This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
B4 Cover To Cover

‘Planet Middle School”

by Terri Schlichenmeyer For New Pittsburgh Courier

Aliens have kidnapped

your best friend. At least that’swhat it seems

like.The two of you used to do things together all the time. You’d hang out, watch TV, shoot hoops, or climb trees. Youlikedthe same thingsand youkneweachother’s secrets. But now, sometimes, you

feel like you barely knowher any more. She never wants to do the things you used to do and everything’s differ- ent. It’s almost like your best friend got kidnapped and re- placed with someone who just looks like her. In the new book “Planet

Middle School” by Nikki Grimes, 12-year-old Joylin knows the feeling. Both her best friends are actingweird. Joylin really hates it when

people call her a tomboy.But what else can be said? She dresses in navy and baggy jeans, she’s got a killer jump shot, and she hates girly things. Her dad is secretly happy about it all. Her mother just rolls her eyes.

by Genea L. Webb For New Pittsburgh Courier

Mentoring the young and

old and helping them stay in the music business is what Angelo Ellerbee has been doing successfully for 40 years as the owner and CEO of New Jersey-based Double XXposure Media Relations, a full service public relations, marketing and artist development firm. “My company serves edu-

cate people about the dol- lars and cents of the music business. They need to un- derstand what the respon- sibilities are,” said Ellerbee, 55, who was born and raised and still, resides in New Jersey. “I observe my clients because I want to see all the various sides of the artist. “I want to help someone

from the heart and not just the pocket,” Ellerbee said. “I teach survival skills and self preservation because people need to learn how to take care of themselves.” Ellerbee puts new artists

through a 24-week class, where they are taught dic- tion, how to speak, eti- quette, how do dress, and royalty rights. “It’s about the relation-

Yep, Joylin hates being

called a tomboy but she doesn’t mind when her best friend KeeLee teases her about sports and her lack of fashion sense. They’ve been BF’s since they were nine and they’ve always done ev- erything together…until middle school started. When Joylin tried out for

the basketball team,KeeLee joined the school choir.They don’t have the same classes very often. Sometimes, they don’t sit together in the lunchroom any more, and thatmakes Joylin sad. It makes her even sadder

when KeeLee starts boy- watching. And speaking of boys, even

Jake,Joylin’sbestmale friend, is acting weird now that they’reall inmiddle school.He treatsJoylinlikeagirl instead of like a friend, instead of the way he used towhen he didn’t notice things like the bumps on her chest.Those bumps in- terfere with her jump shots, and she hates them. Then a new boy shows up

on the court one day. He smiles at Joylin and things change even more. How can she get Santiago to see her? Woulda skirt andheelsmake him notice? Would make-up make a difference? And would Jake stop being such a jerk about thiswhole thing? Why can’t things just go

back to the way they were? Remember how hard it

was to stand with one foot in childhood and one foot in Grown-Up Land? Author Nikki Grimes brings all that confusion and those mixed feelings to life in this perfect little novel. Using free-form story-

poems of different lengths, Grimes gives voice to a smart young character who is also wise beyond her years. Joylin isaloyal friend,agooddaugh- ter and a thoughtful big sister but she’s staring at a future that she’s not sure she likes. I enjoyed how we’re able to re- ally get to know this charac- ter, and itwould be fun to see more bookswith her in them. Though there’s no reason a

boy can’t read this book, I think 11- to 14-year-old girls will like it much better. For them, “Planet Middle School” is out of this world. (“PlanetMiddle School” by Nikki

Grimes, c.2011, Bloomsbury Kids, $15.99/$18.50Canada,155pages.)

ship between the person and myself. I sell talent. I don’t sell music. It’s always about the relationship first,” Ellerbee said. “We have a courtship and an en- gagement and then we de- cide if we want to marry. I am very straightforward. I am a connoisseur of kicking you in the pants. I don’t want artists to stay with me forever, I want them to go and grow.” He has worked with many

