Monthly Archives: July 2016

Guordon Banks, Philadelphia Native Gains National Attention and Airplay

Image of singer Guordan Banks

Image of singer Guordan Banks

It is always a pleasure to discover great new music.  Guordan (pronounced Jour-dan) Banks, a Philadelphia-born singer/songwriter, earned his first Billboard No. 1 as his soulful “Keep you In Mind” rose 2-1 on the Adult R&B Songs Chart in the June 11th edition. The song ascended 6 percent in spins at the format according to Nielsen Music. The song continues to stay in the Top 5, remaining steady at No. 2 on the chart. His debut album, UNPOPULAR, will be released later this year on his own label, Bank On It Entertainment.

A solely independent artist, Banks’ “Keep You In Mind” has become a triumphant and unique indie label success story. The song has received an emphatic response from Urban Adult Contemporary radio programmers and has had a high showing on various music charts, including Billboard’s “Most Added” Chart and music industry trade, AllAccess.com charted the song among “Cool New Music.”

“Keep You In Mind” has increased air-time with major rotation in markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit and Atlanta. Streams on music platforms, such as Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud and Shazam, have increased significantly as a result of national airplay.

Banks’ second single, #WYWDT (Where You Wanna Do This?) featuring Dej Loaf, will impact urban mainstream radio on June 20th, but already showing early support and buzz from DJ Drama and DJ Sense on Sirius XM Shade 45.

Image of singer Guordan Banks

Image of singer Guordan Banks

Raised in an adverse environment, Banks’ parents, both preachers, surrounded their eight children with music and created a home within which music was a centerpiece. After being rejected from a school play due to a speech impediment, a young Banks was encouraged by his family to explore singing and songwriting. Undeterred by these early life experiences and buoyed by his family, Banks pursued a pathway that has led to his success.

Banks’ work has received critical acclaim and has effectively contributed to the resurgence and current elevation of R&B music. In high demand, Banks was one of the opening performers at the 2016 “BMI Trailblazers Show” and performed at the iHeartRadio concert on May 12 in New York City.

Banks also graced the stage at some of this year’s most visible events, including, the 20th Annual American Black Film Festival, at their awards show in Miami Beach on Saturday, June 18; House of Blues in New Orleans on June 30; a performance on the Sirius XM Heart & Soul Stage during Essence Festival on July 1; the 40th Anniversary of the African American Festival in Baltimore, MD on July 3; and at the V103 Summer Block Party in Chicago, IL, featuring Erykah Badu on July 15. He will also perform at the Arena Theatre in Houston, TX on July 17. He is set to perform in NYC for Harlem Week and start his tour in October 2016.  Look for him coming to a city near you soon. 

 

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Kubo and the Two Strings coming to Theaters

Photos used with the permission of Focus Features.

Photos used with the permission of Focus Features.

In the world of animation another wonderful tale bout the adventures of a young boy.  The story is called Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA. Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of “Game of Thrones”) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro). But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny. Kubo’s quest begins nationwide August 19, 2016 from animation studio LAIKA and Focus Features.  Director: Travis Knight, Writers: Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (“ParaNorman”)

The Voice Cast is as follows: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, Rooney Mara, and Matthew McConaughey

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Oprah Winfrey Network Unveils Extended Trailer of New Original Drama Series ‘Queen Sugar’

 Photo Caption (l-r): Kofi Siriboe, Rutina Wesley and Dawn-Lyen Gardner Photo by Andrew Dosunmu © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc / Courtesy of OWN

Photo Caption (l-r): Kofi Siriboe, Rutina Wesley and Dawn-Lyen Gardner
Photo by Andrew Dosunmu © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc / Courtesy of OWN

On July 20, 2016, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network revealed an extended trailer of its new original drama series “Queen Sugar,” from award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, executive producer Oprah Winfrey and Warner Horizon Television.  The series which chronicles the lives and loves of three estranged siblings will debut as a two-night event on Tuesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, and will regularly air Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT for the remainder of its 13-episode first season.  Click here for a first look at the series’ extended trailer: Oprah.com/QueenSugar

