Empress Sets Us Straight; Oscars right and wrong; Meek Mill moves

Gladys Knight Patty Jackson's Instagram 2017

A Cook County judge in Illinois is putting the brakes on R Kelly…studio wise that is. After authorities checked out the Chicago studio R Kelly records from, which allegedly had people living in it and was used for his alleged bad behavior, building code violations were found. 60 violations in all and the studio racked up $165,000 in back rent debt. For now, the judge’s order is that the studio can only be used during the business hours of 9 to 5 as the violations and rent issues are looked into more or resolved. As of press time, no official word if any evidence of criminal activity was found.


Meanwhile, Taraji P. Henson caught a little heat on the R Kelly front. The Oscar and Emmy nominee tried to enlighten people about the differences between how the much accused singer and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein are being treated. She caught some backlash and then deleted the original social media post. It was similar to the reaction her What Men Want Co-star Erykah Badu experienced. Neither was excusing R Kelly but their messages got lost. Henson issued one more note that R Kelly was guilty and wrong and should be muted. Badu hasn’t responded to the backlash but stopped talking about Kelly.


In better news for Taraji, she’s getting a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. The ceremony for the Empire star will take place this coming Monday, January 28th. It’s right on time too as Henson is celebrating her latest film What Men Want. The movie is a role reversal reboot of the 2000 Mel Gibson box office smash. What Men Want, co-starring Erykah Badu, Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy Morgan, Max Greenfield (CBS’ The Neighborhood) and Richard Roundtree, opens in theaters February 8th.

Meek Mill is making big moves. The Philly rapper has teamed up with Jay-Z to continue his fight for criminal justice reform. The two along with members of the sports, entertainment and investment communities created the REFORM Alliance. Its goal is to reduce the number of people serving unjust parole and probation sentences. 76ers’ Co-owner Michael Rubin is a founding partner, and the group has hired Political Commentator Van Jones to act as CEO. Meek Mill has been outspoken since his years of dealing with the criminal justice system. He was recently released after serving five months of a two to four year prison sentence for parole violations. Despite the release, he’s still dealing with this in court, and Jay-Z has been one of his supporters. This inspired both men to co-create the REFORM Alliance. Meanwhile, Meek Mill will be this week’s musical guest on Saturday Night Live with host Actor James McAvoy (Glass; X-Men).

The Oscars nominations are out and while it’s not exactly #OscarsSoWhite, there were still some big snubs. Congrats to Regina King (Supporting Actress: If Beale Street Could Talk), Mahershala Ali (Supporting Actor: Green Book), Barry Jenkins (Best Adapted Screenplay: If Beale Street Could Talk). Spike Lee has three nominations for BlacKkKlansman as co-writer, co-producer and directing, and Philly’s own Bradley Cooper has three for A Star Is Born for actor, co-writer and co-producer and Lady GaGa (A Star Is Born) has actress and best song nods. Back in 1977, Barbara Streisand won the Oscar for best song (Evergreen) for her remake of A Star Is Born. Black Panther made history as the first superhero Best Picture nominee and Hannah Beachler is the first African American to be a Best Production Design Oscar nominee. Black Panther’s Ruth E. Carter is a Best Costume nominee and Kendrick Lamar is up for Best Song for All The Stars. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse has Director Peter Ramsey as the first African American director nominated for animated feature.

Now for the Oscar snubs. There was nothing for the surprise box office smash Crazy Rich Asians. Despite six top nominations for BlacKkKlansman, John David Washington was passed over for lead actor. If Beale Street Could Talk was also passed over for best picture, director and Regina King was the only cast member nominated. And, despite a best picture nod, Black Panther has no acting nominations, writing nominations or a directing nod to Ryan Koogler, who also co-wrote the adapted screenplay.  The 91st Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24th at 8pm on ABC.

Speaking of Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan has made a huge Hollywood move. Fresh off his successes from Black Panther and Creed II, which took in over $115 million worldwide to date, he signed an exclusive first look deal with Warner Brothers. Jordan has established his own production company called Outlier Society, and says he and his partners are committed to telling great stories.

