By now you have almost surely heard that comedian/actor Arsenio Hall will be returning to late-night television in the fall of 2013.
Is it a good move? Maybe so, maybe no. In the world of show business, and beyond, not many things are more embarrassing than a failed comeback.
From 1989 to 1994, Arsenio Hall revolutionized the late-night talk show format. He restructured, or “reinvented,” it for a younger audience with a distinct urban edge.
In the early years it was “cool” to watch the Arsenio Hall show, which was a contrast to, among others, “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, an institution. It made a person “hip” to be on Hall’s show. Even then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton was happy to appear on the show, and he even played the saxophone! (Quite well, too.)
But as time marched on, the show got a little too “hip-hop flavored,” and people not in that demographic or of that mindset who still enjoyed Hall’s show started to lose interest. Plus there was additional head-on competition when David Letterman was moved to the 11:30 p.m. time slot after having been on later for many years.
Can Arsenio Hall carve out a new audience, or rekindle an old one? Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and to a somewhat lesser extent, Craig Ferguson and Carson Daly, are firmly established. Making inroads under such conditions is a monumental task, and having a solid Black audience (only) will not bring in the kind of ratings needed to thrive, or even survive.
Still, Arsenio Hall may prove the doubters and naysayers wrong. After all, it is a new day, and there are times when the public loves a comeback (Vanessa Williams, Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Turner immediately come to mind).
ALTHOUGH Tyler’s Perry’s movies are almost always huge successes, and untold numbers of people love his “Madea” character, not everyone feels that way, and Perry can tell you all about the flak he regularly receives from African-Americans (and others) in certain quarters.
But what makes him feel particularly bad is that one of his all-time favorites, legendary, iconic singer/actress Diana Ross, respects him as a person, but not all aspects of his movies. Tyler would love to have Ross star in one of his films, but she wants no part of it and feels it would be a career setback. Tyler says Ross told him flat-out no on one occasion and has been “ignoring me ever since and will not return my phone calls.”
I say leave Ross alone. If someone has expressed disinterest, coming back again and again will only, most likely, result in Tyler being viewed as a nuisance, and thus strengthening the superstar’s resolve to never appear in a Tyler Perry movie. (Can you imagine “Madea Goes to Vegas,” featuring Diana Ross?)
Speaking of Diana Ross, here’s a great quote from her: “Go for your dreams. But don’t just sit and think it’s going to come to you. You’ve got to make it happen.”
But Ross’ dreams do not include appearing in a Tyler Perry movie!
Two of today’s hottest stars, Mary J. Blige and the recently returned D’Angelo, are co-headlining a concert tour titled “The Liberation Tour.” It is scheduled to start on Aug. 18 in Virginia Beach, Va., and include 19 stops after that. No word yet as to whether or not Detroit will be on the itinerary. The Fox Theatre would be perfect.
Another thing that happens in August is that Steve Harvey, currently hosting “Family Feud” and doing his radio thing plus other TV ventures, will soon do his final stand-up comedy show. There is a lot to be said for quitting while you’re at (or near) the top of your game.
A LOT OF people (yours truly included) believe that Destiny’s Child, the female group that ranks second only to the Supremes in terms of general success, came to an end too soon in 2004 with their album “Destiny Fulfilled.”
Surely Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams could have gone on longer, for at least three more albums, especially since that last album included exciting songs like “Lose My Breath,” “Soldier” and “Girl.” (Several other cuts, though, were surprisingly lackluster.) But the title of the album strongly suggested the group disbanding was imminent.
According to Mathew Knowles, who was Destiny’s Child’s manager for a long time, there is a substantial amount of unreleased material available, and much of it will be released this year. That’s fine, but apparently the unheard material will be blended with some of the trio’s big hits. I hate when it is done that way. Better to release an album or two of the “new” material exclusively. Why should people have to buy the hits again?
Sometimes people get so out of control when it comes to entertainers. They think that because they buy an artist’s records, go to see an actor and actress’s movies, or whatever the case may be, that entitles them to expect the stars to be at their beck and call.
They are deluded into believing they are “supporting” the artist when, in fact, they are buying the album, movie theater ticket, watching the TV show, etc. because they want to. The artist owes them nothing more than good music, a quality concert, etc.
Well, Luther Vandross — who was a real nice guy, I know this for a fact — wasn’t having it. One lady really pushed his buttons. According to his friend B.B. Winans, on one occasion he was going up an escalator and a fan was going down. At one point she spotted Vandross, got excited, said she had bought many of his albums and wanted him to sign something.
Vandross was in a rush and graciously explained that and expressed appreciation for her support. She got mad, called him names, and said she would not buy any more of his albums. When he got to his floor, he went back down, caught up with her, and said, “How many of my albums did you buy?” She told him and he gave her — in cash — the amount she had spent. “That should cover it,” the offended superstar said. “Don’t buy any more of my albums. You don’t own me.”
That was right on time!
Kudos to Usher. His album, “Confessions,” has reached the 10 million mark in sales, which means it has been certified Diamond by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA). Very few albums are that successful.
Praise also to Charlie Wilson for admitting having been addicted to cocaine and alcohol. He says he was been clean now for 18 years.
I talked on the phone recently to Katherine Schaffner, an original member of one of Motown’s three most famous female vocal groups, the Marvelettes. Their hits included “Please Mr. Postman,” “Playboy,” “Don’t Mess With Bill” and “My Baby Must Be a Magician” among many others. I asked if she still had any of their stage attire.
She said no because at one point all of the dresses and gowns were in the cleaners, in anticipation of future shows although by this time the group wasn’t working much. Then they were informed that Motown was pulling the plug on the Marvelettes. No one ever got the clothes out of the cleaners, and Katherine has no idea what ever happened to them.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW...that Aretha Franklin had several great and usually successful songs, on the Columbia label, before she became the Queen of Soul in 1967, including “Runnin’ Out of Fools,” “Won’t Be Long,” “Cry Like a Baby,” “Today I Sing the Blues,” “One Step Ahead,” “Operation Heartbreak,” “Trouble in Mind” and “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody.”
MEMORIES: “You’re Not My Kind of Girl” (New Edition), “Little Red Corvette” (Prince), “Grandma’s Hands” (Bill Withers), “Be My Baby” (the Ronettes), “Lovin’ You” (Minnie Riperton), “Give Me the Night” (George Benson), “Practice What You Preach” (Barry White), “Just the Way You Are” (Billy Joel), “Baby I’m Yours” (Barbara Lewis), “Feels Like Another One” (Patti LaBelle).
BLESSINGS to Leroy Hyter, Marcus Amick, William Staiger, Janice Wilson, Danton Wilson, Victor Holsey, Fred Holsey Jr., Mary Grace Wilbert, Ken Donaldson and Mattie Richardson.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Rickey Minor: “My acronym for ‘ego’ is “edging God out.’”
Let the music play!
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