June 11, 2018

I Have Never Accepted Anyone Different than I


My 30th high school reunion is coming up and it has given me pause to think about what I have learned about loving people and learning from people.
The way my sister and I were raised had nothing to do with acceptance. Because "acceptance" means you have to make a conscious decision to "accept." The way I grew up was to find "those people" who made me laugh hysterically, who made me shine, who had my back, who I could be the champion of and who would be the champion of me, who would be loyal and to whom I would be loyal, to whom I could ask questions as well as provide answers, who 30 years later I could say "Purple Rain" or "Holiday" and we all would be right back there together...with wine coolers in hand!
I have friends of color, friends who are LGBT+, friends who are conservative, transgender, liberal, republican, democrat, straight, curious, mixed, single, married, Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Agnostic, spiritual and more. I have friends who piss me off at times and who I disappoint. I have friends who I haven't talked to for a year but the moment I do, it's like no time has passed (and yet we don't depend on the past to keep our connection).
I have been asked throughout my life if my acceptance is genuine -- because, as a white man with privilege (even though I'm gay), how can I understand anything but? I have been asked "how can you truly accept someone who is so different?"
In this world that challenges and questions "acceptance," I only can say that I did not choose to "accept" you.
At 48 years old, I still don't "accept" anything in life. I try to embrace it.
So everyone that I have met, everyone who is my friend, family or colleague...even those who do not agree with me on whatever level, I tell you that I do not and I have never had to "accept" you. You were given to me because you make my life better, stronger, smarter, harder and easier in whatever way you were meant to do. For me it has never been about whether or not I accept you, it's whether or not I can love you, appreciate you, laugh with you, learn from you and stand by you.

May 31, 2018

GRAMMY CHIEF NEIL PORTNOW TO EXIT IN 2019

SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (MAY 31, 2018) — The Recording Academy™ announced today that President/CEO Neil Portnow will begin preparing for a leadership transition after choosing not to seek an extension on his current contract, which expires in July 2019. Portnow shared his plans at the Recording Academy's semi-annual Board of Trustees meeting last week. Throughout the next year, Portnow will work with the Board to chart out an organizational succession and transition plan, while continuing his current work as active President/CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares®, and Chair of the Board of the GRAMMY Museum®.

"The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity, and success," said Portnow. "Having been a member of the Recording Academy for four decades, serving as an elected leader and our President/CEO, I have not only witnessed our evolution, but proudly contributed significantly to the Academy's growth and stature in the world. When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned, and collegial transition. With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, I've decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise. Accordingly, I'll be working with our Board to put the various elements in place that will ensure transparency, best practices, and the Academy's ability to find the very best, brightest, and qualified leadership to take us into our seventh decade of operation. I truly look forward to continuing my role leading the Academy in the year ahead, and to continuing the pursuit of excellence and the fine missions we embrace and deliver."

Portnow, who, prior to serving as President/CEO, served on the Recording Academy's Board of Trustees, is largely credited with strengthening the Recording Academy's financial health and brand.

"Since taking the helm in 2002, Neil has been instrumental in evolving the Recording Academy to address the needs of our creative community in a changing music landscape," said John Poppo, Chair of the Board. "From critically-important music advocacy initiatives and financial assistance for our music community, to the music education and preservation programs of the GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY Music Education Coalition, Neil has not only advanced the Academy's mission, he's extended its reach and impact. The Board and I are indebted to Neil for his years of heartful stewardship and visionary leadership. And, as we thank him for all he's done, we also look forward to finding the right person to build on our solid foundation as the Recording Academy continues its work to ensure that music and the recording arts remain a thriving part of our cultural heritage."

