Thursday, June 28, 2012

Magic Johnson's NYC ASPiRE launch: Celebrities, Yummy Food and Good Times!

Model Jessica White
NBA Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" in partnership with GMC hosted a chic star-studded bash at Cipriani last night to launch the ASPiRE channel. Guys, I have never been to Cipriani in all my years living in New York and to be honest with you, I almost didn't want to leave. I had so much fun taking in the electricity in the room from all the power players gathered in one spot and not to mention the delectable food, live entertainment and flowing drinks....I was in heaven! Check out the pics below to see who else I spotted on the red carpet and inside the exclusive party:

Magic's wife Cookie Johnson chatted with PR maven Marvett Britto

People were not afraid to cut a rug at the swanky party. DJ-Nice kept the party rockin!
The mouth-watering food at Cipriani! YUM!
Remember Kwame from the Apprentice? He also made an appearance last night..
ASPiRE is dedicated to delivering enlightening, entertaining and positive programming to African American families, including movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, short films and inspirational programs. The channel launched last night at 8:00 PM on Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Magic addressed the A-list crowd and gave an impassioned speech about going back to the days of yesteryear where folks could watch TV with the entire family. Enough with the ratchedness right? Will you be watching in to ASPiRE?
I'll have whatever actress Lynn Whitfield is having- this woman is aging backwards!
Celeb stylist and VH1 reality star June Ambrose also came through to support Magic
Having a little fun under the ASPiRE sign. S/O to Marc Wilson Design for the tres chic decor!
Basketball player Carmelo Anthony
So let me tell you a quick story of how this picture happened with Carmelo. I was going back for a second helping of the tasty food at the event and spotted the basketball player chatting with friends. Never one to miss an opportunity, I confidently walked over and stuck out my hand to introduce myself. He obliged my request for a picture and and surprised me by how polite he was. I asked them if he was aware that his wife Lala's reality show just started airing on Vuzu in South Africa. He replied "yes"and I then encouraged him and Lala to visit their Mzansi fans to promote the show in that region. You all know that I am all about US celebrities reaching out to their African fans. So if you see the Anthony's in South Africa.. you know who to thank! Just kidding :)
Russell Simmons posed on the red carpet with Miss Universe Leila Lopes
I finally got to meet Salt from legendary rap group Salt-N-Pepa!
I'm not sure if you guys know this but Salt -N-Pepa's hit song "Push It" was banned in Zimbabwe due to it's racy lyrics. I chatted to Salt about being a kid and sneaking around to listen to their songs and she also laughingly recalled an incident in Small Town, USA where her and Pep almost got arrested for singing "Push It". Guess it wasn't just Zim that was ultra conservative huh?. The rapstress also revealed her that unfortunately her and Pep's show will not be returning to VH1 and that they hopefully will be working on some new thangs on Magic's channel.
Posing on the red carpet with journalist Daisy Lewellyn. Don't we just love her Tracy Reese dress? 
Singer Natalie Cole chatted with the press
Can we just take a second to take in the hotness that is singer Eric Benet? LAWD!
On top of meeting Salt- I also snapped a flick with Pep. My inner 80's child is so content :)
NBA Great Walt Frazier
African Girls- Angolan beauty Leila Lopes the current Miss Universe
Leila embraced me with a warm hug when I saw her at the launch last night. I interviewed her a few months ago and she remembered me from our pow-wow. The current Maxim cover star, told me that she was "very happy" with the results from the cover shoot. I bet! Her pictures are sizzling hot! Leila has been busy traveling all over Africa recently- she revealed to me that she's been to Senegal, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and South Africa. Loves it!
The man of the hour- Magic Johnson! I am SO excited to watch ASPiRE 
I asked Magic if he had any plans to bring ASPiRE to Africa and he replied "I hope so, but not right now". I can totally understand the phased approach to have success in the US first and other regions at a later point.  I spotted a Sarafina clip (one of my favorite movies EVER)  in the ASPiRE trailer of content to come, so I am definitely pulling to see the channel launch in Africa.

Can I just tell how much I heart this man? PR superstar BJ Coleman. He is always so nice to me every time I see him!
"Sparkle" actress Tika Sumpter and her glowing skin also made an appearance
New Edition performed at the soiree sans Bobby Brown! I tell you what though, the guys still have IT!
 Director Malcolm Lee
Director Malcolm Lee is currently on pre-production on Scary Movie 5,  in development for a sequel to the Best Man and potentially doing a sports comedy with NBA champ Lebron James.  Given the controversy surrounding the Jennifer Hudson and Terrance Howard "Winnie Mandela" movie, I just had to get Lee's thoughts on the casting choices of the American actors in African roles. Malcolm answered "When it comes to doing a movie that you want to get seen, as a director you want to give it the best chance of being seen. The filmmakers thought that putting more well known actors would give it a better chance to get seen and I understand that from a business perspective". He added "it's good that a channel like ASPiRE will come out and South African actors can have a voice or potentially have a voice to tell stories they want to tell with authenticity". I certainly hope so, cause you guys know I feel about this whole disastrous casting fiasco.

I had such a great time at the ASPiRE launch, let's all do our part to support great TV. Thoughts?


  1. You looked good Makho! As for meeting Carmelo, I am super jealous.

    I'm a bit bummed that he doesn't appear much on his wife's reality show

  2. Thank you Lungi :)

    Carmelo is the executive producer of the Lala's Full Court and I guess he's more a behind the scenes type of guy. But sadly, no you wont see him on the show that much.


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