Hello one and all. This is your on-line journalist Ma'at here. And as promised, I will give you all the juicy details of my trip to Hollywood. Last week, I talked about the club scene up in Hollywood, thsi time around I will talk about the cultural and tourisy stuff I had gone to when I was in the City of Angels.
BUT BEFORE I GET INTO ALL OF THAT, LET ME GIVE BROTHA JACOB OF STLOUISONLINE A SHOUT OUT. HE GAVE MY BLOG A SHOUT OUT WHEN HE SAID I WAS AT THE WHITE PARTY AT THE LOFT LAST THURSDAY (THAT IS ME IN THE WHITE LACED SHIRT WITH A LOLLIPOP IN MY MOUTH ON THE RIGHT POSING WITH HOLLABACKBOI ON THE LEFT). I WILL TALK ABOUT THE PARTY LATER ON IN MY BLOG UNDER STL-TIDBITZ.
One of the places I fell in love with was a coffeeshop in Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District called Lucy Florence. It is owned by twin brothers Ron and Robert Harris (They are the twins who were featured teaching the models how to spin last week on Tyra Banks' America's Next Top Model). My buddy and temp roommate Keith Underwood took me to this shop on my first day in L.A. and since then, dubbed it my home away from home. (My first day there, I told them that they looked familiar then it dawned on me that they were not too long ago on Tom Joyner's Variety Show dancing a 1968 routine during the talent segment of the show! They told me that the show had auditions at their shop prior to their being on the show. ) The food is great (the caramel almond cake would make a diabetic go crazy!!!), they are hospitable to their customers and they treat everybody the same whether they are someone like Bernie Mac (who had a brithday party there while I was L.A.), a politician, or some bum on the street. During my first day there, I saw a staged reading of a stageplay presented by the Los Angeles African American Rep Company (http://www.laaarep.com/.) The featured stageplay, "Sweet Evalina" was written by LAAAREP member Kyona Levine.
The play was about a small town that believes it is cursed. About 12 members and non-members acted out the play and afterward, the president of it Layon Gray opened up the floor for critiques. I said that the play was different and refreshing (that was pretty much all I can say because I was still jet lagged and had no sleep), but Gray gave his critique that ranged from constructive ("Too many acts in the play") to nit-picking ("I didnt want to see a happy ending."). Keith was upset with Layon's critique (He thought he should have critiqued her privately)but overall, it was definitely interesting.
Speaking of plays, I went to two of them while I was in Hollywood. One was "The Double Minority Comedy Hour" that was held at the Globe Playhouse. I heard about the play from the sista I met at The Annex while I was sitting on her lap. She said that she was a filmmaker and was filing the play for the writer, Adolpha Lovett, and help her form a production company. She invited me and decide dto check it out. I'm so gald I did. Thsi play was like a sketchcomedy like In Living Color: racy, provocative, out the box. There were 10 sketches that ranged from satiring race, politics, celebrity figures, etc. The best skit was on called, "The Sell-Out-Store," where black people can go to a store and get "selling out" prosucts. One black guy in the sketch (played by Mesan Richardson) played with Brooks Brothers suit buppy guy and he came into the store to buy a white girl. Classic. What made it more funny was when he and the white girl left the store, the white guy in the skit said, "Niggers." I was shocked that he said it, but it was funny as Hell! Adolpha is one talented sista. Not only is she beautiful, but talented. She will be one to look out for in the next few years.
The other play I saw was "For Colored Girls" that my girl Tann Moore was in at the Adler Theater (as in the late actress Stella Adler) next to the Kodak Theatre. She told me about it and wanted me to come through. I had to support my girl (She was in a coupel fo my productions when I was doing it up at the former Hatshepsut Studio Gallery). I got there, and only three other people showed up for this particluar performance (I think it had atwo week run there). Beside the lack of people, the play was a different spin to the classic Ntozake Shange piece. For starters, they added female driven music to the piece (eg. Aretha's "Respect", Honey Cones' "Want Ads") and they had a white and Asian actress in the cast (It was hard to swallow a white girl calling black men "niggers.") Also in the cast was Raeven Kelly (she's the young sista with the long straight hair in the pic above). I didnt realize it was her cause she is all grown up now (She's about 22. She is the actress whose well known for her role as the young Tina Turner in the movie, "What's Love Got to Do with it." Well that was 13 years ago and she had to have been about nine or so then. But she is all grown up and has turned out to be a very attractive young lady.