Key milestones achieved under Portnow's 16-year tenure include:
  • The Recording Academy established advocacy as a hallmark of its Washington, D.C., office, giving music creators a voice on Capitol Hill, and stressing the need to update federal music laws, especially in the wake of the digital music revolution. Last month, after 15 years of advocacy work, and on the heels of the organization's GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards and Advocacy Day, the Music Modernization Act, which helps bring copyright laws and artist protection into the 21st century, was passed in the House of Representatives and introduced in the Senate.
  • As the Recording Academy's leading charity, MusiCares provided more than $5.9 million to 7,900 members of the music industry in the last fiscal year alone—the largest number of clients served and dollars distributed in a single year in the charity's history—and anticipates it will provide $6.3 million to nearly 9,000 members of the music industry this fiscal year, again reaching new milestones. Since its inception in 1989, MusiCares has distributed approximately $60 million to music people in need. During Portnow's tenure, MusiCares provided relief efforts to the music community impacted by Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Harvey, and the recent natural disasters in Florida, Puerto Rico, and California.
  • As a part of Portnow's vision of preserving, crafting, and sharing music stories with people around the world, and amplifying the Recording Academy's already robust, innovative, and impactful music education programs for youth, the Recording Academy established the first GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles in 2008. The Museum has since expanded its presence domestically and internationally.
  • Portnow oversaw a landmark 10-year broadcast deal with CBS to keep the show—one of television's major entertainment events, ranking as one of the highest-rated and most-watched specials—on CBS through 2026. 
  • In addition to presiding over the GRAMMY Awards®, Portnow expanded the Recording Academy's telecast portfolio, more than tripling the organization's television footprint, with a number of new specials, including GRAMMY Salutes to Elton John, the Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, and Whitney Houston, as well as the PBS "Great Performances" series honoring GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and Special Merit Award recipients.
  • In 2017, the GRAMMY Music Education Coalition united more than 30 of the nation's most forward-thinking music education organizations with the goal of increasing the number of youth actively participating in creating, playing, and performing music in U.S. public schools.
  • After 58 years of traditional balloting, the GRAMMY Awards successfully moved to an online voting platform.
Portnow is the longest serving President in the Recording Academy's 60-year history.

May 23, 2018

Ron Roecker and Digital Hollywood


So thrilled to have been asked to moderate this Micro-Influencer panel for "An Instagram Deep Dive" at Digital Hollywood tomorrow!!
DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD (May 24, 2018)
1:00 – 1:45 PM, Herscher Hall, Guerin A, Webcast Live
An Instagram Deep Dive (Ron W Roecker, Moderator)
• How to leverage your brand as an influencer to thrive.
• An in-depth look into crafting your Instagram profile, goals, strategy, and content themes.
• The latest on the algorithm and feature changes.
• How to manage your audience and build a strong community
Brad Wayne, @bradskiibeats
Hector Fonseca, @djhectorfonseca
Sara Mills, Head of Creator Relations, Tinysponsor, @saraontheinternet

#ronroecker #digitalhollywood #instagram #influencer

April 17, 2018

A Famous Celeb Called Me Out on the Way I Keep My Fruit




So I had a friend of mine over to my house who technically is a "famous person," who shall go unnamed. He pointed out that I had a bowl full of lemons, limes, avocado, apples, oranges and more on my kitchen counter. He pointed out that this was the worst case scenario. So I did some research...in hopes that I could prove him WRONG...

"Almost all fruits and vegetables produce invisible and odorless ethylene gas, “the ripening hormone.” Fruits that produce ethylene gas in larger quantities ripen faster as a result of concentrated exposure. Other fruits aren’t as affected by ethylene gas, and can be stored with apples and other ethylene-producing fruits. The issue is more complex than simply sorting your fruits, though. Exposure to ripe or overripe fruits can cause vegetables to rapidly decay.

Most fruits can be safely stored together, though one piece of overripe fruit will cause the rest to go bad more quickly. By refrigerating some high-ethylene fruits, you can slow their ripening and enjoy them longer. Fruits that can be refrigerated include apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew melons. Contain them in perforated plastic bags or breathable storage containers to keep them from exchanging aromas and flavors; apples are major offenders here. You can safely store these with fruits such as cherries, blueberries and citrus, but keep them well away from watermelons.