Journalist and WDAS Alum Tamron Hall has made a huge announcement regarding her upcoming return to daytime TV. Hall left The Today Show after her 9am (Third Hour) edition of show was canceled and handed over to Megyn Kelly. Hall then worked out a deal with ABC. Now, Hall confirms she’s partnering with The View Co-creator Bill Geddie to develop her new show. Geddie, who was The View’s executive producer from 1997 to 2014, says he and Hall are teaming up to shake up daytime and this is the most exciting opportunity for him since The View. Tamron Hall returns to daytime on ABC this fall.

We’re keeping Jackson Family Matriarch Katherine Jackson in prayer. The woman who’s been at the center of a musical dynasty is not doing well. Katherine is 88 and has battled a brain tumor, lost her husband Joe Jackson and suffered a stroke last year. Now, her blood pressure is too high, and she’s under the care of private doctors supervised by eldest daughter Rebbie. Despite all the family turmoil, all members of the family seem to be able to turn to her. Remember it was Katherine who was left in charge of Michael’s children, their allowance and part of the Michael Jackson estate.

Ghostbusters 3 is allegedly in the works, but there’s controversy out the gate. First Ernie Hudson (The Family Business, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle), an original castmember from the 1984 and 1989 sequel, says he hasn’t been contacted yet. Hudson says he’s seen no contract. Word has it Director Jason Reitman, the son of original Ghostbusters Director Ivan Reitman, wants to take over the franchise and reunite original castmembers Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd, who wrote the original script with fellow original castmember the late Harold Ramis, is said to be developing a new script. Now, Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones, who starred in 2016’s all female reboot, was none too happy to hear this. She explained it’s like saying F**k Us and only the guys are the real Ghostbusters by disregarding the ladies totally. Jones version took in over $229 million worldwide, but cost more than $140 million. No word yet on if all the surviving cast (from the original) wants to return for Ghostbusters 3.  

Canal Street is an uplifting new movie about faith and fatherhood. This film follows an African American dad’s unrelenting efforts to clear his son’s name for the murder of a white classmate. Directed by Rhyan LaMar and executive produced by Philly’s own Charlie Mack, the cast includes Mykelti Williamson, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Beach, Harry Lennix, Woody McClain and Yas The Great a.k.a. Bryshere Y. Gray. Canal Street is in AMC and Regal theaters now.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford has passed. Wofford earned the nickname Volunteer In Chief as it was his longtime political vision. He helped guide the creation of John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps and later Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps. Wofford was one of the most heavily entrenched politicians in the civil rights movement. After a call from Coretta Scott King, Wofford arranged for then Attorney General Robert Kennedy to arrange the release of Dr. Martin Luther King from a Georgia jail. Wofford, one of the first white students to graduate from Howard University’s famed law school, would later join the Kings on various civil rights marches and was one of his key advisors. Wofford capped his political career serving as a U.S. Senator from 1991-1995, and was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Obama in 2012. Harris Wofford passed away on the MLK holiday, which he was an ardent supporter of, at the age of 93.

We remember Musician/Songwriter/Producer Edwin Birdsong. Birdsong was an accomplished jazz/funk keyboardist and played with Stevie Wonder and Roy Ayers. As a songwriter and producer, Birdsong co-wrote Ayers’ classics Running Away and Freaky Deaky and produced three albums for Ayers. As a solo artist, he began recording in 1971. By 1979, Birdsong was signed with Gamble and Huff on Philadelphia International Records and on his self-titled album released the songs Phiss-phizz, Goldmine and Lollipop. Recently, Birdsong has enjoyed a resurgence as the hip hop community (and others) has sampled a great deal of his work on the rap songs Me Myself and I by De La Soul; Skillz by Gang Starr; Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk; and Stronger by Kanye West. Edwin Birdsong was 77 years old.

