The Jussie Smollett story keeps changing, but not necessarily because of him! Last week, Smollett was briefly hospitalized after reportedly being the victim of a racial and homophobic attack in Chicago during a 2am food run he made. Many reports surfaced in the days that followed that the Empire co-star is disputing. He says he didn’t tell police that his assailants had MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats despite the media reports. Reports also surfaced the 35-year old singer/songwriter/actor didn’t want to turn over his phone to police, but his spokespeople dispute that as well. Smollett is now back on the set filming some of the final scenes of the season for Empire. He now has security going onto and coming off the set. At press time, more video footage has been gathered by authorities, but reportedly none of it is helping much. Police still want to bring Smollett back in for more conversation despite having already spoken to him twice. Smollett is back to performing. This past weekend he kept his previously scheduled appearance at the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles, and only commented to fans during his stage appearance. He told the crowd he wouldn’t let those M****s F*****s win, and that he fought back. Smollett also told the crowd he’s not fully healed but will be and is gonna stand strong with them. As of press time, no arrests have been made.
A Sound Of Philadelphia legend’s life and career comes to Showtime this weekend. Teddy Pendergrass died in 2010, and a new documentary for Black History Month 2019 will take a look at his life, music, the devastating accident that left him paralyzed and his incredible comeback as both a performer and advocate for the disabled. Pendergrass set sales records when he became the first African American to have five platinum certified (million-selling) albums in a row. Known as the Teddy Bear, he was the former lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes (If You Don’t Know Me By Now, Bad Luck, Wake Up Everybody, The Love I Lost, Hope That We Can Be Together Soon) before he went solo in 1976 (Close The Door; Only You; Somebody Told Me; Love TKO; Turn Off The Lights; You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration). The documentary will also cover rare footage with Gamble and Huff with whom Pendergrass released albums from 1972 to 1984 on Philadelphia International Records as a member of The Bluenotes and a solo artist. Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me By Now premieres this Friday, February 8 th at 9pm on Showtime.
Actor Liam Neeson is still feeling the fallout from some very frank comments he made. The actor’s new movie Cold Pursuit, is a revenge flick about a father pursuing the drug dealers who murdered his son. During interviews promoting Cold Pursuit, Neeson confessed to being of a revenge type of mind once. He related a story years ago when a close female friend told him she was raped and only knew her assailant was black. As a result, Neeson carried around a type of night and was hoping a Black Bast**d would approach him wrong and he would react. The audio went viral and set off a huge controversy for the actor. He went on Good Morning America and declared to Robin Roberts he’s not a racist, but was trying to honor his friend who was raped. Neeson also noted he never actually harmed anyone as a result, and is ashamed he was so consumed by anger. He also hugged all the black folks in the audience for his GMA interview. The actor’s New York red carpet premiere of his film was still cancelled. I don’t think his a racist, but he definitely shouldn’t have said what he said. Cold Pursuit hits theaters this Friday.
DMX is fresh out of jail, but still owes the I.R.S. $2.3 million bucks. So how does he handle this? He’s going on a 31-city tour of course. Uncle Sam doesn’t play, and DMX was released after the Feds pinched him in a scheme to hide nearly $2 million dollars over what was charged as a multi-year plan to hide income. Now the rapper, born Earl Simmons, is celebrating the 20 th anniversary of his breakthrough album by naming the tour after it, It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot. The 48-year old rap artist was in jail on the album’s actual 20 th anniversary. DMX is scheduled to hit Philly on Saturday, April 6 th at the TLA.
Diana Ross, who is celebrating her 75 th birthday in March, has big showbiz events this year to mark the occasion. First, her famous Central Park New York Concert is coming to theaters. During that very expensive live event in 1983, the former Supreme tried to carry on the show even during a torrential downpour, but for the safety of the audience stopped the show then came back the next day to clear skies and an appreciative audience. Diana Ross: Her Life, Love And Legacy will premiere in theaters on her birthday, Tuesday, March 26 th . Meanwhile, Miss Ross is in the midst of her Diamond Diana Las Vegas residency at the Wynn Hotel & Casino through February 23 rd . And, The Boss is coming to The Grammy’s this Sunday! She’s going to help the awards show celebrate Motown’s 60 th Anniversary salute. The Grammys will be hosted by 15-time Winner Alicia Keys. 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. The Grammys air this Sunday, February 10 th at 8pm on CBS.