A-list celebrities including Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Nina Simone, Ali- cia Keys, DMX and Dionne


Warwick. He does not advertise for

clients most come through referral by association. Many have come and gone over the years. “What separates me from

most is that I care—per- haps too much—but I sin- cerely feel that I am here to assist God in doing His work and that includes in- spiring people to be their best; nurturing and devel- oping their hidden at- tributes and stimulating and teaching them an awareness of their worth on this earth,” he said. Ellerbee’s unconventional

way of dealing with artists comes from his mother who taught him and his two brothers and five sisters sur- vival techniques and from mimicking Motown founder Barry Gordy’s work ethic. “My background is in fashion, but I always

wanted to have a learning institution where people who look like me could come and get what Berry Gordy put out in the 60s— education, stimulation, knowledge of how to exist in this music business. “My mother believed in

me when no one else did and I had an appreciation for what she taught me. I never knew we were poor,” Ellerbee said. “My mother did what she had to do to get the family to move for- ward. She did what she had to do and I am not mad at her.” He’d always had a fond-

ness for drawing, sketching and sewing. Ellerbee began selling women’s clothing during his early teenage years. At the age of 16 he began modeling and raised enough money to go to Paris where he stayed for two and a half years before re-

turning stateside and grad- uating from the Fashion In- stitute of Technology. After graduating, Ellerbee

began selling his wares, which consisted of prom dresses and one-of-a-kind clothing, in high-end de- partment stores like Lord and Taylor. Ellerbee’s foray into music

began when he was blessed with the opportunity to meet four-time Grammy winner James Mtume who wrote the hits “Juicy Fruit,” “Never Knew Love Like This Before” and “Killing Me Softly.” Ellerbee met Mtume through his wife who was a designer and would frequently attend Ellerbee’s fashion shows. He ended up working for

the couple, designing Mtume’s album cover and ultimately managing him. Mtume had a production deal with Sony Music and

Brittney Johnson Helping ‘Les Miserables’ celebrate 25 years

by Genea L. Webb For New Pittsburgh Courier

When Brittney Johnson

played Fantine in Les Mis- erables during her junior year of high school, the ex- perience forever changed her. “Being in the production

made me want to do musi- cal theater,” explained Johnson, 23. “You can’t see ‘Les Miz’ or hear the music without it moving you. It impacts you on every level, at every age. It’s magical.” “Les Miserables,” tells

the story of Jean Valjean a French peasant of abnor- mal strength and a poten- tially violent nature and his search for redemption after serving 19 years in prison for stealing bread for starving family mem- bers. Valjean decides to break his parole and start a new life but is hunted re- lentlessly by police inspec- tor Javert. “Les Miser- ables” is a sung-through musical played based on the novel of the same name by poet and play- wright Victor Hugo. Pittsburgh is one of nu-

merous stops on the musi- cal’s 25th anniversary pro- duction tour. “Les Miser- ables” has become the world's longest running musical and features new staging and re-imagined staging and scenery, which was inspired by Hugo’s paintings. “I am delighted that 25

years after ‘Les Miz’ origi- nally opened in London, the audience for this marvelous show is bigger and younger than ever before,” said pro- ducer Cameron Mackin-

tosh. “Over the years I have seen many suc- cessful but visually dif- ferent pro- ductions so it has been exciting to draw inspi- ration from the brilliant d r awi n g s and paint- ings of Vic- tor Hugo himself, in- t e g r a t e d with spec- tacular pro- jections. The new ‘Les Miz’ is a magnificent mix of daz- zling images and epic s t a g i n g , driving one of the great- est musical stories ever told. The Pitts-

burgh pro- duction is part of the PNC Broad- way Across America Series. It is presented by the Pitts- burgh Cultural Trust, Pitts- burgh Symphony and Broad- way Across America. It will run at the Benedum Center from Jan. 15-27. For tickets visit The Broadway produc-

tion of “Les Miserables” opened at the Broadway Theatre in March of 1987 and transferred to the to the Imperial The- atre in 1990 running for 6,680 performances. The