After the show, I gave Tann (who could pass as actress Rosario Dawson's browner skinned sister) some love and told her that I enjoyed the show and also greeted Raeven who is very nice and freindly. She wanted to have some lunch before her next performance, but the director of the play, Raven's mother(who I also met), ordered lunch for them, so she decided we have coffee at the nearby Starbucks. Before we left, I heard raven say to her mother, in a child like voice, "Mommy can I get changed now." Just then, I realized that she is still a little girl around her mother. Too funny, but telling. I also met a sista who worked on the "Pieces of a Dream" set (her name slips me) who was from Alton (Too small of a world).So we went to Starbucks (and so did the rest of the cast which included St. Louis actress Lawanda (her last name slips me)). One of the cast members had a discount cause she worked there and paid for all of our orders! We talked about our careers (and you, Joel. LOL) and how she was dealing with Cali (she stays in Van Nuys) and how breaks are coming her way. She said that we should keep in contact and I told her yeah, cause I wanted to catch here befor she made it big (who knows she may need a boy toy to accompany her to the award shows. LOL).
I also went to a couple of TV tapings. I went through hollywoodtickets.com to get them and they are free to go to. I always knew about them since 2004 and now wa smy chance to go them. The first one was "Last Comic Standing" with new host Anthony Clark (of the show "Yes, Dear'--He was a bit dry as a host but he was OK.) The taping was held at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. I got there about 1 p.m. for the 1:30 taping, but it took about an hour--through the rain and sun--before they opened up the theater for us. It was two long lines going in opposite directions (One line for those who had tickets and those who didnt). They searched us to see if we had cameras or cell phones (you couldnt bring them in the studio) and we got our seats.
My seat was near the front behind the judges who were there to judge the comics. They were former Saturday Night Live actor Tim Meadows, comedienne Kathi Griffin and veteran TV producer Gary Marshall(the white guy seen above on my blog) . Openly gay comedian Ant was in the audience and he was introduced (his eyebrows were more arched than the McDonalds sign). A funny moment before the taping came when an audience remember said to Kathi, "I love you." and she said. "Thank you, are you gay?" That was funny. Then someone said the same thing to Tim and he replied, "Thank you, are you gay?" Very funny stuff. But before the celeb panel showed up, the crew had to teak the lights and set and the director of the taping Craig Spirko (a brotha BTW), told us what to do (clap, laugh, etc. Then they had this HORRIBLE comic to warm up the audience (More like make us cold) He mostly did the where-is-everyone-from stuff.
After about 30 minutes of this, it was time to tape the show. We saw 20 comics who were vying for five spots in the semi finals. It was a wide range of comics (black, white, male and female). The one I liked was Roz, a hefty sista who was giving more of a sermon than jokes. Her routine about prostitues trying to put references for their resumes was hilarious.
We saw five comics per break (the breaks were like a minute long and if you were not in your seats, they filled your seat with a seat filler). Afterward, the panel had a chnace to talk with any of the comics. when Kathi Griffin talked with Roz and said that she should tone down the loudness of her voice. Roz said that she was nto going to do that and that her comedy was a testimony from her being 15 years sober from drugs and alcohol and that she used to be a preacher. I heard that. Shut Kathi's mouth right up. One tripped out moment happened when Ant shouted to one of the hunky white guy comics to "Take it off.' Nuff said on that. We didnt get a chance to see who would advance and the director said that we should tune in this summer when it airs on NBC(I'm sure you will see my mug on a few scenes, so I will keep you posted when it finally airs.)