About “Queen Sugar”

The contemporary drama “Queen Sugar” chronicles the lives and loves of the estranged Bordelon siblings in Saint Josephine, Louisiana: Nova (Rutina Wesley, “True Blood”), a world-wise journalist and activist; Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner, “Unforgettable”), the savvy wife and manager of a professional basketball star; and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe, “Awkward”), a formerly incarcerated young father in search of redemption.  After a family tragedy, the Bordelons must navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives in order to run an ailing sugarcane farm in the Deep South. Led by acclaimed film director DuVernay, who directed the first two episodes, all episodes in the series’ debut season are directed by women. “Queen Sugar” is produced for OWN by Warner Horizon Television. The executive producers are Ava DuVernay, Melissa Carter and Oprah Winfrey.  The series is based on the book by Natalie Baszile.

About OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand – and the magnetism of the channel.  Winfrey provides leadership in programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a singular destination on cable.  Depth with edge.  Heart. Star power. Connection.  And endless possibilities.  OWN is a joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications.  The network debuted on January 1, 2011 and is available in 85 million homes.  The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com.  For more information, please visit http://www.oprah.com/own and http://press.discovery.com/us/own/.

 About Warner Horizon Television

Warner Horizon Television (WHTV) is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of scripted series for the cable and subscription/on-demand marketplace, and primetime reality series for both network and cable. A division of the Warner Bros. Television Group, WHTV was founded in 2006. Its current scripted programs are Rizzoli & Isles and Animal Kingdom for TNT, People of Earth for TBS, Pretty Little Liars and Famous in Love for Freeform, Longmire and Fuller House for Netflix, and Queen Sugar for OWN. WHTV’s unscripted series are The Voice and Little Big Shots for NBC; The Bachelor franchise — which also includes The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise and After Paradise for ABC, as well as Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After for Freeform — plus 500 Questions for ABC; and Love at First Kiss for TLC, among others.

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TV One’s Hit Series “Rickey Smiley For Real” Gets Third Season Pick-Up

Photo Credit: Marcus Ingram for TV One

Photo Credit: Marcus Ingram for TV One

One July 20, 2016,  TV One announced the third season renewal of the heartwarming comedic docu-series Rickey Smiley For Real.  The third season will return with even stronger bonds and bigger laughs, as comic and radio personality Rickey Smiley continues to strive to achieve his quest for domination of the entertainment industry.  In the second season, which debuted in May, viewers have watched Smiley journey through a wild ride, ranging from his parental style being put to the test to fun family vacations to an epic DJ battle with a friendly rival morning radio show. Rickey Smiley For Real continues to post double digit gains, and is currently outperforming its first season across all total and key Black demos.