Lupita Nyong’o is on the covers of both US and Marie Claire magazines. The Oscar winner and her Black Panther Co-star Winston Duke head the cast of Oscar Winner Jordan Peele’s new film Us. Nyong’o and Duke play a married couple who take their two children to a beach house on vacation only to be confronted by the entire family’s look a likes (doppelgangers) who are also in the neighborhood. Us hits theaters Friday, March 22 nd .
Tyler Perry was recently visited by Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Hov and Queen Bey caught Perry on the road as he’s presenting the Madea Farewell Tour. The first couple of hip hop caught the show in Florida and their backstage pic with Perry went viral. The Madea Farewell Tour is coming to The Met Philly March 20 th through the 24 th . Meanwhile, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral, the character’s big screen farewell, co-stars Cassi Davis (The Paynes), Patrice Lovely (Love Thy Neighbor), Joel Rush (If Loving You Is Wrong), Rome Flynn (How To Get Away With Murder) Wrestler/Actor David Otunga, and Jen Harper (Greenleaf) and will hit theaters Friday, March 1 st .
Soap Opera Queen Susan Lucci reveals to the public a medical scare and says she’s lucky to be alive. The All My Children legend revealed she successfully underwent emergency surgery that just may have saved her from a massive heart attack. With 90 % blockage in one artery and 70 % in another, that condition is known as the Widow Maker. Lucci told People magazine it felt like an elephant pressing down on her chest. The 71-year old daytime diva is now a spokesperson with The American Heart Association and is spreading information about heart disease and getting tested.
In more heath news, Rapper Freeway has undergone a kidney transplant. The surgery went successfully following the Philly native’s years-long battle with kidney failure. Freeway took to social media to thank God,family, friends, fans and his doctors from his Baltimore hospital bed as he awaited surgery. Reports are the 40-year old Roc Nation artist is doing well now.
We remember Kristoff St. John. The actor enjoyed a long career that spanned over 40 years. He began as a child actor with roles in Wonder Woman, That’s My Mama, Happy Days and Roots: The Next Generation. In the 80’s, a memorable turn on The Cosby Show helped him land the short-lived Flip Wilson-Gladys Knight family sitcom Charlie & Company with Jaleel White (Family Matters) and Della Reese. Then in 1989, St. John established his daytime legacy beginning with a two-year run on Generations, the groundbreaking NBC soap opera that equally featured a half white and half black cast and storylines. Then came St. John’s signature role as Neil Winters in the legendary, top-rated CBS soap The Young and The Restless beginning in 1991. Over his 28-year run on the soap, St. John took home two Emmys and 10 NAACP Image Awards. The actor’s death was announced after a friend found St. John at home unresponsive. Initial reports indicate alcohol poisoning, but at press time, no definitive cause has been given. His famous friends, current and former co-stars such as Eric Braden, Vivica A. Fox, Shemar Moore, Eileen Davidson, Bryton James, Viola Davis, The Ladies Of The Talk and Victoria Rowell took to social media with their condolences. Many expressed because St. John continued to grieve the apparent suicide of his son Julian, 24, at a mental health facility that people will pay close attention to mental health and wellbeing and not ignore seeking help. The Young And The Restless has announced a special tribute show for St. John airing on Friday at 12:30pm on CBS.Kristoff St. John was 52-years old.
Oprah Winfrey got Philly’s own Bradley Cooper, Michael B. Jordan and possible Presidential Candidate Beto O’Rourke on a special edition of SuperSoul Conversations in New York. The Mighty O got Cooper to talk about his Oscar embarrassment because despite multiple nominations, he didn’t get a best director’s nod. Jordan confessed to Winfrey he sought therapy after playing the villain Erik Killmonger in Black Panther because he had to delve into a cold, lonely place to get that character down. Finally, Winfrey and O’Rourke take turns asking each other, are you running for president? Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations airs Saturday, February 16 th at 8pm on OWN.
Sunday, March 3 rd marks the return of Uncensored and UnSung on TV One. UnSung will feature Shirley Murdock, Adina Howard, The Jets, Crystal Waters, Lloyd, Kenny Lattimore, Gospel Artist Tasha Cobbs-Leonard and Glenn Jones. Meanwhile, Uncensored will feature Fantasia, Ne-Yo, Tasha Smith, Reality Star Tami Roman, Naturi Naughton, Jermaine Dupri and Kirk Franklin. Both shows’ season premieres air Sunday, March 3 rd with Unsung premiering at 9pm and Uncensored at 10pm on TV One.
