Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kennedy Center Hits Home Run with Tomlin, But Must Do Better!

Weeks ago, the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors were announced; Lily Tomlin, Tom Hanks, Sting, Al Green, and Patricia McBride are the nation's honorees this year. 

Full disclosure, I'm very biased in regard to Lily Tomlin. Ms. Tomlin and her family have been dear friends of mine for several years. I spoke with Lily's brother-in-law, Michael Langston, who shared that the family was "very proud" of the news! How could they not be? Lily's body of work is not only legendary, but it also has crossed genres and is multigenerational. This is one of the times Michael Kaiser and the Honors committee have gotten it right.

All the inductees are very talented in their respective categories, but is it to soon in their careers to get America's highest honor for performing arts? As amazing and talented as Tom Hanks and Sting are, I think it's a decade to soon for these men. 

The Kennedy Center Honors have created a trend of overlooking some of America's greatest icons who paved the way in their respective fields of the performing arts. Snubbing these aging 
innovators is not only a tragic disregard for the historic record of the performing arts in our country, but it also cheapens the credibility of the presentation. Have the Kennedy Center Honors become another excuse for a television special? Do they truly seek to honor the careers of those who've impacted the arts? I'm puzzled with the tiny window of knowledge the committee has for performing artists. 

How many artists from the fields of Bluegrass or Gospel Music have you known that receieved a Kennedy Center Honor? After neglecting the Latina community over the years, a special committee was formed. Country Music   has been missing for the last three years nor much inclusion since the inception of the Honors. 

Lily's induction serves as a reminder of how very few female comedians have broke through the wall of acceptance also. A great example being the late Joan Rivers. With Rivers's death, we are aware that she was beloved globally, but it reminded the world how groundbreaking she was. Joan was one of the first female comedic pioneers, the only female to sit as permanent guest host for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, and the very first female to host her own late night talk show. Her Emmy Award winning daytime talk show displayed her comedy yet showcased how great of an interviewer she was. Rivers daytime talk show also introduced a segment that sparred a spin off by the same name, "Gossip, Gossip, Gossip", the foundation for shows like The Wendy Williams Show and TMZ. The red carpet media frenzy taking place today all started when this petite blonde woman held a microphone and asked celebrities, "Who are you wearing?". Television, Broadway, comedy, films, literature, and even reality television helped Joan Rivers have a career the lasted well over 50 years. Had her unexpected death not took place, there would be no telling how much longer Joan Rivers would have burst doors open for men and women alike in the comedic genre.

A major hit to The Kennedy Cebter Honors credibility was the selection of Oprah Winfrey in 2010. Many felt it was a payback for her presence in the Obama Presidential campaign. Whatever the reason, it's hard to feel that her work in the performing arts is worthy of a Kennedy Center Honor! Yes, Winfrey had costarred in a couple movies and made for TV films, they were hit and miss success wise. Her major success was The Oprah Winfrey Show and her work as a journalist. Before Oprah Winfrey deserved a Kennedy Center Honor, shouldn't Barbara Walters have been a recipient? Walters's career in journalism was a victory for women in media, and every female in television journalism owes  her a great debt. From her Most Fascinating People TV specials to her creation of daytime TV's The View, Ms. Walters is far more deserving than Oprah for this honor. (Side note: Wouldn't Phil Donahue been more deserving since he was owning his talk show chops before Oprah was even heard of?)

Personally, I don't think the Kennedy Center Honors have lost their credibility; however I do think they need to research more deserving honorees. It's a shame that we lose so many stars to death while their protégés accept the honor. An insider has shared with me that while their objective is to honor the artists, it's also beheld to TV ratings. Ratings now play a heavy hand in who is selected and whether or not they can obtain A-list performers to do that particular artists' presentation package. Also out of sight, out of mind, though you would think someone deserving of Lifetime Achievement has a body of work behind them and may not be setting sail in front of our eyes as often in the present. For me, the Kennedy Center Honors big wigs need to do their homework more for me to be as excited with the selections these days.

Here's my list of overlooked artists most deserving of The Kennedy Center Honors. 