After the taping, people were gearing toward teh celebs to talk with them. I took advanatge of being close to them and went up to Gary Marshall, shook his hand, and said to him, "If you need an African American actor in any of your projects, I'm your man." He smiled and said, in his Brooklyney accent, "This is my assistant here. She takes care all of that." So, I gave his assistant my biz card and she put it in her coat pocket. I shook her ahnd and said to her, "Do I need to take my photo now?" Then I did a Thinking Man pose. Some of the onlookers laughed. Gary then said, "Well you definitely are looking good." The assistant smiled. Well, I'll keep you posted on this if I'm flying to Hollywood to do a screen test.
The other show I attended was the taping of the Game Show Marathon at the CBS Studios on Beverly Blvd. The show is a new show hosted by Ricki Lake (who has slimmed down and looking pretty good). The premise is taking classic game shows of the 70s like The Price is Right, Let's Make a Deal and Match Game, use the same sets and have celebs play the games for their favorite charity. I had near back row seats (I got there a little late tryign to find parking), but it was cool cause the seats were set up like a stadium. I was there for the taping of MAtch Game. Before the show started, the director R Brian DePirro(who looked like a hippie in a leather outfit)told us what to do like clap and laugh, etc. (He also demanded that people take out their gum and had people to come by with a bucket for people to take out their gum. I had gum and I refused to particpate in this activity. LOL)
Anyway, after the directors demands, the announcer of the show was Rich Fields who also announces for the Price is Right. he also served as the warm up guy going through the audience to let people showcase their talent (I will get to that later). Fields introduced Ricki Lake who is very nice and greeted the crowd(Although a lot of it was staged for TV). She did her intro on a telemprompter in front of the dolly camera (electronic cue cards that is). She messed up a few times (even cursed), but she was professional (she even spoke with audeince members during takes as the tech director and camera people were reestablishing her shots.
When she got her intros right, the celeb contestants were introduced, they were N SYNC member Lance Bass (who caused shrieks and yelps from the female audience members) and Kathy Najimy (well known as one of the nuns in Sister Act and its sequel). After Ricki did her welcome with them, they sat in their seats on the Match Game set, then the celeb panelists were introduced. They were George Foreman, Kathi Griffin (again), comedy writer Bruce Vilanch (he was on this season's Celebirty Fit Club), Adrienne Curry (of Surreal Life), Adam Corolla ("The Man Show") and veteran actress Betty White (who was on the original Match Game, BTW).
The celebs were hamming it up every chance they got (Betty White even did a sexy hip dance that I'm sure will make the cut). There were two foul-ups that happened that I'm sure wont make the cut. One was when Ricki was pulling a question from the apparatus that makes the question boards go up and down. It malfunctioned and she said, "This piece of shit!." She laughed and so did we. The second instance happened when Ricki asked a question about the charcter Harry Potter becoming too old to play the role and the question was, "He is so old that now all he does he stay in his room and play with his BLANK." Well, everyone in the audience I'm sure, inclduing muyslef, were thinking the same thing. Lance BAss answered the question by saying, "PENIS." Well, they had to stop the show and the producers had to dialogue about the question. Well, they had to toss it out. Too Un-PC I guess.
While they were taping Match GAme, the director had some people near the front to move temporarilty so the celebs can sit in the audience with nametags so they can finish up a segment they did awhile back for the Price is Right. So they reinacted that and it was hilarious. Many of the stars were acting mad, sad, bored, yo name it. It was too funny. During the breaks, the announcer went around the crowd to see who had talent. Some people sang, tried to sing, danced, tried to dance, recited a poem, tried to tell jokes. But the weirdest talkent happenned when there was a guy who said he had the longest tongue. Well, the camera was on him, and he stuck out his tongue and all it reminded me of was Gene Simmons of Kiss. His tongue was that long. The announcer made the joke thet some of the ladies aroudn him got really intesretd him right about now.
After the taping, the celebs took pics with the media and were interviewed by Entertainment Tonight. We also had to do some fake stuff like laughing, clapping in front of big lights as though we were seeing the show to be edited in to the final cut. Can we say Hollywood?
