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Remembering the King of L.A. Night Life: Roland Wirt

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LaRita & roland Wirt and some dude

Actress & EURweb journalist LaRita Shelby and LA club promoter Roland Wirt exchange greetings at Denise Pine’s annual holiday party. 2016

*I called him the unofficial mayor of Black Los Angeles.  From the time I was old enough to go to the clubs in Los Angeles, it wasn’t a party unless it was a Roland Wirt party.

Although I claim that “I’m still 39,” fact-checkers will find evidence of my post-college years in the 80s shaking my booty in crowded, healthy gatherings of classy and good clean entertainment in Los Angeles, mostly promoted by Roland Wirt and his colleagues Marc Gaspard, Tony Joseph, Felipe Darrell, Kevin Rouse, Bob Lott, Jonathan De Veaux, Tony Calloway, Derrick Pipkin and Artris Leftage, among others.  I’m talking about hanging out wearing soft leather at The SpeakEasy, the one that Klymaxx talks about in “The Men All Pause” or sporting shoulder-padded jackets at Osko’s, The Palladium, The Hollywood Athletic Club, The Xerox Club, The Aqua Lounge, The Regency West, First Fridays, The Town House and the almighty Paradise 24!

Not only were these the gathering place of young professionals, athletes and entertainers but it’s where Roland Wirt provided an atmosphere for rising stars to perform, be seen and just be there. And then there’s what Roland Wirt did for me.  I had birthday parties at venues that I could not afford to rent for a private event.  My name was always on the VIP list. Roland Wirt was the king of the L.A. social scene, a curator of tastemakers, stars and pseudo-celebrities like me.

When the non-profit Hands For Hope solicited my help for the first Starlight Jazz Serenade in 2002, the first person I called was Roland Wirt.  We met.  I handed him a stack of tickets and in days they were sold, and he was asking for more.  Funds were raised for charity, and some L.A. folks who rarely venture to the San Fernando valley were headed to North Hollywood’s TV Academy for the indoor jazz event of the season.

Roland graciously supported the Starlight Jazz Serenade for years.   I always thought that he deserved a trophy for that but Roland never sought anything for himself. He served others in a selfless kind of way, with coolness, a warm smile and a swag that was all his own.

RELATED: WE REMEMBER: Roland Wirt (LA-Based Entertainment Promoter) Dies At 68

LaRita “Jazzy Rita” Shelby backstage with Roland Wirt and friend at 1st Gatsby Jazz Fest. Santa Barbara, CA 2008

And then there was the Gatsby Jazz Festival in 2008.  Upon the referral of Roland Wirt, I got a call from Mike Patterson. A jazz festival was planned for the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet club.  A host was needed.  Roland had seen my jazz act at the Starlight Jazz Serenade. Upon his word, I was hired. A limo was sent for me, my music director Willie Daniels and good friend Ida Gibson.  We were chauffeured from Studio City to Santa Barbara.  It was inspired by The Great Gatsby and yes, the suave L.A. crowd showed up and joined the posh Santa Barbara crowd decked in white to hear LA Mambo Combo, Himalaya, Gerald Albright, Brian Culbertson, Marcus Johnson and Jazzy Rita.

What is ironic is that Roland brought us all together but at this time in the world, we can’t physically come together. We would all be somewhere right now, jam-packed in a club in a state of love and disbelief, expecting cool azz Roland to ease in and work the room making everybody feel like a star.

In a world where Hollywood bad boys and bad girls are rewarded, a Roland Wirt event was always, ALWAYS a classy affair.  I’m in slow motion now, a freeze-frame to the already tilted twilight zone world that we are currently in.  Roland Wirt was synonymous with a good time, feeling good, dancing and having fun.  We are already feeling some kind of way smack dab in the middle of COVID 19 and a world we’ve never seen.  And now our feel-good man is gone? The party is truly over now. L. A. nightlife will never, ever be the same.