Some high-ethylene gas fruits are sensitive to cold, and if refrigerated before they’re fully ripe their moisture levels and flavor are greatly affected. Once they’re fully ripe you can refrigerate most of them -- but warm them to room temperature again before eating, for full flavor. Fruits that fall into this category include avocados, unripe bananas, nectarines and peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes. Don’t store ripe bananas in the frig, though. Their skins will turn dark -- making them look spoiled, though they aren’t -- and everything in the vicinity will smell like bananas.

Keep lettuce, fresh greens and almost all other vegetables away from fruit, which generally produces more ethylene gas. Making this a habit will make it easier to keep your produce fresher longer. In addition to lettuce and all leafy greens, you should segregate salad vegetables including carrots, cucumbers and peppers, and all the cole vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Also keep eggplant, parsley, peas, potatoes, squash and sweet potatoes separate from fruit."

The good thing is that I don't feel like I proved MYSELF wrong...but it certainly educated me (and us, right?!)!....and I will never tell you which celeb called me on my shit!

March 21, 2018

AWARD-WINNING SINGER/SONGWRITER ALICE WALLACE RELEASES POWERFUL NEW ANTHEM “ELEPHANTS”



Southern California Americana singer/songwriter Alice Wallace debuts new single “Elephants,” it was announced today. With the current #metoo and #timesup movements, “Elephants” is particularly powerful because it addresses the experiences women have every day concerning sexism, objectification, safety and double standards – whether in the workplace, at home or during a girls’ night out.  Written by Wallace’s co-writing partner Andrew Delaney, “Elephants” is an extension of those current movements because it’s spurring discussions between women and men about solutions. Spotify: https://goo.gl/H5MtM1

From “Elephants”
Hey baby, why you gotta be that way?
Give us a smile, you got a pretty face
There are things you do and things you can’t
Live quiet as a mouse in a room full of elephants

Live performance of “Elephants” on YouTube


“I am so proud to record this song, especially as this conversation is growing in our culture,” said Wallace. “Women are taught from a young age that ‘boys will be boys,’ and therefore, it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves from that supposedly innate behavior. And that is wrong. This is such an important song about being a woman, and yet it was written by a man. That makes it all the more perfect for creating opportunities for both men and women to start discussing the solutions together.”

“I had heard the same story over and over from so many of my friends who were women,” said Delaney. "I heard it enough times to know for sure that this was a universal experience. As a songwriter, you're always looking for something universal to write about. And then to have someone like Alice - with a voice like hers - to perform the song so beautifully and so passionately and for it all to happen in such a timely, but organic, fashion - it's kind of magical. I'm really glad to be helping to get this message out there.” 

“Elephants” is the first single off Wallace’s upcoming album, which will be released later this year on JTMMusic.

Wallace recently received the first-ever “TeX Award” for a female independent artist during South by Southwest 2018. She was named “Female Vocalist of the Year” at the California Country Awards in 2017. She also received LA Music Critics Awards for “Best Country/Americana Artist” in 2016 and “Best Country/Americana Album” in 2015. She tours constantly across the U.S., averaging close to 150 shows per year, and has shared stages with artists such as The Band Perry, Wynonna Judd, Lee Ann Womack, Ray Wylie Hubbard, JD Souther, Albert Lee, Jo Dee Messina, and Suzy Bogguss.

ELEPHANTS (full lyrics)
Walk with a purpose through the parking lot
Keys in your knuckles cause you ain’t got claws
Remembering when your daddy taught you that
Boys will be boys gotta watch your back

Sitting there drinking at the bar alone
Sharks come circle, wanna take you home
You better not play coy, better not be mean
Cause boys will be boys and they are fragile things

And they’ve got names for the ones who talk back
And the ones who wear those clothes
They’ve got names for the ones who say yes
And the ones who say no

Hey baby, why you gotta be that way?
Give us a smile you got a pretty face
There are things you do and things you can’t
Live quiet as a mouse in a room full of elephants

