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, Yuna and Eric Benet. Tickets are available right now from our homepage at WDASFM.com.
The ABC Network has made history by introducing a face of color to the Bachelor/Bachelorette reality show franchise. Texas Lawyer Rachel Lindsay will be the first African American Bachelorette beginning in May. Lindsay is already on The Bachelor this season, which tells us obviously she didn’t win that contest. The Bachelorette has been around 14 years with at least two different seasons a year. The new President Of The ABC Entertainment Group is Channing Dungey, and she’s the first African American in history to hold the head of programming title on any of the major broadcast networks. Dungey has made it known she wants more diversity on the network, and has given The Bachelorette her blessing. The Bachelorette with Rachel Lindsay will have its season premiere Monday, May 22nd at 9pm on ABC.
Oscar Winner, Emmy Winner, Box Office Franchise Star (X-Men) and acclaimed International Beauty Halle Berry……a failure? Berry’s got the world by a string as far as her career goes, but she’s been so unlucky in love that she blames herself. She just finalized her divorce from husband number three Oliver Martinez. Berry spoke at a recent Summit and Gala fundraiser and explained she felt a lot of guilt about her relationships during a question and answer session. The Academy Award winning actress did say that despite the embarrassment, she learned a lot from all of the situations. Berry says she’s grateful that difficult time has put her in the place her life is in today.
Coming this summer, a trip to the Essence Festival hits the big screen. Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish are four best friends who try to strengthen their bonds by reliving their youth. They decide to take a road trip to New Orleans and the Essence Festival. Their trip alone is full of adventures and plenty of laughs. Larenz Tate (Love Jones; Dead Presidents) and Kofi Siriboe (Queen Sugar) round out the cast. Girls Trip hits theaters July 21st.
Speaking of Queen Latifah, she’s also working on bible-themed drama series. Latifah currently stars in Lee Daniels FOX drama Star, which airs Wednesdays at 9pm. The untitled series Latifah is developing would bring a modern day interpretation to the most popular stories from the good book.
In more TV news, Michelle Obama will guest star on the fifth season of Master Junior Chef with Gordon Ramsay. The date of the former First Lady’s appearance has not yet been set.
We remember Al Jarreau. The eight-time Grammy winning Singer/Songwriter was not just a performer, but a one of a kind song stylist who fused Jazz, POP and R&B giving his career five decades worth of devoted fans. Among those he influenced are musicians and vocalists Bobby McFerrin and Kem. Jarreau had been in the business for decades when he made the industry take notice once again by beginning a gold and platinum album selling streak beginning in the 1980’s. His already solid international touring turned him into a POP superstar, though he never abandoned his well crafted approach to songs. His hits include Distracted, Look To The Rainbow, We’re In This Love Together, Take Five, Boogie Down, Dinosaur, The Theme To Moonlighting, Teach Me Tonight and Morning, just to name a few. A week before his passing, complications from exhaustion lead to Jarreau’s hospitalization and the announcement of his retirement from touring. Al Jarreau was 76-years old.
Philly’s own Kevin Hart has turned author. The hometown comedian/actor is the king of the hill at the box office, and now he’s penning his book called I Can’t Make This Up. This is an inspirational and funny memoir of the journey Hart has taken in life and his career. Meanwhile, Hart is filming the new movie Untouchables in Philly with Actor Bryan Cranston. Both men have been seen out and about in the city of brotherly love for Sixers' games, working out at the local gym and, of course, on location filming. The Untouchables is scheduled for a 2018 release. Meanwhile, I Can’t Make This Up will be available on line and in bookstores everywhere beginning June 6th.
TV One is developing The Bobbi Kristina Brown Story. The brief life of the late daughter of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston is coming to TV. Demetria McKinney (The Quad; Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne) will play the late Whitney Houston and Vivica A. Fox as Pat Houston (Bobbi Kris’ aunt and Whitney’s sister-in-law). No word yet on an air date.
The ABFF Honors is coming to BET and Centric. Actress Regina Hall will host the TV special that will honor both legends and the rising stars of Hollywood. Maxwell and Dionne Farris will be the musical performers. Special honors will go to Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah, Director F. Gary Gray and Issa Rae. Also, our favorite movies and TV shows are nominated for awards that night as well. The ABFF Honors with Host Regina Hall will air this Wednesday, February 22nd on both Centric and BET.
At the movies this week, Ice Cube returns to the big screen in Fist Fight. Co-starring Dennis Haysbert, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan and Kym Whitley, Day plays a high school teacher who gets his colleague, played by Ice Cube, fired. In response, Cube challenges Day to a fight after school. Fist Fight opens this Friday in theaters.
Comedian/Writer/Actor Jordan Peele makes his directorial debut with a thriller called Get Out. An interracial couple comes home from college to meet her parents, but his being uncomfortable has less to do with race and more to do with the mysterious, unexplained disappearances of black young men in the area. Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford star. Emmy Winner Jordan Peele, best known from Mad TV and Key & Peele, also wrote the script. Get Out opens Friday, February 24th in theaters.
Actress and Brand new Mom Tika Sumpter (Southside With You; The Haves And The Have Nots; Ride Along) is on the cover of Upscale magazine.
Oscar nominated Filmmaker Ava DuVernay is on the cover of Essence magazine’s March 2017 issue.
Actress Jurnee Smollett will be on Ebony’s March 2017 issue.
