Monday, July 25, 2011

Jackson Family, Global Live Events, Announce ‘Michael Forever: The Tribute Concert’

BEVERLY HILLS – A press conference announcing “Michael Forever: The Tribute Concert,” in honor of the late King of Pop who died two years ago, was held at the Beverly Hills Hotel today.

Members of Michael Jackson’s family, including his mother, Katherine Jackson and siblings, LaToya, Jackie, Tito and Marlon, were on hand for the announcement, which began with a video introduction with the words, “Just when you thought that was it,” which alluded to the name of the concert series, ‘This Is It” that Michael Jackson was planning at the time of his death in 2009.

According to representatives of concert promoter Global Live Events, the concert will be held Oct. 8, in Cardiff, Wales, at the Millennium Centre, which is Europe’s largest indoor arena holding 75,000 seats.  The date marks 40 years since Jackson released his first solo single, “Got To Be There” and will feature a number of music stars.

More details about the concert, including the complete lineup will be rolled out over the next 10 days through Aug. 3 in order to build suspense and excitement, according to organizers.  The concert will be broadcast around the world to 30 countries in both 2D and 3D.

It’s not known whether any members of the Jackson family will perform. Neither the Jackson family members nor the Global Live Events executives on hand said who would be performing.

Organizers did say the concert, a one night only event, would last four hours.

“I have been approached by many people with a variety of ventures such as this, Global Live Events LLP is the first company to present me with a vision that will produce an authentic and memorable tribute that my son would love,” said Katherine Jackson. “This is going to be a world-class event. If my son was here today, he would feel the same way. Thank you so much for helping to keep my son’s legacy alive.”

“Michael loved doing things on a large, major scale,” said Tito, who added the concert would feature all the artists Michael admired and respected so much. “This is definitely one that he would approve.”

“He was about making the world a better place,” said Jackie Jackson. “It will be a great show.”

“It’s overdue,” said LaToya Jackson. ““He is an entertainer that I feel, that no one could stand up to or hold a candle to as far as talent is concerned. With that being said, I know this tribute will be something spectacular.”

“Just the warmth and exuberance in this room is a tribute to our brother,” said Marlon Jackson.

Father Joe Jackson, Janet, Jermaine and Randy Jackson were not in attendance.  Neither the Jackson family nor promoters took questions from the press.

Chris Hunt, president of Global Live Events, said this was the first global tribute for Michael Jackson and that it “will never be repeated.”

“We’re sparing no effort to do something Michael would be proud of,” said Hunt, who met Michael Jackson in 2003 when they jointly produced a television special. “This is what should become a most memorable event.”

Hunt also announced that Global Live Events has started a trust fund for the three Jackson children for when they each turn 21. He handed a surprised and emotional Katherine Jackson a check for $100,000.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit three of Michael Jackson’s favorite charities, including AIDS Project Los Angeles and The Prince's Trust.

LaToya Jackson said Michael donated more than $100 million of his own money to various charities.

The line-up and ticketing procedure will be announced at a London press conference on Aug. 3. Tickets will go on sale exclusively through beginning Aug. 4.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's On Tee Vee


Laz Alonso's series, Breakout Kings on A&E, will be back for a second season. Alonso, who co-starred this sumer in Salim Akil’s 'Jumping the Broom,' plays a U.S. marshal in pursuit of fugitives.


The United Negro College Fund and BET will team up to produce this year's UNCF  annual fundraising show, An Evening of Stars.

“Our students and their need for a good education deserve the large and passionate audience that watches BET,” said UNCF president and CEO, Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D. “They deserve the best entertainers performing on stage and speaking out for the right to go to and through college, and they deserve to have their stories told in a way that everyone can connect to. Together, UNCF and BET can create a show that entertains at the same time it delivers on the opportunity to inform and activate new viewers around the UNCF mission of education for all Americans.”

Proceeds from An Evening of Stars benefit students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

"We’re excited to partner with UNCF for UNCF An Evening of Stars amplifying their message and assisting in their goal to better support African-American students and Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Stephen Hill, President of Music and Specials Programming, BET Networks. “We have a phalanx of passionate Spike LeeBET folks (many of them HBCU grads) who look forward to producing and airing a great show celebrating the power of education and the need for everyone to engage with UNCF. We must ensure that we can educate our future.”

The show will be taped before a live audience on Aug. 14 and air on BET later this fall.

What's On Tee Vee

Penny Johnson Jerald, best known for her as the dastardly wife of the president on "24," has been cast to play Captain Victoria Gates on the ABC cop show, "Castle."  She replaces Ruben Santiago Hudson, who was killed off the show last season. "Castle" will debut on Sept. 19. The show airs at 10 p.m. Monday nights.