Don’t he look so handsome in his Sunday best?
He said he’s sorry, you know the rest
You shouldn’t really blame him he’s just a kid
And boys will be boys, don’t call him what he is

And they’ve got names for the ones who talk back
And the ones who wear those clothes
They’ve got names for the ones who say yes
And the ones who say no

For more information:  http://alicewallacemusic.com/

March 19, 2018

SPRING BREAK: No Bikinis Only Rattle Snakes and Texas Howdy


As I hear about all of the crazy Spring Break trips that are planned this year by high school and college students alike, I can't help but be reminded of a very non-traditional adventure I went on in college. No, it didn't include white beaches, bikinis or beers!  But it did include rattle snakes, amazing southern cooking and learning the "Texas Howdy."

Here's how it went, ya'll...

I worked during college so I couldn't get off the entire Spring Break week. I was stuck and bummed that all of my friends were planning amazing getaways to sunny beaches or snowy slopes. I, on the other hand, had three days in the middle of the week off -- and no plans to speak of.

Knowing my situation, Jill, one of those friends with whom you could laugh, cry or get into a little bit of harmless mischief, asked if I wanted to go to Texas -- the deep part of Texas -- and hang out with her "Maw Maw" and "Paw Paw."

"ABSOLUTELY," I said, without much thought.  So we jumped in her Ford Escort and drove to Maw Maw and Paw Paw's.

If I were to ask you: "What do you picture when you think about a little ranch in the deep part of Texas?" then whatever you are imagining is exactly what I encountered as the Ford Escort rolled to a dusty stop in the driveway of Maw Maw and Paw Paw.

Maw Maw came out to greet us, hug us and let us know that Paw Paw wanted us in the "shed" ASAP. So, the two of us in our plaid shorts, polo shirts and flip flops, walked into the shed. Paw Paw hugged Jill and handed me a stick. Looking at a metal cage on the cement floor, Paw Paw simply said,

"Agitate Him!"

"Excuse me, Paw Paw?"

"Agitate 'Em!"

As I knelt down to see what or whom I would be agitating, I heard the haunting noise of a baby rattle...which I would soon learn was actually a baby RATTLER.



I looked up at Jill (horrified) and then at Paw Paw as if to say..."I could be on a beach with a margarita but instead..."

But not only was I going to agitate the rattler, I was going to win over Paw Paw...

So as I started to head toward the cage with my stick, Jill and Paw Paw broke out into laughter.
"Oh, you are one of the family for doing that," said Paw Paw. I looked up confused and suddenly there was Maw Maw with lemonade and home made fried chicken that smelled better than any smell I'd ever smelled.

And for the next couple of days, I became part of the family landscape.  They taught me the "Texas Howdy" which means as you pass an oncoming truck -- each with both hands on your respective steering wheel -- you both simply raise one finger in acknowledgment of the other as you pass each other. I learned a lot!

To this day, I will send Jill a Facebook post now and again and simply say, "Agitate 'em." And we laugh, and cry, and say hello to Maw Maw and Paw Paw who are now in Heaven.

So, as people are planning their crazy Spring Breaks in exotic places, I take the time to say thank you to Jill for that dusty adventure of love, family, perspective and new experiences.

March 13, 2018

Elton John: I'm Still Standing a GRAMMY Salute with Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kesha, John Legend, Chris Martin and More!

MUSIC STARS HONOR ELTON JOHN ON THE ROCKIN' TRIBUTE "ELTON JOHN: I'M STILL STANDING–A GRAMMY® SALUTE," TO BE BROADCAST TUESDAY, APRIL 10 ON CBS
ELTON JOHN ALSO TAKES THE STAGE TO PERFORM A MEDLEY OF HIS TIMELESS HITS


SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (MARCH 13, 2018)—Music stars Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Little Big Town, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and SZA celebrate the illustrious career of Elton John on the tribute special "Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY® Salute," to be broadcast Tuesday, April 10 (9–11 p.m., ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The concert showcases musicians from multiple genres performing classic songs from Elton John's impressive music catalog with longtime co-writer Bernie Taupin and features special appearances by Jon Batiste, Neil Patrick Harris, Christopher Jackson, Anna Kendrick, Gayle King, Lucy Liu, Valerie Simpson, and Hailee Steinfeld.

