday, April 15th – The Philly Spring Jam starring Guy featuring Teddy Riley, Ginuwine, Jagged Edge, Dru Hill and Next at The Liacouras Center, Broad and Montgomery. Tickets go on sale January 17th and for information 1-800-298-4200.
Saturday, May 13th – Mother’s Day Weekend concert starring Frankie Beverly & Maze, Gladys Knight and Kem at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Tickets are on sale now and for more information log onto boardwalkhall.com.
Saturday, May 13th – Mothers Day Weekend concert starring Brian McKnight at The Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA. Tickets are on sale now and for more information log onto keswicktheatre.com.