Judge Mablean Ephriam and “Divorce Court”

Judge Mablean Ephriam, the former judge on “Divorce Court,” hinted that she would love to return to the Fox program and replace Judge Lynn Toler.  Reportedly, the show's ratings have suffered in recent years.

Recently, Ephriam, a Hazlehurst, Miss. native, has appeared as herself in three Tyler Perry films. 


The hit show, Men of A Certain Age, has been cancelled.  The dramedy stars Emmy winners Ray Romano and Andre Braugher, as well as Scott Bakula and LisaGay Hamilton. Braugher, a two-time Emmy winner was nominated again this year in the supporting actor category. It’s his eighth overall nomination.


Taraji P Henson, who is set to return to television this fall, is set to star in Think Like A Man. Steve Harvey's book turned movie, Think Like A Man, has begun production. The bestselling book is actually called,  Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man.

The film stars Michael Ealy, Emmy nominee Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Kevin Hart, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco and Regina Hall.

Will Packer (Takers, Stomp the Yard) is producing and Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Barbershop) will direct.

Screen Gems is scheduled to release the film on April 6, 2012.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What's On Tee Vee


VH1 announced today that it has renewed “Single Ladies,” its breakout hit starring  Stacey Dash, LisaRaye McCoy and Charity Shea as three best friends in the world of Atlanta fashion, fame and music. It’s the network’s first hour-long scripted series.
Charity Shea, Stacey Dash & LisaRaye McCoy

“Our viewers have fallen for ‘Single Ladies’ and its honest, modern take on love, female friendship and dating,” said Jeff Olde, VH1′s executive vice president of original programming. “We’re extremely pleased to give the audience another great season of the series they love.”

Executive producer Queen Latifah added: “We knew from the beginning this show was going to appeal to people everywhere; it’s funny, sexy and smart.”

Season 2 is slated for a 2012 premiere.


Music World Gospel entered into an exclusive recording agreement with BET Networks and its premiere brand, Sunday Best, the award-winning weekly gospel music competition program.  The agreement will include the release of debut albums for the show’s third and fourth season winners and other music and entertainment product releases featuring “best of” compilations and a variety of specialty brand projects. Sunday Best season four premiered Sunday, July 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

The first release scheduled under the new agreement is Sunday Best’s third season winner, Le’Andria Johnson.  Her debut project, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson will be released on September 6, 2011. Le’Andria’s new single, “Jesus,” produced by GRAMMY® Award winner Chuck Harmony (Rihanna, Fantasia, Chrisette Michele), will impact radio on July 25.
Le’Andria Johnson

“Securing BET and the Sunday Best brand is an important and monumental milestone for the label,” said Mathew Knowles, founder, President and CEO of Music World Entertainment. “BET is one of the largest brands in black America.  We look forward to partnering with BET and exploring the many marketing opportunities to further develop and bring greater exposure to the Sunday Best brand.  Sunday Best is very important to the faith-based and African American communities.  As we prepare for our first release under the new deal, the Music World team is extremely excited about Le’Andria Johnson.  She is one of a few artists who come along in a lifetime who possess that special uniqueness. Beyond her vocal talent and skills, she has that raw and rare stage presence that illuminates power and grace.”

“BET Networks is thrilled to work with the Music World Gospel label in continuing to build our Sunday Best brand as the leading platform for the discovery and launch of extraordinary gospel music talent including our Sunday Best Season 3 winner, Le’Andria Johnson” said Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming, BET.  “We believe the new relationship with Music World Gospel and Mathew Knowles will further the vision to share our ‘Sunday Best’ with the world.”

In June 2010, Le’Andria was crowned Sunday Best winner, with over 2 million votes from the network’s faithful viewers. Each week she wowed viewers and captured the hearts of millions, including Sunday Best‘s host Kirk Franklin, judges, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, and Yolanda Adams and celebrity mentor Kim Burrell. For the finale, she performed a medley of three songs, “I Love the Lord,” “He Was There,” and “In the Midst of It All.”

Le’Andria is a living testimony of faith. Prior to being crowned Sunday Best, Le’Andria auditioned for the gospel competition a day before she lost her home in foreclosure. Deciding to let nothing stand in her way, the then Sunday Best hopeful traveled to New Orleans and auditioned in flip flops and gym socks, she was almost eliminated because she did not look the part, according to show judge Erica Campbell [Mary Mary]. After her rendition of “This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made,” she was on her way to fulfilling her life-long dream of a career in music.