U.S. National Tour began in November 1987 and vis- ited over 150 cities before closing in St. Louis in 2006. Broadway welcomed “Les Miz” back to New York in 2006 where the show


the Broadhurst Theatre until its final performance on January 2008. To date, the musical remains the third longest running Broadway production of all time. It has been seen by nearly 60 million people in

42 countries and in 21 languages. Johnson is

honored to be a member of the en- semble for this mile- stone pro- duction. She will also serve as the understudy for Eponine w h e n needed. “I’m much

more con- nected with E p o n i n e with the place she is in life. Fan- tine had a child, but Eponine is c onne c t ed with heart- break and sacrificing. Her story is more tangi- ble for me at my age. I play the young whore and am also in the en-

semble. In the ensemble I get to play a lot of different characters. Every time I change my hair it’s a differ- ent character, it’s fun.” Johnson graduated from

New York University School of the Arts with a de- gree in Drama in May of 2012. Prior to graduation she had performed in col- lege and regional theater productions in New York, including “Hair.” She joined the cast of “Les Miserables" after auditioning five or six

times. “Les Miz had been on tour

for two years before I could get it,” Johnson said. “Someone had to leave be- fore I could get in. When I got the call that I got the part I was really excited! It’s like being a part of his- tory. I am so honored to be a part of the musical phe- nomenon that has touched and continues to touch peo- ple's lives.” Not only is “Les Miser-

ables” known for its epic story of hope and redemp- tion, the show is known for amazing songs including “Castle on A Cloud,” “Bring Him Home” and “One Day More,” which Johnson loves to sing. “I love it because of the

staging and the emotions that are running through you at the time. I feel so connected to the audience. That's why I do this. I do this musical theater thing because I want to touch people,” Johnson said. When she isn’t performing

Johnson enjoys knitting, watching “Superman” movies and reading. Following her time in “Les

Miserables,” Johnson plans on auditioning for more shows. But “Les Miz” will always have a special place in her heart. “This is my first big show.

It's come completely full cir- cle for me,” she said. “This role is catapulting me into the next phase of my career. I tell people to work hard and not slack off. You will get a lot of rejection, and you have to keep your eyes on the goal and fight. Out of all of those no’s there will be a yes. It’s definitely worth it.”

ENTERTAINER New Pittsburgh Courier JANUARY 16-22, 2013 teaches clients staying power in music biz

Ellerbee got the chance to manage some of Mtume’s artists. That led to Ellerbee scoring the major motion picture, “Native Son” which had Oprah Winfrey in it. Ellerbee has noticed a lot

of changes in the entertain- ment business during his 40 years in its trenches. “I’ve seen the demise of the

industry. We had numerous record companies and we had a Black music division and we don’t have all of that anymore,” Ellerbee said. “Now there are a lot of inde- pendent record companies out there for young people trying to get record deals. African-American music is heading back to real music with real singers. There’s a whole lot of money to be made in this business, you just need to know how to play the game.” Ellerbee is currently work-

ing on a reality television show for VH-1 which will tell the ins and outs of the often fickle music business. “It will be an entertaining

show that will serve as an educational tool to show people what happens in the music business and what it takes to stay in this busi- ness,” Ellerbee said. When he’s not talking

about the new reality show, Ellerbee can be found work- ing at Double XXposure. “I work seven days a

week. I do everything at Double XXposure. I don’t have a business manager. I write my own checks. I sign my own checks. I wind up doing everything from mar- keting to crisis manage- ment. My company is like a supermarket where you can go down the aisle and select the information and the ex- pertise that you want,” Ellerbee said. (For more information on Eller-

bee or Double XXposure visit

Media guru Angelo Ellerbee

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26