We remember Comedienne/Singer/Actress Kaye Ballard. With a host of TV, Broadway and film appearances, Ballard made her mark playing the overly emotional character always trying to make sense of senseless situations. Her best known role came in 1967 when the legendary Desi Arnaz cast her in his TV production The Mothers-In-Law opposite Actress Eve Arden. The two played the original meddling moms interfering in their newlywed children’s lives for two seasons on NBC and later in syndication. Ballard also appeared on The Muppet Show, Disney’s Freaky Friday with Jodie Foster, The Love Boat and The Munsters Today. Her last role was in the upcoming Senior Moment co-starring Valarie Pettiford (BET’s The Family Business; Half & Half; Jumping The Broom), William Shatner (Star Trek) and Christopher Lloyd (Taxi; Back To The Future). Kaye Ballard was 93.

We remember Comedian/Actor/Writer Kevin Barnett. Barnett was the co-creator of Rel starring his friend and fellow Comedian Lil Rel Howery and Sinbad on FOX. Barnett also worked with Lil Rel on The Carmichael Show and co-wrote the Adam Sandler-David Spade Netflix feature The Do-Over in 2016. The 32-year old passed away suddenly while on vacation in Mexico.

We remember Singer Clydie King. She grew up and honed her skills on gospel music, but she can be heard on some of rock music’s most enduring classics such as Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tumbling Dice by The Rolling Stones. She died at 75.

Wendy Williams’ mother in law is sounding off on her son and daughter-in-law’s situation. Reports are that Wendy Williams’ mother-in-law, Pearlette, is bearing witness to the alleged abuse her son inflicted on Wendy. Williams released a statement that her fractured shoulder is a result of her Graves disease. But Pearlette has reportedly told the tabloids she’s seen her son Kevin Hunter punch, kick and choke Williams. Remember all this is going on while Williams once again cancelled her return date to TV. Also while dealing with reports of husband/manager Kevin Hunter’s infidelity, his alleged mistress, their alleged side-jawn pad and the alleged mistress’ pregnancy. Will Pearlette keep talking, and when will we hear from Williams herself?

When the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in the 2019 Superbowl, The Empress Of Soul will be there to sing the National Anthem. Despite some criticism, Atlanta Native Gladys Knight made it clear she supports Colin Kaepernick’s right to protest and knows it’s about racial injustice and not about the National Anthem itself. She also noted for her critics her own history within the civil rights movement. Along with Gladys Knight, Atlanta Native Big Boi of Outkast fame, Rapper Travis Scott, Beyonce’s Protégés Chloe and Halle and Maroon Five will all be performing at the big game. The 2019 Superbowl from Atlanta airs Sunday, February 3rd on CBS.

The Grammys will have its first female host in over a decade as 15-time Winner Alicia Keys has signed on for those duties. The last time a woman hosted was Queen Latifah in 2005, and there have only been five ladies in all of Grammy history to host. Kendrick Lamar’s work on the Black Panther soundtrack garnered eight nominations to lead the pack. One nomination he shares with Sza for their collaboration All The Stars. Meanwhile, five nominations each went to H.E.R., Cardi B, Lady Gaga and Childish Gambino. Plus when the Grammys air, there will be a special tribute to the 60th anniversary of the creation of Motown Records. The Grammys air Sunday, February 10th at 8pm on CBS.

Mary J. Blige is coming to Netflix. The Queen Of Hip Hop Soul is following up her Oscar nominated 2017 role in Mudbound by playing a hired killer. Blige will play an assassin in the Nextflix series The Umbrella Academy. This is a scary series. In fact, think American Horror Story type scary. Umbrella Academy begins streaming February 15th.

A Grammy Celebration For The Queen Of Soul is a CBS tribute special hosted by Tyler Perry. They’ll be appearances by President Barack Obama, Celine Dion, Quincy Jones, John Legend, Barbara Streisand, Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett and Smokey Robinson. Performances include Sza & Alicia Keys on Daydreaming; Patti LaBelle on Call Me; Andra Day & Fantasia on (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman; and Franklin’s silver screen portrayer Jennifer Hudson (Respect: The Aretha Franklin Story) with Think. Aretha! A Grammy Celebration For The Queen Of Soul airs on CBS Sunday, March 10th.

