David Alan Grier was introduced to the music of Ella Fitzgerald by his parents and wore her albums out while in college. So with love, he returns to co-host the L.A. presentation of “100: The Apollo Theater Celebrates Ella’s 100 Birthday!” with Patti Austin, Ledisi and Monica Mancini Sept. 24 at the Ford Theatre.
The evening’s producer, Gregg Field, was 24 when he toured as the jazz great’s drummer. He will perform with legendary musicians Shelly Berg, Nathan East and Brian Nova.
At the age of 17, Fitzgerald won the Amateur Night at The Apollo contest in 1934 making her the first female performer to earn such a distinction. She went on to earn 13 Grammy Awards and became a Kennedy Center honoree and National Medal of Arts awardee.
“Ella was always my favorite jazz singer,” Grier told Tasty Clips, “cause she always had a girlish and youthful quality to her voice. If you listen to someone like Betty Carter, Billie Holliday or Sarah Vaughan, it’s like their voices aged, matured and got lower. Ella’s never did really until the very end. She always had this energetic quality and attack to the way she did her music. And of course, her scatting was awesome.”
The versatile actor and comedian with numerous credits on Broadway, TV and on the big screen, stays busy. He’s the host of the Game Show Network’s “Snap Decision,” has his own food blog at ChocolateGlutton.com, and is currently in Vancouver filming season two of Netflix’s “Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
Prior to that, he delivered some mighty punch lines as the patriarch on the recently canceled “The Carmichael Show.”
When asked what happened to the fan favorite comedy series and if there was a chance for a revival, Grier was frank.
“I thought for a minute we would go on to Netflix,” he said. “It’s just the way it was handled by NBC kind of precluded all of that. They took us off for over a year. By the time we ended the show, people were totally dispersed. [LilRel Howery]’s career took off with ‘Get Out.’ Tiffany [Haddish] blew up with ‘Girls Trip.’ We were already contracted to other jobs.”
“Also by keeping us off the air for a year and premiering us intentionally after the Emmy qualification deadline, we were killed on every platform,” he added. “At least we got three seasons which took like five years to do.”
As for the failed reunion of “In Living Color,” the hit 1990s ensemble series featuring some of his most memorable comic work, Grier was a bit perplexed.
“They tried to do a reboot,” he said. “Rel was in the cast. We were all coming back. I talked to Jim Carrey. I heard [Jennifer Lopez] and everybody was going to come back. We were going to work for basically nothing because we just thought it would be cool and Fox just messed it up. Now I don’t know why they didn’t choose to air the pilot but everybody was down and it just collapsed.”
Since Grier used to dispense relationship advice on the radio show “Loveline,” Kevin Hart’s indiscretion was brought up.
“First of all, I did some research and that little side piece is Hoo,” he offered. “Blessed week! You just got to fess up. It’s really not about what people think and your brand. You really have to shut out the outside noise, and really work on that family. If that’s what you want to do, you have to go all in.
“It’s between them if they can heal and move on. Stay off Bossip and TMZ. A video apology — that circumvents everything. Was there a real sex tape? I don’t know all that. Whatever happened he was compelled to apologize. Now if he was honest then there’s really no more to the story because you’ve got it. I would rather do that than go on ‘60 Minutes’ and ‘The Tonight Show’ on the apology tour. No. Just get on that Instagram, fess up and put that bad boy in your next comedy special.”
Grier would love to play jazz great Thelonious Monk in a biopic and says he’s too old now, but always had this dream of Werner Herzog directing him as Aaron the Moor in a movie version of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.”
Mostly these days he’s just reveling in his career.
“I feel like I’ve really figured out what acting is about after 30 years,” he said. “I’m really in a sweet spot. My flow is coming unexpurgated. I feel like I’ve tapped into myself as an artist. I didn’t know it would take this long, but you know …”
CLIPPETTES: Solange guides and curates an evening at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 23 with Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange, KING and more; while Sean Paul is at The Novo DTLA …
Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Head of Passes” starring Phylicia Rashad opens Sept. 24 continuing through Oct. 22 at the Mark Taper Forum as part of Center Theatre Group’s 50th anniversary season …
The Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Band takes the afternoon stage in a free show at LACMA on Sept. 24 …
Rakim is set to slay at The Regent on Sept. 25; as The Novo DTLA hosts SZA’s CTRL Tour …
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins is signing copies of her new book, “A Sick Life: TLC ‘n Me: Stories From On & Off The Stage” on Sept. 25 at The Grove at Farmers Market …
Renowned bassist Victor Wooten is at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live on Sept. 27 in support of his 10th studio album, and first in five years, “Trypnotyx.” An intimate conversation will follow his live performance at the Clive Davis Theater.
TC ON TV: Sept. 22 – “Neo Yokio” (Netflix): Jaden Smith, Willow Smith, Susan Sarandon, Jude Law, Amandla Stenberg, Alexa Chung and Desus & Mero voice the characters for this new futuristic anime series from creator Ezra Koenig of the rock group Vampire Weekend. “Broke and Famous” (Reelz): Toni Braxton.
Sept. 23 – “Oprah’s Master Class” (OWN): Usher, Gladys Knight.
Sept. 24 – “60 Minutes” (CBS): The 50th season premiere features the first story from new special contributor Oprah Winfrey. “Who Shot Biggie & Tupac?” (Fox): Ice-T and Soledad O’Brien lead this two-hour investigative crime special. “Star Trek: Discovery” (CBS): Sonequa Martin-Green (“The Walking Dead”), Michelle Yeoh and Jason Isaacs star in this next edition of the famed sci-fi franchise that will subsequently be streamed via CBS All Access and on-demand weekly.
Sept. 25 – “The Late Show” (CBS): Sterling K Brown, Chance the Rapper.
Sept. 26 – “Def Comedy Jam 25” (Netflix): Russell Simmons HBO franchise is honored. “90s House” (MTV): Christina Milian and Lance Bass host this competition forcing millennials to unplug with Mario Lopez, Tatyana Ali, Tyson Beckford, Salt N’ Pepa, Kid N’ Play, Bill Bellamy and more stopping by.
Sept. 27 – “Empire”/”Star” (Fox): Lee Daniels’ shows crossover and air back-to-back this season. “50 Central” (BET): Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is the force behind the network’s first variety comedy showcase.
Sept. 28 – “Grey’s Anatomy”/”How To Get Away With Murder” (ABC): Shonda Rhimes’ TGIT bloc is back – and she’s launched Shondaland.com just in time! “Mary Mary” (WE): Gospel singing sisters Erica and Tina Campbell return for a sixth and final season. “The Pizza Show” (Viceland): “Los Angeles: A Pizza City?” “The Rundown with Robin Thede” (BET): Chris Rock is the EP of this late night 30-minute news satire show.
IN MEMORIUM: A tribute for Motown legend Bobby Taylor, who died from leukemia last July in Hong Kong, is slated for Sept. 25, from 7 to midnight at the swank Suede Bar & Lounge in the Bonaventure Hotel. The singer who scored the hit song “Does Your Mama Know About Me” as the front man of The Vancouvers featuring Tommy Chong, is also recognized as the man who discovered The Jackson 5.
TASTY QUIP: “Anyone who believes there is no such thing as global warming must be blind, or unintelligent. Lord save us all.” – STEVIE WONDER at “Hand in Hand – A Benefit For Hurricane Relief”
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.