One thing that I find offensive is how companies and individuals do everything they can think of to make money when someone famous — and especially an icon — dies.
The passing of Michael Jackson is a perfect example. Almost overnight the newsstands were flooded with commemorative editions of established magazines, in addition to specially created publications dedicated to Jackson.
All to make a quick buck. There can be a thin line between “loving tributes” and “money-making ventures.”
(And we won’t even get into all of the people selling Michael Jackson T-shirts, posters, etc. Even certain Jackson family members are devising ways to profit from the tragedy.)
It could be argued that there is a demand from the public for the publications, and that would be a very good argument. But this goes beyond that. It is excessive and exploitive.
Fortunately, the Michael Jackson souvenir magazines have largely disappeared from view — because most of the money has been made. It was milked dry.
In the nearly four months since he died, a whopping $67 million has been made by publishers.
I’ll give you another example of exploitation, and this one is kind of funny. Remember the “Malcolm X craze,” following the release of Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” movie in 1992? There were “X” T-shirts, hats, etc. everywhere you looked. But, of course, it was really no more than a fad.
I stopped at a gas station on East Grand Boulevard and inside they were selling Malcolm X air freshener!
ONE OF the best “American Idol” contestants in the history of the show was LaToya London, a finalist in season three. That was the season Fantasia won and Jennifer Hudson was also a finalist.
London has a powerful voice and is a polished performer. She was head and shoulders above most of the competition on the show. Her subsequent album, “Love & Life,” was good and sold fairly well, but with more promotion could have done much better.
She has remained active. In 2007 she had a major role in “The Color Purple.” And interestingly, one of her cast mates in that Chicago production was Michelle Williams, from Destiny’s Child. London, who does club and concert work, received an NAACP Theater Award nomination.
Fans are awaiting a second album.
WYCLEF JEAN decided to pursue higher education despite being kept busy with a successful recording and performing career. He has begun taking classes at Berklee College of Music.
The program is flexible and he is able to augment being in class with taking online courses.
“I left college after the first semester to pursue my career,” he said. “Going back to college was something I wanted to do for myself.”
Believe it or not, there is a porno actress who calls herself “Sarah Vandella.”
Justin Timberlake has reportedly been spotted out and about with Rihanna. (Sure didn’t take long for her to rebound from her crash-landing relationship with Chris Brown.)
Timberlake is a true woman lover — White, Black, whatever. He once said to Black actress Gabrielle Union on national TV, “Girl, why are you so fine?”
SHERRI SHEPHERD, one of the chatty ladies on “The View,” says her new sitcom (“Sherri!”) is largely based on her real life.
For example, on the premier episode she was hit on by a 17 year old. In real life, the 42-year-old actress/comedienne says she has been approached numerous times by guys under 21. “I’m flattered,” she admitted, “but what do I say to a 19 year old?”
Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. had great screen chemistry in “Soloist,” so it comes as no surprise that a second film is on the way. The title is “Due Date.”
Paul Simon has always been a man of conscience, and always willing to stand up for what he believes in, including helping lesser known artists of color get the attention (and financial rewards) they deserve.
On the social/political scene, Simon has publicly thrown his support behind President Obama’s health care overhaul. He visited the White House to express his support and commitment.
New albums on are on the way from Jesse Johnson (formerly of the Time), Brian McKnight, Joss Stone, Boyz II Men, Mary J. Blige, Angie Stone and Diddy.
The other night I was listening to a greatest hits CD titled “A Donny Hathaway Collection.” He was without a doubt one of the greatest singers ever. Awesome voice and spine-tingling passion. The two songs that get to me most are “For All We Know” and “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Luther Vandross wrote “Everybody Rejoice,” one of the most popular songs in the Broadway musical (and subsequent film) “The Wiz.”
BLESSINGS to Charles Thomas, John Mason, Sylvia Quarles, Belinda Blythe, Alisa Giddens, Robert Terrell, Ethel Smith, Jan Spencer, Bobby Green and Michael Wimberley.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Peabo Bryson: “I’d much rather be real than the figment of other people’s overactive imaginations.”
Let the music play!
(Steve Holsey can be reached at Svh517@aol.com and P.O. Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)