Little is a movie coming out this spring, but it’s already going into the record books. A high powered but super mean business executive (Regina Hall from Girls’ Trip) is transformed back into her 13-year old self with her present day mind (Marsai Martin, “Diane” from Black-ish). Her assistant (Issa Rae of Insecure) is the only one who knows the truth, and must keep her boss’ business going until they can make her normal again. Will Packer, Hall and Martin are the executive producers and that makes Martin the youngest executive producer in movie history. Little, co-starring Tone Bell (CBS’ Fam) and Justin Hartley (NBC’s This Is Us) opens in theaters April 12th.

Essence Magazine’s February issue is an homage to the Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon. A shared cover features the Luncheon’s 2019 honorees: Jenifer Lewis (Black-ish; Think Like A Man; What’s Love Got To Do With It), Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk; Captive City), Amandla Stenberg (The Hate You Give; The Hunger Games) and Regina Hall (Scary Movie; Girls’ Trip; Little).

Check out who’s coming to town:

Friday, February 1st – Mike Epps comedy show at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For Tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter.

Saturday, February 2nd – Sunday, February 10th – The 2019 Philadelphia Auto Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. For tickets and information log onto phillyautoshow.com

Saturday, February 2nd – Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle in concert at The Keswick Theater, Glenside, Pa. For tickets and information log onto keswicktheater.com/events/all.

Friday, February 8th – Herbie Hancock in concert at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For Tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter.

Friday, February 15th –Brian McKnight in concert at Ocean Resort Casino’s Ovation Hall in Atlantic City. For Tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com.

Saturday, February 16th – Erykah Badu and Busta Rhymes at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. For Tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com.

Saturday, February 16th – The Isley Brothers 60th Anniversary Tour at Ocean Resort Casino’s Ovation Hall in Atlantic City. For Tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com.

Saturday, February 16th – Boyz II Men celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the album II at The Met Philly, Broad and Poplar. Log onto themetphilly.com/events for tickets and information.

Sunday, February 17th – The Valentine’s Day Soul Jam starring The Stylistics, The Manhattans, Bloodstone and Harold Melvin’s Bluenotes at The Tropicana in Atlantic City. For tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com

Sunday, February 17th – Gladys Knight in concert at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter

Saturday, March 9th – Tony Toni Tone’ & Jody Watley in concert at The Keswick Theater, Glenside, Pa. For tickets and information log onto keswicktheater.com/events/all.

Saturday, March 16th – Comedian JB Smoove at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter.

Wednesday March 20th – Sunday, March 24th – Madea’s Farewell starring Tyler Perry at The Met Philly, Broad & Poplar Streets. For tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com

Saturday, March 30th – Mariah Carey in concert at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Log onto ticketmaster.com for tickets and information.

Friday, April 26th – The New Stylistics featuring Russell Thompkins, Jr., The Manhattans featuring Gerald Alston and The Delfonics featuring William Hart in concert at The Keswick Theater, Glenside, Pa. For tickets and information log onto keswicktheater.com/events/all.

Friday, May 3rd – Wayne Brady at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For Tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter

Friday, May 10th – The Mother’s Day Music Festival Weekend starring The Whispers & The Force MD’s at Caesar’s Circus Maximus Theater in Atlantic City. Tickets go on sale Friday, February 1st. For more information log onto ppshows.com and for tickets log onto ticketmaster.com.

Saturday, May 11th – The Mother’s Day Music Festival Weekend starring Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Kem, Al B. Sure and Christopher Williams at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Tickets go on sale Friday, February 1st.  For more information log onto ppshows.com and for tickets log onto ticketmaster.com.


Sunday, May 12th – The Mother’s Day Music Festival Weekend starring After 7 and Dru Hill at Tropicana Showroom Theater in Atlantic City. Tickets go on sale Friday January 25th. For more information log onto ppshows.com and for tickets log onto ticketmaster.com.

If you would like more info please email me at PattyJackson@iHeartMedia.com or check me out with my midday reports at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 2:30pm during the day.

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