Friday, February 28, 2014

NCBCP Fired Up By Obama's Latest Initiative

Washington, DC - Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener, Black Women's Roundtable Public Policy Network, issued the following statement about President Obama's new initiative "My Brothers Keeper":

"I was galvanized and honored to be present to witness the launch of President Barack Obama's bold new initiative, "My Brothers Keeper", that will focus on providing opportunities for boys and young men of color. "My Brothers Keeper" Initiative is committed to utilizing proven tools to ensure access to basic health and nutrition, provide high-quality early education, and help young men stay in school and find a good job.

"Clearly boys and young men of color have lagged behind for years. Data demonstrates that they are exceedingly at-risk from grade school through adulthood. Disparities remain in reading proficiencies proficiencies, unemployment rates, incarceration rates and murder rates. The school-to-prison pipeline is a reality for youth of color as they have disproportionately more contacts with police than whites - in school and on the streets. 

"It will take the hard work of our entire village to tackle the issues facing boys and men of color in America.  The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Black Women's Roundtable Public Policy Network are eager to work in collaboration with President Obama and his Administration, our partner organizations and others to provide ladders of opportunity for our youth. Empowering boys and young men of color will uplift girls and young women of color, strengthen communities of color, and fortify America as a whole. As Americans, we should all commit to being 'My Brothers Keeper.'"

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Judy Belk Appointed President and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation


Belk Brings More Than 25 Years’ Experience in Strategic Philanthropy, 

Corporate Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement

Woodland Hills, CA – Judy Belk will lead The California Wellness Foundation as its next president and CEO, effective April 7, 2014, announced Barbara C. Staggers, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Belk is currently senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a position she has held since 2002.

“Judy has stellar operational and strategic leadership expertise in philanthropy and a strong sense of valuing the voices of grantees,” Staggers said. “This coupled with her track record in myriad philanthropic efforts that support underserved communities makes her a strong match for The California Wellness Foundation.”

A seasoned leader with more than 25 years of senior management experience in the philanthropic, government, nonprofit and corporate sectors, Belk played a pivotal role in building Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) into one of the nation’s largest independent nonprofit advisory firms, which currently advises on more than $300 million annually in more than 30 countries.

She launched the firm’s West Coast and Midwest operations and helped position RPA as a global “thought leader” in promoting effective strategic philanthropy, impact investing, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Previously, Belk served as vice president of global public affairs at Levi Strauss & Co., reporting directly to the chairman and CEO, with responsibilities for both the company’s and foundation’s leadership in the global fight against AIDS, as well as their economic development, environmental and antiracism initiatives.

“I am proud to join the Foundation and support its mission to promote a healthier California,” Belk said. “Since its founding, TCWF has played a historic role in courageously funding in public health areas that had drawn little or no philanthropic attention.”

Belk said that, in the process, the Foundation has expanded the definition of health and wellness for all Californians, particularly underserved, diverse communities.

“I’m looking forward to working with TCWF’s impressive Board, its talented staff and committed community partners across the state in leveraging the Foundation’s resources and voice in bringing about meaningful health changes,” she said.

Eugene Washington, M.D., vice chair of TCWF’s Board, believes Belk’s vast philanthropic expertise will add valuable insight to the Foundation’s current and future grantmaking programs, especially as they relate to health coverage.

“With the expansion of health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, it is an important time in California and the nation,” Washington said. “I look forward to working with Judy on this vital issue and others that are affecting the health of the people of California.”

The Foundation is recognized nationally for its strategic core operating support that builds and sustains the capacity of health and human-service nonprofit organizations, and for its public policy grantmaking. TCWF has also earned national recognition for funding public education and policy outreach, including groundbreaking, multilingual campaigns in violence prevention, teenage pregnancy prevention and promoting diversity in the health professions.

Belk will bring to the Foundation a strong track record of leadership spanning the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors. At Levi Strauss & Co., she led a global team in pioneering work on AIDS education and prevention, and women’s economic development, and launched Project Change, a national antiracism initiative, which was recognized by President Bill Clinton with the first Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership in 1998. She also developed and led the company’s philanthropic efforts in postapartheid South Africa.

Throughout her career, Belk has been a strong advocate in promoting diversity, inclusion and equity both within and outside of the philanthropic sector. She has been a passionate voice in raising awareness of the needs of women and girls, as well as communities of color. She has been actively involved in the D5 Initiative, a national coalition of philanthropic leaders committed to increasing philanthropic resources for women, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, and people of color.

“The Foundation is at a key crossroads in its history,” said Cole Wilbur, TCWF’s interim president and CEO. “As we sunset the Responsive Grantmaking Program, the Foundation welcomes Judy, an enterprising leader with deep knowledge in philanthropy, to lead the next era of our grantmaking.”
Belk joins a distinguished roster of executives who have led the Foundation since it was founded more than two decades ago.

Belk is a frequent writer and speaker on organizational ethics, race and social change, and her work has been recognized with several state and national awards. Her pieces have aired on National Public Radio and appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

She currently serves on the boards of the Surdna Foundation, a national New York-based family foundation, and the Marlborough School, a Los Angeles-based, independent school for girls. Past board service includes Southern California Grantmakers, Northern California Grantmakers, National Center on Family Philanthropy, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and the Independent Sector.

Belk received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her master’s degree in public administration from California State University, East Bay, where she was recognized as the 1999 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

Belk has lived and worked in California for her entire professional career. A current resident of Los Angeles, she is a native of Alexandria, Virginia, where she was recently inducted into the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame. She is married to Roger Peeks, M.D., who currently serves as medical director of Valley Community Clinic in North Hollywood. They have two young adult children.

Assisting the Foundation’s Board of Directors in the search for the next president and CEO was Isaacson, Miller, an executive search firm with offices in San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C.

The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.

One of the largest health grantmaking organizations in California, TCWF was established in 1992 as part of the conversion of Health Net from not-for-profit to for-profit status. It is completely separate from Health Net and operates as a private independent foundation. The Foundation headquarters are located in Woodland Hills with a small branch office in San Francisco. Since its founding, TCWF has awarded 7,338 grants totaling more than $890 million.