Le’Andria is an accomplished songwriter, producer and praise and worship leader at her hometown church, HQ Ministries in Altamonte Springs, Florida. A self-taught musician, she began singing at the age of two. She continues her commitment to the music ministry of her hometown church. Le’Andria currently resides in Orlando, Florida and is a single mother of three children. –


Up 115% Since Premiere As Field Narrows with 
Seven Remaining Contenders & Five Episodes Left to Air

Oxygen’s critically-acclaimed “The Glee Project” delivered series highs for Sunday’s original episode in all key demos and once again grew double digits in the key demos of A18-49 and A12-24, according to Nielsen Media Research.  Compared to last week’s original episode (which aired on 7/10), Sunday’s original grew +16% in A18-49, +13% among the coveted “The Glee Project” A12-24 demo, +8% in total viewers and +8% among W18-49.

 Since its premiere on June 12th, the series has posted impressive triple and double digit growth with a +115% increase among A18-49, +136% among A12-24, +97% among W18-49 and +77% percent in total viewers. 

 Digitally, “The Glee Project” page on YouTube has seen 2.7 million streams and nearly 4.3 million video streams across Hulu, and Mobile since premiere.  Also since premiere, the show site on has yielded nearly 14.4M page views, ranking as the #1 show on for that time period.   In addition, “The Glee Project” continues to rank in the top 5 on social media index Trendrr, coming in at #3 last Sunday.

Sunday’s episode, titled “Pairability,” featured guest mentor Darren Criss (“Glee’s” Blaine), who challenged the contenders to collaborate on duets.  In the end, Matheus Fernandes (20) of Atlanta was eliminated. The remaining seven contenders will face their next “Glee”-inspired challenge on Sunday, July 24th at 9pm ET/PT.  Guest mentor Max Adler (“Glee’s” Dave Karofsky, the bully) teaches the contenders how to ‘grin and bear it’ during “Tenacity” week.

 "The Glee Project" is produced by Ryan Murphy Television and Embassy Row with Ryan Murphy, Dante Di Loreto, Michael Davies and Shauna Minoprio serving as executive producers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stars and Fans Shine at 16th Annual JazzFest West

Thousands of music lovers attended the 16th Annual JazzFest West held this past weekend at Bonelli Park in San Dimas.

Under a blazing hot sun, some of the music industry’s premier artists took the stage to the delight of appreciative music lovers.

The two-day event boasted an all-star lineup. Saturday’s roster included Boney James, Eric Benet, Ledisi, Leela James, Mike Phillips and Joey Sommerville.


Sunday’s roster included:  MAZE featuring Frankie Beverly, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Jazz Attack! Featuring Rick Braun, Gerald Albright & Peter White; N'Dambi, Jeff Golub's Blues and 480 East.

JazzFest West is presented by Omega Events.

For information:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chasten Harmon Stars In Les Miserables

By Darlene Donloe

There are lots of good reasons to go see Les Miserables at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
One of those good reasons is the fact that it’s a classic celebrating its 25th anniversary with an incredibly reworked production.
But one of the best reasons is Chasten Harmon, 25, a ball of talented energy, whose inclusion in this production is historic, impressive and thoroughly entertaining.
 Les Miserables, set amid revolutionary ferment in early 19th-century France, is the musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, which had its premiere in London back in 1985, arrived on Broadway in 1987, won eight Tony Awards (including best musical) and ran 16 years. The original run was quickly followed by a Broadway revival (2006-08).
The show centers on Jean Valjean (J. Mark McVey), a Frenchman who in desperation stole a loaf of bread, but is eventually released from prison. Like an albatross around his next, his criminal record contributes to his being mistreated in the outside world. So, once again, he resorts to theft but, touched by a bishop’s kindness, vows to, and becomes a good man. He changes his name and begins a new life, becoming a wealthy factory owner and a small-town mayor.

Harmon, the only African American in the show, plays Eponine, the daughter of the despised and despicable Thenardiers (Shawna M. Hamic/Michael Kostroff). Eponine is secretly in love with a student protestor named Marius (Justin Scott Brown), who is in love with a woman named Cosette (Jenny Latimer).
Harmon, who received her training from New York University (NYU from 2003-2007), has appeared in Hair on Broadway and has done several shows Off-Broadway including Iphigenia 2.0, directed by Tina Landau. She has also appeared in Grind, Once on This Island, All Shook Up, Leader of the Pack and more.
When she’s not acting, Harmon runs a business she started last year called Space on White (
During a recent interview, Harmon, who lives in New York, talked about her breakout role in the show.
DD: I’ve seen this show several times. I’ve never seen a Black person in it before. You are the only Black person in this show.
CH: Sometimes it’s kind of a mental game. Sometimes I’m like, ‘wow.’  My look and vocal type is different from everyone else in the show. But that’s probably one of the reasons why they picked me.
DD: For those who are unfamiliar – quickly give them insight into your role in Les Miserable.
CH: My insight into Eponine the root of her is she is a Thenardier. She’s their daughter. She was raised to be tough. Difference between her and the Thenardiers is she is not selfish. She loves unconditionally. It’s her inner battle of knowing and feeling what’s right. She’s back and forth between being in a fight and delivering love letters. It’s her inner conflict.