Roland Wirt’s all-white party has ascended to another location where he is well dressed in white and his is the only name on the list.  Thank you Sir Roland Wirt.  We will cry, we will continue to wear white in July and we will step in the name of love as we remember all that you gave us.  God bless your wife Lisa, your family and friends.

There will never be another Roland Wirt (R.I.P. April 13, 2020)  To share your love with the Wirt family, click here.

Lee Bailey, Publisher & CEO of EURweb.com would also like to echo heartfelt sentiments over the loss of Roland Wirt.  Roland, along with Marc Gaspard & Artris Leftage honored Mr. Bailey and EURweb.com for Black Music Month at the Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills in 2009.

Lee Bailey’s program book from Aqua Lounge Black Music Month Tribute 2009 presented by Roland Wirt, Marc Gaspard & Artris Leftage.

Lee Bailey honored by Roland Wirt, Marc Gaspard & Artris Leftage at the Aqua Lounge, Beverly Hills 2009

This is another prime example of the high brow and culturally conscious brand of entertainment for which Roland was known.  With our arms crossed in Wakunda style, we say “Roland Wirt” forever, FOREVER and a day.

LaRita “Jazzy Rita” Shelby is a writer & entertainer & Director of Digital Strategy & Sales for EURweb.com, newly branded Everything Urban & Radioscope. Chat, swap ideas & vision at [email protected]

 

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Black Celebrity Gossip - Gossip

Aurora Police Video Shows Black Woman Hogtied in Back of Patrol Car [WATCH]

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Aurora Police Video Released Of Woman Cuffed, Hogtied In Back Of Patrol Car - screenshot

*The Colorado police force under scrutiny for the August 2019 death of Elijah McClain is catching heat once again over recently released video of a Black woman hogtied in a patrol car. 

The woman is seen riding upside down for more than 20 minutes following her arrest in August 2019. She even calls the white officer “master” and begs him to lift her from the floorboard.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said former officer Levi Huffine appears to be “punishing” the woman.

“In my opinion she was just tortured back there. It makes me sick,” said Wilson of the video Tuesday, during a civil service commission appeal hearing for Huffine, who was fired over the incident. He appealed his termination. 

“We are not judge, jury and executer,” said Wilson. “We are not to treat people inhumanely like they don’t matter.

“And he is lucky she did not die in the backseat of that car. Because he would be — in my opinion — in an orange jumpsuit right now,” said Wilson.

READ MORE: Reparations Closer to Becoming Reality with AB3121 Study California


Here’s more from CBS 4 Denver

Huffine arrested Shataean Kelly, 28, on Aug. 27, 2019, on municipal charges resulting from a fight. On his bodycam video, Officer Huffine decides to hobble Kelly — tying her handcuffed hands to her feet when he said she tried to escape from his patrol car by trying to open door handles in the backseat.

Wilson testified the door handles in the backseat are inoperable and in her opinion, hobbling Kelly was unnecessary. She said she felt Huffine was “punishing” the prisoner who had also been verbally abusive toward the officer.

“The hobbling in my opinion was another form of punishment,” said Wilson, notin that Kelly could have easily died of positional asphyxia.

The video played at the hear Tuesday shows Kelly begging for help during the drive to jail. 

“Officer please, I can’t breathe,” she says. “I don’t want to die like this. I’m about to break my neck,” cries Kelly.  “My neck is killing me dude. Help me, I can’t breathe.”

Officer Huffine does not appear to respond to Kelly. At one point Kelly says, “I beg you master.”

“As an African-American female she denigrates herself to the point she actually calls him ‘master.’ To me that is disgusting,” said Wilson.

In February, Wilson fired Huffine. All criminal charges were dropped against Kelly. She did not suffer serious injuries during the ride to jail.

“It’s beyond human decency for me,” said the chief of the video. “It’s unacceptable. I don’t know what else to say.”

Scroll up and watch the disturbing footage via the YouTube video above. 

