Friday, June 6, 2014

One Week From Today: Appearance on ABC News' '20/20'

One week from tonight, I'm scheduled to appear on ABC News' primetime news magazine "20/20," in a segment about lip-syncing. Always bad, ever acceptable? Hope youse can tune in: 10p Eastern. *

People Magazine: Celine Cozies With David

A picture's worth a thousand songs... Now this is a diva picola, if I've ever seen one! Go, girl!

From Robin Leach's ever-fab Las Vegas Sun column:

It was Celine Dion’s own crazy idea for a stunt photograph, and it turned out to be a first. All four of the superstars performing at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace — Shania Twain, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Celine — agreed to a unique photo shoot that next week in People magazine. 

“I don’t like to do things that are easy,” 46-year-old Canadian songbird Celine told the weekly celebrity publication. It was a coup to have all four pose for the photos. Celine was hauled 11 feet into the air to pose in the arms of the hotel’s replica of the Michelangelo masterpiece of the statue of David. 

The original ideas for the shoot didn’t get Celine excited, and she came up with her own “dream” of winding up in David’s arms. The magazine photographers loved her idea and said, “Let’s do it.” Afterward, Celine told People’s Mark Gray: “I don’t know if anyone else went into David’s arms, but, if I am the first, I am very honored.” Turns out she was the first... *

Meanwhile, a wondrous collection of still shots from Celine & NeYo's "Incredible" video (courtesy of Facebook's Celine Dionn).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

At (Long) Last: Celine Dion Releases Video Clip For Neo Duet 'Incredible'

I'll never understand why it took six months to release a music video for Celine Dion's duet "Incredible" (with Neo) from album "Love Me Back To Life." For god's sake, word broke in January that the pair was filming the clip. And astonishly, even after it made its long-awaited debut on ABC's "Good Morning America," it's still not on YouTube. Grrrrr!

In fact, at this point, it appears that all momentum has been sapped from the project... at least in the States. Shame, shame, shame on Sony. THIS should have been the second single, following the title track... instead of the tepid "Somebody Loves Somebody."

The video itself is vaguely amusing, with waaaaay too much superfluous footage from secondary players. Aside from Celine and Neo giving it their all on an NYC rooftop, about the only intriguing footage is of a giraffe walking down city streets. Really? This is the best we got after six months?

I was truly hoping that this would be the track to restore Celine to the mainstream Top 40, with Neo's assistance. It's a mighty fine track and a should-be single. Fortunately, views on social media now count toward the Billboard Hot 100... so if Sony doesn't have the gumption to make a proper push, maybe... just maybe... the public's might will make a difference.

And yet here we are in 2014... as the latest, greatest non-talent Iggy Azalea rules the Hot 100 with the decidedly low-octane "Fancy." Oh, mercy, what a world, what a world!

UPDATE... At last, posted publicly...

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2014: The Hottest Global Magazine Covers!

The grand return of The Smoking Nun's take on the hottest, most beautiful and alluring magazine covers from around the world for June 2014. Best of the Best: "Out" mag's cover of Matt Bomer. Wowsah! Starting with those blue eyes...
And then some... Hugh Jackman on three global covers of Men's Health...
And then some more... The best of the rest...
And the dubious WORST magazine covers of the month...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Brendan Apollo Signs With Young Swaggazar Entertainment

Edited from PRLog: New York City-based recording artist Brendan Apollo has signed a multi-million dollar, five-year deal with Young Swaggazar Entertainment (YSE) in collaboration
with Industrial Motion Pictures (IMP).

Apollo's new single "Apollo Rising," is available on iTunes as the launch track from his debut EP "Clouds," to be released June 9. The music video for "Apollo Rising"—featuring the artist performing in a Nigerian village—is available on YouTube and premiered at Hyde Bellagio in Las Vegas. Apollo wrote and co-produced the songs on "Clouds."

"Apollo's music hits the bulls-eye of radio-friendly, hit-worthy pop fare, packed with sing-along hooks and full-bodied production," wrote Chuck Taylor, reporter, columnist, and former senior editor at Billboard magazine.

Apollo started writing original music as a teenager growing up in Illinois. He continued to pursue his dream and moved to New York City in 2008. "We are thrilled to be working with such a talented artist whose soulful sound promises to appeal to music lovers around the world," said Brian Mehling, M.D., CEO of IMP.