Following is the list of performances featured on "Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute":

"The Bitch Is Back" — Miley Cyrus
"Candle In The Wind" — Ed Sheeran
"Daniel" — Sam Smith
"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" — Alessia Cara
"Your Song" — Lady Gaga
"Rocket Man" — Little Big Town
"Border Song" — Christopher Jackson & Valerie Simpson
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" — SZA & Shawn Mendes
"Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" — Maren Morris
"We All Fall In Love Sometimes" — Chris Martin
"My Father's Gun" — Miranda Lambert
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" — Kesha
"Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" — John Legend
"Bennie And The Jets" — Elton John
"Philadelphia Freedom" — Elton John
"I'm Still Standing" — Elton John & Ensemble

"Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute" continues the tradition of previous Emmy®-winning TV specials presented by CBS, the Recording Academy™, and AEG Ehrlich Ventures, including "Sinatra 100—An All-Star GRAMMY Concert," "Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life—An All-Star GRAMMY Salute," "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America—A GRAMMY Salute," and "Stayin' Alive: A GRAMMY Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees."

"Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute" is produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures, LLC. Ehrlich and Rac Clark are the executive producers, Ron Basile is the producer, and David Wild

January 28, 2018

ONE OF MY FAVORITE BACKSTAGE GRAMMY MOMENTS: LADY GAGA AND ROBERTA FLACK


So I was hired by the legendary Roberta Flack to do her publicity for the Grammy Awards in 2010. It had been decades since the GRAMMY-winner had performed on the stage and the Recording Academy had paired her with the music's biggest nominee Maxwell.

Her manager hired me and I didn't meet Flack until about two weeks before the telecast was scheduled. She was amazing. Funny. Lovely. Confident. But also unsure as to what she could bring to the table after all of these years. She still was touring and she had just finished a cover of Beatles' tunes. Her first album in years.

When I met her, I asked her about her new album. She told me she lived in the same building in NYC as John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She said, "We shared a wall between our apartments, and I remember John working on this new song that was absolutely amazing. I sat in my reading room and listened to him creating this song."

The song would become "Imagine." One of the most iconic songs ever written and recorded. So I knew, despite her own historic singles "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly" which became the first time an artist ever won back-to-back GRAMMYs for Record of the Year, I was dealing with a legend.

As I was walking her backstage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, people -- even really famous people -- were calling out her name "Roberta! Roberta! I love you!" But it wasn't until we were walking past the GRAMMY official Photo Gallery that we heard a now-familiar voice yelling out: "Roberta! Roberta! I love you so much! You are my hero!!!"

It was Lady Gaga, in a lightening-inspired head dress, that ran out of her photo shoot over to us.

"Lady Gaga, this is Roberta Flack. Roberta Flack, this is Lady Gaga," I said.

The amazing interaction that happened between the two was one of those surreal, life-changing moments. They put their heads together and Gaga said, "I am a classically trained pianist too, and I didn't ever think I could become famous and change the world until I heard you."

Ever the legend, Flack said, "I just love what you do and who you are, Gaga. Keep doing it for us."

At that point, Gaga invited Flack over to the Official Photo Gallery with famed photographer, and my friend, Danny Clinch. The photo above is what he took...and it changed my life...below is what Time Magazine said about my client Ms. Roberta Flack (and after the show I spent some time in her dressing room rubbing her feet....proudly...)

#grammys #60thgrammys #ladygaga #robertaflack #dannyclinch #grammyawards #johnlegend #imagine #yokoono #gaga #killingmesoftly

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1957992_1957982_1957976,00.html


January 24, 2018

OH. MY. MERYL. BIG LITTLE LIES SEASON 2 TO STAR MOST NOMINATED STREEP IN HISTORY!!