DD: How did you go about developing her?
CH: She doesn’t know how to flirt or say, I like you. Her daily existence is, ‘how am I going to eat and how am I going to live? What I wanted to bring out is she is the daughter of the villains in the show.
DD: Talk about auditioning for the role.
CH: I got a call from my agent. They want to see me for Eponine. I hadn’t seen or heard about the new production yet. I was excited. I wasn’t extremely familiar with the material. I love the song, “I Dreamed a Dream.” However, I wasn’t familiar with the song I sing called, “On My Own.”  I went in the audition room and sang it how I thought it would be. It was my interpretation. That’s why they liked it because it was different. The audition process was lovely. It was just like being in rehearsal. There wasn’t any fear or urgency. It was two callbacks later. I got a call and found out I was going to be touring the country. The whole process took about a month.
    DD: What was the first thing you did after finding out you got the role?
    CH: I called my parents and told them I was going on tour. My sister (Marja Harmon/Aida) is also in the business. I told her. It was really a big relief to get good news.
    DD: Were you surprised when they cast you in this high profile role?
CH: I was. I was thinking they were going to go with someone a little more well known. They wanted people who were young and real. They cast a good group of people. We’re all lucky. This is a big step in our careers.
    DD: What are the challenges of the role?
CH: Endurance. It’s Les Miserables. It’s an angst-filled role to conjure up everyday, sometimes twice a day. It’s a show that needs 110 percent from all its members. Sometimes it’s hard to get there to get to those emotions every day.

    DD: What kind of direction were you given for your solo, On My Own?
    CH: I got very specific direction. It was more about storytelling and less musical. We focused on lyrics and the journey and eventually the shape of the song fell into place. I hadn’t listened to the original recording much. I’m glad I didn’t.  Really all I can do is my interpretation of it.
DD: On opening night, your solo got a huge applause. Your voice is incredible. Talk about your vocal training.
CH: I’ve been singing since I was a little girl.
I grew up Columbus, Indiana. I took voice lessons all through school.
DD: How do you keep your instrument in shape?
CH: Lots of vocal rest. I drink lots of water. You learn to use it correctly.  You want to make sure it’s healthy. You can blow yourself out if you’re singing the wrong way.
DD: How do you prepare to go on stage?
CH: Before the show I’m in my dressing room. I have a humidifier. I play music. I dance and sing. It’s an absent-minded vocal warm-up.
DD: Why did you want to be an actress?
CH: Because when I watched from the audience and saw things that inspired me, I wanted to give that back and show people it’s ok to feel and show your emotions. The least I can do is be myself and be human and be vulnerable. It’s a gift to show you can be vulnerable and honest and to love.
    DD: What would you tell people who are hesitant to see the show?
    CH: I think everyone should try to see the show.  It’s inspirational. You can take a classic piece and redo it and bring even more meaning than it had before. This is a theatrical experience that no one should miss.


Sundance Audience Award Winner To Be Released November 2011

Los Angeles, CA (July 4, 2011) – AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, has acquired U.S. theatrical rights to the 2011 Sundance Audience Award winner for World Cinema Drama, KINYARWANDA.  Written and directed by Alrick Brown, KINYARWANDA is the first feature conceived within Rwanda and produced by Rwandans regarding the 1994 genocide that saw one million lives lost in 100 days.  KINYARWANDA interweaves six true tales into one epic narrative, confronting the realities of forgiveness in the face of vengeance. The film will be released in theaters November 2011.

KINYARWANDA will mark the second feature from AFFRM, the theatrical distribution entity powered by the nation’s top black film festival organizations.  The collective activates quality black independent films with simultaneous theatrical engagements in select cities. AFFRM’s inaugural feature was the critically-acclaimed drama, “I Will Follow,” released in March 2011 to an opening weekend per screen average of $11,428 without a formal advertising or marketing budget.