My last Sunday in L.A., I went to the City of Refuge church in Gardena, cali. A popular church that is pastored by Bishop Noel Jones (pictured in the beige suit above on my blog). He is the older brother to diva singer/actress Grace Jones (Talk about night and day!). I heard about this church through one of the new friends I made while in Hollywood. His name is Steven Williams who is a photographer to the stars and works for a big time PR Firm that works under Universal (He told me the scoop on Bow Wow 's stripper scancdal before it hit the press!) He goes to this church, so I decided to go ahead and go especially it being my last Sunday in L.A. before I returned back to the STL. Well the church was like an arena like set up. Very huge (I'm sure it was over 1,000 people there). I sat in the reserved pue near the front where Steven was. They had TV cameras everywhere (the church is televised across the world) that mirrored any studio taping. There were several celebs there as well. I saw Tv host Tavis SMiley (seen in the dark suit on my blog) who sat near the pulpit area, Good Times actress Ja'net "Willona Woods" DuBois who sat with the congregation and the one and only STEVIE WONDER who sat nearthe pulpit area as well. Yes, The Wonder himself. I was totally in awe when I saw him. All I can say it was like seeing God in human form. He has a magnetic presence to him and it was indescribable of the feeling I felt.
Before the Bishop did his sermon, they had praise worship, announcements (with the help of two very large TV monitors on both sides of the choir stand) and testimonies with Smiley and Wonder. Smiley was first and he did his I-didn't-know-I-was-going-to get-up-and-speak-rooutine. He told the congregation that his book, Covenant was reaching the top spot on the NY Times Best Sellers' List. He said that in order for your book to reach this you have to be on either three shows: Oprah, The Today Show or NPR Radio. Well, he said that he was on neither show and the book went from No. 6 on the list to No. 2. He said that black people can get something accomplished by sticking together and make history. I heard that. Well as we speak, the book is currently No. 1 on the Paperback Nonfiction lsit so there is definitely strength in mumbers!
Then Wonder spoke. He joked about having to come here to speak and getting permission from his chuch to speak at City of Refuge.Then he said that he is happy to use his music whether speaking on love or whats going on in the world to make a change. Then he sang a song written by Johnathan Butler, "I Fell in Love with God." that had everyone in tears especially when he started it out by playing his harmonica. Oh my God. It was so magical! He is definitely a wonder. He is a music god. He sent chills down my spine.
Then the Bishop did his sermon. In a nutshell, his sermon was about having a gift and using it properly. he basiclaly said that you know that you have a gift when you apply to the need in the world and because of that, that is your calling. If it doesnt supply a need, then you shouldnt be doing it. I really enjoyed his sermon because he actually teaches before he does the preaching ho-ha-well stuff. He was even reasonable when it came for us to do the offering. He was like, "Give what you can. Dont give your bill money. Don't be crazy." Wow, I've never heard a pastor do that.
Another interesting part of the money part was near the end of the service he said that the church had a 150,000 or so debt that they had to take care of and asked the congregation for 100 each for those who can spare it. Man, you should have seen the number of people who ran up there to give to the buckets. I'm sure they raised the money and then some.
The church is liberal as far as dress. Anyone can dress however way they want (I even saw a sista wearing avery short jeans skirt up in therr as though she was going to the club!). They are also politically progressive (They had people after church to sign a THree Strike Rule" petition protesting against it)
The Bishop also has a comical side to himself. He said to the crowd about how women are trying to find a man to marry and that many of the men are going to the other side. I gasped. What was he really talking about here, I thought. Then he said, that our men are going to white women then he said that love was love, the congregation agreed, then he said. "The only person in here that is not allowed to marry a white woman is Tavis SMiley." Well the audience howled in laughter. The camera was put on him and on the big screens you can see Tavis covering his face as though he was shame faced. What was going on with that moment? Hmmm. For more info on this church and their upcoming movie, go to www.noeljones.org.
But overall, it was a great experience. I am not a churchy guy, but if I had to choose a church, I would definitely choose that one (Next time I will loosen up. According to the meddling sista woman who sat behind me, I was too stiff. She was also the one who forced me to hold her hand during prayer and said that everyone was vying to hold my hand. LOL.)