The Oscars® To Stream Live On WATCH ABC

For the first time ever, The Oscars preshow and full awards telecast will stream live for verified WATCH ABC viewers online and on mobile devices.  The WATCH ABC app allows viewers with participating TV subscription services access to 24/7 live viewing of the network, as well as next day on demand access to most series, making it possible for fans to watch the entire The Oscars experience – including “Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars” - in more places and at more times than ever before.  

Live streaming is currently available through Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications, Verizon FiOS, Google Fiber and AT&T U-verse in ABC’s eight Owned Station markets – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno.  Once aired, the full Oscars telecast and pre-show will be available on demand via WATCH ABC for verified viewers for three days, through Wednesday, March 5.  WATCH ABC can be accessed from,, or via the WATCH ABC app, which is free on select Android devices and iOS and can be downloaded at Google Play, the Amazon Appstore, and the App Store.  Verified viewers then log in using their cable or satellite subscription username and password. 

The Academy and Disney/ABC Television Group’s Digital Media team are also unveiling the talent line up for their Emmy® Award-winning Oscar second screen experience, The Oscars Backstage, which will also be streamed this year to all viewers – regardless of whether they are verified - via WATCH ABC.  Hosts and correspondents include: 
  • Entertainment Reporter and Film Critic Ben Lyons (Yahoo, “Extra!,” ESPN Radio, “E! News,” among others) and fashion retail correspondent and author Hitha Prabhakar (who has contributed to ABC World News, “Good Morning America,” Nightline, Bravo, CNN, E! Entertainment television, among others) will co-host from the red carpet and backstage. 
  • PEOPLE’s Managing Editor Peter Castro will once again report from the fan bleachers on the red carpet.  The bleachers are sponsored by Time Inc.’s PEOPLE, which invites 700 fans and PEOPLE VIP subscribers to watch and cheer nominees, presenters and film’s biggest stars as part of the PEOPLE Oscar Fan Experience.
  • “Good Morning America” and ESPN contributing editor Chris Connelly is returning as the official greeter of the Oscars Red Carpet, which includes welcoming nominees, presenters and performers to the show.  
Presented again this year by Samsung Galaxy®, The Oscars Backstage is designed to be the ultimate complement to the live telecast. All Oscar viewers who visit WATCH ABC will be able to select from three channels that will pull from more than 15 live cameras strategically placed on the Red Carpet and throughout the backstage areas of the Dolby Theatre, providing fans with insider views into the most memorable moments of the night. Popular cameras positions include the Thank You cam, Winners Walk, Audience and Press Room.   Fans will also be able to access the official Oscar Buzz social feed and popular photo galleries from within the app.   The Oscars Backstage experience launched in 2011 to much acclaim and has been recognized with an Emmy® for Creative Achievement in Interactive Arts and an Industry Star Mobile Excellence Award.  It remains unprecedented in terms of live event second screen access.  

“We’re extremely proud of how much the Oscar Digital Experience has evolved,” said Albert Cheng, EVP and Chief Product Officer, Digital Media, Disney/ABC Television Group. “This year more people than ever before will have access to the backstage streams and verified WATCH ABC viewers will be able to participate in the most interactive Oscars to date, seamlessly navigating between the pre-show, telecast and The Oscars Backstage experience on their mobile devices.”

"We're excited to once again bring viewers backstage and allow them to experience all of the action on Oscar Sunday - not just what happens on stage, but the stories that play out behind-the-scenes as well, said Josh Spector, Managing Director of Digital Media and Marketing at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

Additionally, video highlights from the telecast and The Oscars Backstage will be available as embeddable clips on almost immediately after they air at Full  performances of the shows musical performances, including Pharrell (“Happy”), Idina Menzel, (“Let It Go”),  Karin O (“The Moon Song) and U2 (“Ordinary Love”) will be featured in a dedicated “Musical Moments” section sponsored by Pepsi that includes in-depth video and photo coverage of past music winners.  

The site is also showcasing nominees “in their own words,” a collection of official nominee questionnaires, including  Bradley Cooper, Bruce Dern, Michael Fassbender, June Squibb, Sally Hawkins, among others.  To add to the fun, insanely addicting quizzes from past year’s awards shows are featured, including:  , “Guess Who Won Best Actress”“Guess the Dress”,  “Who Starred In?”, and “Script to Screen”.  The hugely popular “My Picks” interactive ballot is also live.  Friends can view and share the ballot on Facebook, which will update in real time on Oscar Night®, ensuring that the most competitive Oscar handicappers are instantly aware of their ranking among friends.  

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar® Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network.  The presentation, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
The 9th annual “Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars” airs Sunday, March 2 after the late local news ET/CT and at 10:00 p.m. PT on ABC. It will also be available live and on demand via the WATCH ABC app.  Broadcasting from Disney’s El Capitan Theater located on Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of L.A.’s star-studded Walk of Fame, the studio is just steps away from Dolby Theater, home to the “Academy Awards.” Past guest appearances on Kimmel’s post-Oscar specials have included Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Ellen DeGeneres, Jessica Chastain, Jude Law, Channing Tatum, John Krasinski, Samuel L. Jackson and many more. Additionally, previous comedy bits featured include the epic trailers for “Movie: The Movie,” which has been viewed over 24 million times on YouTube, the follow-up “Movie: The Movie: 2V” as well as “Toddlers and Tiaras” with Tom Hanks and Kimmel pitching show ideas to Oprah. Last year’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars” marked the most-watched post-Oscar telecast in the franchise’s history.