“We’re truly honored to release KINYARWANDA with Alrick Brown and his amazing producing team.  AFFRM’s mission is to shine a light on the work of black filmmakers and to meaningfully connect their films to both black consumers and filmlovers of every hue,” explained Ava DuVernay, Founder of AFFRM.  “This project is an exquisite, important piece of filmmaking that deserves to be seen in a theatrical environment and promoted with the vigor and passion that AFFRM offers.”

KINYARWANDA is produced by Darren Dean and Tommy Oliver with executive producer Ishmael Ntihabose.  Alrick Brown directs from his screenplay, with story by Ntihabose.  Cassandra Freeman, Edouard Bamporiki and Cleophas Kabasitain star.  Cinematography by Danny Vecchione, with editing by Tovah Leibowitz.

AFFRM is the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, a distribution collective dedicated to the domestic theatrical release of quality black independent films. Founded in 2011 by Ava DuVernay, AFFRM is a collaboration of like-minded black film organizations, including founding festivals Urbanworld Film Festival, Imagenation, Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, ReelBlack Film Series and BronzeLens Film Festival. For more information, please visit

Friday, July 1, 2011

Laurel Richie Makes History, Takes The Helm Of WNBA

By Darlene Donloe

Laurel J. Richie made history recently when she became the first African American female president of a national sports league.
Richie took the helm of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) this year on May 16, a mere three days before the Connecticut Sun played the China National Team in a preseason game.
As the leader of the WNBA, Richie oversees all of the league’s day-to-day business and league operations.
Before taking the reigns, Richie, who has a track record of developing award-winning campaigns, spent more than three decades in consumer marketing, corporate branding, public relations, and corporate management.
During her career, Richie, a graduate of Dartmouth College, was senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Girl Scouts of the USA.
She also worked at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, where she worked on a series of campaigns for clients that included American Express, Pepperidge Farm, Pond’s, Huggies, and Kotex.
Richie sat on Ogilvy New York's Operating Board and was a founding member of the agency's Employee Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.
During a recent interview, Richie, who lives in New York City, talked about her plans for the WNBA.

DD: What does it mean to you to be the first African American female president of a national sports league?
LR: I still have to pinch myself when I hear people say that. I admit when I was interviewing and ultimately accepted, I didn’t know that. I’m very, very excited about it. My whole career has been pointing me to this opportunity.
DD: In what way has your career done that?
LR: I spent a fair amount of time working on and marketing products and services to women.
DD: Why did you want to be the president of the WNBA?
LR: For a couple of reasons. One, I think it’s important for our society, for both young girls and young boys to see that women have the same opportunity as men. It’s important. We right now are the longest running professional women sports league in the country. I’m intrigued to do my part to insure we are here for another 15 or 30 years. I also really enjoy the game. I want to make sure I can do my part in bringing the fun experience of going to a game to more people.

DD: Do you have a favorite WNBA team?
 LR: As president and leader of 12 teams in our league I don’t have a favorite. It’s like having children, you love them all equally.
DD: When you became the president, if nothing else, what is it you wanted to accomplish?
LR: I think knowing I joined the league on its 15th anniversary, my goal is to make sure when we look back over the next 15 years we see the league has only grown stronger. Right now the level of play in the game is unparalleled. We are the gold standard. How can we increase attendance and viewership when our games are broadcast? How to reach out to more sponsors who share our passion for the game? I hope people look back and say during my tenure, this is a time when the league began to thrive.
DD: Since you’ve been in the office, what has been your biggest challenge?
LR: I don’t think I’ve had real challenges yet. The challenge has been packing and unpacking my suitcase. My focus has been to hit the road and meet and visit every team and every market. So far, I’ve done eight teams.  I want to meet with the team and team staff and wrap my arms around the opportunities.
DD: What changes have you seen in women’s basketball over the last decade, if any?

LR: All credit to my predecessors. What’s most impressive is the change in the level of the game. Women and young girls knowing there is a professional women’s league for them to join has improved the play.
DD: What would you like to see happen with women’s basketball.
LR: I would like more people to come to a game. I think the experience of being in the arena during a game is magical. The pace of the game - you feel it differently when it’s live. All of our teams pay attention to the fan experience. It’s a fun experience.
DD: What is the biggest issue surrounding the game?
LR: Lack of awareness. Everyone is busy these days. I think people have a good impression of WNBA. I want to see what I can do to increase top of mind awareness and convert that to engagement.
DD: Why do you think there is a stigma with women’s athletics?
LR: The stigma surrounding women’s athletics, I think its lack of awareness. I think people often time form opinions about things they don’t know. That’s why I’m interested in getting more people to attend the games. As we as a society have been paying more attention to leading healthy lifestyle, I think women pursuing physical activity, competitive activity, more people are becoming receptive to that.