For information, visit Industrial Motion Pictures.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Soulful Sustenance: Junior Turner Releases 'Tonight's The Night'

My fave new artist of 2013, U.K.-based Junior Turner, follows up my No. 2 song of 1Q 2014 with "Tonight's the Night," to be officially released in late June. I'm thrilled to say that Brother Junior and I connected via Skype last week for a late-night warm & fuzzy conversation, after many months of my unbridled love and support for his limitless talent.

Witnessing the progression of onetime U.K. pub & club singer/songwriter Junior Turner’s career is the sonic equivalent of watching TV’s “Masterpiece Theatre.” Over the last four years, he has released one consummate pop creation after another.

Previous single “Save Me”—an emotive, potent and ever so universal shout-out for help—was awarded the 2014 Indie Music Channel Award in the States for Best Pop Song, alongside a second nomination for he-said-she-said duet “Loveblind,” with Jess Wood. Both are among a collective of should-be hits on full-length release “Under Scrutiny.”

Turner’s latest single “Tonight’s the Night” bears witness to his momentous versatility, with a loving nod to old-school soul, complete with bleating horns, groovy guitars and knee-slapping percussion. As ever, the midtempo track is commandeered by Junior’s radiant warmth as a vocalist—which here, conjures ever-frequent comparisons to Robbie Williams, alongside so much soul that you’d swear our hero has rubbed shoulders with The Four Tops or The Drifters (with background accompaniment from frequent partner Jess Wood).

Turner has garnered award-winning success, global radio play and plenty of press for his musical wares. It’s time he was recognized as a talent that deserves critical mass recognition. Come on, it’s takes just one listen to “get it.” Yep, “Tonight’s the Night” that we can all cozy up to Junior’s wondrous world of musical masterpieces.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Coming June 13: A Talking Head Appearance On ABC-TV's '20/20'

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by an ABC-TV producer named Sunny(!) for the network's long-running news show "20/20." She had eyed me in a segment on lip-syncing for Moscow-based news channel RT's "The Truthseeker," which I interviewed for in November 2013, via Skype. After a lengthy pre-interview
(so that Sunny could vet if I knew what the hell I was talking about), she returned to me several days later to invite me to appear as a talking head on the show. However, there was a caveat: Where can we do this?
She asked if I might be willing to fly to New York or Los Angeles to film the interview. Ironic, eh? As much as I wanted to be included in the show, I fussed that with contractors in my home pretty much every day—and doggies to find care for—it would be difficult. "Could you possibly send a crew to my home in Norfolk, Va.?"

After a couple weeks of back and forth, the good news came: ABC was willing to fly down the segment's producer, Joe Rhee, and have a camera/lighting crew drive down from D.C. Score!

On Tuesday, May 27, all arrived at 11 a.m., scoped out the house and decided to film in the living room, using the grand piano as a backdrop. The interview lasted a good hour... and I enjoyed immensely. Hopefully, I delivered a couple money quotes that will actually appear in the episode. The show's overall theme is "faking it," including a segment on job candidates that lie on their resumes. The finale is supposed to be the lip-syncing topic.

Tentative air date is Friday, June 13. ABC-TV's "20/20" at 10 p.m. Below is the RT "Truthseekers" news segment I appeared on in November. The show has a global audience of 630 million viewers. (I appear around the 8-minute mark.)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

'Rubber Duck' Makes A Splash At Chrysler Museum of Art

Norfolk's recently renovated Chrysler Museum of Art celebrated its reopening with a splash, showcasing the second U.S. appearance of Florentijin Hofman's "Rubber Duck" in the museum's Hague during the week leading up to Memorial Day. The duck has previously appeared in London's Thames River and Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor.

The inflatable duckie offers 40 feet of giddy delight, and just makes you... smile. I saw "RD" on the Sunday before Memorial Day, joining hundreds of onlookers, admiring a piece of art that requires little interpretation, just giggles. To my surprise, I heard one cranky woman at the display complain, "I'm disappointed. I thought it would be bigger." All I could think is, "Seriously, lady? Well, duck you!" *

Friday, April 4, 2014

You've Been Waiting For This, Right? The Taylor Top 10 For 1Q 2014

Oh, I know you've been aching & awaiting, cool cats. And here we are: The Taylor Top 10 for the first quarter of 2014... Enjoy, you hear?