LITTLE RICHARD- He's the architect of Rock and Roll. A singer, songwriter, entertainer, actor and musician who was the influenced many past honorees. Little Richard is 81 years old. Must we go another year of a middle aged rocker being honored?

CAROL CHANNING- It's inexcusable that the Grand Dame of Broadway hasn't been an Honoree. Spending most of her 93 years of life on stage or promoting theater and the arts, should she go a few more years watching folks like Twyla Tharpe being honored? Hello? Many Broadway stars have been honorees, yet none are as known, as successful, nor have the rich history and cross over success that Carol Channing has! 

BURT REYNOLDS- There was a time when Burt Reynolds was the biggest box office draw around. If you were to take Brad Pitt and George Clooney together, it still wouldn't compare to Burt's fame in his day. During his career, he has completed almost 100 films! At 78, Burt has been plagued with major health issues yet still continues to work passionately to promote the arts with the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theater. 

LIZA MINNELLI- If there were anyone with the arts swimming in their DNA, it has to be Liza. She was born to parents Vincent Minnelli, a famed feature film director, and the iconic movie star and singer, Judy Garland. Liza's Oscar winning performance in the film Cabaret, is only one of nearly 30 films. Minnelli has won a total of four Tony Awards, an Emmy Award, two Golden Globes, and the prestigious Grammy Legend Award for her influence in the recording industry. Though only 68 years old, she began her career in 1949. Liza has had many health issues, most recently with her back.

DEBBIE REYNOLDS- To many, Debbie will always be known for her historic performance as Tammy, but she's made nearly 70 films, most recently a role in Behind The Candelabra. From Broadway, theatre touring companies, and musical concerts, Debbie is a veteran performer. Though she is 82, Debbie is feisty and loves to work. In 2012, Debbie suffered a health scare. 

FATS DOMINO- Credited for bringing the Blues to the forefront, Fats Domino is respected by recording artists of all styles of music. His hits like "Blueberry Hill" and "I'm Walkin'" are just some songs in his 35 top 40 hits! His piano playing, grisly voice, and big smile were loved by many. Now at 86, he keeps his time in his beloved New Orleans.

JANE FONDA- Jane's career became active in 1959. Among her major feature films, she won Oscars for both Klute and Coming Home. Fonda's major hit films challenged people to use their minds. On Golden Pond brought the issue of strained relationships, generation gaps. Nine to Five took on women in the workplace during a time of unfair treatment and pay. Jane became a sci-fi legend with her sexy role in Barbarella. A personal favorite of mine is a lesser acclaimed Fonda film, Agnes Of God. Starring in 45 or more films, sometimes her work on Broadway and the stage gets overshadowed. Currently, Jane is costarring with Lily Tomlin for a comedy series for Netflix. At 76, Jane looks better than ever and so does her career.  

KENNY ROGERS- At 76, Kenny has sold over 165 million records. His recording of the song "The Gambler" also lead to five made for TV films based on the song. Rogers built an empire outside of his performing career, yet never left his recording and performing. Rogers has starred in fourteen made for TV films. His duet with Dolly Parton, "Islands In The Stream" is one of the greatest selling singles of all time.

Is there someone you feel has been overlooked? The Kennedy Center is accepting submissions from their website. The following link has the online submission: 

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NPR Loves Our Marty!

If we had an election for a Voubtry Music Mayor, Marty Stuart would have my vote. Stuart does all that's possible to keep Country Music alive and well, bridges the gap of old school and cool school newbies. Aside from the before mentioned he does what he can to preserve the rich history and heritage of Music City! 

Check out NPR's Love for Marty at the link below:

Marty Stuart and myself, Sparkle and Twang Exhibit Opening Night in Nashville 2006.

Check out past episodes of RFDTV's Marty Stuart Show at the link below:

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Monday, October 6, 2014

RCA Studio Saved! Is Nashville Still Music City?

Nashville's music community won its long campaign to keep the historic RCA Studio A, from demolition. Plans to destroy the site and build a five story complex, housing 80 high end condominiums, were halted when a last minute bid came through. The new buyer plans to leave the studio.

RCA Studio A, is a historic recording complex that Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Chet Atkins and countless others cut vocals that went on to serenade the world. Parton's historic recording of "Jolene" was made in the building that once was a major thread in the fabric of Music City.