The Disney/ABC Television Group is composed of The Walt Disney Company's global entertainment and news television properties, owned television stations, and radio stations. This includes ABC Entertainment Group, ABC News, ABC Owned Television Stations Group, Disney Channels Worldwide, Radio Disney and ABC Family, as well as Disney/ABC Domestic Television and Disney Media Distribution. The Company's equity interest in Hulu and its 50% equity interest in A&E Networks and Fusion round out the Group's portfolio of media businesses.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world's preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards–in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners-the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Taraji P. Henson Is Shooting 'From The Rough'

From The Rough, starring Taraji Henson, LeToya Luckett, the late Michael Clarke Duncan and Henry Simmons, is set to open April 25, 2014.  Take a look at the trailer.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Packer and Lee Team Up For Next Univ. Project


Fresh off the heels of the $120+ million grossing film Ride Along, Producer Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man) has set up his next film with Universal Pictures via his Will Packer Productions banner.  Details on the film are being kept under wraps.  Malcolm D. Lee is set to direct.  Lee recently directed the hit dramedy The Best Man Holiday for Universal, which has grossed over $71 million to date.  Production is expected to begin this summer.  Packer is repped by UTA and Matt Johnson of Ziffren Brittenham. Lee is repped by Resolution Agency's Adam Kanter.


Academy Invites Fans To Join The Oscar® Celebration With #MyOscarPhoto On Twitter

Fan-submitted photos to appear next to stars online and on "The Oscars® Red Carpet Live" telecast.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – For the first time, Oscar fans watching the “Oscars Red Carpet Live” show on March 2 on ABC will have the opportunity to see themselves next to the stars on the red carpet through Twitter.
Starting today, fans who follow @TheAcademy and tweet a red carpet-ready photo of themselves using hashtag #MyOscarPhoto will be eligible to have their photo featured on the red carpet.
On Oscar Sunday, arriving nominees, presenters and performers will pose in front of a video wall showcasing fan-submitted photos and generating unique images that will be tweeted back to the original submitter through the @MyOscarPhoto Twitter account.

Additionally, some of the submitted photos will appear on the “Oscars Red Carpet Live” telecast beginning at 4 p.m. PT.

To be eligible, fans must sign the online release form located at
“This is a way to create an once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans and give them the opportunity to literally be a part of the red carpet excitement,” said Josh Spector, the Academy’s managing director of digital media and marketing. “We think it will be a lot of fun – not only getting to see a photo of themselves on the red carpet, but also getting to see who poses in the photo with them.”

“The Academy has long been one of the most innovative partners when it comes to creating a truly social Oscars,” said Andrew Adashek, television partnership manager at Twitter. “We’re excited to see them strengthen their connection to the Twitter audience by letting our users get closer to the red carpet experience than ever before.”

During the broadcast, hosts will describe to viewers at home how they can use Twitter to participate in #MyOscarPhoto and provide updates on the experience throughout the show.

In addition to the #MyOscarPhoto red carpet experience, the Twitter Mirror in a frame designed by Architectural Digest will be placed in the Oscars greenroom to give fans at home more behind-the-scenes access to the show. The stars of the show will stop by the Mirror to take candid photos of themselves, which will be tweeted throughout the night from @TheAcademy.

Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
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CTG Launches "The Grid," An Interactive Blog

Center Theatre Group has launched The Grid, a new interactive blog where educators can share resources that bring the power of theatre into the classroom. The blog can be accessed at
The Grid’s Educator Hub provides a place for a vibrant online community of educators to meet, discuss, share and enrich the field of theatre education. Educators can access resources to help integrate theatre into their curriculum and to increase their own knowledge of and passion for theatre.
“We are thrilled that The Grid is now online and ready for the whole community to dive into,” said Director of Education and Community Partnerships Leslie K. Johnson.
In addition to educators, all patrons will be able to converse with fellow theatre-lovers, catch up on Los Angeles theatre news, and access background information related to Center Theatre Group shows.

'Pray To Ball' Set For An April 26 World Premiere

Skylight Theatre presents the World Premiere of
                    PRAY TO BALL  
                                      by Amir Abdullah

Seldom in American culture has this controversial subject been brought to the stage. Amir Abdullah’s distinctive play ignites a passionate conversation on contemporary attitudes and prejudices toward religious choices in the United States. The Skylight Theatre Company, nationally recognized and committed to the development of new works that resonate with Los Angeles’ richly diverse population, presents their second World Premiere production during this 2014 inaugural season.

As the NBA draft approaches, two Superstar college basketball players and the controversial world of Islam collide in this face-off between life long friends. Beyond money, fame, and flesh…a look at living in America today.

Bill Mendieta (Director) has worked with Dakin Matthews’ Andak Stage Company, Actors' Coop and the Antaeus Company (of which he is also a member). Bill co-wrote and directed the comedy web series, Mob Boss Associate, as well as directing the plays Beauty Brains, and Personality (world premiere), Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Bill’s film credits as a director include, Dodgy Dish, Slow Dance, and in-house projects for the Mattel Corporation. His staging and multimedia credits include Tango del Cielo, which is currently on tour in North America. Bill has taught numerous workshops for the Music Center in LA (Will & Company), Shakespeare At Play, The Antaeus Company, and New York’s Joffrey Ballet. 

“Timing is right, in the world, for this project and particularly for this generation. Choosing faith, as we become adults in this insta-tweet culture of celebrity and media, brings new kinds of challenges. The stigma of Islam becomes the focus here, but the story clearly poses questions needing to be considered by all of us, regardless our own beliefs.”
Bill Mendieta, Director

Amir Abdullah (Playwright) launches his first full-length play at the Skylight Theatre as a result of being chosen (from hundreds of submissions) for one of the award winning company’s noted development programs. He describes the virtual absence of Islam from the American artistic narrative as becoming the inspiration for this play.

PRAY TO BALL opens April 26th and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm through May 25, 2014. The Skylight Theatre Complex is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont, LA, 90027. Tickets are ($30 - $34). Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at     
As an American-born Orthodox Muslim, I have struggled with my identity and faith, through my art. Some argue that being an artist is un-Islamic or unstable. Perhaps that’s the reason for a virtual absence of Islam from the American artistic narrative,” says playwright Amir Abdullah.