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First Look at Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis in Netflix’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Chadwick Boseman's Final Movie

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*Netflix released images of Chadwick Boseman in his final film, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which debuts on Dec. 18. 

The film stars Viola Davis, and is based on August Wilson’s award-winning play from director George C. Wolfe and producer Denzel Washington, the streamer announced on social media Thursday.

The official synopsis from Netflix reads; “Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis). Boseman plays an ambitious trumpeter named Levee. 

Check out the newly released images from the drama feature below. 

READ MORE: Sienna Miller Reveals Chadwick Boseman Gave Her Part of His ’21 Bridges’ Salary

The film also stars Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman and Michael Potts. Multiple Tony Award-winner George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”) directed the film from a script adapted by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. 

Boseman died in late August after a private battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

According to a family statement, the “Black Panther” star was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in 2016.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement read. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more — all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Chadwick Boseman's Final Movie EjMreSvUcAAE_Rq EjM6jwUXkAACSCl (1)

Davis discussed Boseman’s passing with the New York Times, praising the actor’s humility.

“A lot of actors mistake their presence for the event,” Davis said. “An actor of Chadwick’s status usually comes on and it’s their ego who comes on before them: This is what they want, this is what they’re not going to do. That was absolutely, 150 percent off the table with Chadwick. He could completely discard whatever ego he had, whatever vanity he had, and welcome Levee in.”

Boseman’s last on-screen role was in Spike Lee’s film “Da 5 Bloods.”

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Jay-Z Taps Jesse Collins as First Black Super Bowl Halftime Show Executive Producer

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Jesse Collins - twitter
Jesse Collins - twitter

Twitter

*Emmy-nominated live event producer Jesse Collins has become the first Black executive producer of the Super Bowl halftime show. 

The NFL, Jay-Z’s RocNation and Pepsi said Tuesday that Collins will join longtime director Hamish Hamilton for the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show on Feb. 7 in Tampa Florida, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Jesse Collins is innovative, creative and one of the only executive producers that speak fluent ‘artist vision.’ He‘s a true artist,” said RocNation’s Nation chief operating officer Jay-Z. “Jesse’s insight and understanding create both extraordinary shows and true cultural moments. After working with Jesse for so many years, I look forward to all there is to come.”

“It is an honor to be part of such an iconic show at such an important time in our history,” Collins said in a statement, per Variety. “I am grateful to JAY-Z, Desiree Perez, and the entire Roc Nation family and the NFL for granting me this opportunity.”

READ MORE: Jay Z Allegedly Sold Kanye’s Masters to Get His Own Masters Back


In his own statement, Jay-Z praised Collins for being “one of the only executive producers that speak fluent ‘artist vision,’” noting that his “insight and understanding create both extraordinary shows and true cultural moments.” 

Last August, Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment and sports company, signed a deal with the NFL to consult on the halftime show as their “live music entertainment strategist.” 

This past February, Roc Nation caught major heat over its first Super Bowl halftime show in Miami featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. 

Uncle Luke called on JAY-Z to “fix” the Super Bowl halftime line-up to include performers from Miami. 

“[The NFL is] basically showing that, ‘Aye look, let me go get a token black guy, throw him out there, say we’re dealing with systemic racism and say we’re having him involved with the entertainment,” Luke told TMZ at the time. “It specifically said that JAY-Z would be involved with the systemic racism and the entertainment. Right now, that’s an F.”

Luke also hit up his Instagram to criticize Jay and the NFL for choosing Shakira and Lopez as Super Bowl halftime performers.

“I have a serious problem with the @NFL and the people they pick to perform at the Super Bowl, Uncle Luke captioned a video posted on his Instagram page. “The @NFL has totally disrespected the African American along with Miami entertainment community. Jay-Z this your first job.”

He was referring to Jay’s partnership with the NFL to curate the Super Bowl halftime shows. 

Jay-Z’s appointment of Collins makes him the first-ever Black executive producer of the halftime show.

Collins called it “an honor to be a part of such an iconic show at such an important time in our history.”

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