1. Close Your Eyes—Roxanna
2. Save Me—Junior Turner
3. In My Bed—Ariana & The Rose
4. No More the Fool—Junior Turner
5. Burning Gold—Christina Perri
6. The Mother We Share—Chvrches
7. (See You) In My Memory—Patrick Dwyer
8. Think Twice (demo version)—Celine Dion
9. Carry On—Lisa Stansfield
10. Raging Fire—Phillip Phillips
BONUS: Feel The Love—Kimberley Locke f/Cahill

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Olivia Newton-John Invades Vegas For Flamingo Residency!

Following in the footsteps of Celine Dion's mega-success as an A-level entertainer setting up residency in Las Vegas, fave Olivia Newton-John is the latest (and indeed greatest) act to set up shop in town, launching a 45-date set at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino.

Press has been nuts over her April 2 arrival into town, complete with a welcoming parade befitting of a Presidential inauguration. Congrats to my buddy Michael Caprio, Livi's longtime publicist, for engineering the whole damn thing. Now, let's see, when shall I plan on a Vegas sojourn to revisit Olivia? *

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sheena Easton Toasted In UK's 'Daily Mail'

Diggin' this from April 1 edition of the U.K.'s Daily Mail: Sheena Easton appeared at a fundraising event titled For Your Eyes Only last weekend in Ontario, looking "happy and healthy."

The British press had a bit of a field day after she was photographed three months ago "in a fragile state," after having dental work done. My No. 1 Lady is looking good at 54. One month from today will be the 33rd anniversary of "Morning Train" hitting No. 1 in the U.S. *

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Celine Dion: Juno Awards 3/30, Muppets, 'Incredible'

Given the ghastly results of the 2014 Grammy Awards (one word: Lordes), it's inspiring to see Canada get it right. The 2014 Juno Awards
nominees include four nods for Celine Dion—including the big guys, Album & Artist of the Year for "Loved Me Back To Life."

In all, Celine garnered nods for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Fan Favorite and AC Album of the Year. Unfortunately, she was not nominated in the Aboriginal Album of the Year category. Sigh...

Leading the nominees are Arcade Fire (6), Serena Ryder (5), Michael BublĂ© (5), Drake (4), Celine (4), Hedley (4) and Tegan & Sara (4). The awards show will stream live via, beginning at 7 p.m., with the show airing in Canada at 9 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 30—which happens to be Celine's birthday.

Meanwhile, “Incredible,” Celine's phenomenal duet with Ne-Yo—chosen as the second single from LMBTL in North America and Italy—was nominated as "World’s Best Song" at the World Music Awards, and chosen by NBC as an official anthem of Sochi 2014 Winter games. Meanwhile, we are still awaiting the release of the music video, which was lensed two months ago. I must say, Sony has not only dropped the ball on this project, but lost it...

And of course, there's Celine's inclusion in the just-released "Muppets Most Wanted," in which she duets with Miss Piggy. That looks awfully hilarious, indeed. *

Sunday, March 16, 2014


"Luck in life is an engineered effort."

And now the final chapter in this trilogy regarding my mid-January exit from NYC to VA amid a most egregious effort to get the hell out of New York City. See previous posts HERE and HERE.

So here we are, in the midst of the heinous, blustery, truly unpleasant two-and-a-half-hour closing for my Brooklyn Heights apartment… as buyers’ attorney deemed Dick (by my attorney) is interrogating me—in condescending fashion—about electrical non-issues that the buyers' Corcoran agent “discovered” during walk-through.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, the attorney representing my coop announces: She has received an “addendum” from my Montague Street building’s Managing Agent. Huh?? In the midst of closing?

It states that the Board is not convinced that the four days I spent rebuilding my kitchen after it flooded—uh, utilizing the contractor THEY HIRED to do the work—is up to par. They're apparently concerned there may be moisture remaining in the ceiling and so… despite repairs for which I laid out major ca$h (which succeeded 100% in drying all moisture and properly sealing & repairing damage caused by my neighbor above's burst radiator pipe)... hey, you know what… We might tear it all apart!! And guess who pays for the “pre-existing damage”? Yep. Of course. Me.