The consistent growth of Rickey Smiley For Real demonstrates the strong connection our viewers have with Rickey’s lovable family and laughable team,” said D’Angela Proctor, Head of Original Programming and Production for TV One. “Over two seasons, new and devoted fans have watched as the cast takes great strides in their personal lives and we look forward to watching as the cast exhibits their commitment to the community as well.
Although I am happy about the renewal for Season 3 of my show; it’s very difficult for me to celebrate as I sit here and watch the funerals of Philander Castile and Alton Sterling,” remarked Smiley. “I yearn for our country to be solid and to embrace our differences and to understand our differing communities and history.  We have too many others in the world trying to destroy what our nation, on the pain and suffering of our own people, has built.  I assure you that police violence will be a topic addressed in Season 3 as I feel compelled to use my platform to make change in this country for the good of all our citizens.  I’m thankful my show is doing well, but our nation, especially black America, is grieving at this time.
Infusing his brand of comedy into every situation, Rickey Smiley For Real, also introduces viewers to his four children – sons Brandon and Malik and daughters D’Essence and Aaryn – as well as his extended family of co-workers, colleagues and friends – his nephew Craig, live-in assistant Miss Pat, personal assistant Angie, business consultant Bruce Demps, childhood friend and family lawyer Nakita Blocton, radio co-hosts Da BratGary With Da TeaHeadkrackRock T and Juicy, and radio show producers Beyonce and Hollywood.
As a much-loved comedian, television host of Dish Nation, and top-rated nationally syndicated radio personality of The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Smiley rose to superstardom after igniting his 25-year career serving as opening act for industry titans such as Steve Harvey, George Wallace and Carl Strong. Throughout his career trajectory, Smiley has been one of the industry’s most towering forces in building an impressive empire that has landed him preeminent roles on radio, television, film and on-stage performances. For more information on Smiley’s personal and professional background, please visit: http://therealrickeysmiley.com/.
For more information about Rickey Smiley For Real and Rickey Smiley, visit http://www.tvone.tv.  Viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on TwitterInstagramFacebook and Periscope (@tvonetv) using the hashtag #RickeySmileyForReal and catch clips and promos on TV One’s YouTube Channel.
Rickey Smiley For Real is produced by Bobbcat Films for TV One with Rickey Smiley and Roger M. Bobb as executive producers and Angi Bones as co-executive producer. For TV One, Lamar Chase is executive-in-charge of production, Robyn Greene Arrington is vice president of original programming and production, and D’Angela Proctor is head of original programming and production.
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Sheryl Lee Ralph Presents Divas Simply Singing! Philadelphia On August 20, 2016

SherylLeeRalphSheryl Lee Ralph and The Divinely Inspired Victoriously Aware, D.I.V.A Foundation will celebrate its 2nd annual staging of DIVAS Simply Singing! in Philadelphia after 26 consecutive years in Los Angeles. This highly anticipated and much respected community health service charity concert began in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It now adds mental wellness, heart disease, diabetes and HepC and other life threatening diseases. The Foundation with the support of  Commissioner Sue Slawson and The Dell Theatre, will bring together some of the industry’s most talented artists and Divas to address the need for Health and Wellness awareness. A strong community is a healthy community.

The details are as follows:  DIVAS SIMPLY SINGING! Philadelphia, Saturday, August 20, 2016.
Dell Music Center, 2400 Strawberry Mansion Drive,  Philadelphia,  PA  19132  Doors open at 6pm; show to  7pm. Here is a sample video of the performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VwSSb_wTF4&feature=youtu.be  http://www.ticketmaster.com/Divas-Simply-Singing-tickets/artist/839859.  The MUSIC DIRECTOR: Henri Mc Millian Jr. and the MUSIC By: The Urban Guerilla Orchestra.

About The D.I.V.A. Foundation

The D.I.V.A. Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1990 by honored AIDS activist and award winning actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph because of her deep concern for the lack of attention given to HIV/AIDS and it potential to become a health risk not only for men but women and children. DIVAS Simply Singing! was created as a loving memorial to the many friends she lost to AIDS as an original company member of DreamGirls on Broadway. The event utilizes the arts as a vehicle to raise awareness, funds  and erase stigma. After 25 years, DIVAS Simply Singing! continues to be the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the country and “One of the most highly anticipated HIV/AIDS benefits in Los Angeles.” DIVAS Simply Singing! serves as a loving beacon of hope, a constant voice in the dark for those infected and affected by HIV/ AIDS. Sheryl Lee Ralph has simply dared to care when others remained silent.

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Chester Gregory Plays Berry Gordy in Motown Musical

Berry and Chester

The Legendary Berry Gordy and Broadway Actor Chester Gregory

Actor Chester Gregory has done some amazing roles in his life while working on Broadway stepping into the role of the legendary Berry Gordy for the Motown Musical.  After being in Los Angeles for the past few years, he is back in the Big Apple for the revival of the Motown musical on Broadway.  The show is scheduled to start on July 12, 2016 and run for only 18 weeks.

Gregory was born in Gary, Indiana to a steel mill worker and a school teacher, Chester “CHΞSS” Gregory drew inspiration from hometown hero Michael Jackson to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He began his journey performing in local talent shows and participating in workshops for young performers.