SKYLIGHT THEATRE COMPANY is about discovering, developing and producing new, impassioned theater while nurturing and educating the artists that create it. We offer writers a home to test and refine their work through our programs, and before a live audience, giving voice to new perspectives of American life. We are a vibrant and expanding family of artists, our goal is to help establish Los Angeles as a center of innovation in the American Theatre. Skylight's world premiere production of HERMETICALY SEALED was on the LA Times Top Ten Plays for 2011. In 2013, our productions of YEARS TO THE DAY, OPEN HOUSE, and SEXSTING were on the LA Weekly’s list of Top Ten Plays for the year. Since 2011 Skylight Theatre Company has presented works from more than 120 local writers as part of 74 staged readings, 19 World Premiere productions, and 28 workshop presentations.

Amir Abdullah (as Lou), Rickie Peete (as Bilal), Y’lan Noel (as Hakeem), Ulka Simone Mohanty (Tamana), and Lindsey Beeman (as Nika) 

PRODUCTION TEAM: Includes Jeff McLaughlin (Lighting/Set), Hana Sooyen Kim (Projection Design), Spencer Lee (Videographer), and Sara Ruttinger (Costume Design)

Twitter: SkylightThtr @SkylightThtr and #PrayToBall @praytoball
DESCRIPTION: Seldom explored in American culture, Amir Abdullah’s distinctive play probes the spectrum of a young man’s faith, and a county’s prejudice toward it. As the NBA draft approaches, two Superstar college basketball players and the controversial world of Islam collide in this face-off between life long friends. Beyond money, fame, and flesh…a look at living in America today.

PRAY TO BALL opens April 26th and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm through May 25, 2014. The Skylight Theatre Complex is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont, LA, 90027. Tickets are ($30 - $34). Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at     

Monday, February 24, 2014

Jazz Singer, Anna Danes, Is 'Longing' For Love

Debut album, “Longing,” from the vocalist who found refuge in song after running from Communism and a heartbreaking marriage, will be released March 25.

Solana Beach, Calif. (24 February 2014): As a child, Anna Danes escaped Communist Poland and as an adult, she found the strength to move on from an unhappy marriage. Both times, she found solace by singing. Love songs in particular soothed her dampened spirit while she idyllically longed for freedom and romance. Lacking support and encouragement for her artistic pursuits, Danes, armed with the Great American Songbook, found empowerment in a San Diego-area recording studio where she worked with producer Larry B. White, three-time Grammy-winning engineer-mixer Steve Churchyard and an ensemble of noted session players to record “Longing,” her debut album that will be released March 25 on DLG Recordings

In the late 1970s, Danes fled Poland with her parents. After being turned away by Sweden, they immigrated to Ottawa, Canada where the young girl suddenly forced to learn English felt alone and isolated. She sang in a Polish church and it brought a sense of comfort and belonging. Flash forward: after giving up a successful law practice to move to California to be with her future husband, Danes found herself in a marriage that had lost its shine and stifled her creative endeavors. As her self-confidence began to wane, she rediscovered singing and started to come alive. The recording project was liberating and a life-altering experience, but in order to fully embrace the freedom she found in song, she had to dissolve the relationship for good. Perhaps the most emotionally-charged performance on “Longing” appears on the disc’s closing number, “I Wish You Love.” While recording the poignant farewell, tears streamed down Danes’ face as she sang, symbolically saying goodbye while wishing her now ex-husband love. 

“Recording the album was monumental for my re-birth. I was so lost, living in a lonely marriage where ‘something was missing,’ but I am back now thanks to the music. Singing revived me and brought hope back into my heart,” said Danes, whose classic vocal timbre possesses warmth, fullness, familiarity and charm delivered in an easy manner with conversational phrasing. “I chose each and every song (for the album) that fit my style and voice, but subconsciously they show that I was missing love. I was ‘lost and lonely’ like (Antonio Carlos) Jobim says in ‘Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars Corcovado,’ which I recorded for the album.”

“Longing” showcases Danes in lush acoustic vocal jazz settings surrounded by White’s piano, upright bass (Bob Magnusson and Rob Thorsen), horns (John Rekevics and Scott Hecker), guitar (Mark Chosak), drums (Kevin Koch), percussion (Monette Marino) and the Heart Strings Quartet.  White freshly arranged ten standards including Jobim’s “Meditation,” Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me,” Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose,” Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You” and more modern material such as George Harrison’s “Something” and Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel’s “Killing Me Softly.” The session includes a pair of originals, “Sweet Valentine” and “The Sun Won’t Shine Today,” composed by White with lyrics by Margaret White.  

With the sad days behind her, a radiant Danes appears glowingly on the cover of “Longing” gazing out at sea with a slight smile on her face. She is excited about the future again and what it may have in store. Living in North San Diego County with her young daughter, Danes exudes enthusiasm when discussing her unexpected new career as a jazz singer. She plans to continue singing - both on record and performing live – while keeping her heart open for love. For more information, please visit

Danes’ “Longing” contains the following songs:

“Splendor in the Grass”
“Sweet Valentine”
“Killing Me Softly”
“The Sun Won’t Shine Today”
“The Very Thought of You”
“La Vie En Rose”
“Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars Corcovado”
“It’s All Right With Me”
“Dream A Little Dream of Me”
“I Wish You Love”

Tamron Hall Named Co-Host Of Today's 3rd Hour



NEW YORK – February 24, 2014 – Tamron Hall has been named a co-host of “TODAY's Take,” the 9am hour of the TODAY show, joining fellow hosts Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist. The announcement was made this morning on TODAY.

“We’re really excited to officially welcome Tamron into the TODAY family,” said Don Nash, Executive Producer.  “She brings wit, enthusiasm and a keen sensibility to an all-around fantastic team, and I think Tamron, Al, Natalie and Willie will have a lot of fun together hosting the third hour.”

A regular fill-in host on TODAY, Hall has most recently interviewed Hugh Jackman, Mariah Carey, and Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom for the program. She has also been a familiar face in TODAY’s #OrangeRoom.

In addition to her role on TODAY, Hall is the anchor of MSNBC’s “NewsNation” which launched in 2010.  Hall joined MSNBC in 2007 and has since hosted several special reports for MSNBC and NBC News, including “Making the Grade;” “Debating the Black Agenda;” several “Dateline” and “Rock Center with Brian Williams” pieces; the 2012 London Olympics; and “Education Nation: Teacher Town Hall,” which was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011. She also served as correspondent of the NBC News special “The Inauguration of Barack Obama,” which won an Emmy for Outstanding Live Coverage in October 2010.  In addition, Hall is the host of Investigation Discovery’s “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” and TLC’s “Sister Wives,” produced by NBC News Peacock Productions.