No one at the table saw this one coming. After I had frantically and successfully rebuilt my kitchen after a waterfall decimated the drywall four days before closing, here we are with a last-minute notice from my coop saying, “No deal unless Chuckie understands that it might be fun to tear it all apart—on his dime."

Buyers’ attorney Dick eventually negotiated with my attorney Z to place a shitload of my money in an escrow account so we could all just get the hell out of there and close the deal—allowing the poor blindsided couple buying my apartment to take possession of their new home, while allowing me to just get out of town. (I can imagine how happy my buyers—with a 1-month-old infant—were really looking forward to the coop coming in & tearing apart their brand new kitchen...)

So ultimately, I was forced to leave $5,000 in escrow for 1) the previously described bogus electrical repairs and 2) potential demo of all the kitchen work I had just completed.

And then, at long (long) last, I was able to sign the last of 873,892,759,847 documents, and close on my apartment. Outside, as it poured rain, I had a sweet moment with the new owners of my home, wishing them happiness there.

At 5:30p, once I arrived home to spend my last moments in the apartment that I had nurtured for some 13 years, you might imagine that I might like to spend an hour reflecting, reminiscing and bidding a sweet farewell.

Honestly, after such a sullied closing, I pulled my new Ford Focus in front of the building and decided that despite it was the midst of rush hour, I’d rather sit still in traffic than wait for a single overhead light bulb to potentially burn out in the apartment—because, for sure, the buyers’ Corcoran agent would pound on the door, swearing the entire apartment was miswired.

My exit from the HOME that I bought in 2000 and transformed from a dump into a palace was, in that moment, so very bittersweet. I made a final hasty walk through each room that I had lovingly renovated over the course of 13 years and then said out loud, “G’bye.” And I closed the door.

The next turn of our story doesn’t get much better, I’m afraid. As I motored down Brooklyn’s BQE, traffic moved at a clip. Hurrah! Abby & Spencer were relaxed and dozing in the front seat next to me. But as I passed one annoying toll road after another (Verrazano Bridge, Goethals Bridge, New Jersey Turnpike, Delaware Memorial Bridge), I drove
past the rain… and right into dense, impenetrable, thick-set FOG!! Seriously?

For five hours I pretty much could not see 20 feet in front of me… roaring forward every time there was a vehicle in front of me on what turned out to be deserted coastal roads... just to follow in their taillights, until they ultimately turned off the road, leaving me anxiously slowing down at some points to 30 mph. All the while, I'm pondering my epitaph: “Poor guy. He moved out of New York City and drove off a bridge on the way to his new house…” Honest to god, it’s as if I were driving through cotton candy for 5 of the 7-hour journey.

And that’s where this long-winded tale reaches its blissful end. As I crossed the
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel just after midnight on January 15, 2014, I exhaled that I had survived one of the cruelest days of my life. And I inhaled with gusto for all possibilities of this brand new chapter.

As I write this, it is now my two-month anniversary as a resident of Hampton Roads, Virginia.

An NYC pal asked me on the phone last week, “What do you miss most about New York?” I paused and responded: “Except for the people… not much of anything. Actually, nothing."

I was ready. It was the right move at the right time. And here we are. The page has turned and the colors on this side are as bright as could be.

Hey, and Spring is allegedly coming (following the cruelest winter the East Coast has seen in 30 years), so I will have an entirely new & colorful world to discover beyond the doors of this wowsah property in Norfolk, Va., that I have been fortunate enough to make my home. I am blessed, I am a lucky man and I wake up every morning recognizing the bounty before my eyes.

P.S. Thankfully, I got the ENTIRE $5,000 returned from the escrow account (cool cats, that's why it took me 2 months to post this: get it?). Obviously, those electrical issues turned out to be bogus. And thankfully, either the coop decided not to decimate the new kitchen—or the new owners refused to let them tear apart my beautiful work.

P.S.S. Har, har, har... And yet it's not over yet. The coop decided in February that the building is not responsible for the damage that occurred between walls (they are, via the bylaws) and are now leaving it up to me to have my homeowner's insurance company duke it out with the coop—which, mind you, I, of course, CANCELED at the end of January. Guess who is going to end up ponying up more cash months after getting the hell out of BK?!

And herein is my great lesson learned: Enduring luck in life is an engineered effort. I am a fortunate man, feeling lucky once again. *