Just announced by Deadline!!
An all-star cast has just gotten starrier. Meryl Streep, the most Oscar-nominated actress in history, is joining the second installment of HBO’s Emmy-winning limited series Big Little Lies.
Streep will play Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Perry (played by Alexander Skarsgard in Season 1). Concerned for the well-being of her grandchildren following her son Perry’s death, Mary Louise arrives in Monterey searching for answers.
This is the first new cast addition since the long-rumored second installment was officially greenlighted with a seven-episode order.
Season 1 stars/executive producers Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon will return in their roles, respectively, as Celeste and Madeline, as well as writer David E. Kelley who again is penning all seven scripts partially based on a story by Liane Moriarty, author of the Big Little Lies book that the original mini was based on.
pped by CAA

January 20, 2018

Hollywood Reporter Declares Universal FanCon "Most Diverse Con" Around





As comic book culture continues to wrestle with the idea of diversification — and as genre media expands its own horizons with TV shows such as Black LightningStar Trek: Discovery and movies like Black Panther and the revived Star Wars franchise, a new convention is about to emerge to serve audiences often ignored by fandom at large.
“Universal Fan Con is more than just a new convention, it's the outgrowth of building a community of bloggers, podcasters and influencers over the last seven years who are committed to contributing diverse voices to the fandoms that we love,” executive director Robert Butler tells Heat Vision about the Baltimore-based convention, which launches this April.
Fan Con got its start during a dinner conversation between Butler, his partners in The Black Geeks podcast, and Jamie Broadnax, founder of Black Girl Nerds, during 2016’s Dragon Con in Atlanta, Ga. “As we sat around the kitchen table and talked, it became clear that if we wanted to see the kind of talent, artists and panels at conventions that represented the vibrant diversity of the fan community, we may have to do it ourselves,” Butler remembers. “We set out to create a safe space that celebrated fandom and included the many faces and voices that made up the groups we represented, including women, persons of color and members of the LGBTQIA and disabled communities.”
The convention was announced soon after, and met with immediate excitement. “The response from fans has been incredible,” Butler says. “People really want to see us succeed.” It’s not only fans who’ve been into the idea, however; to date, the show has garnered support from people like LeVar Burton, Orlando Jones, Mahershala Ali, New Girl’s Lamorne Morris, Timeless star Malcolm Barrett and writer Greg Pak. “The love we’ve received from the entertainment community has been overwhelming,” according to Butler.
Much of that support came in regards to the Kickstarter campaign that ran in late 2016 to fund the event; it ended up raising $56,000, more than twice the initial asking amount. It's something that Butler describes as “a greater success than we could have imagined, especially since we launched right in the middle of the Christmas holiday season” but also a sign that there’s a massive audience out there currently underserved by the media that’s available, and that's ready and willing to support media that does address them.
“We're all big geeks, and we realized that persons of color have the same complaints about representation as other groups,” he explains. “Hispanics, African Americans and Asians make up 38 percent of the population, but 49 percent of frequent moviegoers, and are more likely to see a film with characters that they can relate to."
He points to statistics showing that despite high box office receipts for diverse projects such as the Fast and the Furious movies, there is still a long way to go for representation in Hollywood.
"Representation matters, and it translates into tangible returns when you genuinely engage the audience," Butler says. 
For Butler, Fan Con may be only one signifier of a changing entertainment landscape, but it’s an important one.
“People are looking for ways to connect with like-minded groups to share their love for the content, as well as express their relationship to in the actual and not just virtual world through things like industry panels and cosplay,” he says. “Events like Fan Con provide an engaging, inclusive, family-friendly and safe platform for people to interact along those lines. Fan Con is a community that brings people together to celebrate the best of what we love in fandom."
More information about Universal Fan Con can be found at www.universalfancon.com The show runs April 27-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
#billydeewilliams #fancon #hollywoodreporter #orlandojones #supergirl #starwars