Unlike Detroit, Memphis, and other cities known for putting a genre of music on the map, Nashville politicians and higher ups aren't as sentimental to our (ahem) Music City. Music Row is seeing a trend of new condos in areas where offices, recording studios and labels once served as power players in the world of music. This area is also a favorite tourist drive by spot.

City and state officials really are missing the opportunity to capitalize on its resources that drew millions of tourists over the years. What if Memphis started to turn away from Elvis's Graceland and the historic Sun Records? The political powers would love to see Nashville as a more metropolitan like Atlanta and don't wish to dance with who brought them to the party. Nashville is known for being Music City in addition to the home of country music, The Nashville Sound, and major music icons!

Sadly, our tourism is not what it could be and not for lack of resources. Once, our city boomed with Opryland and TNN (The Nashville Network)! What other city had a cable network that bared its name? 

While the kiddos rode roller coasters at Opryland, parents attended tapings of Crook and Chase, Gary Chapman, and so many other shows. While the decision for these entities to end wasn't up to the government officials, it would have benefitted the city/state to offer tax breaks and incentives to keep these businesses here! Jobs, tourists, and tax revenue was deeply missed with these closing. 

With this campaign to keep RCA Studio A, we see that our voice can be heard. Let's use our voices to preserve the heritage and integrity of this city. Let's honor the legendary musicians and singers who helped make this city, the record labels, the Grand Ole Opry and so forth. If we don't, Nashville will eventually be another "convention" town. That's not who we are! Nashvillians pull together and support our own. Remember our devastating flood? Our people pulled together and rebuilt this town, and that's just one of the many rhinestones that make the Nudie Suit that is Nashville!

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Joe and Teresa Giudice Going To Prison

Unlike many times in the world of Showbiz, this time crime doesn't pay, Joe and Teresa Giudice are heading to prison! Teresa will serve 15 months, while "Juicey" Joe will serve 41 months. 

The federal judge did show mercy on the two as the sentences could've been a lot longer. Also merciful was the allowance of Teresa to serve her prison term first and Joe after hers was complete, allowing their four daughters to have one parent at home.

Monday Bravo will air an interview with the couple taped after the sentencing.

Read more from The New York Daily News here: 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Atlanta Housewives Back for Season 7

The Real Housewives of Atlanta return for season 7 and from the trailor footage it's looking good! 

Porsha Williams is demoted after attacking the fabulous Kenya Moore at last year's reunion. Thank goodness I've been tweeting up a storm for Porsha to go! 

Phaedra's fallout with jailbird Apollo plays out for the cameras. I'm with Wendy Williams in wondering how much she new about Apollo's crimes! Things that make you go hmmm!

New cast members and drama from my honey Momma Joyce against my sweet Kandi's in laws!

This year is Cybthia's season to shine! She's beautiful inside and out and always the spine of the show!

Nene's back! She's trying to hold on to her crown! 


Dolly Parton, Two Governors of Tennessee Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Literacy Program

Dolly Parton made a special visit to the Tennessee Capitol to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the partnership between the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the Governor's Books To Birth program. The partnership brings children monthly book selections from the time their born until they're 5 years old. Dolly started the program to honor her Father who could not read not write. Providing the books was a dream of Parton's, in order to encourage literacy, no financial requirements are needed. Children of any income level receive the books free of charge. 

A video of today's events may be found here:

Dolly Parton Celebrates Books To Birth Anniversary

A complete article on the celebration and the program's history may be found here:


Congrats to Dolly and former Governor Bredeson and current Hovernor Haslam. 

P.S. I have been a fan of the program since it's inception. My two sons were both recipients of Dolly's Imagination Library and I have been a corporate sponsor of the program off and on over the years. If  you are looking for a way to invest in the future of our country I can't recommend a better way to do so. You may donate to Dolly's Imagination Library here: http://mobile.imaginationlibrary.com

The photo above is former Governor Bredesen, Ms Dolly, my son Christian at myself celebrating the Books To Birth/Dolly Parton's Imagination Library launch for the state of Tennessee! A decade of literacy awareness!

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