Hall has been featured in several major publications and media outlets, including Ebony Magazine, Forbes, Uptown Magazine, Huffington Post, AOL Black Voices, Women’s Health, Marie Claire and others. She is a native of Luling, Texas, and she holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Temple University.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

National Race Summit To Be Held At H.O.M.E.


A National Conversation on Race: White Civil Rights vs. Civil Rights for All

Head of White Separatist Group to Dialogue With Black Leaders About Race and Equality

LOS ANGELES – Fifty years ago, America was in a different place when it came to race relations. Throughout the country, hate crimes were on the rise, and Black men were getting lynched at the hands of White mobs. As Black people marched in the streets, chants of “We Shall Overcome,” reassured a generation of social change. As the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act approaches, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Black man sits in the White House. 

Fast forward today, and it seems social attitudes on race and equality has changed. Or has it? Headed by community activist James Stern, his organization  -- No Color Lines Inc. -- will host “A National Conversation on Race and Equality” with special guest, Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), the largest White separatist, neo-Nazi group in the country. 

The race summit will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at H.O.M.E., (House of Music and Entertainment), located at 430 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. A press conference will kick off at 11 a.m. for Q & A with members of the press. The “National Conversation on Race and Equality” is free and open to the public. For more information, contact James Stern at 323.404.6664.

For this landmark panel discussion, Commander Schoep and members of NSM will discuss with members of the Black community about White separatist civil rights vs. civil rights for all. Topics of discussion include civil rights, race, gender equality, and LGBT issues. Panelists from the Black community include:

  • Najee Ali  a former gang member-turned community leader and political activist. The founder and CEO of Project Islamic H.O.P.E. -- an acronym for Helping Oppressed People Everywhere. He’s been on the political scene, both local and national, since working as a volunteer on Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in 1988. Recognized as one of the most influential Black leaders in Los Angeles.
  • Jasmyne Cannick -- a public and government affairs specialist and communications strategist for a roster of who’s who elected officials at all levels of government. Selected as one 25 Women Shaping the World by Essence magazine. She is also a co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s oldest and largest Black gay civil rights group, and formerly served as the chair of the Los Angeles Urban League’s Young Professional Civic Engagement and Political Action Committee.
  • Cleo Manago – a socio-political analyst, behavioral health specialist, and writer, his commentaries on national television and radio have addressed some of the most controversial issues facing Americans today. He is the founder and CEO of the AmASSI National Centers for Wellness, Education & Culture ( and the founder and national organizer of the Black Men’s Xchange ( (BMX), a human rights, educational, anti-oppression and advocacy organization, dedicated to dismantling barriers to the well- being, dignity, self-respect and the protection of diverse Black men. Manago is also a community faculty member at Charles Drew University of Science and Medicine in Los Angeles and a former doctoral student at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco.
Founded in 1974, the NSM is a White Civil Rights organization whose core beliefs include defending the rights of white people everywhere; preservation of its European culture and heritage; strengthening family values; economic self-sufficiency; reform of illegal immigration policies; immediate withdrawal of the national military from an illegal Middle Eastern occupation; and promotion of white separation. For more about the NSM, visit

“For decades, race relations in America have been manipulated by a select group of self-chosen advocates who seemingly have no real understanding of what the average American wants, needs, or is subjected to in daily life. These self-chosen elites, sitting in their ivory towers, haven't the slightest clue as to what is best for the American people,” said Commander Schoep of the NSM. “The voice of the White race in America has been emasculated, with any mention of White rights being called racist or hateful. Those who have subjugated our people, no longer have control when an open dialogue about race is being held openly among leading advocates in both the White and Black communities. We look forward to participating,” he added.

Stern -- a community activist born and raised in the tough neighborhood of Watts in Los Angeles-- has always been a peace broker to the segmented fractions of the community. As a licensed and ordained minister, Stern served as an associate pastor of the Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church and New Providence Baptist Church in the Los Angeles area. His position in the church allowed him to exercise his community activism in the streets.  He was instrumental in facilitating peace talks between LA gangs – the Bloods and the Crips – as well as soften race relations between Korean-American merchants and the black community.

“After spending a considerable amount of time with Klanman Edgar Ray Killen, I wanted to up the ante, and create a dialogue about race from a point of view and perspective so completely different from my own,” said Stern, who is black. “As we reflect on the civil rights and achievements of African Americans for Black History Month, I think it’s interesting to meet face-to-face with an organization that considers itself a ‘a white civil rights organization,’” he said.

Stern first came in contact with the NSM through his contact with Edgar Ray Killen, while serving prison time in Mississippi. At 89, Killen, a Southern Baptist preacher and segregationist, is now serving a 60-year sentence for the manslaughter in the 1964 murders of three voting-rights activists in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The civil rights workers were registering black voters when they were abducted and killed. The case inspired the 1988, award-winning movie, “Mississippi Burning,” starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe.

In a collection of notes and letters to Stern, all penned by Killen, the Klansman admits to additional killings, and fingers others involved in the murders who are still alive. Three handwriting experts – that is, Russell R. Bradford of San Pedro, Calif.; Curt Baggett of Richardson, Texas; and Wendy Carlson of Denver, Colorado have all verified the authenticity and validity of Killen’s handwritings. Killen also gave Stern the intellectual-property rights to his story and granted him power-of-attorney over his estate, including a 40-acre plot in Neshoba County where Killen claims to have committed the other murders.

 In 2007, Stern was convicted of five counts of wire fraud, and sentenced to 25 years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman in 2007. He was paroled on November 2011. Currently, Stern is fielding book deals and movie offers about his story.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Singer Bette Midler To Perform On The Oscars®

Bette Midler
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Two-time Oscar®-nominated actress and multiple Grammy Award®-winning singer Bette Midler will perform for the first time on the Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, will air on Sunday, March 2, live on ABC.