Writer, Judith Davis and Broadway Actor Chester Gregory

Writer, Judith Davis and Broadway Actor Chester Gregory

After a few years, Gregory was ready to take the next step and auditioned for the Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts. Although his first two attempts were unsuccessful, Gregory didn’t give up, and his third try provided him the opportunity to attend by the time he reached high school. A testament to his gift, he was voted ‘Most Talented’ his senior year of high school.

In January 2016, Gregory joined the touring cast of the Broadway production Motown: The Musical. In the show, Gregory plays the lead character, Motown founder Berry Gordy. He’s expected to remain in the show through its return to Broadway in the summer of 2016.

To date, Gregory continues to perform his one man show The Eve of Jackie to sold out audiences across the country. His successful Broadway career has allowed Gregory to transition to TV and film work. Chester is excited to get started in this amazing role as Berry Gordy and so is the audience.

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‘Fruitvale Station’ Co-Creator Ephraim Walker Tapped as President of Production at D Street Pictures

Ephraim-WalkerMore strides are being made in film and it is very exciting.  The independent production and distribution company D Street Media Group, has tapped Ephraim Walker to be the President of Production of D Street Pictures.  He will oversee the company’s film projects and oversee its production unit.

Walker worked closely with Fruitvale Station scribe and director Ryan Coogler, to develop the successful indie film based on the 2008 killing of Oscar Grant by an Oakland Bart police officer. Since Fruitvale, Walker has worked on various television shows and produced a behind-the-scenes look at the scoring of the 2015 Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone hit Creed, also directed by Ryan Coogler.

“We’re excited to have Ephraim join our team to oversee D Street’s exciting slate of films and work closely with the development department. His appointment comes at a time when the company continues to expand our international reach,” says D Street Media Group’s CEO, Dexter Davis.

Walker will report directly to Davis and oversee several upcoming productions including the international heist film, The Blue Mauritius, starring Eric Dane, Brian Cox, Augustus Prew, John Rhys-Davies and several other notable global stars. Filming begins on location in Cape Town, South Africa in August. Walker will then finish out the year with Irish comedy, Death Inc., a Brazilian motorcycle gang movie, Moto Anjos and a New York City style rom-com, Heaven Hath No Fury.

“I’ve been looking for a place to call home and couldn’t be more thrilled to join an organization like D Street Media,” said Walker. “I’m looking forward to working closely with Dexter to achieve our very ambitious goal of becoming a global leader in the creative content business and equally excited to set up our West Coast division in the great city of Oakland.”

The company has chosen Oakland, California over Los Angeles to be in close proximity to the Silicon Valley. D Street wants to develop more strategic alliances with tech companies who are producing new distribution models for film and television and who seek to partner with smart, creative, content producers such as D Street. The company is based in New York City, with offices in Berlin, Buenos Aires and Cape Town.
For more information about D Street Media Group, go to  http://www.dstreetmediagroup.com/.

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“Queen Sugar” Cocktail Reception at Essence Fest

QueenSugar

Photo used with permission from OWN:The Oprah Winfrey Network

On Saturday, July 2, 2016, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network continued its “Queen SugarEssence Festival takeover with a Q&A on the festival mainstage — moderated by Essence entertainment director Cori Murray — featuring the cast and show creator Ava DuVernay; an inspiring keynote speech by “Queen Sugar” executive producer Oprah Winfrey; and a culminating cocktail reception at Legacy Kitchen, where over 200 industry insiders and tv personalities celebrated the new series.