LA-TIDBITZ. My friend singer/songwriter Gordon Chambers will be performing at The Knitting Factory, in Hollywood, Friday, April 21. It is presented by the ASCAP EXPO, The Knitting Factory is located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd Ste. 209 Admission Free. Opening act is signing sensation Ledisi. (Mention his name at the door!)Showtime 7:00 PM First Come First Come Basis! For more info call 323-463-0204....For those who want to break into the entertainment industry, ABI Productions is presenting an Entertainment Business Seminar, Tuesday, May 2 at the Academy of Tv Arts and Sciences, 5220 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Panelsists include Cedric the Entertainer, Jamie Foxx's manager Marcus King and moderated by comedian/actor Chris Spencer. Admission is $50 for students, $75 general, and $160 for all access which include a one-one-session with a panelist. For more info, go to http://www.entertainmentseminar.com/ or call 818-776-9450.
STL-TIDBITZ. Jaguar Wright & Maya Azucena are performing Wed., April 26 @ Suite 250 (formerly The Improv Theater) inside St. Louis Union Station. Doors open at 8 PM and Showtime is 9 PM.Both will be performing with LEVEL GROUND. Admission is $10. This is a 21 and older event. For more info., call 314-621-2727.............................................
Hipster Magazine will be hosting The Official Phat Farm BEYOND THE GREEN Club Tour party hosted by RUSSELL SIMMONS, Thursday, April 27th @ The Loft (3112 Olive) Doors @ 9 pm First 100 Ladies FREE. Special Guest - Atlanta's DJ Tayrok. Hipster is saying this is an event you definitely don't want to miss...Expect Everything! (Maybe Kimora showing up? Who knows.)............................................
What's the deal with Improv Theater changing names to Suite 250? New management? I will keep you posted on this....I heard that former Club Seven co-owner Fred Finley was denied access to the Loft's WHite PArty last Friday? What was going on there? I''m sure it wasnt becasue he wasnt wearing white cause not everybody )inclduing myself) wasn't wearing all-white. Some werent wearing white at all....
Speaking of the White PArty, it was packed. It was 10 bones to get up in there which was cool. (I thought it was going to be 20 for real beacause it was a special event) So packed that they had to open the back garage door for the overflow of people. In the house I saw radio personality Playboy Mixx, model Jamel, The Roseman and St. Louis American's Bill Beene (whom I had a freindly debate about whether the Russell and Kimora break up was worthy to be in Partyline.) Tony J of 104.1 was the hyepman in the DJ booth with house DJ Soundz. The music was Ok. Too midetempo for peoepl who wanted to get crunked out on the floor. There was also a lot of fashion donts up in there (men with sandals with ashy feet, gaucho jeans, a sista in hot pants with cookie dough figures). Hollabackboi wa sright that ST. Louis needs fashion manual on what not to wear. This was also the first weekend that the club opened til 3 am insted of 1am, two more hours to try and get a drink in there. I call it the way I see it. But overall, it was a nice event. Nothing wowing, but something to do for the beginning of the weekend...............
BACK TO THE STL TIDBITZ
I also heard that the MJ Morning Show, headquartered in Miami and syndicated in St Louis on Z-107.7, had bought a frozen hot dog that a Riverfront Times reporter had put on Ebay for 200 bones. It was the first hot dog that supposedly was bought at the new Busch Stadium....My friend actor/music hypeman and now St. Louis AMerican model Stuart Allen (who said was getting ready to go out on a promotional tour with rapper Scooby pretty soon) hipped me to a new flim that was shot in St. Louis with a local cast and crew called "Tapesty of Shadows." Directed by David Conley (who also stars in this film) is about Vincent Purejoy a preacher who is motivated to try and reclaim his inner city neighborhood from the thugs and drug dealers who have over run it, and the sacrifices his marriage and congregation must make along the way. The film also stars Paris Crayton and Johnny Fay Fernandez (who was in the STL-based film, "Hairdo U")....
Well that will do it fo rme. I know it was a lot, but hey, I had a lot to say. If there is anything you want me to pub on here, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org!