“We are thrilled to have Bette perform on the Oscars for the very first time,” said Zadan and Meron.  “We believe she will make our Oscar telecast an especially moving evening.”

Midler received Oscar nominations for Actress in a Leading Role for “For the Boys” and The Rose.” She has recorded 13 studio albums, the first of which, 1972’s “The Divine Miss M,” sold over a million copies and earned her a Grammy for Best New Artist. Midler has gone on to sell over 30 million albums worldwide and win two additional Grammys for the songs “The Rose” (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) and “Wind Beneath My Wings” (Record of the Year). She has been honored with three Emmy® Awards and a special Tony Award® in 1974 for her contribution to that year’s Broadway season. Her numerous starring film roles include “The First Wives Club,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and  “Ruthless People,” Last year Midler portrayed the late Hollywood agent Sue Mengers in the hit Broadway production, “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers.”
Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Saxman Jackiem Joyner's Grooves 'Evolve'

April 29th album release featuring duets with Gerald Albright and Keiko Matsui will be previewed at radio by the futuristic “Generation Next.”

Sherman Oaks, Calif. (19 February 2014): As a young turk on the contemporary jazz scene, saxophonist Jackiem Joyner is far from complacent and staid in his sound and style. Not afraid to challenge the fan base that took him to No. 1 twice and Top 3 two more times on the Billboard chart, Joyner gets adventurous on his fifth album, “Evolve,” which will be released April 29th by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records. It’s his first on which he wrote and produced the entire set, including the first single going to radio in mid-March, “Generation Next,” an up-tempo urban-pop track with vibrant flashes of strings that provide a contrast to Joyner’s gentle melodic sax.    

Juxtaposing invigorating otherworldly sonicscapes under tender sax melodies, “Evolve” is a dynamic, highly-rhythmic session that is unpredictable laced with traces of the familiar. Listening will take you to a different place while defining Joyner as a musician and a writer beyond what we have already heard from the chart-topping rhythm and groove guy. The imaginative new set has a greater purpose with the introductory single, “Generation Next,” serving as “a declaration that the next generation of jazz musicians is here to stay. Music evolves, including jazz. All types of sound evolve. So do people and our imaginations. That is what I tried to put on tape. ‘Evolve’ captures the changes in my musical mind and how I have evolved as an artist. Rather than fitting in with the traditional, I’m bringing the audience along with songs that unfold over different and interesting soundscapes even as I move towards a live organic sound,” explains Joyner.

In addition to playing alto and soprano sax on the record, Joyner is a multi-instrumentalist who played many of the instruments heard on the collection along with a couple of high-profile assists from Grammy-nominated sax player Gerald Albright and internationally-renowned keyboardist Keiko Matsui. The collaborations are noteworthy for different reasons. When Joyner was in high school, Albright was his idol thus dueting with him on “Big Step” was a thrill. Joyner tours in Matsui’s band when not performing his own dates and wrote “Europa” with her mind. On a few tracks, he was joined by his touring band – guitarist Kayta Matsuno, bassist Tim Bailey, keyboardist Bill Steinway and drummer Raymond Johnson – to record live in the studio.

“Evolve” marks a return for Joyner to the contemporary jazz-urban instrumentals for which he achieved notoriety on his first three albums after 2012’s “Church Boy,” an offering that landed on Billboard’s Jazz Albums and Top Gospel Albums charts. Joyner was named Debut Artist of the Year for his 2007 debut, “Babysoul,” by Smooth Jazz News. His sophomore set, “Lil’ Man Soul,” registered a pair of No. 1 Billboard hits with “I’m Waiting For You” reigning for 12 weeks and winning Song of the Year honors at the 2009 American Smooth Jazz Awards. Two singles from Joyner’s self-titled third record climbed into Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Songs Top 3. He’s toured the world extensively in support of each release and anticipates a busy year of touring in 2014 – both with his own band and with Matsui. For more information, please visit and .

“Evolve” contains the following song titles:

“Generation Next”
“Double Bass”
“Born To Fly”
“Later Tonight”
“See Through Me”
“Big Step”
“A Gentle Walk On Water”

'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike' Extended

                            THROUGH MARCH 16 AT THE MARK TAPER FORUM 

 Center Theatre Group has a big hit in Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning comedy
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” currently in performances at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum. With strong ticket sales and critical acclaim, CTG has extended the run by a week, now closing on March 16, 2014.

The hysterically funny and affecting new play, directed by David Hyde Pierce, based on the
Broadway direction of Nicholas Martin, opened February 9 and features (in alphabetical order) Mark
Blum, Christine Ebersole, Shalita Grant, David Hull, Kristine Nielsen and Liesel Allen Yeager.
 Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times said “Rarely has middle-aged despair over dashed
dreams and squandered hopes been put to more hilarious effect than in ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha
and Spike.’” And Hollywood Reporter’s Myron Meisel called it, “… a shrewd and smartly carpentered entertainment, the production, with original Vanya David Hyde Pierce building upon the Broadway direction of Nicholas Martin, is nigh onto perfect.”

 Set in 21st century Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with hints of 19th century Russia, “Vanya and
Sonia and Masha and Spike” is a riotous comedy with the Chekhovian set-up of a middle-aged Vanya and his stepsister, Sonia, who live together in their ancestral farmhouse, complete with a pond and a cherry orchard.

 Their normally quiet existence is thrown into upheaval by the surprise visit from their glamorous,
movie-star sister, Masha, and her 20-something boyfriend, Spike, the unlikely prophecies of their
cleaning lady and an all too important costume party. 

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” features sets by David Korins, costumes by Gabriel
Berry, lights by David Weiner and original music and sound by Mark Bennett.  Casting is by Mark B.
Simon, CSA, and Daniel Swee, CSA, and the production stage manager is David S. Franklin.
Tickets are currently on sale for performances of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”
through March 9.  Tickets for the extension week will go on sale to the public on February 19. 
Tickets are available by calling (213) 628-2772, visiting, or in
person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets range from $20 - $109 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pearl Cleage's Drama, 'Flyin West,' Set For ICT

A contemporary classic about the strength of black women
and their role as pioneers in the settlement of the American West

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 18, 2014) Four African-American women journey west to the all-black town of Nicodemus, Kansas in search of the freedom promised by the end of the Civil War. Saundra McClain directs Pearl Cleage's powerful historical drama Flyin West, opening March 14 at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Two low-priced previews take place on March 12 and March 13.