President Barack Obama is featured on a separate special collector’s edition of Ebony magazine themed Hail To The Chief: Saluting Eight Years Of Excellence.
Essence Magazine has released a commemorative collector’s book on the former First Family. The Obamas: The White House Years is available now.
Serena Williams will appear in the 2017 Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated. The soon to be wife of Reddit Co-founder Alexis Ohanian did her shoot in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Williams is joined in the S.I. Swimsuit issue by Danielle Herrington, Chrissy Teigen, Lisa Marie Jaetha, Sumba, Kelly Gale, Las Ribeiro, and Gymnastic Gold Medalist Simone Biles. Plus, 63-year old Christie Brinkley and her daughters Sailor and Alexa Ray are also featured. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is on stands now.
Larenz Tate (Love Jones; Why Do Fools Fall In Love) and Comedian Charlie Murphy are taking on 50 Cent and Crew. That’s because the actors have joined the cast of the 50 Cent produced Starz drama Power. Still no premiere date announced and details on the casting are pretty quiet, but I hear Tate will play a city councilman with ties to the hood. Power stars Omari Harwick, Naturi Naughton, Lela Loren and 50 Cent and will return to Starz this summer.
Warmdaddy’s is presenting their R&B Rewind Series beginning in February. Upcoming shows will include Alexander O’ Neal & Cherelle, Miki Howard, Deniece Williams and El DeBarge. It all kicks off with Howard Hewett and Alyson Williams with special guest Janee Latrice on Sunday, February 26th at 7pm. For Reservations and information call 215-462-2000 or log onto warmdaddys.com
The sleeper hit film Dear White People is now coming to Netflix as a series. The movie, which co-starred Tessa Thompson, James Tyler Williams, Teyonah Parris and Dennis Haysbert, was a send up of the racial tensions being experienced at a prestigious Ivy League college from the perspective of its black students. The independent film was a surprise hit and critically acclaimed. Now Writer-Director Justin Simien has adapted his movie for television and even wrote the first ten episodes. The show will star Logan Browning (VH1’s Hit The Floor), Brandon P. Bell and be co-executive produced by Yvette Lee Bowser (A Different World; Living Single). Dear White People will debut on Netflix Friday, April 28th.
This year’s Academy Award nominations are: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for Fences; Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures; Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Writer/Director Barry Jenkins for Moonlight; and Ruth Negga for Loving. Fences, Moonlight and Hidden Figures are all also up for Best Picture; and history was made with the first African American woman nominated in the editing category, Joi McMillon for Moonlight. Jimmy Kimmel will host The Oscars Sunday, February 26th on ABC.
Best Picture Oscar nominee Hidden Figures is near the $130 million mark and is still in the top five. The film is about the unsung African American female mathematicians who helped NASA crack the numerical codes to insure John Glenn and crew’s trip to the moon. The three stars, Taraji P. Henson, Actress/Singer Janelle Monae and Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer are also on the cover of Essence magazine. And, Taraji P. Henson returns to her number one rated TV drama Empire on FOX Wednesday, March 22nd.
The King Of Pop’s only daughter speaks out. Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris is on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. She’s not holding back in the interview. Paris says she was raped at age 14 by a complete stranger. This lead to her multiple suicide attempts. Now at age 18, she is finding her happiness. She’s been successfully pursuing modeling. She also considers herself African American. Why? Because that’s what her dad told her she was, and, to her knowledge, he never lied to her. Paris also says her dad dropped her hints someone was out to kill him, and she believes her father was murdered not just malpractice by Dr. Conrad Murray. Paris, who has 50 tattoos, is an heiress. She and her brothers will share the Michael Jackson estate, which will probably be worth over a billion dollars by the time they have control of it.
UnSung, the original, is back. In the spotlight this season is SWV, Fat Joe, Jon B., Lenny Williams, Case, Dave Hollister, After 7 and the finale will be a tribute to The Godfather Of Soul, James Brown. UnSung airs Wednesdays at 8pm on TV One.
Media is an original TV drama airing on TV One. The TV movie starring Penny Johnson Jerald (The Larry Sanders Show; 24), Brian White (Scandal; Mistresses; I Can Do Bad All By Myself), Gary Dourdan (CSI; Jump The Broom), Pooch Hall (The Game), Stephen Bishop (Being Mary Jane) and Blue Kimble (Devious Maids; The Game) revolves around the double dealing and double crossing within The Jones Family who happen to be powerful media moguls. You know I’m a big night time soap opera fan, so I’ll be checking this out. Media airs Saturday, February 25th at 8pm on TV One.
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:
Tuesday, February 21st – Sunday, February 26th – The Bodyguard Starring Deborah Cox, based on the film and featuring the music of Whitney Houston’s entire career, at The Academy Of Music, 240 Broad Street on The Avenue Of The Arts. For Tickets and information log onto kimmelcenter.org.
Sunday, February 26th – The R&B Rewind Series starring Howard Hewett and Alyson Williams with special guest Janee Latrice 7pm at Warmdaddy’s, Columbus Blvd and Reed. For Reservations and information call 215-462-2000 or log onto warmdaddys.com
Saturday, March 18th – The All The Hits Tour Starring Lionel Richie & Special Guest Star Mariah Carey at The Wells Fargo Center. Tickets and information at wellsfargocenterphilly.com.
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 – Mothers 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.