 “Queen Sugar” cast members Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, Omar Dorsey, Tina Lifford, Dondre Whitfield, Nicholas Ashe and Bianca Lawson graced the red carpet at the reception, followed by DuVernay, Gayle King and Ms. Winfrey herself. Additional attendees included: Lynn Whitfield (“Greenleaf”), Tina Knowles Lawson, Richard Lawson, “The Real” hosts Adrienne Bailon, Loni Love and Jeannie Mai; singer Lalah Hathaway; “Love Thy Neighbor” cast Patrice Lovely and Darmirra Brunson; “Survivor’s Remorse” cast Tichina Arnold, Jessie T. Usher,  Erica Ash and Allen Maldonado; “POWER” cast Lela Loren and Joseph Sikora; “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker; broadcast journalist/producer Soledad O’Brien, Bozoma Saint John (Head of Global Consumer Marketing, Apple Music & iTunes); Mona Scott-Young (Monami Entertainment); Stevie J (“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta”); “Married to Medicine” cast Dr. Heavenly, Mariah Huq and Lisa Nicole Cloud; Gocha Hawkins (“LA Hair”), Tameka Foster, American Idol’s La’Porsha Renae and so many more.

Queen Sugar” will debut as a two-night event on Tuesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 7 at 10PM ET/PT on OWN. The series will regularly air Wednesday nights at 10PM ET/PT for the remainder of its 13-episode first season.

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Sushi Seki serving great dishes for New York City

Chef SekiOn June 30, 2016, there was a unique opportunity to sample some amazing dishes from Sushi Seki on 46th Street.  The talented Chef Seki provided a taste of some of his best seafood creations.  Founded in 2002, our Upper East location has been notoriously known as a late night den for New York’s elite, top chefs, and a sushi haven for those that call the Upper East home.

Sushi Seki is the creation of Chef Seki Shi. Chef Seki began his culinary journey at a young age, working with his Mom to perfect the art of crispy rice. After graduating from high school, Chef Seki continued his study in Tokyo, where he discovered his true passion for cooking.  Authentic Japanese cuisine intrigued him and drew him to the culinary details and fundamental techniques that are the foundation of his innovative cuisine today.

“Never stop learning” is the philosophy of Chef Seki. Chef Seki developed his knowledge of fish at the famed Tsukiji Market; one of the largest fish markets in the world. Chef Seki began working as a dishwasher and eventually advanced to become head kitchen chef and within a few years, a sushi chef.

IMG_1832In 1991, Chef Seki moved to New York City. Chef Seki explored his talent by working at various restaurants to enhance his experience including Sushi of Gari. Chef Seki has since become one of the masters in the art of fine sushi.

In 2002, Chef Seki opened Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side. His commitment to selecting only the best fish in the most trusted Japanese markets, has allowed Chef Seki to build his reputation.

In 2014, Chef Seki opened his second location in Chelsea. Chef Seki along with his family of NYC’s finest sommeliers and sushi chefs are committed to the “never stop learning” attitude by creating and balancing the flavor of the fish with simple ingredients, a classic style and expansive sake and wines, paired perfectly to each meal.

Chef Seki is known for his signature sushi classics using the finest seafood available in the world, and taking his lucky clients on a culinary journey.  His classic style shines through as he caters to guests’ individual tastes.  At Sushi Seki: Bar & Oysters his newest outpost in Hell’s Kitchen, Chef Seki continues to surprise his guests with a Chef’s tasting menu at the exclusive 6-seat Kappo counter.  Here, he continues to treat his discerning clientele to the finest dishes prepared according to the season and the guest’s taste.

Sushi SekiThe newest Sushi Seki Bar & Oysters , which is considered the flagship location located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen on historic Restaurant Row. Our latest endeavor features two distinct ambiances within the stunning, bi-level space.

The main floor, with large bar, perfect for pre and post theater dining, provides a casual and contemporary experience, featuring an open kitchen, a communal table, a 76-seat dining room, and a special $100 Kappo tasting menu.  Japanese artisanal cocktails, as well as a full selection of premium wines, sakes and beverages complete the experience.

Opened in 2014, our Chelsea location features two semi-private tatami rooms, a 16 seat sushi bar, a six seat bar, and a 48 seat dining room.

IMG_1842Upstairs features an artisanal whisky and sake bar followed by three Tatami rooms for private dining, while an exclusive 13-seat sushi bar offers lively, theatrical entertainment for the entire 72-seat dining room. We recommend the “Omakase” tasting, a daily selection of fish prepared “from the heart”, available on request.

 

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