The Homestead Act of 1860 offered 320 acres of free land to U.S. citizens willing to settle in the western states. Based in part on actual journal entries, Flyin' West highlights the struggles of black homesteaders who, following the advice of charismatic leader Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, took advantage of the Act to flee the racism and oppression of the South. Cleage gives us a glimpse of the tribulations faced by freed slaves even after the abolition of slavery, and of the quarter of a million unmarried or widowed black women who moved west to escape a white male-dominated world.

"The play is a work of fiction, but Nicodemus is a real place and the story is inspired by historical fact," says McClain. "These settlers were running away from the lawlessness and the lynchings of Jim Crow. Back in the cities, they were starting to lose some of the freedoms they had grown accustomed to during Reconstruction. Many didn't realize until they got to Kansas just how rough it was going to be. It had been painted as the promised land by Pap Singleton. They were seeking a black Utopia."

Flyin West's ensemble cast includes Cheri Lynne VandenHeuvel (Requiem for the American Dream: The Best of the Second City) as Sophie Washington, determined to protect her land and those she loves at any cost. Leilani Smith (People are f%@$&#ing Ridiculous at Two Roads Theatre) portrays Sophie's gentle sister, Fannie Mae Dove, who tries to civilize the frontier with fine china, roses and her love for soft-spoken neighbor Wil Parish, played by Boise Holmes (Chicago premiere of The Fall of Heaven, Mufasa in the German production of Disney's The Lion King). Aisha D. Benton (The Girls of Summer at the Whitmore Lindley) is Minnie Dove Charles, the youngest sister who returns from abroad for a visit. As Minnie's husband, the nefarious Frank, Dylan Mooney (soon to be released Stand Down Soldier with Harry Lennix) tests the sisters' relationship in unexpected ways. And Robin Braxton (Havin Our Say at ICT, Intimate Apparel at Mark Taper Forum) is Miss Leah, the old woman whose memories of slavery and its aftermath comprise a living oral history.

Flyin West was commissioned in 1992 by the Alliance Theatre Company and was produced with the support of AT&T and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund Resident Theatre Initiative. "The most potent, gripping play…a paean to women…and a plea for all women with vibrant lives to tell their oral stories," wrote the The New York Times of the New York premiere in 1993. Flyin West went on to become the country's most-produced play in 1994, and ICT presented the Los Angeles premiere in 1997, directed by then-artistic director Shashin Desai.

It's been seventeen years, and at that time ICT was a 99-seat black box theater," says ICT artistic director caryn desai [sic]. "Now, as an Equity company in residence at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, we're able to reach so many more people with this fascinating drama about a little-known chapter in American history. It's a production I strongly feel deserves a revival."

Saundra McClain returns to ICT where she previously directed Ain't Misbehavin'. Most recently, she directed the Colony Theatre's critically acclaimed production Breath and Imagination: The Story of Roland Hayes, and she’ll direct the West Coast premiere of Pearl Cleage's What I Learned in Paris this August. Saundra received rave reviews for her direction of Frankie and Johnny in the Clare de Lune, The Fantasticks and In the Continuum at Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara. Her production of Ain't MisBehavin' at Bridgeports Playhouse on the Green won the Connecticut Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble, and she was asked to restage it for Two River Theater Company (NJ), where she also directed Spunk. As adjunct professor at Queens College, she directed Sophocles' Electra and also created and taught the Black Theater Workshop. She has directed Death of a Salesman; Antigone; To Be Young, Gifted and Black; and The Women of the Plums (Kennedy Center's Youth and Family Programs), Dark of the Moon; Hello Out There; Don't See My Bones and Think I'm Dead (Henry Street Settlement), A Modest Proposal (UBU Rep), Harriet's Return, a one woman show, and Of Ebony Embers Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance, a one man show with chamber orchestra (Cherry Lane Theatre), both of which toured nationally for five years. Ms. McClain was artistic director of TROUPE NY, which adapted classic works for the schools and developed new works with emerging playwrights and directors. She is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio, an ensemble member of The Antaeus Company, and Artist-in-Residence at Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara where she will direct Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune later this season.

Pearl Cleage is an Atlanta-based playwright and novelist. Her other plays include The Nacirema Society, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Bourbon at the Border, A Song for Coretta and What I Learned in Paris. She has written eight novels, including "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day," which was an Oprah Book Club selection and spent nine weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Pearl and her husband, writer Zaron W. Burnett, Jr., collaborated on the award-winning performance series Live at Club Zebra! for 10 years. In 1973, Pearl was a speechwriter for the Maynard Jackson campaign and later served as his first press secretary. She is currently Playwright-in-Residence at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

Set design for Flyin West is by JR Bruce; lighting design is by Donna Ruzika; costume design is by Kim DeShazo; sound design is by Dave Mickey; props are by Patty and Gordon Briles; wigs are by Anthony Gagliardi; production stage manager is Pat Loeb; and casting is by Michael Donovan Casting.

Flyin West  runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., March 14 through April 6. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42 on Thursdays and $47 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (March 14) for which tickets are $52 and includes a post-performance reception with the actors.

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or

Waters Set For 'Women Making A Difference"


LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 11, 2014 – The National Congress of Black Women, Inc., Los
Angeles Chapter presents “Women Making a Difference,” depicting the rise of the African American
Woman to her position in today’s society.  The community is invited to attend an evening of music, song, poetry, character enactment and dance on Sunday, February 23, 2014, 4:00 PM at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, 3773 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA  90016.  

“Women Making a Difference” is a special presentation taking viewers on an artistic journey from the
paved roads of Sojourner Truth, a former slave, abolitionist and women’s rights activist, to
Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress.  Featuring a performance by Florence LaRue of The Fifth Dimension and a special guest appearance by US
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, 43rd Congressional District of California, “Women Making a
Difference” entertains and informs as we honor black history month and the enduring spirit of the African American Woman.  