Being Mary Jane starring Gabrielle Union is returning for a huge series finale event. The BET drama series from producers Mara Brock and Salim Akil ran for four seasons on BET. The show followed the life of the very driven African American television journalist Mary Jane Paul and her efforts to balance both her professional and personal life. Despite her challenges to her love life and her family, could Mary Jane, played by co-executive producer Gabrielle Union, finally be walking down the aisle? The new trailer BET released shows Union’s character thinking back on what appears to be her wedding day. BET has now confirmed the series finale of Being Mary Jane will premiere Tuesday, April 16 th .
A funkateer has decided to hang it up with one last tour. George Clinton, the genius producer/songwriter/singer who rewrote the book on soul music, has decided after more than five decades to end his ride on The Mothership. Clinton, who turns 78 this year, feels the time is right as the touring band of Parliament Funkadelic has a new vibe. Clinton claims they can actually turn the place out on their own and have been for the past several years. Parliament was created by Clinton from the original Doo Wop group The Parliaments, of which he was group leader and manager. Clinton later spun off and led Funkadelic, a sister group to Parliament and together the two acts created P-Funk. Clinton’s last tour with the current group members is called One Nation Under A Groove. The tour stops at Philly’s Franklin Music Hall, formerly The Electric Factory, Thursday, June 6 th .
Boomerang, the TV series, is based on the 1992 blockbuster that starred Eddie Murphy, who produced the film with House Party Filmmakers Reginald & Warrington Hudlin. Murphy’s co-stars were Halle Berry, Robin Givens, Grace Jones, Martin Lawrence, David Alan Grier, Geoffrey Holder and Eartha Kitt, and Boomerang grossed $131 million at the box office. Now, original film Co-star Halle Berry has teamed up with Emmy-winning Writer /Actress Lena Waithe (Master Of None) to produce an updated version for BET. Waithe says the TV version is a continuation of the storyline as opposed to a reboot starring Tetona Jackson, Tequan Richmond, Leland Martin, Lala Milan, RJ Walker, Brittany Inge, Paula Newsome, Joey Bada$$ and Dreezy.Boomerang has a ten episode order and premiers this Tuesday, February 12 th on BET.
Taraji P. 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 this Friday.
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 91 st Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24 th at 8pm on ABC.
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 15 th .
A Grammy Celebration For The Queen Of Soul is aCBS 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 10 th .
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 12 th .
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:
This Friday, February 8 th – Herbie Hancock in concert at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For Tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter.
Friday, February 15 th –Brian McKnight in concert at Ocean Resort Casino’s Ovation Hall in Atlantic City. For Tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com.
Saturday, February 16 th – Erykah Badu and Busta Rhymes at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. For Tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com.
Saturday, February 16 th – The Isley Brothers 60 th Anniversary Tour at Ocean Resort Casino’s Ovation Hall in Atlantic City. For Tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com.
Saturday, February 16 th – Boyz II Men celebrating the 25 th Anniversary of the album II at The Met Philly, Broad and Poplar. Log onto themetphilly.com/events for tickets and information.
Sunday, February 17 th – 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 17 th – Gladys Knight in concert at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter
Saturday, March 9 th – 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 16 th – Comedian JB Smoove at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter.
Wednesday, March 20 th – Sunday, March 24 th – Madea’s Farewell starring Tyler Perry at The Met Philly, Broad & Poplar Streets. For tickets and information log onto ticketmaster.com
Friday, March 22 nd and Saturday, March 23 rd – Lionel Richie in concert at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Log onto ticketmaster.com for tickets and information.
Saturday, March 30 th – Mariah Carey in concert at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Log onto ticketmaster.com for tickets and information.
Friday, April 26 th – 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 3 rd – Wayne Brady at the Parx Casino in Bensalem. For Tickets and information log onto parxcasino.com/xcitecenter
Friday, May 10 th – 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 this Friday, February 1 st . For more information log onto ppshows.com and for tickets log onto ticketmaster.com.
Saturday, May 11 th – 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 this Friday, February 1 st . For more information log onto ppshows.com and for tickets log onto ticketmaster.com.
Sunday, May 12 th – The Mother’s Day Music Festival Weekend starring After 7 and Dru Hill at Tropicana Showroom Theater in Atlantic City. Tickets are on sale now. For more information log onto ppshows.com and for tickets log onto ticketmaster.com.
Thursday, June 6 th – One Nation Under A Groove-George Clinton’s Farewell Tour with Parliament-Funkadelic at the Franklin Music Hall, formerly The Electric Factory, 421 North 7 th Street. For more ticket information 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.