“Not only are we inviting everyone to come out and have a great time in celebration of Black History
Month, but the proceeds from this fundraising event allows us to continue offering unparalleled programs and services in our communities,” proclaims Judy Matthews, Chair of the National Congress of Black Women Inc., Los Angeles Chapter. For thirty years, the National Congress of Black Women, Incorporated has operated nationally and internationally as a nonprofit 501(c)(3). In 2009, the Los Angeles Chapter was formed, joining the fight for improvement of communities through educational, political, economic and cultural development of African American women and their families. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (800) 895-3180 or visit the website  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Doris Bergman's 6th Annual Valentine Romance Oscar® Style Lounge & Party Attracts Celebs


By Darlene Donloe

Doris Bergman’s 6th Annual Valentine Romance Oscar® Style Lounge and Party, held at the Fig & Olive eatery in West Hollywood, attracted more than 100 celebrities and entertainment professionals recently.

The event, which featured gourmet cuisine, celebrated and honored the film industry’s Oscar® nominated actors, former Oscar® winners and nominees, stylists and industry execs.


For the last six years, Bergman has kicked off the Oscar® season in high fashion. The invitation-only event, hosted by Begley’s & Bill’s 100% All Natural Sodas and presented by Whitening Lightning & Nature’s Flavors, offered an  array of fashion for him and her, body, skin & hair care, chic chapeaus, fashionable timepieces, stunning jewelry collections, fine art, dessert, premiere cocktails and a gourmet lunch.



Celebs on hand included Tommy Lee Davidson, Richard Brooks & Lisa Vidal (Being Mary Jane), Obba Babbatunde, former Oscar nominee Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, former Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett, Jr., Oscar nominee Robin Mathews (Make-up Artist for Dallas Buyers Club), Cheech & Chong, Elizabeth & William Shatner, Carla & Lou Ferrigno, Dot Marie Jones (Glee) and wife Bridgett Casteen Jones, Tia Carrere, Maria Conchita Alonso, Kevin Farley, Chelsie Hightower (Dancing With The Stars), Kate Flannery (The Office), Illeana Douglas, Eva LaRue, John Savage, Charlie Bewley, Jaclyn Betham & Peter Parros (The Haves & Have Nots), Jeremy Luke (MOB City), Katie Wagner, Nicholas Guest (Sons of Anarchy), Sofia Milos, Adrienne Janic (Fit, Famous & Fabulous), Kellita Smith (The First Family), Kevin Farley, Patrick Gallagher (Glee), Will Rathaar (Killing Kennedy), Valery Ortiz (Hit The Floor) and others.




Romance and love was on the minds of many in attendance.

Asked what was the most romantic thing he’s ever done, actor and comedian Tommy Davidson (In Living Color, The Proud Family) said he “spent a romantic, moonlit night in a natural ocean pond in Maui.”


Richard Brooks, who is currently on the hit show, Being Mary Jane, said a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day would be to “have a private plane ride over the ocean.”


Actor, singer Obba Babatunde said the most romantic things he’s ever done is “given the gift with a promise of honesty.”

In the spirit of giving back, guests donated new or slightly worn articles of clothing and accessories to young adults (ages 15-18) for a Valentine’s Day Gift Drive benefitting ‘Wednesday’s Child’ -- a weekly segment airing on KTTV FOX 11 News, Los Angeles, with Anchor Christine Devine.

‘Wednesday’s Child’ highlights ‘harder to place’ children in the LA County foster care system who are in need of adoptive families. “In Los Angeles County, alone, there are over 30,000 children receiving child welfare services,” says social worker, William Wong.  “This event reached far beyond the Hollywood ‘glitz’ and into the heart and soul.  Gift donations to the ‘Wednesday’s Child’ Valentine’s Day Gift Drive from event Sponsors and guests, alike, has been overwhelming and, most importantly, we have formed new relationships that will extend outside of today.”

Bergman invited two foster children to the event. They were treated like VIPs.

A number of vendors were on hand with high-end items.

“Whitening Lightning is American made product you can use at home,” said Jennifer Gerard, president and CEO. ‘It’s designed for people with sensitive teeth. We have all natural, no chemicals. That’s what sets us apart. It’s designed for the person on the go. You can whiten your teeth while doing your laundry or checking your email. It takes 20 minutes. You can use it once and put the rest in the fridge for up to six or eight months.”





Ooh La Bra is a New Orleans-based company known for its line of custom bra straps.

"We created the diamond straps as an addition to our existing line of bra straps that are available in pearls, crystals, chains and leather," said Lisa McKenzie, CEO of Ooh La Bra.






Gifts and services for the event were provided by: Begley’s & Bill’s 100% Natural Sodas, Whitening Lightning, Nature’s Flavors, Ooh La Bra, Silvana K Designs, Handmade Hearts by Hillel, PK’s Chocolates, Poof, Simply Eartha, Dr. Ava Cadell, the “Love Doctor,” Baron Hats. Monatelier, Waraire Boswell Executive Men’s Clothiers, Platinum Image Services, MiA Bath & Body, Timmy Woods, “Serenade” by Virtuoso Violinist, Daniel D, Art By Dano, Slash Salon, SudzzFx, La Curcio Skin Care Collection, My Saint, My Hero, GUESS, Twisted Silver, Perch, Lusciouss by Kendra Bridelle, Gilbert Albert, Honest Tea, Spongelle, Single Dress, Single Underwear, Tequila Azul Imperial and Veved Ice Vodka.

Kitt Shapiro, the owner and creator of Simply Eartha ( said she named the company after her mother, Eartha Kitt.  Proceeds from the company, which makes candles out of recycled material, go to the Colon Cancer Alliance, the largest national patient advocacy organization dedicated to prevention, education, early detection and treatment.


“My mother was a diva on stage not in real life,” said Shapiro. “She was a simple woman when she wasn’t on the stage. She was the kind of woman who liked to garden and keep her life simple. Simply Eartha is a tribute to my mom.”